Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats. Read the whole essay.
New analysis of rocks collected by Curiosity reveals evidence that there was once fresh water on Mars, at the very site where the NASA rover landed last year. And where there was water, there may have been life.
Specifically, researchers believe the now dried-up lakebed may have supported colonies of microbes, the same type that are found in caves and hydrothermal vents on Earth. What’s more, tthey now have reason to believe that those lifeforms emerged about 3.5 billion years ago — right around the same time life was forming here. The New York Times reports on the findings:
John P. Grotzinger, a professor of geology at the California Institute of Technology who is the project scientist for the Curiosity mission, said that if certain microbes like those on present-day Earth had plopped into that ancient Martian lake, they would most likely have found a pleasant place to call home.
“The environment would have existed long enough that they could have been sustained, prospered, grown, multiplied,” he said. “All the essential ingredients for life were present.
“Potentially the aqueous stream, lake, groundwater system could have existed for millions to tens of millions of years,” he added. “You could easily get a lake with the area of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.”
The interpretation comes from detailed analysis of two mudstones drilled by Curiosity earlier this year. The structure, chemistry and mineralogy of the sedimentary rocks were not alien.
“The whole thing just seems extremely Earthlike,” Dr. Grotzinger said.
“You can actually begin to line up in time what the Earth was doing and what Mars was doing,” Grotzinger added. “It’s kind of cool.”
Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.More Lindsay Abrams.
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.