The term shipping doesn’t just refer to boats or how fast you can get your package. These days, it also has meaning in relationships—fictional ones, that is. Ships are the couples from fiction, whether books, tv, or movies, that you desperately want to get together in a romantic way—whether the creator intended them to or not. Over time, fans have created some pretty famous ships (cough*Harry-and-Draco*cough) and some super bizarre ships (Elsa and Jack Frost, really?). Many have gained a life of their own, with fan art, fan fic, and more.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we started thinking about our favorite relationships as well as our favorite ships in science fiction and fantasy. We’re celebrating the holiday by sharing our list with you! What couples are your list?
Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil
One of the things we love about Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series is the number of relationships to wish for, root for, and cry buckets over. Alcuin and Delaney, Ysandra and Drustan, Phèdre and Hyacinthe, Phèdre and Melisande, Phèdre and Joscelin…okay, really Phèdre and anyone who can make her happy. But we polled the Tor staff, and found that most of us were rooting for the opposites attract relationship of Phèdre, courtesan to kings, and Joscelin, warrior-priest and sworn virgin (at least, at the beginning). Those crazy kids belong together, and they prove it by supporting each other through increasingly dire and dangerous situations, all the way to the ends of the world.
Mat Cauthon and Tuon (Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag, Daughter of the Nine Moons)
The Wheel of Time is full of relationships, both good and bad. How could it not be, with 14 books spanning years? And while Rand and his relationship with Elayne, Aviendha, and Min was fun to read, our favorite relationship in WoT is the one between Mat and Tuon. The scene where Mat accidentally marries Tuon (be careful what you repeat three times in fantasy novels, guys!) made some of us laugh, and when she finally completes the ceremony, there may have been tears. Their elaborate courtship dance in between, and the sense that Tuon is always one step ahead of Mat, just makes their romance even better.
Baru Cormorant and Tain Hu
Sometimes you just want a relationship that makes you cry. Amid all the politics, intrigue and plot twists that made The Traitor Baru Cormorant such a fantastic read, the budding—and forbidden—romance between Baru Cormorant and Tain Hu was definitely a highlight. Two ruthless, competent women who begin on opposite sides, but come together to start a revolution against an ever-growing colonial force—what more could you want? Of course, love in wartime is never easy, and there are plenty of hidden agendas at play that make it even harder. Fair warning: not every favorite romance has a happy ending.
Eddi McCandry and the Phouka
This classic urban fantasy is both a slice of rock life in the 80s (you know Prince was totally one of the fey), and a delightful story of learning who you are accompanied by a wonderful romance. We’ve all been Eddi McCandry at some point—juggling the one-two punch of a bad ex and trying to figure out your life—and the Phouka is a babe.
Richard St. Vier and Alec
Not only is this a wonderful, tangled world of duels fought with swords and over tea in parlors, but the heart of the story is the tangled, snarled, tricky, unlikely and utterly swoon-worthy pairing of a sword for hire and his difficult inamorata. Fireworks, banter, tension (all kinds), and so much more in a beloved m/m pair. As Jo Walton says in her Tor.com review, is Richard and Alec’s relationship love, or is it a duel? Finding out is part of the fun.
Nienna and Ulmo
Two literary characters who we think deserve one another are Nienna and Ulmo from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Nienna is one of the Valar, whose purview is grief, mourning, and mercy, ever turning sorrow to wisdom. While Ulmo, the Lord of the Waters, is the Vala who was fondest of the Children of Ilúvatar (Elves and Men). But like Nienna, Ulmo is a loner. All the other godlike Valar were married—why not these two?
Quick Ben and Kalam
If ever there was a “they argue like an old married couple” in Epic Fantasy, it is Quick Ben and Kalam. One is a trickster mage who might be the most powerful magician around, the other is an Assassin that really distrusts magic. They’ve been together since they were rebels fighting the empire, so long that they’re reached the pinnacle of couple-dom in fiction: they can finish each other’s sentences.