Science Fiction/Fantasy

10 Cozy Sci-Fi Books To Give You Hope for the Future

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Rachel Brittain

Contributing Editor

Rachel is a writer from Arkansas, most at home surrounded by forests and animals much like a Disney Princess. She spends most of her time writing stories and playing around in imaginary worlds. You can follow her writing at Twitter and Instagram: @rachelsbrittain

When I started talking to others about cozy sci-fi and researching for this post, I repeatedly came across the same sentiment: “Sci-fi can’t be cozy.” In fact, I saw some people claiming coziness was antithetical to science fiction. Huh. That was really going to put a damper on things. Except, I didn’t believe it — and not only because I bristle when anyone makes an absolute statement and instantly want to prove them wrong. (My good friend Obi-Wan Kenobi once told me that “only a Sith deals in absolutes,” though since that is also an absolute I’ve always been reluctant to fully accept it.) But also because, from my own experience, I know it’s not true. Science fiction can absolutely be cozy. But if all you’ve ever known of sci-fi is grimdark space battles and interplanetary colonization, how would you know that?

I’m someone who grew up in the heyday of grimdark science fiction, okay? I was still learning my alphabet when the Star Wars prequels started coming out. But my Dad also raised me on Star Trek, a series about hope and exploration. So, I know there’s more to a vision of the future than bleak dystopian dictatorships.

Science fiction is very much a product of its time, both a response and a reaction. Sometimes, that does mean stories that envision how current events could lead us toward a terrible future, but it can also be a vision of progress and the possibility of something better. And sometimes, above all else, what we want as both readers and writers is an escape when times are tough. Science fiction can bet that, too. These ten cozy sci-fi books showcase optimism in different ways, from better futures to irresistibly hopeful characters. They’ll leave you feeling happy and carefree.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers book cover

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Possibly the coziest science fiction story in existence, this novella duology from the author of the Wayfarers series (which is also quite cozy) follows a tea monk looking for meaning in life. When Dex decides to leave tea brewing behind for a while to venture deep into the woods, they discover a wandering robot. Robots haven’t been seen for generations, and this one has a question for Dex and all of humanity: “What do you need?” Dex doesn’t feel remotely qualified to answer that question, but as the two travel together and search for answers, it becomes clear that the journey is more important than the destination.

the humans by matt haig book cover

The Humans by Matt Haig

Taking up the disguise of a mathematics professor, an alien visiting Earth is at first disgusted by humanity and wants nothing more than to complete his work and return home. But the more he gets to know the family he is pretending is his own and opens himself up to the literature and food and lives of the humans around him, the more he begins to question his initial judgment — and the very mission that sent him here.

Chilling Effect book cover

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

The captain of a ragtag delivery ship is blackmailed into saving her estranged sister from a cryostasis con but has to keep the truth from her crew. With a hold full of psychic cats, a rejected emperor out for revenge, and burgeoning feelings for the ship’s engineer, Captain Eva is barely keeping it together — especially now that she has to undertake a series of dangerous tasks to pay off the hostage for her sister all while lying to the people she cares about most. It’s a hopeful sci-fi romp that will leave you feeling warm and happy.

The AI Who Loved Me book cover

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Despite a capitalist dystopia setting, the focus of this sci-fi rom-com is primarily on the burgeoning relationship between a healing former HIVE employee and her new neighbor, who happens to be a bio-synthetic humanoid. The dynamics between the two, as Trinity recovers from an accident she can’t completely remember and Li Wei as he learns how to be more human, are so sweet that I feel comfortable labeling this book as cozy even though there’s a dark corporate underbelly lurking just beneath the relationship.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz Book Cover

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

An AI whiz who refuses to put down roots discovers a tea shop run by one of the world’s last sentient robots. Clara’s only real friend is Joanie, the AI hummingbird companion that she’s modified to perfection. But Sal is unlike anyone Clara’s ever met before. Older than the laws outlawing sentient robots, she continues running the tea shop of her late owner, even as humans have come to misunderstand — and sometimes hate — her. Clara might have the skills Sal needs to finally move on, but for Clara, Sal might also be a reason to finally stay.

Book cover of The Mimicking of Known Successes

The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older

A mystery and rekindled romance set on a remote Jupiter outpost is exactly the sort of cozy sci-fi I’m looking for. Following the trail of a missing man, investigator Mossa travels to Jupiter’s university, where answers — and her former girlfriend, an Earth scholar — lie in wait. Pleiti has been researching a possible return to Earth for her entire career, but when Mossa comes calling, she’s pulled into an investigation that could affect the future of all life as they know it.

Book cover for The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy by Tomihiko Morimi, edited by Emily Balistrieri

A Kyoto university student on the verge of dropping out meets a god who shows him there’s a whole realm of possibilities out there in the universe — universes, in fact — where he hasn’t made all the mistakes he’s made here. In four different parallel universes, he gets the chance to start over again as a university freshman. But even with the chance to do it all over again, living out the perfect life isn’t that simple.

The Left Hand of Dog book cover

The Left Hand of Dog by Si Clarke

The last thing Lem expects after taking her dog, Spock, for a walk is to be abducted by aliens. She especially doesn’t expect them to be weirdly adorable bounty hunters that she can’t help but like despite the circumstances. But life is weird sometimes, and it’s only about to get weirder as Lem and her new friends have to figure out not only how to escape but why they were abducted in the first place.

Book cover of The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Kindred bonds are supposed to make sure everyone, from royalty to commoners, feels heard. The only thing Joy feels from being mind-bonded to a notorious playboy royal is annoyance and notoriety. Her Kindred, Duke Felix Hamdi, has a plan, though. He hopes to exasperate his family to the point of being granted the freedom to choose his own future — and finally meet his Kindred face to face. But when the entire royal family is murdered, leaving Felix next in line to the throne and also suspected of their murders, he has to seek out Joy for different reasons. Fleeing for their lives is bad enough, but crash landing on a backwater planet known as Earth is even worse. Maybe being forced to hide and rely on each other amidst aliens will be the true test of just how strong a Kindred bond can be.

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal book cover

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Heiress and inventor Tesla Crane is just hoping to enjoy a bit of anonymity on her honeymoon with her husband, Shal, a retired detective. But when he’s arrested for murder by the dunderheads in charge of security on this ship, she has to throw caution — and anonymity — to the wind to solve a crime and clear her husband’s name. It’s the only way to get back to enjoying her honeymoon and keep a murderer from striking again.

If you can’t get enough cozy sci-fi (or fantasy) in your life, make sure to check out these books too: Feel Good Science Fiction Books and 20 Must-Read Cozy Fantasy Books.