Sucking in the Gut
~ a guest post by Anna Butler
We live in great times for gay fiction. The ‘niche’ is pushing back boundaries all over the place. It’s a big and expanding market. I suspect there are now far more readers of gay-themed stories than there are for genres such as the classic western, say. As a genre it’s out and proud, and proudly getting bigger.
And the biggest driver behind this surge is m/m romance.
The romance genre generally is huge. It stands to reason the m/m element is huge too. Readers of m/m romance have certain expectations. That’s not unreasonable. They’re the same expectations I have myself when I’m reading a romance—I want to see two men attracted to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, having sizzling sex, being faithful and loving. And at the very least, the book must close with a Happy-For-Now ending even if the story can’t quite make it Happy Ever After. En route they can have all sorts of things happen: murders, mystery, mayhem. Doesn’t matter. What matters is they’re together and I can put the book down feeling good about the outcome.
But this is where it gets a little sticky for me. If you’re looking for pure romance, then I have to confess that neither Gyrfalcon, which is published today, nor any other book in the Taking Shield series, will give you it. Shield isn’t romance. It *is* a love story—a very deep and, at times, intense love story—that covers six years of interstellar war and billions of miles of space travel. This is space saga stuff. All the staples of old school sci-fi are here, too: big spaceships, infiltrations of Maess bases, cool Shield suits, and lots of people running around shooting their lasers.
And it has men in love. Oh wait. Not so old school as all that, maybe.
Across the whole of the Taking Shield series, there are two main story themes, intertwining with each other: the war against the Maess and Shield Captain Bennet’s efforts to prevent the destruction of humanity, and, set against that, the way his life is turned upside down by that intoxicating temptation aka Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. The Maess war and everything Bennet has to do there gets equal billing with the slow unfolding of his relationship with Flynn.
So if romance is driving the great surge in gay writing, where does something like this fit? It’s a niche within a niche market. And here am I, sucking in the gut like whoa so I can wriggle my way in sideways.
Oh, but I hope you find it’s worth the effort to wriggle. If you like big sweeping sagas, big love stories where the obstacles the heroes face a big and sweeping too, I do hope you’ll give Bennet and Flynn a try. They aren’t perfect, but a couple of guys with all their warts and faults, all their brilliance and intelligence, all their courage and loyalty and great hearts, all their beauty and all their ugliness—and they love each other. They love each other a great deal, despite every parting, and every reverse and upset in their relationship. And perhaps one day, at the end of everything, they’ll get the chance they deserve.
Do come on the journey with them. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
GYRFALCON is published today by Wilde City.
Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.
As advertised, the Shield officer was proving to be the enigma that everyone had expected.
Flynn had worked it that first briefing so he got a good look before anyone else. He liked what he saw. In his black uniform, the Shield captain stood out in the crowd of Fleet pale grey. Everything about the Shield rig was plain. The rank pips in the stand-up collar of the tunic under his flight jacket were a dull silver, and only about half the size of the ones Simonitz wore. There wasn’t a medal ribbon in sight. Only the tiny, ornate Shield badge at his throat was a bright silver.
The monochromatic look suited the Shield captain, matching his black hair and the pale grey eyes. The captain’s hair had more cowlicks than a field full of heifers, spiking up despite it being worn longer than was strictly regulation. Flynn took note, too, of cheekbones so sharply defined that they looked like they’d been machine cut, and a strong mouth. The face was youthful, except for the eyes. They’d seen a lot. Altogether, the Shield captain was definitely one of the pretty people in life. Almost as pretty as Flynn himself.
Cruz, to whom he imparted this insight in the OC after Bennet’s first visit, rolled her eyes so hard it was a wonder the girl didn’t have to grope about on the deck for them. She had never appreciated his true worth. He had to guilt her into buying him a beer in reparation.
He sipped his beer appreciatively. It always tasted better when someone else was paying. “What d’you think of him?”
“Seems pleasant enough.” Cruz shrugged. “He didn’t tell us much, though. I didn’t think he would.”
“No. And that first briefing was a bit basic. Wonder what he was fishing for there.”
“We’ll likely find out in time,” said Cruz.
“I’d rather know now.” Flynn took a pull on his beer. “Simonitz doesn’t like him.”
“Did Sim ever apply for Shield?”
“You picked up on that too, did you? I don’t know, but there were a few hints there. I thought the Shield was pretty gracious about it, with Sim sitting there glowering all night.”
Cruz nodded. After a minute, she said, “He was good with Nairn, taking him seriously. Some people might have laughed or slapped the kid down.”
“Nairn’s a question mark on legs, some days.”
“He’s young for his age.”
“And getting a severe case of hero worship,” Flynn said, laughing.
Cruz looked at Flynn, brown eyes warm with affection and amusement. “He’s not the only one, I’d say.” She smiled. “Would you?”
WHERE TO BUY
Gyrfalcon is available as an ebook at Wilde City Press
Comment here and get an entry in a Rafflecopter giveaway to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).
In addition, one commentator will be chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random, and get a little pack of Gyrfalcon loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).
And if you can, come over to the Wilde City Facebook page today for another rafflecopter to win a rocket ship pen. It makes spaceship landing noises. How is that not the most desirable thing on the planet?
Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.