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MIND MELD: The Funniest Writers in the History of SF/F

For this week’s Mind Meld, we wanted to go towards the light side. Fortunately, Mike Resnick had offered up this question:

Q: Who are the funniest writers in the history of sf/f?

It’s not all Adams and Pratchett! Read on to see some the wittiest writers.

Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.

Robert Sheckley at his best, say from 1958 to 1969, was in a class by himself.

Others would include George Alec Effinger, Henry Kuttner, Fredric Brown, Ron Goulart, Terry Pratchett, Doug Adams, Phil Klass (William Tenn), Esther Friesner, John Sladek, and in all

immodesty, me.

Simon Haynes
Simon Haynes is the author of four Hal Spacejock novels, a number of articles on writing and publishing, and several short stories, one of which collected an Aurealis Award in 2001. He’s a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and his goal is to write fifteen Hal Spacejock books before someone takes his keyboard away. He blogs at

I enjoy Tom Holt’s books, which tend to throw an ordinary everyday sap into a chaotic situation they’re ill-prepared for. Each novel is a voyage of discovery, and you never quite know where you’re going. Norse legends cop a hiding in most titles, and you usually end up Thor from all the laughing.

Robert Rankin’s humourous novels have insanely memorable and inventive titles, such as the Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and The Toyminator, and he’s amassed quite a cult following. New books sprout at regular intervals.

Jasper Fforde has a number of funny books out, starting with The Eyre Affair and blazing a trail of destruction through literature and nursery rhymes alike. Thursday Next deserves a toast, too.

I discovered Terry Pratchett’s work fairly recently (2003), since I refuse to start on any series until I can get my hands on book one, and despite playing The Colour of Magic computer game in the 80’s it was another 20 years before I got hold of the novel. I enjoy the Vimes Discworld books the best, any anything with DEATH in it. Still only read about a quarter of them though. I’m planning to get to the rest over time. YOU HOPE.

Hitchhiker’s Guide… I saw the 80’s TV series first and read the first two books much later. Douglas Adams was a comic genius, but I’m afraid I’ve not read past the third HHG novel yet. The Dirk Gently books didn’t click with me, unfortunately.

I read the Red Dwarf omnibus by the team of ‘Grant Naylor’ a few years ago, and started watching the TV series for the first time late last year. Up to season three now, but I preferred the novel. When you’re reading, there’s no such thing as cheesy special effects 😉

You’ll notice my list is comprised entirely of British authors, but I’m not going to apologise for that. It’s my UK and Australian upbringing, allied with whatever I came across in school and public libraries during my childhood. I was a huge fan of shows like Not the Nine O’Clock News, Minder, Fawlty Towers and so on, and I wanted something along the same lines in my reading.

Esther Friesner
Nebula winner Esther Friesner writes fantasy books with a humorous slant.

Terry Pratchett.

Yup, that’s it.

And if you want someone from Back When, I’m going to say James Thurber. The Wonderful O, The Thirteen Clocks, The White Deer, all fantasies, all funny, even if not LOL-type funny, but the best funny, the funny that makes you -think.-

Which brings me to yet another icon, Waly Kelly. Sorry, but I’m going to man the ramparts and declare that Pogo counts even if it’s a comic strip and not a novel or short story. Imagination, humor, and the talent for making people -think- even while they’re laughing are not such common qualities in this world that we should ignore them just because they give us words -and- pictures.

And NOW that’s it.

Dave Freer
South African Dave Freer is the author (or co-author) of 10 sf/f novels, with another (Dragon’s Ring) due out in October, and Sorceress of Karres (with Eric Flint) due in January. A few of his books are considered funny by some people. There is no accounting for tastes. Some people are amused by amoral dragons and the skewering of myth. I believe respectable classicists want to string him up and burn him in effigy. (Effigy is a small town in Iowa, he thinks.) He’s also sold about 20 short stories and written some boring papers on shark biology. He’s guest of honor at Lunacon 2009.

Oh that’s easy. Me. I walk down the street and people start sniggering. I even had the pall-bearers dropping the coffin and pointing and rolling about laughing last week. I’ll never wear that hat again.

