book talk

Are there no holidays in the future?

This time of year it is hard not to come face to face with holiday cheer on a daily basis. Holiday music is played in all the stores and on many radio stations. Bookstores are selling holiday themed anthologies. Hulu.com is running classic ‘holiday episodes’ from popular TV shows.  Today, I received an e-mail newsletter from a popular romance publisher. The e-mail featured holiday themed romance books. I know some people feel overwhelmed (or even offended), but I don’t mind. I’ve even written a few holiday short stories myself (though not at all traditional – probably no surprise there).

But all this holiday fiction has got me thinking. Are there no holidays in the future? How about in those dark gritty paranormal worlds we love, no holidays there either? I tried really hard to think of any SciFi or Paranormal Romance that had a holiday setting and came up with one urban fantasy—The Lunatic Café by Laurell K. Hamilton. Here is a little snippet from the beginning of the book…

“IT WAS TWO weeks before Christmas. A slow time of year for raising the dead. My last client of the night sat across from me. There had been no notation by his name. No note saying zombie raising or vampire slaying. Nothing. Which probably meant whatever he wanted me to do was something I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do. Pre-Christmas was a dead time of year, no pun intended. My boss, Bert, took any job that would have us.

George Smitz was a tall man […]

He sat in front of me, crushing his toboggan hat, kneading it in his big hands. The coffee that he’d accepted sat cooling on the edge of my desk. He hadn’t taken so much as a sip.

I was drinking my coffee out of the Christmas mug that Bert, my boss, had insisted everyone bring in. A personalized holiday mug to add a personal touch to the office. My mug had a reindeer in a bathrobe and slippers with Christmas lights laced in its antlers, toasting the merry season with champagne and saying, “Bingle Jells.”

Bert didn’t really like my mug, but he let it go, probably afraid of what else I might bring in. He’d been very pleased with my outfit for the evening. A high-collared blouse so perfectly red I’d had to wear makeup to keep from looking pale. The skirt and matching jacket were a deep forest green. I hadn’t dressed for Bert. I had dressed for my date.

The silver outline of an angel gleamed in my lapel. I looked very Christmasy. The Browning Hi-Power 9mm didn’t look Christmasy at all, but since it was hidden under the jacket, that didn’t seem to matter. It might have bothered Mr. Smitz, but he looked worried enough to not care. As long as I didn’t shoot him personally.”

That is just brilliant awesomeness, IMHO. The story isn’t about Christmas, the holiday is just part of the world. With well over a dozen books in the series, wouldn’t it be freakish if none of them took place around a holiday? LKH is one of the few paranormalish authors I can think of that routinely uses holidays to bring her story world to life.  I’m sure there must be others but I really can’t think of them.

I can understand that holidays might not be the same in an off-world SciFi Romance, but surely there would be some type of holidays. And what about the ones that are Earth-set or use Earth as a historical back drop? Even if religion changes, I find it hard to believe the commercial and cultural remnants of present-day holidays would fade away completely.

So, help me out! Can you think of any SciFi or Paranormal romances that even mentions a holiday? I’d love to hear about them.

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6 thoughts on “Are there no holidays in the future?

  1. I understand the sentiment and you know I respect your religion and traditions completely. Holidays, especially religious ones, can be a very personally and deeply felt thing. I’m more comfortable with a secular or cultural use of holidays in books. The excerpt from Lunatic Café is pretty good example of that, I think. Just from reading this excerpt you might not be able to identify the narrator’s religion. In fact, I think it was the Anita blake series that changed my feelings on including religion in mainstream fiction. Her conflicts with the faith she was raised in make her a more interesting character. And not all holidays are religious. Remember the episode of Firefly where Mal, Zoe, and Jayne are in a bar on Unification Day? That scene and the characters roles in it told us a lot about them. Not every book needs religion or holidays, but I think the occasional holiday is a good thing. Discounting them eliminates a valuable tool in the writer’s toolbox.

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  2. It’s been a while since I read them, but I have the impression (i.e., vague memory) that Orson Scott Card’s novels include holidays (not as we know them exactly) pretty effectively. Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series does, too. Oh, and mustn’t forget Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Or JD Robb’s In Death series. And I’m sure I read a couple of vampire-romance-comedy novels that had holidays in them, too, although I can’t recall specific examples. Of course, the most obvious example of a holiday as part of the plot and setting of a paranormal (zombies!) quasi-romantic comedy is Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel. (Love that book!)

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    • Yay! Thanks, Toni! I do remember a story taking place around the holidays in one of the In Death books. It was a great way to show the different way Eve and Rourke felt about the holidays and how Eve struggled to meet Rourke’s needs for her involvment in them when she’d rather be solving her case. I must not have gotten far enough in the CH series to hit the holidays. Lots of those books are in my teetering TBR pile. Never could get into KH. OSC is defenitly on my ‘why in the heck haven’t I read those’ list. 😉

      Thanks for thinking of these!

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