Female Scientists Had Sex, Too, So Where Are Their Biopics?

A recent Deadline article shared the news about a forthcoming television show: Albert Einstein “Warts and All”: Ron Howard On His NatGeo Series ‘Genius’ – Contenders Emmys. The article begins by describing director Ron Howard’s search for, what was to him, a satisfying depiction of Albert Einstein for a visual medium:

Over the years when filmmaker Ron Howard read treatments on Albert Einstein, he never felt the character was reflected completely for a two-hour movie.

As I read the article, a number of statements jumped out at me. Taken together, they imply that one of the main reasons screenwriter Noah Pink’s approach possibly appealed to Howard was its depiction of Einstein as some sort of sex god:

* “said Howard in that it portrayed the burgeoning scientist and his younger libido.”

* “he was free thinking, a Bohemian”

* “He loved women”

* “earned his doctorate while pursuing women”

Wow, that’s a lot of focus on Einstein’s sex life. Ooh, how salacious! How naughty! How very innovative to put Einstein, his cock, and sex in the same story!

“What was the most enticing was diving into aspects of the Einstein you didn’t know,” said Howard

Hmm, I thought Einstein’s active sex life was a pretty well known fact? Frankly, I’m surprised no one thought about including it in an Einstein biopic before now. Funny how that detail was what nabbed Ron Howard’s attention—as well as his time and company’s money.

I’m all for a “warts and all” approach to historical figures like Einstein and sure, throw in some sex because scientists are human, too (a fact about which many sci-fi romance authors are well aware, heh), but this particular interpretation of Albert Einstein’s life reeks of exploitation of the story’s female characters. The article seems to promise them as young, nubile receptacles for Einstein’s penis. So, um, yay for the show’s cishet male audience? Are female viewers supposed to, I don’t know, view Einstein as this virile lover with super genius semen? Are we supposed to fantasize about him making love to us? Or were we as an audience even considered at all in the story’s development phase?

Given that the article (and, I’m guessing, Ron Howard) took pains to point out that part of the story focuses squarely on Einstein’s “libido” I have zero expectations that Einstein’s sexual adventures will be treated with much nuance or that his lovers will have any kind of agency in the story. In fact, there seems to be a heavy implication that they’ll be reduced to their sex appeal because gosh darn it, a brilliant man like him has insatiable carnal needs. Naturally, this aspect of his life demands star treatment amirite?!

One of the promotional trailers even has a montage of Einstein having sex: “Albert Einstein was many things, but monogamous was not one of them.”

If a similar approach (a big “if”) was taken for a non-monogamous female scientist, would there be an equivalent strong sense of interest and celebration behind it? Even if such a story refrained from shaming her for being sexually active, would viewers?

Even if it’s true that Einstein rogered like a rabbit, the problem isn’t with this particular movie. The problem is the overall pattern it helps perpetuate about whose stories get to be told as well as which ones are given the vast marketing support of major Hollywood corporate entities.

For one thing, we rarely get movies or shows about the lives of historical female scientists, especially from powerhouse companies like Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment. For another, even if such stories were filmed on a regular basis, it’s highly unlikely said female scientist characters would be portrayed as having active, robust sex lives. Given who currently holds the reins of power in Hollywood, I can’t imagine a similar movie made about, say, Marie Curie.

Or about scientist Gabrielle-Emilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil (pictured at the top of this post). Check out this little nugget about her life:

…the daughter of the French court’s chief of protocol, [she] married the marquis du Chatelet in 1725. She lived the life of a courtier and bore three children. But at age 27, she began studying mathematics seriously and then branched into physics. This interest intensified as she began an affair with the philosopher Voltaire, who also had a love of science.

A forbidden romance and a hot, lusty affair?! That’s a movie waiting to happen if there ever was one. I would love to see her life portrayed in a movie (especially by an all-female filmmaker team and told through the female gaze). Sex sells, so why hasn’t anyone given this project the green light?

Marie Maynard Daly
Marie Maynard Daly

Or how about a biopic covering the life of Marie Maynard Daly? She was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. Or Patricia Bath, the “the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose.” Both women married and it would be incredibly easy to spice up their biopics with lots of romance and the hot sex both woman undoubtedly had while achieving scientific greatness right and left.

I can hear some of you now, wanting to point out that none of the above women are as famous as Einstein. Correct, but we all know why: history routinely glosses over the existence of female scientists, so they rarely have a chance to become famous. So that’s another problem on top of many others when it comes to the representation of female scientists in film and television. Hollywood only wants to focus on famous historical figures, and if our culture doesn’t boost others up through various means, then they don’t receive the movies and television treatments. The cycle perpetuates itself.

