Christian romance is one of the fastest growing book genres today, and Christian science fiction is an up-and-comer. So why not combine them? The cutting edge in Christian publishing may well be books about time-travelers who fall in love — and find Jesus along the way. We talked to Christian publisher Sheaf House's Joan Shoup about the new wave of Christian science-fiction romances. I got curious about this topic when I saw that rising Christian romance author Deborah Kinnard had sold her novel Seasons In The Mist to Christian publisher Sheaf. Seasons is a time-travel romance set in 1353 Cornwall, and it comes out in spring 2010. I looked at Kinnard's site and saw other books that seemed to bring together science fiction, religion and romance, including Angel With A Ray Gun, which has the best cover ever. Says Shoup:

Christian sci-fi and fantasy are growing markets... [and] Christian romance is most definitely a growing genre, as is romance in general. It never seems to shrink, just to grow. Historical romances have been around for a long time, and now we're seeing combined genres springing up all over the place—romantic suspense, mysteries with a strong romance slant, sci-fi and fantasy romances, and so on are becoming increasingly hot. I personally feel the growth potential is huge as long as publishers put out excellent stories that really engage readers.

Could this kind of genre-mashing be the future of science fiction? Not necessarily aimed at Christian readers, but aimed at readers outside the usual science fiction book audience. People get very excited when books with science fiction themes hit big with literary readers, but maybe we should be more excited when scifi-ish books break out with Christian readers, romance readers or mystery audiences? [Sheaf House]