Guest Post: Cynthia Sax Talks About Cyborg Heroes

Today we have another treat: USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Sax, who writes contemporary, SF and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Why I Love Cyborg Heroes

by Cynthia Sax

I love cyborg heroes! Yes, every cyborg hero is different. In Releasing Rage, my most recent cyborg romance, we meet several cyborgs. They all have different personalities (because they’re partially human and every human being is different). But there are some traits that are consistent across almost all cyborgs. (I say almost all because there are always exceptions to every ‘rule.’)

Cyborgs are partially human, partially machine. My cyborgs have both computer-like processors and human brains. They have skin and muscle over metal frames and mechanics. They normally heal faster and live longer than humans.

Cyborgs are constantly conflicted between their machine side and their human side, between logic and emotion, between following commands and exploring their independence, between programming and free will.

At no time is this conflict more pronounced than when cyborgs fall in love. There is little logic behind love. Will their human sides be strong enough to overcome their machine sides, allowing them to choose love?

Cyborgs are usually manufactured to be soldiers. They have loyalty built into them, which is very appealing. They know how to protect, defend, fight for their loved ones.

They’re also dangerous. Their killing abilities are honed. They’re faster and stronger than their heroines. If their machine sides saw their heroines as threats, these heroines would be in big trouble. This gives every encounter an appealing edge, an unpredictability.

These genetically designed warriors usually don’t grow up with a father and mother. They might know the companionship of their fellow cyborgs but not the deep love of a parent for a child. Often they feel that lack. They have a loneliness, a yearning for love that tears at my heartstrings.

These heroes want to ‘solve’ that lack but don’t know how. Cyborgs don’t date. They might not have any interaction with the opposite sex. Dealing with females could be completely foreign to them. When they fall in love, they often don’t know what to do with that emotion. They’re discovering all of this for the first time.

All of this combines into an intriguing and engaging hero ‘type’, one that is unique within SciFi romance. This is why I love reading and writing about cyborgs.

What do you love about cyborg heroes?

Guest Cynthia Sax Releasing Rage_CompressedReleasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

Until he meets Joan.

Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

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Jael Wye on Aliens

How do you make an alien alien enough without making them too alien? SFR author Jael Wye has some thoughts on that topic in our second guest post.

Edit: I apologize for any delay in approving comments; I have a family member in the hospital and I’m spending the bulk of my time there. Please be assured that I will approve non-spam comments as soon as I can.

You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?
By Jael Wye

Aliens are tricky. Whether they’re the smokin’ hot kind bent on ravishing Earth women, or the repulsive slimy kind trying to infect the galaxy, they test the limits of an author’s imagination. How does the human mind conjure up a character alien in the full sense of the word, a being biologically, socially, and psychologically other?

Science fiction writers usually use one of two methods of dealing with their aliens. There’s what I like to call the Prosthetic Forehead method, and there’s the Sociobiology 101 method.

The Prosthetic Forehead Method

The usual problem with aliens gets an added twist in science fiction romance. Too much world building may put the development of the romantic relationship at risk, so in order to keep the focus on the protagonists, an author can choose to base her universe on template already familiar to her audience.

For example, take Linnea Sinclair, one of my favorite science fiction romance authors. In her books such as Games of Command and Gabriel’s Ghost, she uses the science fiction conventions of popular television shows like Farscape and Star Trek as a kind of shorthand to establish the world her characters move in.

Other authors use other easily recognizable models for their futuristic worlds, like European feudal societies, or the American Old West. Even Star Trek itself was based on the culture of the U.S. Navy. However, alien characters that follow these established conventions rarely achieve otherness. They might seem unearthly on the surface, with blue skin, or pointy ears, or no vowels in their names, but they are easily understood nonetheless. We know what to expect from these aliens, because we’ve seen similar ones before, and that’s fine. We’re reading for the adventure and the romance, and if the alien landscape doesn’t provide any profound insights into humanity’s place in the universe, well, it’s not meant to. It’s meant to be an exotic-looking backdrop for our heroes.

The Sociobiology 101 Method

Contrast this approach with that of the great Ursula K. LeGuin, whose books, such as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, have been widely praised for their profound insights into humanity’s place in the universe. LeGuin’s background in anthropology allows her to construct complex alien societies that raise important social and moral questions for the reader.

