Mechanical Men and the Women Who Love Them
By Nicola M. Cameron
Judging by the recent buzz around television shows and movies such as Westworld, Deus Ex, and Her, audiences are becoming increasingly fascinated with androids, AI, and cyborgs, particularly when it comes to romance and the possibilities of an augmented lover. This interest is definitely reflected in the rising popularity of cyborg romances from authors such as Cara Bristol, Eve Langlais, and Grace Goodwin. NYT bestseller Laurann Dohner had this to say about the origin of her Cyborg Seduction heroes: “I love writing cyborgs because I’ve always been a fan of cyborgs. I watched all those movies they put out in the 80’s and totally fell in love with the concept.” USA Today bestseller and author of the Cyborg Sizzle series Cynthia Sax added, “Having been a cyborg romance fangirl for many years, I love the constant conflict between machine and man, between logic and emotion. In many cyborg romances, the cyborgs are manufactured to be hot, hunky super warriors. This adds another level of delicious conflict. Will these over the top alpha heroes be forced to follow the destinies assigned to them or will they blaze their own trails in the universe? I find this fascinating as both a reader and a writer.”
So how do you create a story about a hero who’s half machine and not only give him a heart but a HEA as well? First, it’s important to maintain a balance between your hero’s nifty cybernetic upgrades and his humanity (read: don’t go overboard on the tech). Yes, a cyborg may be able to lift a shuttle, open electronic locks with a thought, and stroll around unprotected in vacuum, but the focal point of the story should be that he’s still a human being with emotions and needs, and those are what drive him to seek a connection with his romantic partner. If you spend too much time focusing on the technical aspects the story will read more as romantic science fiction than SF romance.
That being said, it does help to do a little bit of world building and understand why cyborgs are a reality in your story. Are they the first line of defense on the frontier of space? A tech company’s experiment gone wrong? Do they have a limited life span or some other unique quirk? Your chosen origin story can provide you with a variety of different tacks for your romance. For example, in my cyborg romance Degree of Resistance I have a dystopian future where my heroine must rescue her lover from a life of slavery as a mind-controlled cyborg soldier. Whatever the circumstances are that led your hero (or heroine) to be turned into a cyborg, they can often be used as a jumping off point for the romance between your MCs.
Finally, remember that being a cyborg can have plusses as well as minuses. Your cyborg can be specifically designed as a tall, handsome alpha hunk, or he can look more like a regular human if that’s what your story requires. Depending on what’s been replaced or installed, he can also have a significantly reduced (or completely absent) refractory period — longer sex and multiple orgasms for the win! Certain body parts might vibrate or warm up, or he might be able to read bioelectric output, brainwaves, or body heat and use that information to drive his partner wild with pleasure. Feel free to play around with what your enhanced hero brings to the table (or the bed) – who knows, you may wind up inspiring future cyberneticists!
Nicola Cameron is a married woman of a certain age who really likes writing about science fiction, fantasy, and romance. When not writing about those things, she likes to make Stuff™. And she may be rather fond of absinthe, ahem. While possessing a healthy interest in sex since puberty, it wasn’t until 2012 that she decided to write about it. The skills picked up during her SF writing career transferred quite nicely to speculative romance. Her To Be Written work queue currently stands at around nineteen books, and her mojito-sodden Muse swans in from Bali every so often to add to the list, cackling to herself all the while. You can find her books, including her cyborg romance Degree of Resistance, at www.nicolacameronwrites.com