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So You Want to Write Human-Galthgearian Interstellar Romance: a Brief How-to by Eethoo Inthogearian

Tina Connolly's books include the Ironskin trilogy (Tor), the Seriously Wicked series (Tor Teen), and the collection On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories (Fairwood Press). She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Norton, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod, and runs the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.
THE MEET CUTE
It is necessary to first show your two romantic leads meeting in a ridiculous yet stimulating fashion. For example, say that your human has a good job, like she is the president of Earth, and your Galthgearian is a humble cruise ship director, working on a craft sailing through a previously-thought deserted sector of space. Now, let's say the craft is forced to stop and refuel outside the Earthling's bedroom at night, where she is taking her routine midnight pleasure stroll. They accidentally collide together under a starry sky, and, after the initial pain and swearing and detangling of limbs, the human might remark on what slimy tentacles the Galthgearian has. In return, the Galthgearian compliments the Earthling's delectably bulbous nose. This turns out to be a cultural mishap (these are fun to write and go over quite well with readers), and the human stomps off.
THE PUZZLE PIECES
The Earthling must need something only the Galthgearian can supply and vice versa. Perhaps the Earthling is in need of the one sentient being who can fill the vast void of longing that was created when her parent ran off to join a space mission. She thinks she will never be more desirable than space. Meanwhile, the Galthgearian is a swoon-worthy player who needs the one true sentient being who can see past their constant need for tentacle affection to the fact that really, like everybody, they just want to be part of a multi-species cosmic hugging fortress chain.
THE NOPE NOPE NOPE
Incompatible hijinks must happen! Perhaps together they start thermonuclear war and Earth is destroyed.
THE CONFINEMENTS
It is necessary to show them being forced to continue together, such as in the asteroid bunkers of Alpha Centauri where the cruise ship has fled and now the galactic wars rage around them. One of the pair must say, oh darling, let me show you my tentacles, and the other must say my nose is not yet accustomed to you and would not be if you were the last Galthgearian left alive (or words to that effect; it is very certain that there must be arguments exchanged, for this is necessary to offset the later onslaught of love that must ensue.) (But also make sure to keep discussing the human nose, readers love that stuff.)
THE DEFINITELY POSITIVELY NO WAY NO HOW
Tentacles do not fit into noses, feet do not fit into suction elbows, how would this even work, forget it.
THE GRAND STIRRINGS OF POSSIBLE PASSIONS
Sometimes tentacles fit into noses.
AFTERWARDS, THE REGRET
Tentacles swollen, nosebleeds, general malaise.
THE I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM
Perhaps one side regrets having started thermonuclear war and the other regrets having mentioned the nose situation. Both sides have painful, relationship-ending feels that are incompatible with true happiness and begetting of small spore-babies. (Please note there do not have to be spore-babies to facilitate a compelling and complete relationship, but it is a readership expectation to be aware of.) Now, at this point, one or both must threaten to throw themselves out of the airlock; that is always good in this sort of fiction and plays well to any sort of reader in the universe.
THE THROWING YOURSELF OUT OF THE AIRLOCK
Sometimes this is a metaphor, sometimes it isn't.
THE REUNIFICATION OF TWO LONELY SOULS WHO HAVE NOW FOUND THE SINGLE THING THEY WERE LACKING IN EACH OTHER
One must save the other from where they cling to the ship just outside the airlock, or, quite the best, they must both save each other, particularly by applying the puzzle pieces from the beginning of the story. It is only the Galthgearian's skill as a cruise ship director that allows them to organize the rescue of the bulbous human. They may, in fact, even pen a delightful musical number sung by the entire ship about how they would give up sleeping their way through every sentient species in the galaxy for this one particular human. Meanwhile, the human realizes she has pushed everyone away since losing her parent to space and is determined to never make that mistake again, metaphorically or literally, so when the Galthgearian's tentacles reach out to rescue her she pulls instead of pushes and they meet in a generally most satisfying bumping of all their parts.
THE EPILOGUE
Spore-babies for all! Or not, you can decide. Probably spore-babies though.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, September 9th, 2019


This story was inspired by my large selection of writing books, but particularly the excellent Romancing the Beat, by Gwen Hayes. That book will not help you with your alien fanfic, but it will help you construct a romance novel. I'd like to say it's not also inspired by Kij Johnson's Spar, but let's face it, what isn't inspired by Spar.

- Tina Connolly
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