So, as I mentioned yesterday, I can definitely enjoy a story where nothing big is happening, where the salvation of the world doesn’t hinge on the actions of the protagonists, where the issues involved are small scale and low stakes.
I would imagine that these types of stories would be hard to sell to publishers. Lowell’s Solar Clipper novels appear to have been self-published, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller practically define “niche” with their Liaden novels – they don’t need to “sell” any particular book, I presume; the Liaden series itself has already been “sold.”
What else is there in the ordinary-life low-stakes category? Not much, probably, but every now and then part of a book falls into this category even though there is more of a high-tension plotline in the story as well. I can think of a few examples:
Of the two halves of An Interior Life, I definitely preferred the ordinary daily-life contemporary half to the adventurous fantasy half. Sue isn’t the one saving the world; she has no effect on the protagonists who *are* saving the world, yet somehow her decisions about what color to pain the living room and how to handle her husband’s smarmy boss take over the book.
In the sequel to Cyteen, Regenesis, the part I liked best was Justin and Grant and Ari and everyone getting their lives in order and settling into Ari’s new household. There were some high stakes issues in Regenesis, too – who did kill the first Ariane Emory? Is the world going to fall to a coup? – but first, I didn’t really care who killed the first Ari, and second I assumed that the good guys would win and the coup attempt would fail. But third, really the whole point of the novel, to me, was simply to let everyone, especially Justin and Grant and Ari herself, get their lives in order so that we could have a happily-ever-after type of ending.
In addition to Höst’s Gratuitous Epilogue for the Touchstone trilogy, I would be happy to read another book in Bujold’s Sharing Knife world, just watching Dag and Fawn and everyone live their daily lives. That s right up there with Stories I Would Grab Off the Shelf. A malice outbreak would be fine, but I would expect it to be used to show how the farmers and lakewalkers are more able to work together than in the past; the point of the story would be just show everyone moving into a happily-ever-after future. That would so work for me.
Anyway, in certain kinds of moods, I am plainly a kind of reader that I don’t think publishers realize exists: the kind that enjoys a story in which nothing very striking or climactic happens, in which tension is generally low, in which the pace is primarily slow and day-to-day life takes center stage, in which character development is mainly about characters starting out in a pretty good place and then growing into themselves in a non-dramatic fashion.
This does make me curious: how many of you think or know that you also enjoy that kind of story?