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7 Hopeful SFF Books, for When You Need Some Optimism About the Future

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Alex Acks

Contributing Editor

Alex Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They've written for Six to Start and been published in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and more. Alex lives in Denver with their two furry little bastards, where they twirl their mustache, watch movies, and bike. Twitter: @katsudonburi Website:

7 Hopeful SFF Books, for When You Need Some Optimism was originally published in our SFF newsletter, Swords & Spaceships. Sign up for it here to get SFF news, reviews, deals, and more!

You know how I’m feeling in 2021? Hopeful. Hopeful. Not because I think everything is magically better and every problem is in the rearview mirror…but because I feel like thing can get better. And in honor of that, here’s some books that give me that same feeling of hope, of looking forward.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

“I believe that any dad who raises his child to believe the world is full of magic, and that there’s always hope no matter what, truly deserves for her to rescue him one day when he needs it.”

Do you need any more than that? In a world of water, a submarine pilot must rescue her dad and take down a corrupt government.

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

After a meteor strike means humanity has to get off the planet right now (right now being the 1950s) the next step in the reach for the stars is establishing a moon base. Nicole Wargin, wife of a senator and a Lady Astronaut in her own right, takes what might be her last trip up to the Moon just in time for conspiracies to reach a head and disaster to strike. She and her crewmates have to figure out how to keep everyone alive, find the traitors — and remind the world that hope will be found in space. (This one also involves an epidemic, so take care if you want to avoid that.)

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Aliens who are distantly related to humans are made into refugees when their homeland is destroyed, and so they reach out to the people of Earth for a new home. Now the two clashing societies must work together if they are to save themselves and find a new way of being.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Freedom, Truth, Justice, and Reasonably Priced Love. The May revolutionaries of Ankh-Morpork aren’t asking for anything that unreasonable, are they? Sam Vimes gets to live through this revolution twice; once as an idiotic youth and once as his world-weary adult self, kicked back in time by a mysterious accident and still in pursuit of a murderer. He knows how the revolution goes; he knows how many of his friends fall. And he’ll try to save them anyway, even if it means sacrificing his own future life.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

The Exodus Fleet is a living relic of humanity’s escape from Earth; humanity has mostly moved on at this point. While the Exodans grapple with their obsolete home and the fundamental question of if their way of life is worth saving at all, the fleet offers a new home and a new beginning to those who feel lost and disconnected from their own lives.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

This one might be a bit close to home because the inciting incident for concerts (and other public gatherings) becoming illegal is a pandemic, but…

A musician who has been cut off from her audience performs illegal, underground concerts, and a young woman who spends all her life in the online world makes it her mission to find musicians and bring them to a new, virtual audience.

LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford

In a world where aliens are real and living among us, a Nigerian American doctor named Future who is pregnant under “mysterious” circumstances smuggles an illegal alien plant into NYC and settles into her grandmother’s tenement, among African and shape-shifting alien immigrants. The community faces discrimination, travel bans, and other very topical problems…and if that’s not enough, Future’s pregnancy seems to be changing her…

For more SFF recommendations, check out our Science Fiction/Fantasy archives!