I love reading romances. I love the relationships, I love the internal monologues, I love reading both the male and female points of view of the same events. I love reading about characters grappling with either internal issues or external events beyond their control and overcoming these problems together. I absolutely adore the Happily Ever After endings to such a point that I will kill fairies to ensure that I get the ending that I most desire. And most of all, I love that I have to leave my cynical, snarky self at the door for the duration of reading and escape to some other world, some other planet where the relationship build ensures that no matter what obstacles, issues, evil nemesis, glamorous next-door neighbours, indecisions, friendship pressures and other alien, droid or spaceship interventions, the hero and the heroine prevail and end up with one another. Yes, dear reader, romance fiction, to me, is somewhat akin to science fiction.
I grew up on a street that had 2 parish churches (different denominations) and every Saturday and Sunday we would sit on our front verandah and watch hourly processions of brides and grooms in their various Jaguars, Mercedez Benzs, convertibles, Holden Monaros, horse-drawn carts, and ribbon strewn silver Bugattis passing our home. Each and every time my parents would jokingly say “Another couple going to their hanging”. This was the first plant in my mind that marriage was a cynical pursuit. It was a prison that was not to be coveted.
A much loved (divorced) aunt, at weddings, would always greet me with “May you remain on the shelf, and may it be made of steel”. Hmmm!
Add to the mix that I was a Mad Magazine aficianado. Mad gave me an understanding of satire and irony and taught me to question everything. And I loved Dave Berg’s The Lighter Side of…. which always poked fun at relationships.
So any time I would hear any gushings of “But I lurve him” from the girls at school or “He’s such a good pasher” or “Oh My God! He bought me a fur coat” (I mean, really? Aside from the obvious animal cruelty issues, It’s frickin’ Sydney! It doesn’t get cold. That’s not love. That is stupidity). I would roll my eyes and think “get some perspective”.
Don’t get me wrong here – I absolutely adore my husband (and for the record – I walked down the road to my wedding ceremony – no cars) and, despite my jaded outlook, I truly believe that for most people, there is a love match. Some will be lucky enough to find it at a young age and have it last for many years (such as my friend’s grandparents who were married for 82 years), some will find it for a short intense period (Britney Spears and Jason Alexander married for a day comes to mind) but most people will be somewhere in between. And when it comes to my reading choices, I am curious, I am interested in reading about that journey of coming together. I predominately read romance fiction but I will happily read biographies with romantic elements because I love to examine and understand the circumstances around a romantic pairing as most of these pairings will be undertaken with an optimism that I find life affirming.
I have to say that I deeply dislike love stories, particularly tragic, grief stricken tales where no-one is happy and the moral is that misery gives you a deeper understanding of humanity. It may win authors literary awards but it certainly doesn’t compel me to buy any of their books. I know that life has tragedy and that death is not an option but I choose to focus on more positive aspects in life. It makes the reality of life so much more bearable.
So why would I equate romance to science fiction and not to fantasy. Well, for me, fantasy fiction is not possible. It is entering a realm that is only imagined, flights of fancy that will never be realised no matter how vivid or thrilling the story may be. But science fiction is grounded in scientific possibilities. It may not be possible in the immediate future, but just like the man on the moon, it has such wonderful outcomes should the fiction be realised. And don’t we all know how wonderful romance can be when it comes to fruition.