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October 04, 2009


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The book isn't awful, and I read it straight through with no urge to toss it across the room.

Coming from you, that's no faint praise.

As for the Luna Books... The idea of tapping into the market of people who enjoy F/SF and romance was a good one. Unfortunately, it was so badly promoted that, because the publisher was Harlequin, bookstores put the novels in the romance section, where most F/SF reders don't go, and it turned out that most romance readers didn't seek fantasy stories not set in the here and now. That's why, when Luna went thru a blood bath, the survivors were mostly what's now called Urban Fantasy.

I've read an enjoyed quite a few romance novels, but I seem to be very fussy about having romance mixed in to my F&SF. Two great tastes that don't taste great together? It's hard to strike a happy medium between just writing a romance novel in a fantastical setting and writing a F/SF novel but leaving the romance so unintegrated that it feels artificial and imposed on an otherwise workable story (which is sort of how I felt with this book; the plot would have worked just as well without the romantic elements). Somewhere in there is a sweet spot where the romance is integral but not overwhelming, but very few authors seem to be able to find it to my satisfaction, and it mostly turns me off the new variety of urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

(I also read quite a few books in this subgenre for Publisher's Weekly, which I can't discuss here, so I have some idea of what the field's like in general.)

It's hard to mix genres. It can happen. Last year, at the worldcon, I was having lunch with my wife and her agent, who deals with the romance field a lot. I mentionned - and they agreed - that the James Bond movie Casino Royale was extremely romantic, but that it wasn't a romance, not as the publishing world now defines the term.

I enjoyed Disappearing Nightly more than you did, although I agree that it's somewhat uneven. I've been looking forward to the sequel, which was delayed by several years. I have generally liked the Luna books I've read, but I'm very choosy about which ones I pick up. On the other hand, I am a romance reader as well as a SF/fantasy reader. The blends generally don't appeal to me because romance novels rarely handle the fantastic elements well; I'm a lot more forgiving of a good SF/fantasy novel that drops the ball on the romance part. Luna, as you say, seems to emphasize the SF/fantasy elements, so it fits my tastes well. When we buy Luna books for my library, we put them in SF, not romance.

[I wasn't able to post this in Firefox just now, because the Post button stayed grayed out even after I entered my information. Posting this in Explorer, which seems to be fine.]

Susan, how do you feel about Catherine Asaro's books?

Catherine Asaro lost me forever when I read the story that featured the romantic leads eloping on pastel unicorns, which was the climactic annoyance in a whole series of them. I read one other story of hers and found it irritating in all sorts of ways, so I stopped annoying myself by reading her stuff.

Susan, have you read any of Lee & Miller's stuff? Most of it is romantic without being Romance, like what Serge said, but a couple of the novels might qualify properly as Romance.

I've never read any of hers because they sounded too romantic, and it sounds like I was right.

Asaro.... I shall refrain from publicly say what I think of her.

Eloping on pastel unicorns? Oh goodness. If I read that in a book, I would either die laughing, or roll my eyes so hard that I'd sprain my retinas.

"AJ! Stop rolling your eyes like that, young lady! Or do you want to wind up looking like Marty Feldman?"

I just read Doppelgangster, the sequel to Disappearing Nightly. It was pretty good, although the mob stuff here didn't interest me as much as the theatrical bits in the first one. Anyone reading this for the romance is going to be disappointed.

Despite the flaws, it's good enough that I'll read more as they are published.

Any fairy godfather?

I mean, wasn't there a Mythadventure about that very subject, years ago?

Serge: No, no fairy godfather. Maybe that's the next book.

I've also read Doppelgangster, and though I don't like gangland drama as much as backstage/theatrical drama, I thought it was a much better book overall than Disappearing Nightly.

Most of the original Luna series were outside of my taste loci and some seems immensely self-indulgent. The ones I did read and go out of my way to buy, including Michelle Sagara's series, which is reminiscent actually of Steve Brust's Dragaera novels, except that most of the characters LIKE one another; and Laura Anne Gilman's Retriever series (which is UF and there is a running romance subplot involving the female and male leads; the Sagara series, has little in the way of romantic subplot threads, someone who comes to it looking for romance is majorly going to be out of luck....)

Paula... Every once in a while, my wife receives emails from readers of her Luna novels who asks if there's a chance the story might ever be continued/completed, even in electronic form. She always has to say no to them.

Why can't it be continued/completed?

Susan... The story didn't do well with readers of romance or fantasy. It probably was too much fantasy and not enough romance for the former. As for the latter, if she had been known in the field of F/SF, and if the potential readers had known to look for the novels in the romance section of bookstores, her story might have done better, but how much better? Also, after two novels, the story was only at the half-way point.

The bottom line? We doubt there is that much of a demand for the rest of the story.

Who knows? Maybe one day she'll decide to return to the whole thing and maybe rewrite it. Right now though, she's busy with many book projects.

I read one of the early Luna novels, but I've blanked all the details out of my mind because I found it so cloying.

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