As dystopian novels begin to take a larger piece of the fiction puzzle, lots of readers (and writers!) find themselves confused at the new genre. Dystopia and science fiction--they’re two peas in a pod, they go hand in hand, but there is a distinct difference between them. Think of a rectangle and a square. A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not necessarily a square. The same is true for science fiction and dystopian fiction.
While all dystopian fiction is considered science fiction, most science fiction is not dystopian in nature. Dystopian fiction is the square.
The best definition of dystopian fiction I’ve found is by the writer over at Stacked. (http://www.stackedbooks.org)
“The hallmark of a dystopia is the presence of a repressive or controlling society, usually presented initially as utopian. I also posit that this must necessarily be done on a large scale. Failing that, it must seem to be large-scale. (Teenage readers, just because your parents repress your ability to party on Friday nights does not mean your home is a dystopia.)”
This makes Direct Contact a dystopia. The people of Terrecina live charmed lives, so long as they don’t step out of line. They do what the Emperor decrees, and they don’t ask questions. In return, they get to stay in their little bubble above Earth. Sure, they know that below the plagues are raging and poverty and despair rule, but they don’t care. Out of sight, out of mind. Terrecina, it would appear, is a utopia.
Until Malcolm and Julie start ripping away at the image. As they uncover power-hungry plots, and find out that it’s not only the Level People (the people of Earth) who need to worry about the Emperor’s greed and lack of ethics, they see that the dystopian environment spans much farther than the Earth below, that they in Terrecina are actually living it as well.
As far as the romance is concerned, any time you have a male and female lead who fall in love or at least in lust, you’ve got your romantic element. Not all romances must have sex, although Direct Contact does. There is a difference between romance and erotica. While both genres can be excellent, a romance trends toward emotional development and strife, whereas erotica uses more physical description and hectic action to bring about a quick romantic/erotic fire for the reader’s pleasure.
Put them together.
The dystopian romance combines protagonists breaking free of the disastrous, oppressive world in which they live, striving for a better existence, not only for themselves but for all. In the process, they perhaps fall in love, or struggle with human emotions in a triangle or competition-esque subplot. They work tirelessly against the conditions presented to them and their hearts work tirelessly to bungle things up, muddy the waters, and maybe eventually save them as they are saving others.
Julie Gladwell has a secret. Acting as chief attendant for the New Government’s procreation program, she rears girls to carry the emperor’s heir. Only a few are chosen for the program, called “The Special Ones,” and they are given no names, only numbers. They see no one but authorized personnel until their twenty-first birthday. Which is usually when they die. Direct contact is forbidden. As she cares for these girls, no one ever suspects who she actually is.
Scientist Malcolm Odin hated his job and hated himself. Put in charge of the entire human engineering program, the experiments and suffering he witnessed made him sick. Still, it paid the bills and kept him living comfortably in Terrecina. He knew of far too many who’d fallen through the cracks, living on the earth below. The Level People, they were called.
When he confides his unease to Julie, she lets him in on her secret and into her heart. What starts as fancy ends in revolution, but how will they choose between their fellow man and each other?
It’s available at the publisher’s website: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/566-978-1-60735-646-2--direct-contact-new-reality-series-book-two-by-ninette-swann.html
It's up on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Direct-Contact-Reality-Series-ebook/dp/B00C2BXXKO
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-directcontact-1148943-143.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/direct-contact-ninette-swann/1114938157?ean=2940016277257
You can find it on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17697673-direct-contact
Ninette Swann is a journalist turned novelist who writes her books from sunny Florida in between parenting, freelancing, editing and going to grad school. She writes all genre of romance, including contemporary, thriller, suspense, and dystopian. Her books include Hit and Stay, Body Combat, Finding Home, Just the Messenger and Direct Combat. You can reach her through her pages at: http://ninetteswann.com, http://www.facebook.com/NinetteSwann, and @ninetteswann