Sometimes, all you want is some feel-good fiction, something heartwarming and genuine, whimsical and even wholesome. Contrary to what you might expect, there is a lot of genre fiction that can just make you feel warm and fuzzy. I’m here to bring you some feel-good science fiction and fantasy for when you’re looking to read something genuine and heartfelt. Everything just so happens to be set in space or involve ghosts. Read on!
I’ve already written a full review of this one, so I’ll be brief. Charlie Jane Anders’ YA debut is full of heartfelt character interactions, fantastic alien species and genuinely good people. The stakes are high, but the relationships between characters are at the heart of the book.
Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer for a bed and a chance to explore the galaxy. Things get more dangerous than she expected when they’re offered the job of a lifetime. Deep in space, the Wayfarer crew has to depend on each other, and Rosemary must learn to trust in her new family despite the past she’s trying to escape.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry planet believes fully in the better side of human and alien nature. Bad guys exist, but people are generally both kind and interesting. This exuberant space adventure is perfect for when you want to finish a book with a warm, fuzzy feeling but still get some cool space exploration in too.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Linus Baker is a lonely, by-the-book caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s mysteriously assigned to check in on six of these children the department classifies as dangerous. Instead of an orphanage, he arrives at a home built with care and love and attention for the children. Slowly Linus opens up, connecting with the children and their caretaker and reexamining his role in the world.
The House in the Cerulean Sea was an early 2020 release, and it was exactly what I needed at that time. It’s a kind and gentle and loving book that feels just like a hug when you need it most.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
When his traditional Latinx family can’t accept his true gender, Yadriel is determined to prove that he’s a real brujo. He performs a ritual to find and set free his cousin’s ghost. Instead, he summons Julian Diaz, his school’s resident bad boy, and it doesn’t look like Julian is going anywhere anytime soon.
Family dysfunction and a dead teenager don’t automatically imply a feel-good novel. Still, Cemetery Boys is a story about self-exploration and finding your own strength and capabilities and the relationship between Yadriel and Julian brought me so much joy.
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Captain Eva Innocente and her crew travel the galaxy delivering cargo for very little profit. When a shadowy syndicate kidnaps her sister, Eva must take on more and more dangerous missions to pay her ransom. But raising the money means transporting a litter of psychic cats, dealing with a lecherous fish-faced emperor and other absurd errands that always go wrong.
Chilling Effect is a feel-good space opera that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Valdes wrote a charming cast of characters, and the story’s colorful worlds and creatures stand out from other similar books.
Picture The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy crossed with Eurovision; you have just the bare bones of what makes up Space Opera. It’s Earth’s turn to compete in the Metagalactic Grand Prix song contest, and if we lose, we die. Representing the planet are British one-hit wonders Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes.
Space Opera is full of puns, pop-culture references and fabulous musicians. It’s psychedelic and bizarre and will definitely give you a good laugh.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”
Having hacked the government software that forces it to be obedient, all Murderbot wants to do is watch its programs and avoid the humans it’s supposed to protect while they investigate the natural resources on an uninhabited planet. However, it can’t keep to itself for long when deadly accidents start occurring with suspicious regularity, and Murderbot finally has to get involved.
All Systems Red is a fast-paced but breezy adventure wrapped in a light mystery. There isn’t nearly as much murder as the protagonist’s name suggests. I fully believe that anyone can relate to Murderbot; sometimes, all you want to do is ignore everyone and watch tv. Sarcastic, hilarious and painfully shy, Murderbot is all of us.
Whether you’re craving a space adventure or ghostly antics, there’s definitely some feel-good fiction here for you! What science-fiction and fantasy do you turn to when you’re looking for a good mood?
This article was originally published on 4/17/21