If you mean ‘whose writing is funniest’ that’s a much harder question. The reason it’s so hard to answer well is that one man’s humor is either boring or offensive to others. And there are cultural differences too. Brits do scatological humor. There is something hilarious about the serious and necessary exercise of bodily functions, see (which really mystifies Germans). Well, it’s funnier than UK weather, their other important topic. Americans turn pale if you mock men’s private parts. At least my editor did. Priapism just wasn’t funny to him. And South Africans tend to go ‘huh what?’ and like pie-inna-face humor, because we’re thick.

To write great humor with a broad appeal is, for this reason, not an easy thing. Few authors really manage it, and fewer editors are sure if it’ll work. A writer who gets it right is a jewel. One who manages a little more – to weave humor into a great story is an entire diadem.

So: this is obviously my personal list and comes with the caveat that I find Roald Dahl and Tom Sharpe hilariously funny, and obviously miss just what is so funny about the Three Stooges.

Top of my list comes Terry Pratchett. Not only does he manage to be funny, but his satirical take on society shows glimpses of an underlying serious man. As great satirists do, he manages to expose the ridiculousness of various social mores. On that line I’d recommend Eric Flint’s Philosophical Strangler. The humor is a little dark, but very clever. Like Pratchett I was still picking up new things to laugh at the 3rd time through. Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide books cannot be unmentioned, if merely for pan-galactic gargleblasters, and the babelfish. To go further back, Eric Frank Russell’s twist in the tail-ish shorts are sadly less well known than they should be. And I loved some of Harry Harrison’s efforts – The Technicolor Time Machine, Bill the Galactic Hero. Of course humor is often at very least mildly offensive to the status quo – so some of the politically correct attempts and imitations of what is was rebellious, but is now PC are pretty dull. It hasn’t done humor any good the last while. I think the new writer to watch is Australian writer Simon Haynes with his Hal Spacejock books.

Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels, numerous short story collections. He has been an editor or co-editor of several volumes of fiction, and has won numerous awards for his work, including The Edgar, Seven Bram Stoker Awards, Two New York Times Notable Books and many others.

A lot of S.F. writers have written humorous books or stories, and frankly a lot of the ones known for humor don’t excite me that much. But Fred Brown was awesomely clever, and sometimes downright hilarious. Most of the time he was funny in a kind of light or droll manner. So, even though there were a number of funny stories by Murray Leinster and Henry Kuttner and Keith Laumer, Douglas Adams, and so on, for me, Fred Brown was my favorite.

Gardner Dozois
Gardner Dozois was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years, and is still the editor of the annual The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology series. He’s the author or editor of over a hundred books, has won fifteen Hugo Awards for his editing, and two Nebula Awards and a Sidewise Award for his own writing.

I suppose everybody will mention Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, so I won’t bother.

Actually, most of the SF writers I considered to be the funniest are dead, which probably says more about me being old than about anything else. R.A. Lafferty first made a reputation as a humorist (although he’d go on to do other kinds of things) with his early stories that we’re collected in Nine Hundred Grandmothers, still some of the funniest SF stories ever written. Avram Davidson could write a funny story, and even stories that weren’t ostensibly “funny,” like the Dr. Ezsterhazy stories, were dotted with really funny lines and bits of business. Some of John Sladek’s stories were very funny, particularly his pastiches of the work of other writers. George Alec Effinger wrote some funny stuff, although his humor veered more into surrealist/absurdism than that of most of these other writers. Tom Disch could be bitterly funny in a black ironic way. Although I was never as enthusiastic about his work as most other people I know, Robert Sheckley could certainly be considered to have made the bulk of his reputation as a humorist, and in retrospect can clearly be seen as the major influence on Douglas Adams (also dead).

