Sci Fi That Didn’t Satisfy

20 books I gave up on because I’m: too dumb, too smart, impatient or a squeamish wuss.

Mernie Buchanan
10 min readNov 12, 2023


drawing by the author

I have an untreated fiction addiction and get high on the ‘what if’ questions and brilliant writing in most of sci fi. Here are the 10% I gave up on before finishing in the past two years because they were:

Too Grim

(If grim is your thing, consider 1–6 as recommendations)


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie — This is one of the more high concept and lauded I abandoned. I even tried twice. Characters and settings were simply too dismal, and trudging through a frozen wasteland was better when Ursula Le Guin did it.

I kept hoping for more from the character who used to be a ship. If the author had foreshadowed any hope that anyone might triumph over the evil empire or their own anger and depression, it might have kept me going past the halfway mark. I know a lot of people enjoy bleak. If I could afford a therapist to work through my aversion to bleak maybe I could have got through it.

I prefer to be immersed in the snark of Murderbot, the warmth of the Wayfarer Series or the ludicrous hijinks of Scalzi’s latest. For adventures with a self aware spaceship, I’ll clone another rocket into the Bobiverse.



Mernie Buchanan

Originally from CA & Las Vegas, I now paint and write in Woodstock NY. All images are my original art & photos. Links to more at