But anthropology is far from the only scientific discipline that goes into creating “serious” aliens. In order to plausibly depict the social structures, technology, and physiology that the inhabitants of a different planet might evolve, an author has to put real study into physics and biology as well. It’s a lot of work, but infusing the imagination with a strong dose of the hard and soft sciences insures that a character isn’t just another 21st century American in alien drag.

However, it’s important to note that many science fiction authors like LeGuin who put a lot of effort into creating unique and plausible aliens couldn’t make it as romance writers. Their characters are simply too alien to identify with or fall in love with. (At least for most readers. When it comes to hentai fans, all bets are off.)

Bringing Balance to the Force

So which approach to creating aliens should a science fiction romance author take? Personally, I don’t see why it can’t be a little of both. In my newest book, Game Of The Red King, my hero Max and heroine Sita are both descendants of humans who colonized Mars. They are a blend of human and alien, of the familiar and the foreign. Because they grew up on a planet with low gravity and a thin, carbon dioxide atmosphere, their bodies are different from any human born on Earth. Their society, composed of people of every ethnicity and based on a highly refined economy and technology, has evolved away from the Earth societies that first generated it. Max and Sita are no longer Earthers, but Martians.

And yet, they are still recognizably human. Their emotions, instincts, and desires are the same ones we have here and now. Their appearance also falls within the normal human range (if you consider sexy supermodels normal.) Though they are alien, that doesn’t keep the reader from identifying with them and their romance.

And romance, one of the most most fundamental of human experiences, is what my books are all about. I love to speculate about the possibilities we face in the future and out there in space, but in the end I think I’m really speculating about human nature. LeGuin recently said that the characteristic gesture of science fiction is to give the reader a new place from which to look at the old world, and she’s right. For all our scientific theories or flights of fancy, when write about aliens, ultimately we are writing about ourselves.

So tell me, what is your favorite flavor of alien?

More by Jael Wye
Game of the Red KingGame Of The Red King

On a ship sailing to undreamed shores…

Martian doctor Sita Chandra left her rich and powerful lover Max Ross years ago to protect their child from his enemies, never thinking she’d see him again. But now she and Max are stuck together on a space ship traveling from Earth back home to Mars, and the passion between them is as hot as ever before–and just as dangerous.

Max has never forgotten Sita, or forgiven her for breaking his heart. Now that the beautiful, infuriating woman is back in his life, he can’t lose her and his family again. But the shadows that darkened their past together may yet destroy their future.

When a madman targets Max for a diabolical experiment, threatening the lives of everyone on the ship, It will take all the skill and all the heart Sita and Max possess to survive his deadly game.

Jenn's Portrait 1Jael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.

Watch For It!

I have spotlights and guest posts going live in the coming week in the following places (I will try to update the links to be more specific as I get them):






Monday (3/9):

Do You Wanna Win a Gift Card?

Or maybe a set of ebooks?

Click on Rafflecopter link over there on the right, or go to my website, to enter the contest.

One person will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card and all three Tales of Tolari Space ebooks. One person will win an ebook copy of each of the three Tales of Tolari Space novels. And three people will each win an ebook copy of my PRISM Award-winning debut novel, The Marann.

Good luck!

On Trying New Things

We (the married we, not the we of royals or people with worms) have hired a publicist, in an attempt to rebuild the momentum Tolari Space once had. One of the publicist’s considered suggestions was — a Street Team. Those who join it get early access to review copies of my books.

She designed a very nice banner, started up the group, and now there is Christie Meierz Official Street Team on Facebook. Color me speechless.

You’re welcome to join, of course, if you would like to review my books (in e-ARC form) on Goodreads and such ahead of the crowds. You can find the group here, I believe. Also, feel free to friend me (where I yak about my authorial life), or like my author page (where I post  sniplets).

Meanwhile, I have learned a new way to tear apart a book chapter by chapter, and experimented by executing it on Chapter One of Farryn’s War. The method involves color-coding everything: narrative, internal and external dialog, visceral/physical reactions, action. The only things that get spared are dialog tags. I think.

Fun with colored pixels. The eventual goal is to deepen the experience for the reader. I’m eager to see how it works.

That was my Monday. How was yours?

Where Has She Been?

