The Best Of:

Found Family

To make it onto Inkfoundry's "Best Of Found Families" collection, a story must contain  emotionally engaging relationships between characters who, despite not being related by blood, form a deep and genuine family bond. Each story must also have a satisfying and resonant conclusion.

There are great stories in the found family catalogue that aren’t on this list, and I highly recommend browsing there for more beautiful tales of belonging.

The Family: The loyal and ambitious sailors of a fishing vessel who want to expand their little family, despite strict population regulations.

  • InkFounder Comments: (Includes Spoilers)

    This was the first story I ever collected for InkFoundry and it remains one of my absolute favorites. Carrie Vaughn is such an engaging writer, I love the way she writes friendships and brings the nuance of her conflicts into every nook and cranny of the stories she tells. Amaryllis tells the story of a captain who is afraid of being a burden not just on the society that didn’t want her, but on the loyal and hearty crew who depends on her for their happiness.

    The ending of the story is simple, but it still took me by surprise. Looking through the lens of Captain Marie, I assumed, as she did, that if she told anyone about the bullying and unfairness she was enduring, she would be dismissed at best, punished at worst. The fears of being a burden and holding back the people she loves feel palpable and painful, so the resolution being something as simple as ‘she was believed and valued just as highly as anyone else’ felt powerful and elegant.

    This story also made it onto the ‘Best of Happy Endings” list.

The Family: An augur who can tell someone’s future by their physical features, and the girl who was left on his doorstep.

  • InkFounder Comments: (Includes Spoilers)

    This is one of the most bittersweet stories on the list, but don’t let that put you off. There’s a careful distance in the language of the story, separating the Augur from the girl he’s adopted. He knows everything about her and all the details of her life, but still there’s a real sense of wonder in the relationship, pleasant and unpleasant surprises that are no less meaningful. 

    The story has a strangely mythic feel. Even the most ordinary parts of her life that he foresees are given a kind of momentum that makes the rest seem inevitable. It’s a masterclass in expectation and tension, as well as just a truly heartwarming/wrenching story.

The Family: The rambunctious Cromwell children, their automaton guardian, and the governess that has been sent to tame them.

  • InkFounder Comments: (Includes Spoilers)

    Told through a series of letters between a governess and her superior, the story may seem rigid at first, but I think that’s part of the charm– it begins with a rather harried and uptight young professional wrestle with a new situation she’s been assigned to manage, and eventually the format and story relax into something much sweeter– a misfit family finding their new footing with each other.

    Even the relationship between the letter-writers becomes less formal and more accepting, and it sort of feels as though the story is folding into softer and softer layers until the end. It’s a subtle kind of genius, which takes a risk on opening engagement for a well-earned finale.

    Also to note: The worldbuilding is very light in this story of the series, focusing more on interpersonal relationships than the history of the city and magic, so if you want to know more about the hundred cities and the magic behind the ‘awoken’ machines, I recommend the others in this series, especially “The Guilt Child” It’s far less humorous, but just as engaging.

The Family: A tight-knit group of bounty hunters, one of whom has been hiding an incredible secret…

  • InkFounder Comments: (Includes Spoilers)

    The second of Carrie Vaughn’s stories to make this list. There are several more stories in the ‘Visigoth-verse’ as I’ve been calling it, but this remains my favorite. It begins with Graff, a mechanic on a bounty hunting vessel being cut in half in full view of his crew-family. If Graff was human, he certainly would have been killed, but he’s not.

    It’s a very sweet story with a slick scifi core and a soft landing. It’s high-concept, but stays pretty grounded in the characters’ relationships. In fact, it feels a little like fanfic, in the best way– angsty and fast-paced with plenty of drama.

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