Continuing the discussion of HEA/HFN vs. tragic endings in SF...
Putting on my reader's cap, I have expectations that stories will end on a good note. I don't want characters I identify with and root for have to suffer through myriad trials and tribulations only to meet a bleak and morbid end.
What's the point? All that for nothing?
Some argue that that's just how life is. I don't agree. Yes, granted, we'll all die someday and it will be a tragedy, but it's how we live that really counts, que no?
For me, stories are about conflict and struggle, both internal and external, and how the characters overcome, conquer and resolve those struggles in a positive, satisfying, and especially in a surprising (provided it's a happy surprise) way.
As a writer, I have similar thoughts. I don't want to expend my creative energies on a story that's going to come crashing down on the readers head--and heart--like some rock that fell from the sky. I want the characters to soar. I want readers to soar with them. (Right after that final boot off the proverbial cliff, of course. I also like my endings crafted with high drama.)
So, yeah, I like an "All is lost!" that comes with a "But wait..."
But all that said, I think there are exceptions for when a non-HEA/HFN can work, and that's in the case of a series with a much larger story arch. When the story is building toward an epic climax via multiple books, I think there is room in my universe for a tragic conclusion, provided the series itself ends on a happy note.
Think Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Not exactly an upper of a wrap, was it? Han has been encased in carbonite and taken away by bounty hunters. Luke is re-learning how to use a bionic hand after having his own severed in a battle with Darth Vader and learning about his dubious heritage. The rebellion is losing. Things definitely ended on a big downward spike.
Quite a contrast to the medals being awarded at the conclusion of A New Hope or the big celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi. And it works. Because it leaves the reader wanting to know how all of this woe will be overcome, and still giving them a glimmer of hope that they just might still salvage an HEA.
So when the question is posed, Should non-HEA stories be included under the SFR umbrella, my answer is: Sometimes, yes. The next logical question would be: What's the final outcome?
I think Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series has a couple of novels that fall short of the HEA in the overall story arc. Can you think of others? Do you think it's possible to end every book of a series on an HEA/HFN. (Or a HUS--Happy Until Sequel.)
SFR Under Glass?
From Wikipedia, here's the premise:
Set in the near future, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the small town of Chester's Mill, who suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier that surrounds the town. As the town begins to tear itself apart through panic, a small group of people attempt to maintain peace and order while also trying to uncover the truth behind the barrier and how to escape from it.
I love the concept of Near Future, Earth-based SF that doesn't involve zombies or alien invasions. It's a "What would happen if..." kind of story, that makes people start thinking, "What if this happened to me? My family? My town?"
Curious? Here's a clip:
Judging from the preview scenes, there's a good chance some SFR elements will come into play in the story lines (again--depending on the final outcome). It also looks to offer some strong female characters among the cast. (We can only hope.)
I'm intrigued by the previews and plan to tune in. How about you?