Neal Barrett, Jr., Howard Waldrop, and, to some extent, Terry Bisson, produce stuff that’s more Gonzo, Weird, and Eccentric than strictly comic per se, but all of them are capable of writing laugh-out-loud funny scenes; I still think that the first Barrett story I bought, “Perpetuity Blues,” is flat-out hilarious, and you can still get a chuckle out of some of my friends by mentioning a boy tying celery to a cat. Connie Willis, although she’s written some very bleak stuff indeed, is also capable of writing funny stuff such as her print versions of Screwball Comedies, such as “Blued Moon,” and “Ado” and “The Soul Selects Her Own Society” are pretty funny as well. Paul Di Filippo has done some brilliant and funny homages, and his F&SF column is usually quite witty. Albert E. Cowdrey has done some funny fantasy, like the recent “A Skeptical Spirt,” which seems to me to be the kind of stuff that Thorne Smith might be writing if he had survived into the 21st Century. Esther Friesner has proved in stories such as “Blunderbore” that she can be very funny as long as she can avoid becoming too coy. Kage Baker is not a humorist per se, but there’s a sly wit that infuses everything she writes, and I think that parts of The Anvil Of The World and knockabout farces like “Mother Aegypt,” “The Empress of Mars,” and “Maelstrom” are quite amusing. Of course, I also think that Bruce Sterling and Jack Vance are often really funny in a deadpan, ultra-dry way, and nobody would think of them as “humorists” either.

Spider Robinson

Since he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print and his short work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He has been married for over 30 years to Jeanne Robinson, also a writer, and his co-author for the Hugo- Nebula- and Locus-winning Stardance Trilogy. Spider’s latest book is Very Hard Choices.

Funniest writer who ever worked in sf was the late great Donald E. Westlake, who died last Christmas eve in Mexico. Unfortunately he didn’t do enough sf. He preferred to work for PAYING markets.

Jeffrey Somers
Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and as a child he imagined he would be a brain surgeon, until a spirit-crushing experience convinced him that in order to be a brain surgeon he would have to actually attend school, work hard, and master basic mathematics. After a severe head trauma, he chose instead to write stories and learn the high art of cocktail mixing, and spent the next twenty years in a pleasant haze of fiction and booze. He is the creator of the zine The Inner Swine, and the author of the books Lifers, The Freaks are Winning, The Electric Church, and The Digital Plague, not to mention numerous short stories. He currently lives in Hoboken, NJ, with his lovely wife Danette and their plump, imperious cats Pierre, Oliver, Guenther, and Spartacus. Jeff insists the cats would be delicious. In-between all this and writing too, Jeff plays chess and staves off despair with cocktails.

I believe when you look up “funny SF writer” in the encyclopedia, you pretty much find an essay about Douglas Adams that strongly implies all other SF/F writers are grim pedants who will murder you if you ever question the logic of the Star Trek universe.

Adams *was* possibly the funniest writer in SF, but plenty of writers who are not strictly humorists manage to make us laugh. One of my faves is L. Sprague de Camp, who was so often effortlessly hilarious in his stories it makes me murderous with jealousy, since whenever I try to be funny in my Cates novels I end up getting a lot of puzzled emails from readers, wondering if I’m back to drinking in the mornings (answer: never stopped).

One of my favorite de Camp series is The Novarian Series (The Goblin Tower, The Clocks of Iraz, The Unbeheaded King, et. al.). Filled with wry jokes and humorous situations, my favorite bit is probably the tiny god that the main character begins to worship after stumbling over a devotional statue. Having had no worshipers for centuries, the god is weak and feeble, peevish and self-pitying, and the whole idea still makes me laugh when I think of it today.

Don Sakers
Don Sakers was launched the same month as Sputnik, so it was perhaps inevitable that he become a science fiction writer. As U.S. Navy brat, he was born in Japan and lived in Scotland, Hawaii, and California before his family settled in Maryland. In California, rather like a latter-day Mowgli, he was raised by dogs. As writer and editor, Sakers has explored the thoughts of million-year-old sapient trees (The Leaves of October), beaten the Cold Equations scenario, and brought Carmen Miranda’s ghost to Space Station Three. He is best known for his tales set in the Scattered Worlds universe. In his day job, Sakers is a public librarian, and part of the team that maintains the fiction recommendation site

The Same Old Names spring immediately to mind: Douglas Adams, Robert Asprin, Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson. Rudy Rucker, Robert Sheckley, the short stories of Frederic Brown. Christopher Stasheff (especially Saint Vidicon to the Rescue). Esther Friesner, of course. And there are classic titles like David Gerrold & Larry Niven’s The Flying Sorcerers, Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson’s Hoka stories, Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books, and Keith Laumer’s Retief series.

