Romance/SF author C.J. Barry just signed a big book deal with Penguin imprint Berkley Books for a new series of romance novels about an invasion by alien shapeshifters. It's just the latest proof of what we've been saying for ages — some of the biggest growth in science fiction publishing will come from genre hybrids. We talked to Barry, and it sounds like love is in the air (or in space) between a shapeshifter and one of the humans dedicated to destroying the changeling menace. Barry has already written a number of science fiction romances set in space, including Unmasked (left). But this is her first Earth-bound series, due to start coming out in mid-2010. In the X-CEL: New York City series, a shipload of alien shapeshifters have crash-landed on Earth. Some of them are good, but most of them are evil, and they're infiltrating our society. X-CEL is a U.S. task force in charge of putting the shapeshifters on ice before the whole country finds out they're here. A romance strikes up between an X-CEL agent and a female shapeshifter who joins X-CEL, after they become partners. If it sounds a bit like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then that's not a bad thing in my book. Anything about this series could change, including the title, cautions Barry, who's still writing it. "I grew up reading science fiction and brought the love for that genre with me when I started writing romance," she tells io9. "This particular series will be dark and gritty with strong romance and suspense elements."

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