G.J. Koch writes science fiction. Not the hard stuff, though. Because that requires actual scientific knowledge or at least actual scientific research. Knowledge may be power and research may be cool, but they take time away from writing jokes, action, and romance, and being witty in the face of death is what it’s really all about. Check out G.J.’s rollicking Alexander Outland: Space Pirate series from Night Shade Books and reach G.J. at Space…the Funny Frontier.

Why I Write Humorous Science Fiction

by G.J. Koch

I always thought Han Solo was a lot more fun before he found “religion” and got all serious about saving the galaxy and being a good boy for Leia. Though I like them both, I find the irreverence of Firefly much more relatable than the serious do-gooder-ness of Star Trek. And I actually enjoyed Ice Pirates. (Because it was funny, that’s why.)

I’m telling you this because I write humorous science fiction, and there’s a reason why I like the funny, and I like to bring the funny: I can get across whatever points that I want to so much more easily with humor than if I’m all serious about whatever it is I want to have a reader thinking about. In fact, many of my readers would never know that I HAVE serious points to make (oh, but I do, I really do). And that’s the way I like it.

Science fiction tends to deal with big themes — social upheaval, war, oppression, human rights, social issues and mores, politics, man’s search to know the unknown. And big themes tend to be weighty themes. And many times, said themes can FEEL weighty, too.

It’s easy to pontificate. (For example, look at any politician, anywhere, and, trust me, there’s a 99.99% chance said politician will be pontificating.) It’s easy to tell someone that equality is important (or, these days, depending on who’s talking, not important) and be damned serious when you do it. It’s very easy to shout your point from the rooftops and demand that everyone see it your way.

But sometimes humor works better to get your point across than bludgeoning someone over the head with the Hammer of Serious Issues.

I love Galaxy Quest, in part because it both skewers science fiction fandoms and loves them deeply at the same time. It also deals with themes of war, oppression, friendship, teamwork, trust, loss, and responsibility, but you never FEEL like it’s dealing with those themes — you’re too busy laughing. Men in Black deals with prejudice, war, and most of the other themes Galaxy Quest hits, and again, you don’t really notice because you’re laughing and having fun. But the messages sink in.

Now, I know there’s a whole humongous section of the science fiction reading world out there which does not believe that humor should be a part of science fiction, ever. Because, damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a standup comedian, and we’re dealing with serious life and death issues here! Humor’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. To each their own, right?

And yet, Star Trek had and used humor. So did Star Wars. So do a lot of other movies, TV shows, books, plays, cartoons, comics, etc. Why use humor when the stakes are high? Because a laugh at the right time can diffuse a tense situation.

Humor can give you the break you need to get through this phase of saving the galaxy and onto the next phase of saving the universe. Because humans need to laugh and like to laugh, and every entertainment medium is focused and selling to humans. (If you’re in some other form of entertainment, where you are not hoping to sell your product to a human being in some way, I’d love to chat and find out just who, or what, you’re selling to.)

While humor and irreverence are not the same thing, it’s nice to see both, at least on occasion. And going for the humorous side is not someone taking the easy path over drama — humor is taking the harder path (and isn’t it great when that humor seems effortless?).

Many times it’s much more fun and challenging to write something that’s going to keep readers or audiences laughing all the way through. Whether you do laugh all the way through depends on how your sense of humor aligns to mine, or to whoever wrote what it is you’re reading or watching. But I guarantee that if we’re writing a comedy of some kind, we’ve worked harder on the jokes than anyone ever works on a tragic death scene (and I know some authors who spend WEEKS on their tragic death scenes).

Okay, the humor-averse say, but why a whole book that’s funny? Why not just dribble the humor in here and there? Why write a book about space pirates and make them funny, and the book funny, and all the situations funny? Why humorous science fiction? WHY?

Because sometimes a little dab’ll do ya, but not always. There are times when a laugh here or there just won’t do, times when you need a belly laugh a chapter, a chuckle a page, with a story that carries you along and lets you lose yourself in it. Because sometimes you want to laugh, and sometimes you need to laugh. And when you want and need those laughs, my funny space pirates are here for you.

Alexander Outland: Space Pirate

In Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, trouble’s brewing out in space, and Alexander Outland — the least likely hero in the galaxy — and his eccentric crew have to save the day, despite the fact they’d prefer to take the money and run.

Alexander Napoleon Outland is the best pilot, and ladies’ man, in the galaxy. But Nap, as his friends call him, is more than that — he’s a schemer with a heart of gold he desperately wants to hide, a soft spot for other people’s cargo and his exotic weapon’s chief, and the unerring ability to find the biggest misfit on any planet or space station and somehow join that person onto his crew.

Nap’s not your classic hero, but that tends to make him the right guy for the job…whatever the job happens to be. He’s also a whole lot of fun to fly with, as long as you don’t mind near-death experiences.

There are aliens, explosions, telepaths, donkeys, space pirates of all kinds, and a galaxy-wide conspiracy. And the most horrifying “underwater” trip any crew’s had to face in a long, long while. But mostly, there are laughs.

- G.J. Koch

GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of G.J. Koch’s Alexander Outland: Space Pirate!

SF Signal has a copy of G.J. Koch’s Alexander Outland: Space Pirate to give away to 1 lucky SF Signal reader!

Here’s the book description:

Captain Alexander Outland of the Sixty-Nine (short for Space Vessel 3369, of course) is the best pilot in the galaxy. He’s also a pirate, a smuggler, and loved and loathed by women in umpteen solar systems. His crew of strays and misfits includes an engineer of dubious sanity, a deposed planetary governor, an annoyingly unflappable Sexbot copilot, and a slinky weapons chief who stubbornly refuses to give the captain a tumble.

Outland just wants to make a decent living skirting the law, but when an invisible space armada starts cutting into his business, he soon finds himself in hot water with the military, the mob, mad bombers, and an extended family of would-be conquerors. And that’s not counting an occasionally telepathic spy . . . .

Like any sensible scoundrel, he hates heroics. They’re risky and they don’t pay well. But to keep his ship and crew in one piece, and make time with a certain hard-to-get weapons chief, he might just have to make an exception–and save the galaxy in spite of himself!

And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:

  1. Send an email to contest at sfsignal dot com. (That’s us).
  2. In the subject line, enter ‘Alexander Outland: Space Pirate
  3. This giveaway is open to all:
    • For U.S. residents: In the email, please provide your mailing address so the book can be mailed as soon as possible. (The winning address is forwarded to the publisher who will mail it to you. All other address info is purged once the giveaway ends.)
    • For everyone else: Postage is expensive, y’know? If you enter and win, you will receive an eBook copy. Please specify eBook format: ePub or mobi.
  4. Please, only one entry per person. Duplicate entries will be forwaded to the invisible space armada and will never be seen or heard from again. If you’ve won something from us in the past, please give someone else a chance.
  5. The giveaway will end Wednesday June 6th, 2012 (09:00 PM U.S Central time). The winner will be selected at random, notified, and announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

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