As fall comes to the part of the world I live in, I’m beginning to think of soups and warm blankets and curling up by the fire. Things that make you feel safe, secure, and insulated from the harshness of the world outdoors. Perhaps it’s this, combined with my drawing prompt earlier this week, that got me thinking of the topic I’m touching on today.
Everyday stories in extraordinary circumstances. The reality that life goes on, even while dramatic adventures are happening. Children need love and security and dreams, mothers will be tired and worried and nurturing of the child and their fathers. It’s all part of the human psyche, along with wild-goose chases that might wind up with a crisp roast on the table, and might wind up with a lonely bed and questions unanswered.
The fun thing about the art prompts is that you can take them in so many different directions. I knew, as soon as I looked at the ‘space quilt’ where I was going with it. I wanted to create an image of a mother and daughter curled up in a quilt, with a book, on a wide window seat. The window to the stars, with a planet, and from there? Who knows. It’s the ultimate in hostile environments out there, but the love and warmth inside is just as real as it is for anyone who is making their cocoa here and now.
Cozy science fiction is a fun idea, and I like it. I’ve done some stories that were not necessarily intended to be ‘cozy’ but more on the small story end of the spectrum. You know the scale I mean – at one end, Our Hero is saving the universe(s in the series sequel when one is no longer grand enough) and at the other, we have the smallest of stakes. Perhaps a kitten needs to be rescued from a tree. I find myself drawn to the smaller end of that, to the idea of people who do the best they can with whatever they are handed. It might not be much, but they will make do.
One thing about fiction, it gives us a map for what we could accomplish. Not that we will, but that would can at least try for it. Perhaps my imagination yearning for peace and comfort says more about me… but I also want to see the reality of science fiction. To see my descendants moving among the stars. With quilts made lovingly from the remnants of fabric used for more heroic, bold causes, perhaps. During my Friday livestream, while I was talking about this, one of the listeners pointed out he’d imagined a quilt made of mission patches when he’d seen the prompt.
Now, there’s a mental image for you. Little babe in arms, wrapped in Daddy’s mission patches made into her baby blanket, her eyes reflecting the towering pillar of smoke and fire as he takes flight once more…
I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy slice of life stories, especially as interludes in larger dramatic works. Not everything out heroes deal with is the end of the world, giant rhino men or the silurian flu.
Sometimes it’s how do I make rent this month, or can the joy get the pretty girl to notice them, or why won’t my car start today?
Fun to make the setting necessary rather than superfluous.
Though a short story could set it up as a surprise.
Not to derail the conversation, but I can’t be the only one that wants to read cozy SFF.
I’m tired of dystopian, zombies, world ending, just ugly futuristic stories.
Give me a fun, light read with a happy ending.
The Liaden stories have that feel to them, most of the time.
If you haven’t read the Union Station series and their spinoffs, they are the epitome of cozy SF. Written by EM Foner.
I never could get into the Liaden stories. I don’t know why but they never appealed to me. Nothing wrong with them, just not my cup of tea.
The Union Station series I love and buy each book as it comes out. That’s what I’m looking for. Obviously I mix them up with others but they are a relaxing read and highly recommended.
The Liaden stories for the same vibe for me as recency romances. Good ones, like Georgette Heyer. IN SPACE!
Like some of the original Star Trek episodes, not everything needs to be overly dark and gritty and horrible. Sometimes a story that ends like The Corbomite Maneuver is exactly what we need.
Yep. I don’t do “grand world saving” all that well. I can, but I seem to gravitate to “deal with everyday life, solve mundane and possibly fantasy/sci-fi problem, grumble about spouse/family member/dear friend who failed to write down ‘bring a casserole and bread’ for the Sunday night social.”
I like to do those for the prompts every week. I get pleasure from writing them, and they remind me of my mother.
I like light stories on the small end of life. In science fiction, there’s Nathan Lowell’s Traders series (Quarter Share, etc.). That’s also the reason that Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. His “Trustee From the Toolroom” is a quiet story of a grandfather just doing what had to be done to save his granddaughter’s legacy after her parents died on a yachting voyage. Ordinary people, ordinary actions, with an extraordinary result.
I’m kind of caught in the middle, I guess. I don’t like to read low-stakes stories – even my favorite Regency-set novels (Pride & Prejudice, Cotillion, at al.) contain at least elopements and the theoretical possibility of the menfolk doing something violent (“Who is going to fight a duel with Mr. Wickham?”), and my “default” fiction reading over the year has been mostly traditional and cozy murder mysteries. I also don’t like to keep track of too many characters, especially if I find them unlikable.
I tend to write “medium-sized,” I guess. The space opera duology is basically OT Star Wars-scaled, with hopefully a little more emphasis on the fact that the Rebel Alliance analogue has other stuff going on besides the heroes’ adventures. 4-5 POVs per volume. The original Jaiya books range in scale from “save a woman’s memories, kill a monster and bring down an evil politician” (Waking the Dreamlost) to “Save a group of villages from two monsters” (Marrying a Monster). The prequel series ranges from “save some war refugees” (Saving a Queen and Seeking a Quantum Tree) to “save the nation in quiet ways people may or may not ever know about, and oh, kill a monster and reconcile with your spouse while you’re at it.” (Scapegoating a Hero). 1-2 POVs per volume.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like cozy, but I don’t necessarily like zero-stakes, day-in-the-life stories.
The picture with the corner window, all I can think of looking at that is “man that some pane of glass right there.” The physics of a square window in space are really something. And a corner window? That’s tough.