Paranormal Romance, Romance, Science Fiction Romance

Dragon Heroes … are from Mars?

Shapeshifting Dragon Aliens in Paranormal Romance

Dragons in fiction have evolved in the way of vampires, supernatural villains that once threatened and preyed upon maidens have become the heroes of paranormal romance. While a fantasy realm might seem like a draconian hero’s natural habitat, there’s an abundance of shapeshifting dragon aliens.

What’s up with that?

Dragons and Romance

I write this while watching the animated movie Swan Princess, which features—spoilers—a prince defeating a shapeshifting dragon villain to save the princess. Since Perseus slayed a sea serpent to rescue Andromeda, heroes have been saving maidens from monsters, who more often than not are particular about wanting virgins.

In the tradition of “Beauty and the Beast,” is the fairy tale “The Green Serpent” by Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy written in 1698, in French. The hero has been bespelled to take the form of a dragon, and the heroine has been cursed to be ugly. After marrying her beastly husband, sight unseen, but is separated from by her own mistakes and treacherous fairies. In her quest to retrieve him, the heroine makes a journey a la Orpheus, has her beauty restored, and retrieves her husband.

She dreaded meeting her husband in the form of a serpent; but Love, who some times busies himself in doing kindnesses to those who are unfortunate, had foreseen everything, and had already commanded Green Serpent to become what he was before his penance …

So the first thing the queen found was her husband, and she had never seen him under so handsome a form; he, likewise, had never seen her so beautiful as she had become: however a presentiment, and perhaps Love, who was with them, helped them to divine who they were.

The transformation of a hero from beast to handsome man in fairytale mirrors the tradition in modern romance of ill-mannered (see philandering, rude, aggressive, etc.) men to charming, goodhearted lovers. However, modern readers don’t mind aggression and other bestial qualities, when the occasion calls for it. A hero who retains the ability to shapeshift, has enhanced powers for protecting his heroine.

Dragons in Science Fiction

Since when to dragons belong in science fiction, however? After all, they originate in Greek mythology and medieval legends of valiant knights. As it turns out, dragons have been science fiction for over half a century.

In 1951, Robert A. Heinlein published Between Planets, featuring high-tech genius dragons from Venus. In Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series, the first book published in 1968, heroes and heroines use the fire of genetically engineered dragons to destroy deadly spores that threaten the planet.

Upon further reflection, dragons make more sense as alien shapeshifters than werewolves. If the heroes come for another planet, it wouldn’t make sense that they turn into a creature commonly found on Earth. Since Reptilians are one of the three kinds of aliens most discussed by theorists and abductees, scaly heroes aren’t a stretch of the imagination.

Dragon-Alien Hybrid

If anyone can identify the first ever shapeshifting dragon alien to appear in paranormal romance, please comment. Their presence now seems abundant in the genre. The duality of beastly might and instinct and advanced technology makes for all-powerful heroes. Dragons have been flying away with maidens in literature for centuries, but now they soar into outerspace. Instead of pesky mortal knights sweeping in to “save the day,” the beasts find true love and keep their heroines.

Princess and Dragon Image source
Dragon Head Nebula Image source
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