By Nick Rowan
Love is what drives most of the books I’ve ever read. Love of country. Love of family. Love of ideals. And yes, romantic love.
I get a little bent out of shape when I hear fanboys grumble about romance has no place in science fiction. What are they reading? Did they not fight with John Carter from frozen South Pole to frozen North Pole of Mars, to win the incomparable Dejah Thoris? Did they not want Wife Soup right along beside Wash? Do they not quote “I love you”/”I know” endlessly? Did they not, for the love of Asimov, read HEINLEIN?
I am very much for love in science fiction. Of course, the new ways of figuring out the friction, what with zero-gee, advanced sex toys and alien anatomy are fun, but what sells the story is the characters and their relationship.
It is said the secret to a character is to make them want something, or maybe it’s getting them up a tree and throwing rocks at them. When you’re writing love, the characters are wanting the same thing: each other.
And such a wealth of rocks this gives us to throw: does one want more than the other? Does one want only their image of the other? Is what one considers love incompatible with the other’s needs?
I chucked a whole lot of rocks in my recently-published Master Anton. It’s the third in a dark future series. Anthony has been sent to Rome for specialized training. He’s separated from his beloved James, who has remained in the States. And every day is some new test or trial that he must conquer before he can return.
In the scene before this one, James’ identical twin, Ishmael, has performed his own test, one he does on all of his brother’s proteges. He impersonated James, to see if Anthony could tell the difference or would even care. The next day, Anthony calls James.
Anthony sighed. “Ishmael visited last night.”
James’ face went thunderous. “He did, did he? And what judgment did he see fit to pronounce on you? For he sees himself as the guardian of my safety and tests all of my people to his satisfaction.”
Anthony smiled. “He said I have his highest commendation.”
James’ eyes narrowed and he frowned. “Before or after he took you to bed?”
Anthony pulled back. It felt as though he’d taken an arrow through his chest. “I…I didn’t let him. I knew it wasn’t you when he kissed me. I mean, it sounded like fun, but without you for so long…”
He ran a hand through his hair. James believed him to be so fickle. Ouch. “Do you really believe I’d trade anyone who looks like you as though I loved only the man you show everyone else?”
James smiled at that. “All the others have, although to be fair, some of them had no choice in the matter. My boy. My own, beloved Anthony. I will be coming to Rome before the year is out. I can endure no longer without you.”
You can see how Anthony and James work out, and how love can improve, destroy, inspire and defeat the characters in Master Anton, available in ebook, paperback or hardback from Amazon. (Coming soon to the Literary Underworld!)
To win an ebook copy, leave a comment. We will select one lucky vict- er reader, by random number generator to venture into the Compound in Rome, where the Great Spider rules the whole world.
The other books, in order are Anthony Reprobate, Nikolai Revenant (undergoing some corrections to the ebook and being formatted for hardback), and Glad Hands—a novel of the DisUnited States. Occasionally, a short story set in the universe will turn up on my Patreon, which regularly features recipes and drag performances, tarot readings and writing, short stories and occasionally novels. And at the $10 level, a pagan subscription box: 2 handmade goods of pagan interest. (Although shower fizzies are non-denominational.)
So, take your local witch’s advice: Always throw split salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck and fall in love whenever you can.