The Sword and Laser discussion

Help me find a Sci-fi slice-of-life story, please

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message 1: by Taras (new)

Taras (TheSmokingGnu22) | 9 comments In short, I want a sci-fi, space opera even, story where people do ordinary stuff and the world is not breaking around them.(they just go on with their lives), so that I can relate to that as a 20yo who is not saving the Galaxy at the moment.

All the SF books I can find seem to be centered on some unimaginable event of great importance and danger - e.g conspiracy revealed by our character, who then runs away from all others who threaten to kill them. At the moment I am not interested at all in seeing characters cope with such situations - that experience is not smth I can project onto my life. The problem is not that the situation is unrealistic, it's that it is such for the character, in the extreme. On the other hand, somebody may terraform a planet routinely - I'd like to read about that very much.

Travel/explore feel would be nice - so spaceships maybe?
Having a relatable character is important as always - someone young enough and nerdy, eager to learn and explore and not getting along with people very well.

Examples - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - all the way up until the culmination. We have a crew of interesting people, who just go on with their work and life, which is flying through space and wormholling it! With a lot details about the world and other people's peaceful lives. It's a pity but i didn't like it. I guess the culmination conflict was dissapointing. But it fits what I look for very well. Had I not read it I would run for it after reading the synopsis.

Revenger - the first 30%. (be careful, I may spoil smth here). We have 2 sisters on a space station world, who don't find much prospect there. They enlist to a ship of tomb raiders looting "ailen anomalies" on space rocks. The girls have a talent for using some peace of Ailen tech to communicate, highly valuable. Great! I can definitely relate to that. And the setting is so interesting! But then the space pirate enters the scene and it devolves to a standard strife story. And I throw the book away.

The hitchhikers guide to Galaxy.
The start of the Blue Remembered Earth, before anything of the plot is revealed(read so far).
Quarter Share - people say they've been waiting for that Revenger-style plot to start up until the book ended. The setting and character s not for me though.

message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2618 comments *scratches head* so we just passed on Martian Chronicles, but it's mostly about people trying to just live their lives. Most especially the last story, "Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed."

Perhaps "Caves of Steel" since it's at heart a murder mystery. There are some larger political implications though.

Hm, as I think about it, "The Naked Sun" is a murder mystery (some of the same characters) with a commentary that is surprisingly transferable to today's social media. Partly a love story as well.

If you are willing to go Fantasy, Dragonsong / Dragonsinger / Dragondrums are largely "slice of Pern life." Well, McCaffrey insisted these were SF at heart, but...

message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1023 comments Some Heinlein books like The Rolling Stones or his short stories in The Past Through Tomorrow would fit.

message 4: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4913 comments Phil wrote: "Some Heinlein books like The Rolling Stones or his short stories in The Past Through Tomorrow would fit."

YA is probably a good bet for finding these sorts of low-stakes stories.

A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock is decidedly not of the “save the world during a grand adventure” type of book. It is not YA. My review:

I haven’t read it but Alien In a Small Town is about an alien who chooses to live among the Mennonites in Pennsylvania.

message 5: by Rick (last edited Dec 26, 2018 08:03AM) (new)

Rick | 2193 comments The third book by Becky Chambers Record of a Spaceborn Few is nothing BUT slice of life. Clifford Simak's Way Station might cover the ground you want to.

However, most novels tell a story and stories need some reason to be told... otherwise it's "She got up, brushed her teeth, went to work..." You may well love Record... I DNFed it because I never could get why I was reading this as it's ALL slice of life and I didn't know why I was being asked to spend hours of my life reading about the characters.

PS: Try Kethani - a very interesting book that's quite low key. People are offered immortality. The ones who take them up on it are different. This is NOT horror... it's about how people in a small town react to a huge event

message 6: by Nicolai (new)

Nicolai Pedersen (cnp602) | 2 comments It sounds like you are looking for Quarter Share At least the first 5 or 6 books fits almost exactly.

"Join the crew of the SC Lois McKendrick, a Manchester built clipper as she sets solar sails in search of profit for her company and a crew each entitled to a share equal to their rating."

The books follow Ishmael Horatio Wang as he works his way up the ranks, and learns about the ship and interstellar trading.