In fantasy, Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom of Landover books are a hoot, as are Glen Cook’s Garrett Files series and Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series (especially the more recent books). Leslie What wrings humor from the Greek gods in her book called Olympic Games. For sheer silliness there’s Nick O’Donohoe’s Gnomewrench series, and for total off-the-wall weirdness, anything by Robert Rankin…but especially The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.

And the champion laugh-out-loud fantasy, forty years old but still going strong, is the Harvard Lampoon’s parody Bored of the Rings. Just looking at the map will leave you in stitches (I am especially fond of “Land of the Giant R” and “The Shortcut (known to but a few)”.) Used copies are available all over the place, and it’s well worth the effort to get one.

On the sf side of things, The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz is full of laughs. J.D. Austin has two books that can only be called interstellar romantic comedy: Bobby’s Girl and its sequel, Meet the Thradons! Robert Rankin’s Nostradamus Ate My Hamster is bizarre and hilarious. Then there’s Brian Herbert, the son of Frank Herbert — early in his career, before he became a prisoner of the Dune Industrial Complex, he wrote a very funny book called Sudanna, Sudanna. There aren’t a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but rather a slow trickle of chuckles that build upon one another until by the end of the book you’re out of breath. But what do you expect of a book in which the main character keeps losing his head? (No, literally…in high winds, it flies right off his shoulders.)

Speaking of Frank Herbert, no survey of sf humor would be complete without another classic from long-ago, Ellis Weiner’s parody Doon. Read it and soon you, too, will be controlling your friends with the Boni Maroni Cook Voice: “Get out of the kitchen! It’ll be ready when it’s ready!”

Lastly, I’d like to mention two unlikely books that rank among the funniest, silliest, and most absurd things I’ve ever read. Both are novelizations of old TV shows, published in the 1960s, readily available online as used books…and borderline sf/fantasy to boot.

The first is Jack Sharkey’s The Addams Family. Maybe you were a fan of the show or maybe not…but this book is a steady stream of laughs both clever and absurd. From the arrival of the family in their new house (complete with disembodied-hand servant Thing) to Uncle Fester’s aborted second hitch in the Army (he first served under Ethan Allen in the Green Mountain Boys), and with many a hilarious detour in between, this book is an overlooked gem.

The second novelization is William Johnston’s Get Smart! This is the first in a series, but the others aren’t nearly as funny. In this adventure, Agents Smart and 99 are on the trail of six invisible guinea pigs (and the mad scientist who made them invisible). Their quest takes them on the cruise ship the Queen Edward (her father wanted a boy) where they operate incognito (which is not, as Smart and others first believe, some exotic form of mushroom) to defeat the evil agents of KAOS.

Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts was born two-thirds of the way through the last century; he presently lives a little way west of London, England, with a beautiful wife and two small children. He is a writer with a day-job (professor at Royal Holloway, University of London). The first of these two employments has resulted in eight published sf novels, the most recent being Splinter (Solaris 2007) and Land of the Headless (Victor Gollancz 2007). The second of these has occasioned such critical studies as The Palgrave History of Science Fiction (2006).

Some Mind Meld questions are more difficult to answer and some are easier, but this is the easiest yet. And the answer is: Douglas Adams. Ask me another.

Frederik Pohl and Elizabeth Hull

Frederik Pohl has been honored by his peers as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America and has been just about everything (short of an artist or librarian) that one could be in the field, including writer, critic, historian, agent, editor, teacher, and fan. He has recently started bloggin at The Way the Future Blogs. Elizabeth Anne Hull, Frederik’s wife for the last 25 years, Professor Emerita from Harper College in Palatine, IL has been honored as a Distinguished Faculty by her own college, by the Thomas Clareson Award for service to SF research and teaching by the Science Fiction Research Association (of which she is a past president), and by the Northwestern University Alumni Award for service to her profession. She has been active in community service work, promoting international peace and understanding, preventing violence, and politics all her life. More info in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America, among other sources.

