Alien Romance

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Alien Romance is a concept created and described by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. It refers to stories in which a human woman finds love with an alien male.

Fandom Use

Despite robust attempts by Lichtenberg in interviews, LoCs, and zine reviews to make the term into a widely accepted one in fandom, only Lichtenberg appears to use it.

Also see Intimate Adventure, Tailored Effect, and The Spock Charisma Effect, other little-used terms coined by Lichtenberg.

Another fan-created genre that was heavily promoted by its creator, one which did take on wings of its own, is Paula Smith's term Mary Sue.


In 2006, writing for the blog Alien Romances, Lichtenberg defined Alien Romance as "that stunning realization of the pure sexiness of a non-human." Believing that plots involving relationships between characters hadn't existed in science fiction before Star Trek, Lichtenberg wrote about "alien romance" in terms of readers looking for certain specific elements in fiction, and publishing industries, amateur as well as professional, changing to accommodate.[1]

Lichtenberg described the origins of Alien Romance in an essay for Galaxy Express dated June 23, 2008.[2]

The best SF is an amalgam of "What if ..." and "If only ...." and "If this goes on ..." Using rigorous futurology, based in all the known sciences from the physical to the mystical, bracketing the "soft" sciences such as sociology, psychology, cultural anthropology, etc. one has to build a world that reflects a science fiction postulate.

The "romance" is not in the worldbuilding and usually not in the science itself. Romance writers who first fumbled their way into the "futuristic" category made such a horrid mess that the Science Fiction Writers of America members basically just sneered at them and dismissed their efforts. ....

When I sold Operation High Time to Fred Pohl for WORLD[S] OF IF MAGAZINE OF SCIENCE FICTION,[3] I didn't know that what I was trying to write was Science Fiction Romance. I hated Romance for the same reason I hated Soap Opera (my mother was a fan of Soaps and I watched hundreds of hours of it). I crafted the story in an SFR universe in such a way as to hide the SFR nature of the universe premise because I deliberately aimed the story to tickle Fred Pohl's interest—and it worked.

At that time, Romance seemed to me to be nothing but stupid stories about stupid people doing stupid things for stupid reasons.

In Science Fiction you had stories about smart people doing smart things for smart reasons—and that to me was the very definition of pure entertainment.

That view was crystalized before the 1970's and the women's movement made it clear how nefarious use of language denudes women of the natural heroic attitudes and reliance on female intelligence.

Star Trek fanzines of the late 1970's and 1980's explored the female hero and the feminine side of the male hero and most of those fanzine characters were very smart. Women wrote stories about Spock because he was smart. Then they wrote stories about what kind of really smart woman he might be attracted to.

And quietly, in the dark corners of a fandom of a stupid thing like a TV show (you have no idea how fans of Star Trek were derided during those years), SFR was born. True SFR.

Alien Romance...deep, committed intimate relationships (and yes, even sex) between a human woman and an alien male.

Lichtenberg continues with a description of "intimate adventure", a supposed new genre or "hidden genre" in which emotions and psychological insight take the place of physical action.[4]


  1. ^ Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Star Trek, WorldCon, and Alien Romance. In Alien Romances, "A by-invitation group blog for busy authors of SFR, Futuristic, or Paranormal romances in which at least one protagonist is an alien, or of alien ancestry", dated August 15, 2006.
  2. ^ Heather Massey, State of the Science Fiction and Romance Union.
  3. ^ If, January 1969.
  4. ^ See also Intimate Adventure at, and Anais Nin's book The Novel of the Future.