Regardless, there’s absolutely no inherent reason that more TV shows and films can’t focus on “warts and all” portrayals of female scientists, including their horny sides. If there are going to be movies about scientists having sex, I want ones that not only feature female scientists front and center, but also ones wherein they take charge of their sex lives and enjoy making love. Those are the films that will get this female viewer’s money and time. And I’ll wait for them as long as it takes.

Interview with S.B.K. Burns, Author of ENTANGLED

Please welcome author S.B.K. Burns to Galaxy Express 2.0! S.B.K. Burns’ sci-fi romances blend “science and spirituality” and “explore different kinds of consciousness.” It struck me that her angle is one I haven’t often encountered in this genre and therefore was interested in learning more about it. I love it when SFR authors find new ways to surprise us!

Her books also feature time travel, diverse characters (including ones with disabilities) and all kinds of scientific fun. S.B.K. Burns joined me for an interview so I could help share the news of her work, in particular her newest releases ENTANGLED and FLY LIKE AN EAGLE.

First, here’s the cover and blurb for FLY LIKE AN EAGLE:

It’s 1824 Philadelphia at the opening of the Franklin Institute of Science, and one of its founders, Samantha’s father, wants her to marry his business partner, a much older man, to keep their war industry dealings secret.

Looking for a way out of the arranged marriage, tomboy Sam finds it in Eagle, the half Native American son of the man she is to marry.

Eagle brings Samantha into his spiritual world, his bimijiwan, in order that she might stop their father’s preparations for an ironclad Civil War at sea. To do this, Sam might have to convince Benjamin Franklin to abandon his kite experiment.

And now for my interview with author S.B.K. Burns!

Galaxy Express: There are bunches of genres authors can choose from. Why did you decide to write science fiction romance?

S.B.K. Burns: From an early age, I read plays from both my parent’s Theatre Arts Magazines and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. That led to writing and composing romantic plays and musicals in high school. I went on to study science in college, but it wasn’t until I became serious about character development and joined RWA in San Diego that I started novel writing. And what better topic for a multi-degreed scientific generalist than science fiction romance.

Galaxy Express: What is the least readers need to know about your time travel series Ages of Invention?

S.B.K. Burns: The novels feature forbidden romances (think ROMEO AND JULIET). Electress Sophia of the House of Hanover (18th century ancestor to all British royalty) saves the great scientists of history from a time quake in her Crystal Quantum Computer (the C-Q). In the 21st century a Stephen Hawking character designs an Electronic Quantum Computer (the E-Q) that is in competition with an entourage of college misfits who enter their past life bodies through meditation to stop him from messing up the timeline. Newton and Franklin make guest appearances.

Galaxy Express: Tell us a bit about the couples from your newest releases, ENTANGLED and FLY LIKE AN EAGLE.

S.B.K. Burns: In ENTANGLED (science history of 1717), the lovers are from different sides of the track. Dawn is a Hume’n spy, she believes in the David Hume philosophy that love is not just a word but a deep experience that goes to the very center of her being. She’s undercover for the Hume’n Hacker Underground championed by CEO, Marrick, an anti-establishment Wolfram type. Taylor Stephenson is the Olympic weightlifting brother to the Hawking-type physics prof who invents the E-Q. Taylor suspects that he’s not like his brother, a rational, upper class Cartesian, but more like Dawn, an emotional lower-class Hume’n.

In FLY LIKE AN EAGLE (science history of 1824), the heroine, Samantha, is a tomboy and a bookworm who loves nature, but her father, an industrialist and one of the founders of the Philadelphia Franklin Institute of Science wants her to marry his business partner, a much older man. Fortunately for her, the man she is to marry has a half Native American son, Migizi (Eagle) who designs hanggliders and knows all about the other secret Victorian world of Electress Sophia. Samantha discovers a way to ride Eagle’s bimijiwan, his flow, that takes them into alternate realities of the future. To counter damage done by the E-Q, and their fathers’ preparation for an ironclad ship civil war, they must determine if Franklin’s kite experiment is a go/no-go.

Galaxy Express: Which scientific/technological element(s) in your books do you think will turn readers on the most?

S.B.K. Burns: In ENTANGLED, the warring factions use focused brainwave technology to spirit themselves into their past lives: 1) a past-life-regression lab in Marrick’s secret bunker versus 2) the science lab E-Q, fashioned like a submarine control room.

In FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, the lovers take a ride together on the plummet of a giant swinging pendulum, and, also, they fly over a river valley together in the faring of Eagle’s delta wing glider. Dirigibles races abound in Victorian Piscatawnia, New London. And Bertie, H.G. Wells, makes an appearance.

Galaxy Express: How would you rate the heat level in your books?

S.B.K. Burns: Not erotic, but medium rare. Love scenes are part of the flow and the disruption of travel in time. Sexual relations tastefully follow the inner emotions of the lovers.

Galaxy Express: What makes you geek out more than anything else?

S.B.K. Burns: Romance writers who don’t spend enough time looking up at the night sky to, at least, notice the phases of the moon to accurately insert them into their stories.

Galaxy Express: Do the Ages of Invention books stand alone or should they be read in order? Where do you plan on taking the series?

S.B.K. Burns: ENTANGLED and FLY LIKE AN EAGLE can be read alone, but the back history is developed more in ENTANGLED. The next book in the series will probably be about the time traveling pilot of the C-Q, Naomi, and her relationship with the very special “schizophrenic” brother of the heroine, Dawn. Most of the action takes place with an entourage of college misfits from ENTANGLED’S 21st century hacker underground.

My WIP is a stand-alone space-opera romance between an alien woman held captive by the President of the North American States and one of his elite aerospace-plane test pilots.

Galaxy Express: Do you have a favorite science fiction/sci-fi romance movie? What do you enjoy about it?

S.B.K. Burns: The movie of a play was from a little know TV series and titled Murder And The Android, it starred Suzanne Pleshette and Rip Torn.

Rip Torn plays an android that falls for a real human. The android becomes self-aware and gets in trouble with the law and is to be terminated. Pleshette, the daughter of his designer, fakes Torn’s death, and I suppose they live happily ever after.

My sci-fi, light-urban-fantasy romance, LOVE ME, BITE ME, involves a love between a psychic vampire and a spacefaring android.

I always seem to put threads of forbidden romance and diversity through my work, probably because, as a creative person, I’ve felt the sting of being different.

Galaxy Express: Where can readers find you?

My Author Site

My Philosophy Site

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Amazon

***

Ms. Burns, thank you for coming aboard Galaxy Express 2.0 and for your SFR art!

Event News

Authors S.B.K. Burns and Marie Andreas (of RWA San Diego) will be making an appearance at CondorCon (March 3-5, 2017). Visit the Mysterious Galaxy table where you can meet the authors and nab copies of their books. S.B.K. Burns will be featuring her LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS sci-fi light urban fantasy series, which includes spacefaring vampires, androids, and shapeshifting flying saucers.

Introducing Author Vikki Romano

Vikki Romano is an author of sci-fi romance. Having recently discovered her, I put together a post so we could all learn more about her work. The more SFR authors we know about, the more reading choices we have amirite?!

What she writes

Sci-fi thrillers with romance. Especially good for fans of cyberpunk, military SF, suspense and films like WARGAMES and TRON.

Books of interest

Vikki Romano’s Alpha Core Trilogy launched with EDGE OF DARKNESS (2015), continues with BREAKING POINT (2016), and culminates in SYNAPSE CONTINUUM, which released this month. So she’s been busy writing SFR for a while!

Here’s the blurb for EDGE OF DARKNESS:

In 2065, corporate sponsored governments jockey for supremacy in the biotechnical arena. Bullets and missiles take a back seat to cyber-enhanced soldiers and pulse weapons. In this extreme environment, only the most hardened body and mind can survive. Calder McKenna was a failed experiment in the military’s push for power. Now a special agent for the metro task force, he lives day by day trying to forget the ones that were lost… the ones that he could have saved. When technology and humanity collide, Calder is forced to make desperate decisions, but how do you destroy the monster without becoming one yourself?

***

Learn more about the inspiration behind EDGE OF DARKNESS by visiting the author’s To Chase Ideas page.

About Vikki Romano

(from the author’s bio page)

I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, in every capacity that I can manage. From newsletters to yearbooks, journals to hard cover books. It’s not seeing my name on a cover or any kind of admiration that does it to me, it’s getting it out. It’s a strange phenomenon that most writers have, of having stories continually running through your mind and the nearly painful urge to get them all out before you forget them. Not sure what the phenomenon is called, but there are days I hate that I have it. It’s a blessing and a curse. A double edged sword.

My love for sci-fi goes way back to my childhood. I mean, who didn’t love movies like Tron and Terminator when they were a kid? Or great oldies like WarGames. I grew up in the advent of technology and rode the wave of the dot com lifestyle in my 20s. It was a wonderful time to be alive, to see where tech could go. Being involved in the field as a database admin and then later as a hardware tech and web designer, I had my fingers in all of it and I loved what it was all about.

