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Humor & SF/F

So what do folks think about humor in science fiction and fantasy? I’m not talking an occasional funny passage or dialog. I’m talking about a SFF/F comedy. Do you like it? Is it worthwhile? What are your favorite humorous SF/F books?

Here are my thoughts: First off, I’ve read relatively little humorous SF/F novels – the idea just doesn’t appeal to me for some reason. I think that the sense of wonder I crave from sf gets diluted by the humor. The one enjoyable sf book I did read was Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I did not much care for the sequels. I also read Dr. Dimension years ago and remember it falling flat. So, are there any funny sf books out there that would change my mind about humorous SF?

Fantasy is, I believe, a better forum for comedy. There’s no science to get in the way. Magic can be whatever but science has to be rooted in reality to be believable. There’s Pratchett’s Discworld series which, shamefully, I have yet to experience. Are there other fantasy books I should check out?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

5 Comments on Humor & SF/F

  1. I remember Mallworld being rather funny, but other than that, I can’t think of any other humorous SF books, other than HHGttG.

    As for fantasy, other then Pratchett (which you must read), I can think of the Myth series by Robert Asprin and the Castle Perilous series by John DeChancie (not to be confused with John de Lancie who played Q on ST:TNG which sorta fits since the Q episodes were played, after the first one, for humor) when I was younger and I remember them being funny.

  2. I beg to differ, sir! There IS humorous science fiction… and Harry Harrison wrote 50% of it.

    Here are some hilarious SF novels, some of which should be available at a well-stocked library or eBay:

    BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO by Harry Harrison

    -A send-up of Heinlein and Asimov.


    -a movie crew travels back in time to shoot a movie with REAL Vikings and Indians.

    DIMENSION OF MIRACLES a.k.a. MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley

    -Hard to describe, must be experienced.

    -THE WAR WITH THE NEWTS by Carel Capek

    -A classic satire about slavery. Also read his satire of religion, THE ABSOLUTE AT LARGE.

    -A.R. Yngve

  3. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  4. I had forgotten about Harry Harrison. I remember Bill, the Galactic Hero as being funny. Don’t think I’ve read the others.

  5. Allamagoosa by Eric Frank Russell (short story) is a knee-slapper, as is his novel The Space Willies.

    And of course, the short stories of Stanislaw Lem, collected in Cyberiad.

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