Ummm. It’s been two months since my last post, hasn’t it? [sheepish look]

The short answer: I’ve been rather snowed under with Life, Tolari Space, and Everything.

The rather longer answer sits on my hard drive (and backed up in the cloud) at 93,292 words. The Fall is in its final form (I hope) and my alpha reader has it. Depending on the feedback I get, I may need to write another scene, and I may need to move things around a bit in the first third of the novel (boy, do I ever not want to do that), but it’s basically done. It only needs polishing, and then I will submit it for editing.

This makes the third time I have rewritten the entire book. The first two rewrites were my own fault, but this third rewrite — is also my own fault, for doing the second rewrite after signing with Sky Warrior and before revising Daughters of Suralia. I will never, not ever, rewrite a book if I have any clue that the previous one in the series isn’t entirely settled. Ever. Again.

The Fall is Laura’s story, in the main. She returns to Parania and the Paran to live happily ever after, or so she thinks. The universe has other plans, and Laura has to fight to find her place, both in her new home and in the Paran’s heart. You’ll get to see interstellar trade relations, Tolari inter-provincial politics, and what can happen when a Tolari ruler loses sight of who he is.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that. For now.

It’s time to get cracking on Farryn’s War.

You’ve met Farryn. You just don’t know it yet.

SFR Brigade Presents: Daughters of Suralia


The SFR Brigade Presents is a weekly snippet blog hop. Click the pic above to check out what the other participating authors posted and find out more about their books!

This snippet is from the second edition of Daughters of Suralia (Book 2 of the Tales of Tolari Space). The award-winning first book in the series, The Maraan, is also available from Sky Warrior Books. 

     The letter came in the morning, enclosed in an
envelope of
rough paper, hand-folded, smelling of something like cinnamon and
tied with a strip
of cloth the same green as the Paran’s robe. A slender, willowy
woman in brown
handed it to Laura at the high table.

     Laura laid it on the table in front of her,
unopened, and
ran a finger along one edge. The envelope bore a subtle empathic
like a vibration. It had exchanged hands before it reached her,
not many times,
but a few. The strongest resonance on the outside of the letter
matched the
woman who now walked away toward the tables of food near the
kitchens. The

     Marianne’s voice burst through her thoughts.
“Aren’t you
going to open it? It’s not every day you get an actual, physical
letter on any planet.”

     Laura looked up. Every eye at the table watched
her. Even
Cena and Storaas, who sat side-by-side next to Thela, had stopped
feeding each
other to stare.

“Um,” she said, which would disappoint her
deportment tutor, but the woman had never covered Proper Behavior expected of a Widow upon receiving a
Letter from her
Lover during Breakfast
. She scooted her chair back. “I think
I’ll read this
in my quarters.”

More about Daughters of Suralia:

Three women, two planets, and a whale.

For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically
bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete
with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of
Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander
is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get
Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner
who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society
that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left
in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has
plans for her, too.

Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and
gifted healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have
conspired to deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his
heart, she has an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.

Cover by Laura Shinn

The Daughters of Suralia Re-release


Some readers might be wondering why the new edition of Daughters of Suralia does not update their old one. The answer lies in the way books are assigned their ISBN/ASIN — one factor this number depends on is the publisher. Different publisher, different number. Different number, different book, as far as booksellers are concerned. No free update. There’s literally nothing that I, as the author, can do.

So why buy it again? Well, and this is the most important question.When I signed with Sky Warrior Books, they bought my backlist. They then had the right, and they exercised it, to ask me to revise my backlist books up to their standards. Truthfully, I was happy to do so. The Marann didn’t require a lot of revision, but Daughters of Suralia — that was another story. My editor commented that the book didn’t have a plot arc, which was true. It didn’t. After tossing a number of ideas at me, I realized what it needed to come up with one. Then began the work of stitching it in.

At times, it was like deja vu all over again — during the same period of time last year (January to March), I was working on the same issues with the same book the first time around. The changes were small, at first, but as I went through the story, the entire last quarter of the book changed and expanded. I closed some plot holes and picked up some loose ends. The novel grew from 74,000 words to 95,000. The lingering question of what Central Command will do next — that will be answered in future novels. Just so you know. <grin>

Meanwhile, do buy the 2nd edition of Daughters of Suralia. It’s a much stronger story now, and I am very happy with it. I hope you will be, too.