In college, I was a true cyberpunk and gloried over works by Gibson and Dick. I reveled in the hackers manifesto like a warrior and actually prayed for a world like BladeRunner. They were very cool, hyper-energized times we were in and it gave me scores of ideas and hands-on experience to dump into my work.

Now I am putting my thoughts to paper… or to screen, as it were. Dumping my neurons onto the page, letting out the stories that have been hovering there for so many years. My Alpha Core series is just the first of many. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

Where to find Vikki Romano

Web site

Twitter: @VikkiRomano

Happy reading!

Got #editing? #SF #SFR

If you’ve read my past editorials at SFRQ, you’ll know that I have always been an independent/self-publishing advocate. I believe that independent publishing offers avenues for other and less common voices to be heard and that readers are hungry for stories from different perspectives. You only need to see the number of highly popular series coming out places like Netflix, Hulu, HBO (and now, Amazon!) to know that “independence” and “popularity” aren’t mutually exclusive. Could you have imagined one of the regular network channels producing The Sopranos, The Wire or Breaking Bad? And let’s not even mention Game of Thrones!

As a result of their tremendous and innovative work, nobody throws brickbats at Hulu, HBO or Netflix anymore, but people still disparage independently-published books. And, unfortunately, one flaw that dogs such books is the editorial quality of the prose. In a nutshell, there ain’t any.

The “independent networks” discovered that they could compete with the Big Boys if they had the same production values as the competition. Pair that with compelling writing and you have a winner on your hands. It’s something that the independent networks have learned, but something that I think still needs to happen across the independent publishing landscape as well.

Which brings me to the focus of this post. Finally. 🙂 Besides being the Chief Editor of SFRQ for three years, and a writer of SFR for ten, I’ve also been a technical writer and editor for…oh dear…more than 30 years. I feel so old having said that. LOL Despite this amount of experience, I have never thought that I could publish my own books without any kind of editorial help, which is why you’ll see two other names in the back matter of my books. They’re my editors.

I’d like to throw their (and my) expertise open to you. J’s and my business, Challis Tower, is now taking on clients for its editorial services. While most other freelance editorial services offer one editor, we’re offering…three! That’s right. Three editors for the price of one.

There are a couple of caveats. One, we only offer two packages in order to keep the team’s process (and this process spans continents!) flowing as smoothly as possible:

  • Our Manuscript Critique service involves two editors, of which I’m one
  • Our standard (and only) Editing Package involves three editors, of which I’m one

The other caveat is that we’re currently only open to writers with manuscripts in the following genres:

  • Science/speculative fiction
  • Science fiction romance
  • Science fiction with romantic elements

If you’ve decided to take the independent path of publishing, then it’s up to you to make your story as flawless as possible. The better the quality, the more appreciative your readership. And here’s an opportunity to run your prose past three editors, all of whom have editorial experience in the SF/SFR genres.

If you’re interested in having your manuscript looked over by up to three editors at a single rate, or if you have any questions, you can go to the Challis Tower Services page or drop me a line at editing #at% ChallisTowerBooks #dot& com

We’d love to hear from you!

Kaz and the gang at Challis Tower

Guest Post & Giveaway by Laurel Wanrow, Author of PASSAGES

Galaxy Express 2.0 welcomes author Laurel Wanrow, author of the recently released sci-fi romance PASSAGES. She’s here with a guest post, information about her book, and details of a giveaway!

The Mystery of Transporters

I grew up watching Star Trek, so of course was familiar with transporters…wasn’t I? Without a second thought, I wrote a sort of transporter into my sci-fi Passages and called it a Conducer, from the Latin conducere meaning “bring together.” Yet when I moved on from the draft stage and began to put more detail into the story, I looked up the Star Trek transporters to find out how those writers explained the machine’s operation.

There is nothing to look up.

If you have ever tried to find the episode in which they explain transporters, there isn’t one. According to Wikipedia, the Star Trek producers needed a simpler, cheaper solution to filming a starship landing, and devised a transporter for the pilot, purportedly thinking it was an original idea. Later, The Fly was pointed out to Gene Roddenberry.

Still, I liked this method of travel and it made sense that a futuristic race coming to the aid of a ravaged planet would use shortcuts for traveling to the planet. “Instant travel” made it possible for the main setting of the story to be off in a remote and rather unique corner of the planet, yet the characters could arrive at their headquarters in a minute. Also, I’d discovered my hero Quinn has a knack for “rearranging particles for movement.” I’d been playing with this idea of futuristic particle physics since seeing particle tracks in a Wilson’s cloud chamber, and wanted to Quinn to have easy opportunities to use his talent in the story.

