Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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20 feel-good SF novels

From Book Riot, 20 Feel-Good SF Novels

Good topic! Let’s see what we have here. The post starts:

You may long for a trip to a far-off corner of the galaxy or a romp through time and space. And you may want it without a lot of high-stakes intergalactic warfare or earthbound dystopias. You’re in luck. These 20 feel-good science fiction books will suit different tastes and moods, but they’re all comfort food of some variety.

Very promising! Low stakes is a good thing, sometimes. Let me see if I’ve read any of their choices …

Yep! Here’s Becky Chambers, no surprise because I do think this is a feel-good novel in a lot of ways. However, this post picks the first one: Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

I’m not sure the stakes are that low! True, we’re not saving the galaxy, but the personal stakes are quite high in several ways. That can create more tension not less, than imminent destruction of the galaxy. It doesn’t always, but it can. But I would still approve this choice. It just feels right a feel-good list.

I haven’t yet read the third book in this series, but from what I’ve heard, it might be a better choice for “low stakes.” How about it? I know some of you have read it. Is it a low-stakes novel and/or a feel-good comfort read?

Oh, interesting choice! All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

I agree, but largely because I’ve read it a bunch of times. Wow, this is a pretty dystopian backdrop considering the Book Riot post specifically says for when you don’t necessarily want a dystopia.

As a side note, the Murderbot novella is going to be released in just a few weeks — May 5th, I think. I’ve pre-ordered it. I sure don’t pre-order many ebooks with this high a price, I will add. I’ll pay that much for an ebook for about three authors most of the time, and for various other authors if I happen to really want to read that particular new title of theirs right then.

What else do we have on this Book Riot post … Okay, here’s another:

Gosh, does that seem low stakes? Really? I mean:

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs.

In what particular respect is that low-stakes?

Well, fine, I don’t know that I agree with these choices exactly, but I did like all three of their picks that I’ve read. I do have a couple choices of my own that I think totally belong on such a list:

Will Ivan sort out his personal life? Will he remain married to the beautiful wife he married as an emergency measure to protect her from her enemies? Take a wild guess! And the very worst that can happen is that he winds up not married to Tej at the end, not that that’s remotely likely. But talk about low stakes! THIS is the perfect SF comfort read, in my opinion.

Here’s another SF novel that is definitely lower stakes and comfortable. It’s the first book of a series:

We follow a young man as he makes a pleasant life for himself on a merchant ship. Later he sorts out various problems on a variety of other ships, as he advances to captain himself.

The stakes are almost infinitesimal. Also, the main character is perhaps a trifle unbelievably competent with social relationships. However, I did like the series quite a bit, some installments more than others.

What else is out there? If you’ve got a feel-good science fiction novel in mind, drop it in the comments.

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5 Comments 20 feel-good SF novels

  1. Jf

    The Sol Majestic a beautiful really quirky sci fi book by ferrett steinmetz a writer who has become one of my must read authors it can be described as low stakes in relation to standard sci fi the universe isn’t at risk but there are high personal stakes it’s also hard to describe without spoiling so il leave it at that.

  2. Hanneke

    Yes, Captain Vorpatril is very relaxing to read, definitely low stakes but fun.

    I looked for Nathan Lowell on Kobo but can’t find his books. Are they out as ebooks? If so, from which publisher?

  3. Rachel Neumeier

    Hanneke, I got them from Amazon. I think they are self published, so that may be the only platform they’re on.

  4. Kim Aippersbach

    Feel-good and low-stakes are not at all the same thing! But Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance fits both bills nicely.

    Record of a Space-born Few is low-stakes if you’re thinking saving-the-universe, but not if you’re thinking of personal stakes. It’s lovely and thoughtful.

    The linked post includes Connie Willis’s Crosstalk, which I just read recently: it’s fun, stakes only seem high because the main character worries excessively about everything! Even more feel-good and low-stakes is her earlier comedy classic To Say Nothing of the Dog: what’s at stake is a ridiculous artifact called the Bishop’s Bird Stump.

    Kowal’s fantasy series Glamourist Histories are pretty low-stakes, Regency romance with magic. Oh, we’re talking sci fi, oops!

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