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What Else Are You Reading? > Pacifist/Nonviolent SF/F Suggestions

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message 1: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 908 comments Inspired on an exchange I had with Ruth in an earlier thread, what are some suggestions for SF/fantasy books that either are pacifist or nonviolent in nature or focus?


message 2: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) | 908 comments My usual go-to examples are James White's Sector General series. White was a pacifist who lived in Northern Ireland, and most of his fiction reflects those tendencies. The Sector General series is a relatively unique spin on SF in that it focuses on SF medical mysteries, and no solution requires violence.

Another that I'd like to point to is Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series, where Julius the Dragon believes very much in not fighting and usually talks everything out if he can (however, other characters do do some fighting).

One I haven't read yet is Molly Gloss's Dazzle of Day (recently reprinted) which features Quakers on a generation ship. I've heard it features similar themes.

https://www.tor.com/2019/08/26/sff-wo...

This article from Nicoll also mentions Harry Connolly's A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark, which also features pacifism and nonviolence.


message 3: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments Becky Chambers's Wayfarer's series is fairly non-violent. Her books are more concerned with humanity and relationships than overarching plot and space fights.


message 4: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa | 89 comments Damocles is a first contact story where peaceful communication is the focus. There's a little mustering the (alien) forces to surround the strange scary humans, but nothing breaks out into any actual fighting, and the answers they reach are always about talking things out.


message 5: by Seth (last edited Sep 10, 2019 12:15PM) (new)

Seth | 312 comments My recollection of Provenance by Ann Leckie is that there's a bit of fighting, but mostly the problems are solved with wits and ingenuity.

In The Goblin Emperor there's plenty of times the main character could have chosen cruelty or violence but doesn't.


message 6: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 985 comments Seth wrote: "My recollection of Provenance by Ann Leckie is that there's a bit of fighting, but mostly the problems are solved with wits and ingenuity.

In The Goblin Emperor th..."


Read Provenance before and enjoyed it, I have The Goblin Emperor in my Kindle tbr list so I’ll look forward to reading it.


message 7: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 985 comments David wrote: "Inspired on an exchange I had with Ruth in an earlier thread, what are some suggestions for SF/fantasy books that either are pacifist or nonviolent in nature or focus?"

Thanks David!
After The Poppy War and Trail of Lightning (which isn’t nearly as violent as TPW, but does feature a protagonist whose superpower is killing stuff) I want to read something a bit less bloody!


message 8: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3907 comments *scratches head* Are you okay with YA, medieval society, and environmental threat / danger? Because I'm thinking the Harper Hall trilogy from Dragonriders of Pern.

...my suggestion could be biased because I just flat out love Pern. Anyhoo, the main sequence (Flight / Quest / White Dragon and followups) have some violence, but Harper Hall books are rather light on that aspect.


message 9: by Quare (new)

Quare | 1 comments A Door Into Ocean and The Fifth Sacred Thing are both specifically about pacifism and nonviolent resistance.

Diaspora isn't about nonviolence or pacifism, but the concerns of the protagonists and their society are all nonviolent.


message 10: by Minsta (new)

Minsta | 102 comments Dara wrote: "Becky Chambers's Wayfarer's series is fairly non-violent. Her books are more concerned with humanity and relationships than overarching plot and space fights."
And To Be Taught, If Fortunate is her latest and greatest :) I highly recommend it.


message 11: by ctrandall (new)

ctrandall | 3 comments Elizabeth Moon's Remnant Population does a great job of avoiding violent conflict while telling a great story with an unforgettable main character. It's a sci-fi tale of a failed attempt to colonize a new planet. The end was, for me, a bit of a let down but even so it was an enjoyable read, if only for having made the acquantance of Ofelia, the MC who is an octogenarian like no other.


message 12: by Eva (last edited Nov 12, 2019 07:43PM) (new)

Eva All of the sequels to Ender's Game, namely:
- Speaker for the Dead
- Xenocide
and - Children of the Mind

are utterly pacifist, very good reads, and can be read without reading Ender's Game first. I myself started the series with Speaker for the Dead and had no issues understanding everything.