Wilson’s cloud chamber with visible particle tracks (short, thick: α-particles; long, thin: β-particles)

So with no precedent for how it worked, I forged ahead with my Conducer, describing it as a particle accelerator set along a corridor lined with five sets of gray plates that one must walk through. On remote posts, Conducers start up and operate by reading book titles. Of course, I chose novels with ways of entering other worlds, a fun nod to some of my favorites.

Excerpt from Quinn’s point of view:

And then it was our turn. We hefted our travel packs and entered the small limestone station. The plates of the particle accelerator hummed along the thirty-foot corridor, making the air ripple between the five sets of wall-mounted gray rectangles.

Graen offered our verification paper to the operator perched at the console, then pulled it back at the last instant. “Did he get it right?” she asked with false concern. “Stranaar? On the coast?”

I slid behind her, peering at the paper she held to me while edging closer to the raised line of yellow stones bisecting the slate floor, the actual Conducer entrance. I needed extra time between the first set of plates to start the leap. Afterward, all we had to do was reach the end. Together.

“Did he get our town entered right?” Graen waved the slip and fidgeted from foot to foot, effectively positioning us at the yellow threshold.

I stepped across. Energy flowed over my body. With a thought, I connected to it.

Graen said, “Young man, check this, would you?”

“Yes.” The operator snatched the paper and studied it. He repeated an impatient “yes” and bent to input the destination that would lock us into going to the Stranaar station.

Graen clasped my hand. We walked, each step dissolving us as I hijacked the power we’d need for our cross-leap, a method our people used to make direct connections to a particular destination. Six steps, seven, eight—

“Stop!”

My adrenaline spiked, but we couldn’t stop. Wouldn’t. Nine steps, ten. Halfway through the array of plates, halfway dissolved. Graen faltered, then slipped from my grasp. What the—?

I shoved my molasses-dense particles into solidity and turned around.

Between the third and fourth sets of plates, a Blackguard blocked Graen, his sword waving in one outstretched hand, the other batting at her loosely collected figure. A weird sense of déjà vu hit me, muddling my mind and breaking my concentration. This has happened before, in another place, in another leap more urgent than this one.

***

Blurb for PASSAGES:

“Find someone you can trust.”

For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.

On the run after an ambush, Quinn holds a secret that nearly got him killed. If only he knew what it was. Though the attack scrambled his memories, Quinn is sure of one thing—he can’t trust the electorgs. But they know information he desperately needs to puzzle out who wants him dead, and why.

With the fate of life on Aarde in the balance, the logic of joining forces with Eve overrides Quinn’s fears…and erupts into an attraction that could prove fatal for both of them.

Because the planet’s commander might just be Quinn himself.

Follow the Passages Blog Tour to read more science & fantasy tidbits!

Below are the bloggers participating in the Blog Tour for Passages. Each stop will have excerpts and tidbits about the science & fantasy, and a chance to win the tour prizes: a $10 Amazon eGC or a signed paperback of Passages. (Giveaway open to US/CAN)

Jan 26: Travel to a Mineral Hot Springs on Vicki Batman’s Handbags, Books, Whatever…

Jan 27: Goudrogen Crystals on Jessica E. Subject’s Happily Ever Afters Across the Universe

Jan 27: Hornworts on C. D. Hersh’s Two Hearts Creating Everlasting Love Stories

Jan 29-31: Thermophiles on The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor

Jan 29: Author Interview with Mia Jo Celeste on Other World Diner

Jan 30: Moons and Rising Waters with Laurie A. Green on Spacefreighters Lounge

Jan 31: Creating a Character’s Home Planet—in a Red Dwarf Star System on Pippa Jay’s Adventures in Scifi

Jan 31: What kind of a book is it? With Kira Decker on Toni Decker Books

Jan 31: Lacuna, a Bit of Realism, a Bit of Magic on Author J. C. Nelson’s Urban Fantasy and More

Feb 1: Resolving your story problems…including knocking out a pesky spore? on Riley Moreland’s Whiskey With My Book

Feb 3: What do you think of when I say “cyborg”? on Veronica Scott’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog

Feb 4: The Mystery of Transporters on Heather Massey’s Galaxy Express 2.0

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About the author

Before kids, Laurel Wanrow studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower walks and answers calls about the snake that wandered into your garage. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.

When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.

Find Laurel at:

Website| Twitter| Facebook | Pinterest| Goodreads

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