Charming Science Fiction, Is There Any?

Paperback cover of If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot. Published by Pan-MacMillan.

Lately I have been binge re-reading all of James Herriot‘s wonderful books based on his life as a veterinary surgeon in 1930’s Yorkshire. Any of you that have read the books will remember how wonderfully joyous and charming these books are. It has gotten me to wonder, are there any science fiction books that are equally as charming?

Charm is defined as the power or quality of delighting, attracting, or fascinating others. This definition certainly applies to James Herriot’s books. But what about science fiction? That’s a real head scratcher. I will admit that I’m finding it difficult to come up with any titles that would fit this definition of charm.

A quick Google search for charming science fiction yields a few possible films that might be considered charming science fiction, but no books. So, if there are no charming science fiction books the obvious question is why?

Why indeed. There is plenty of funny and fun science fiction. In fact, humorous science fiction might be considered a separate sub-genre of science fiction, but funny is not necessarily charming. Charm requires something that will touch the reader in a slightly more reminiscent and melancholy way than simply tickling our funny bones.

I think the reason there is no ‘charming’ science fiction is that much of what we would consider charming is based, in part, on real life experiences that readers can relate to on a more emotional level. Science fiction, while wonderful, doesn’t seem to deliver that in a consistent way since it inherently relies on delivering experiences outside the human norm.

Does this mean there is no hope of every finding a charming science fiction book? I certainly hope not. There have been some books that come close to the ideal of charming, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Ready Player One spring to mind, but they are still just a touch too far out of emotional reality to be classified as truly charming. I feel that someday, fairly soon, an author will deliver that unique emotional experience, that would classify their work as charming, in a science fiction book. When that does happen I think the genre will be taken in some very interesting and exciting new directions.

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