Intimate Adventure

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Intimate Adventure is a genre which was created and actively promoted by Jacqueline Lichtenberg beginning in 1993 or earlier. [1]

Lichtenberg's "Intimate Adventure" idea says that a truly realistic story must include an emotional dimension.

Lichtenberg talks about "Intimate Adventure" in terms of characters facing emotional challenges -- admitting to shortcomings, striving to overcome fear, etc. Characters become "real to one another" as they become aware of each other's emotions. The difference between this and an ordinary adventure story is that the Intimate Adventure shows the hero learning how to relate to others.

"Instead of weapons of combat ... the protagonist must weild [sic] the weapons of Life -- emotions, psychology. The protagonist must solve the problem faced in the world outside the Mind with the weapon of Emotional Honesty within the Self and within the Relationship." Intimate Adventure Defined at

If the key is to have characters learning how to be good friends or partners, and solving problems by understanding their own feelings and others', this is not a new idea. Many examples exist in American literature of all genres for both children and adults, all the way back to Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and in St. Nicholas children's magazine (1873-1943). It even shows up in some Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan adventures. In fantasy and science fiction, Ray Bradbury, Clifford Simak and Damon Knight often used emotions and relationships to tell a story. Zenna Henderson's People stories were famous for it. Ursula K. LeGuin uses it extensively in her Earthsea and Hainish novels. Anais Nin explores the importance of emotions, dreams and relationships in literature in her book The Novel of the Future.

Along with Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, Lichtenberg promoted the notion that for most fan authors, relationships between characters took precedence over traditional story elements, and that this was because most fan authors were women. The idea that women have a special way of writing, different from men's in that it focuses on feelings and relationships, is by no means unique to fandom and again recalls the philosophy of Anais Nin. However, male writers like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Brautigan and Ray Bradbury have many stories focusing on emotions and relationships either in place of a standard plot or alongside it.

From a 2004 article about Lichtenberg:

Lichtenberg added that her [Sime-Gen] books at the time of the printing were not taken seriously because of their mixed genre. It was difficult for editors to categorize them, difficult for marketers to find niches for them and difficult for bookstores to figure out which shelf to put them on. Now, Lichtenberg said, intimate adventure-themed stories and TV shows are in demand--all thanks, she said, to the very first intimate adventure show that captured the imagination of generations to come with its own books, TV shows, fan fiction, conventions and movies--you guessed it, Star Trek.[2]
From a 2007 interview with Lichtenberg:
In the 1980's, Star Trek fanzines finally made it clear to me how to articulate what was missing that I added to my published novels -- I call it Intimate Adventure, The Hidden Genre -- but it's more than that. It's not actually a Genre. Jean Lorrah's professor credentials allowed her to finally (after years of wrestling with it because she could see it, too) discovered the real nature of Intimate Adventur]. It is in fact a plot archetype. We need to write a book about that. [3]

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 and her associate, Jean Lorrah, appeared to use it. [4] [5]

Also see Demanding Fantasy, Alien Romance, 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.


Lichtenberg's description of "Intimate Adventure":

This new Genre is already spread all over publishing -- you'll find examples in every genre and in general literature, which is why it's so well hidden it's gone unnoticed. It's right there in plain sight, thus completely invisible.

Most sf/f is classed as "Action/Adventure" -- but I have found that personally, I dislike "Action" stories.

As defined by most publishers (and movie/tv producers), "action" stories are mostly all plot, though in-depth characterization is permitted if the characters have no Relationships among themselves that can change the direction of the plot. In an action story, you must have a physical problem the Hero tackles -- with progress toward the goal being made by physical "action" (mostly physical combat, though sex is allowed) -- and the resolution of the conflict must come through the Protagonist DEFEATING the antagonist in physical combat. [6]


Intimate Relationships come in many forms and levels. There are working partnerships, Parent/Child Relationships, Adversarial Relationships, Counselor/Client relationships, relationships with Clergy, relationships with God, and Relationships with Society, Relationships with Yourself. The list is practically endless.


You will find perfect examples of this process on various TV series produced by or based on work by Gene Roddenberry. All the Star Treks have it. Earth: The Final Conflict demonstrates it. Most obvious of all is Andromeda, where the mission is to make friends from enemies who've been murdering each other for over 300 years.

Forever Knight was a wonderful Intimate Adventure (Nick/Natalie). Highlander was another. In many ways, Farscape is another -- for the Relationships among the crew members are what drives the plot. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel both have Intimate Adventure -- though the obvious point is the combat scenes, the story-arc is about how relationships change people.

And you will notice all these prominent examples have one thing in common -- a vocal and enthusiastically creative following - pouring out stories, artwork, songs, conventions, jewelry, fellowship, and forming life-long friendships.

In other words, the impact of the fiction on the lives of the fiction-consumer is to energize that person to form solid and meaningful Relationships. [7]

Promotion and Use

Jean Lorrah did a panel at MediaWest*Con in 2005 which focused on this created genre. From her con report:

While I have a dealer's table for the whole of MediaWestCon, my programming was all today. I did a morning panel on Intimate Adventure and an afternoon panel on what Jacqueline and I are doing these days. Oddly enough, there were more people at the morning than the afternoon panel--of course it all depends on what else is going on at the same time.

Fans were delighted with the idea of trying to get a term accepted for their favorite kind of literature. When I read the definition of Intimate Adventure, they all agreed that it was definitely something they look for in fiction but find hard to describe. Audience members suggested that the inability to find Intimate Adventure in the library or bookstore was what led them to fanfic: there they are guaranteed to get the fix they want.

We brainstormed ways of getting the term Intimate Adventure into use in the reading/writing/publishing community. Suggestions were using the term when requesting books in libraries and bookstores; linking from fanfic websites to Jacqueline's article on; using and discussing the term on boards, blogs, and listservs; and using the term in book reviews, particularly book reviews on in hopes of reaching a level of saturation at which Amazon would make it a searchable key word. At the same time, fans who know authors who write Intimate Adventure can introduce the term to those authors as a selling point, and suggest that they try to incorporate it somewhere on their back cover blurbs. (In case you didn't know it, the author is usually asked to write the cover blurb.) [8]


  1. ^ see The Good Guy Vampire Letterzine #2
  2. ^ ‘Intimacy’ genre stimulates author’s 30-year tale of success; WebCite, Feb. 21, 2004 article in the Chandler, Arizona Wrangler by P.J. Standlee. In this article, Lichtenberg continues to analyze Star Trek in terms of the Effects she and Sondra Marshak categorized in Star Trek Lives!
  3. ^ News from the Crypt Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg
  4. ^ See For There is Much to Dare
  5. ^ Jean Lorrah, June 2005 at Rimon Farris Memorial Library - Articles - 'Slash' Fiction - In Search of a Definition from [simegen-L], Archived version
  6. ^ This pulp-magazine definition of the action story, and of true masculinity as defined by aggression, machismo, combat and two-fisted heroics, is what Richard McKenna questioned to the point of dissection in the 1963 novella "Hunter, Come Home". One of the first ecological science fiction stories, it involves the usual spacegoing "manly men" trying (and failing) to colonize a peaceful world whose indigenous life refuses to die. "Hunter, Come Home" was way ahead of its time, and its influence can be felt all the way to Avatar. In many ways it fills the description of an "intimate adventure" as Lichtenberg describes.
  7. ^ from the undated essay Intimate Adventure Genre Defined; WebCite
  8. ^ Jean Lorrah, May 28, 2005 Sime~Gen - SGHistory - MediaWest*Con Report - 2005, Archived version, see that page for some comments via an exchange of email, including some about a slash category