If you know Ender's Game, you know that Ender was a child soldier in a war against aliens. In Speaker for the Dead, he has grown up and wants nothing to do with destruction and war again and hopes he can atone for his actions. He sets course to a faraway colony planet in which humans have been making tentative first contact with an alien species that seems pretty primitive, a bit like a jungle tribe. He arrives into a tense situation because the friendly-seeming aliens have just killed the foremost human researcher among them for no reason anyone can understand. So Ender's mission becomes finding out why they killed the researcher despite of liking him so much, helping the researcher's family (great characters there), and preventing this tense situation from developing into something worse.

In the rest of the series, he and his family have to save an emerging AI consciousness, protect an old alien enemy and help them flourish, and discover a sapient virus - is it ethical to cure someone if the virus is an intelligent alien species?

The whole series reminded me a lot of James White's Sector General books, so if you loved those there's a good chance you'll like these, as well. However, I did read them as a teenager and haven't re-read them since, so I'm not entirely sure they're really as great as I remember.
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House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.
This is brilliantly written science fiction on a grand scale. There is a bit of violence but it's self-defense. It reminds me mostly of a very intricate murder mystery (except that there are multiple interlocking puzzles to figure out). The characters are very engaging even though most of them used to be the same person, now split up into many clones of herself (who are all genetically unique and differ greatly from each other despite of sharing some memories). There's a story of forbidden love, mysterious AI species, and various human species in the far future that are extremly alien and weird.
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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.
This is a beautiful stand-alone fantasy novel with great characters that centers on the mystery of what went wrong with the magical city of Elantris and its inhabitants, who seem cursed. It's about figuring it all out and lifting the curse, not about violence and wars, but there is still violence in this book. I'm listing books that do contain some violence because you mentioned James White as a positive example, who also has scenes of war and its gory aftermath without straying from his overall peace-promoting message and who has main characters who are focused on preventing violence and healing its aftermath. It is his debut novel, so there is the occasional clunky prose, but I didn't care because the rest is so wonderful.
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Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews.
Okay, this actually features quite a bit of pretty gory violence. But hear me out: the protagonist is an innkeeper for aliens visiting earth, and especially the second book (Sweep in Peace) has a very pacifist, anti-war message, as she is hosting peace talks between two alien species in her magical inn and has to figure out how to get them to understand each other. So, although violence is used, the protagonist only supports it when absolutely necessary and the overall message is one promoting peace.
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Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
The whole book is about a group of people trying to prevent a war from breaking out. There is some violence, but overall the protagonists are trying to prevent bloodshed.
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The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach
is a Science Fiction tale completely without any violence whatsoever and instead focuses on a planet of carpet weavers who produce fine carpets woven from the hairs of their wives and daughters, exclusively made for the galactic emperor. But the emperor is dead now, and maybe their lives were built on lies? What purpose do the carpets truly serve? This won some prestigious awards and features beautiful writing.
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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is a brilliant SF novel completely without any violence! Also worth a look: The Buried Giant by the same author, which has only some very brief, non-graphic violence.
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Scary themes but no violence as far as I know.
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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Humorous satire, very low on violence and the whole plot is about an angel and a demon's bromance and their attempt to prevent the apocalypse from ending humanity, which they've both come to love too much to see destroyed. Important to note: they don't prevent it through violent means, I believe only the baddies engage in a bit of violence here.
Actually, ALL of Terry Pratchett's books are pretty pacifist and very low on violence. Especially his series on a group of witches, starting with Equal Rites.
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The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
The protagonist of this fantasy novel is a man crippled in body and spirit by the violence and trauma he endured in the past, and that trauma is talked about and addressed, but there is almost no violence at all in the actual story, which centers more on political intrigue, diplomacy, solving mysteries and - most of all - the great characters and their relationships and growth.
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I hope I've given you some ideas and that you'll like your choices. :-)


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