The books is available in audio read by the author at

message 7: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (Nevets) | 994 comments Orbital Decay may fit the bill it’s mostly about a bunch of construction workers in space, and all the little baggage they bring with them. It does feel a bit dated (1980’s) but it is surprising what the author did get right, and wrong, about the future.

Have Space Suit—Will Travel is another Robert A. Heinlein book. A lot of big things do happen to a teenager, but for some reason they all felt manageable to me. But it may be a bit of a stretch for what you are looking for.

message 8: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2253 comments Rick wrote: "The third book by Becky Chambers Record of a Spaceborn Few is nothing BUT slice of life."

I concur with this one. I didn't care for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet but liked A Closed and Common Orbit (which is slice of life but also focused on an AI character).

I loved Record of a Spaceborn Few. It has nothing to do with the previous two books so you can skip straight to it. As Rick said, it's nothing but slice-of-life. I think it's just what you're looking for.

message 9: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 200 comments Spin might work here. It's definitely a big "what if" sort of scifi and also a coming of age tale.

message 10: by KevBayer (new)

KevBayer (SporadicReviews) | 513 comments Dara wrote: "Rick wrote: "The third book by Becky Chambers Record of a Spaceborn Few is nothing BUT slice of life."

I concur with this one.

Came to concur about the two sequels to Long Way. Others beat me to it. I'm opposite though. I actually liked Long Way best. Didn't finish the third one...

message 11: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2193 comments Spin is a good idea. There are, I think, sequels which I never read but Spin itself is very interesting.

message 12: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2193 comments Oh, one more... Learning the World: A Scientific Romance... first contact where humans are the aliens. But most of the book is set before contact and follows how the aliens who detect the approach of the humans react. MacLeod might be someone to check out in general, in fact.

message 13: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 36 comments The Time Traveler's Wife is a romance with two people just going about their day to day life, with one of them occasionally time travelling. No real danger or anything. I know some people aren't big fans of the book for that exact reason, but I thought it was great.

message 14: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (Nevets) | 994 comments Hmmm. Maybe I'm thinking more of the sequels, but I've always thought of "Spin" as being a fairly epic story and about bigger ideas. In particular how humanity reacts to such a huge event. Sort of like the first section of Seven Eves. Then again, it has been over 10 years since I read it.

message 15: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 1899 comments You might check Merchanter's Luck by C.J. Cherryh -- it's mostly about a guy trying desperately to keep his ship running, and the crew he brings on to help him. There are some big events happening in the universe, but they're mostly off in the background.

message 16: by Taras (new)

Taras (TheSmokingGnu22) | 9 comments Thanks, all!

It seems that yes, I might reconsider the sequels to The Long Way... I never thought they may be different from such a successful story the 1 part was). As well as Solar Clipper.

Other from that, A Calculated Life seems really close to the spot. Learning the World: A Scientific Romance i've even downloaded previously, and Merchanter's Luck is promising too.

message 17: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 19 comments They're lengthy works, but you might like C Litka's The Bright Black Sea and The Lost Star's Sea. Both do involve the kind of grand adventures/conspiracies/mysteries that you're against, but much of the writing gets into the day-to-day of the main character's life. And the author tells it so well. I frankly could have spent hours reading about how he ran around trying to secure a cargo, loaded it aboard the ship, and prepared for the journey to deliver it...

message 18: by Taras (last edited Jan 08, 2019 08:13PM) (new)

Taras (TheSmokingGnu22) | 9 comments J.J. wrote: "They're lengthy works, but you might like C Litka's The Bright Black Sea and The Lost Star's Sea. Both do involve the kind of grand adventures/conspiracies/mysteries that you're against, but much o..."

"It's not military SF. And while it's a tale full of mystery and danger, star empires are not falling and the fate of the galaxy is not hanging in the balance. Rather, The Bright Black Sea is a lighthearted, character-focused adventure novel."
This quote from the annotation does indeed seem to capture all that i've mentioned in my post), so i'll definetely check that, thank you!

Oh, and both books are totally free in kindle format.

message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike (Mindolin) | 11 comments When the poll went up for the January pick, I put all three books on hold with my library. Even though it did not win I started reading China Mountain Zhang, it is definitely a sci-fi slice of life book, and the main character meets your criteria. But its in a near future earth system setting, not space opera. I am really enjoying it.


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