Some names that come to mind are Robert Sheckley, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., R.A. Lafferty, Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, and of course Frederik Pohl. Some are quietly funny, some hilariously so, but they all share the quality of looking at the world with clear honest vision and stating what they see in a fresh and memorable way that awakens the senses of the reader; that is, they are all satiric in some way, holding up a mirror to society and making us laugh at ourselves.

Joe Haldeman

Shortly after Joe Haldeman received a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy from the University of Maryland, he was drafted into the army where he served (and received a Purple Heart medal) as a combat engineer in Vietnam. His most famous novel, The Forever War (1975), leverages those wartime experiences. He has written numerous novels and short stories since then, including All My Sins Remembered (1977), Worlds (1981), Buying Time (1989), The Hemingway Hoax (1990), Worlds Enough and Time (1992), Forever Peace (1997), Forever Free (1998), Camouflage (2004), The Accidental Time Machine (2007), and more. His most recent novel is Marsbound. It was recently announced that The Forever War is being adapted to film by Ridley Scott. He currently teaches writing at MIT.

The name that immediately comes to mind is Henry Kuttner, especially his tales of Gallagher, the mad drunken inventor. L. Sprague de Camp, especially The Incomplete Enchanter. Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat and the broad satire of Bill, the Galactic Hero. Of course Douglas Adams is the modern avatar of sf humor. Cory Doctorow is funny, too.

I wrote one comic novel, The Hemingway Hoax, though it had a dark edge to it.

John Zakour

John Zakour is the author of several humorous science fiction novels in his “hair color” series, including The Plutonium Blonde, The Doomsday Brunette, The Radioactive Redhead, The Frost Haired Vixen, The Blue Haired Bombshell, and The Flaxen Femme Fatale – all of which feature Zachary Nixon Johnson, the last private investigator on Earth.

Humor is pretty subjective. In my opinion Douglas Adams is the funniest and wittiest. I strive for his level on every book I write. I always find it to be a huge compliment when somebody compares my writing to him. I am not there yet, but hope to someday be near there.

Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines is the author of The Stepsister Scheme, as well as the humorous Jig the Goblin trilogy from DAW. He’s sold more than forty short stories, including tales of zombie theme parks, muppet werewolves, and goblin diapers.

I assume readers are already aware of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. (If not, stop reading this moment and get thee to a library. I mean it. Step away from the keyboard and go.)

I’m gonna have to throw out a vote for good ol’ William Shakespeare. He was writing before SF/F existed as a genre, but a lot of his stuff certainly qualifies. Fairies and witches and sorcerers? Oh yes, he was one of us. Not only that, but a lot of his work was damn funny, full of puns and innuendo and humor ranging from subtle to vulgar. You don’t get most of that in high school English class, and it can take a bit of work if you’re not used to reading Shakespeare, but it’s worth it. Bill Shakespeare: come for the literary masterpieces, stay for the penis jokes.

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.

21 Comments on MIND MELD: The Funniest Writers in the History of SF/F

  1. Harry Harrison. Check. Eric Frank Russell. Check. Robert Asprin. Check. But wait…. no Randall Garrett? I’ve got his “Takeoff!” collection and it’s hilarious, with a special call-out to his parody of EE ‘Doc’ Smith. Utterly classic. Just on that one alone, his reputation as an extremely funny writer should be cemented.

  2. Oh yeah, and following in Jeffrey Somer’s vein, Fritz Leiber with his Fafhrd and the Gray [sic] Mouser characters. Lest we forget.

  3. Even though he usually isn’t classified or shelved in SFF, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Christopher Moore. Lamb may be the funniest book I’ve ever read.

  4. Now I think about I forgot about one book that really inspired me to become a humorous sf author:


    Venus On the Half Shell  by Kilgore Trout (check it out, it has an interesting history.)

  5. Rich Grant // March 25, 2009 at 7:07 am //

    Philip K. Dick, if only for “The War with the Fnools”.

  6. Heartily agree with seeing Robert Sheckley here.  I read an enormous collection of his a few years back and was very impressed with it.  Definitely some good funny stuff there.

    Pratchett and Gaiman in Good Omens makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.

  7. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Christopher Moore. His books would be considered fantasy, not SF but he is the one author who makes me laugh out loud while I’m reading him. His latest book, “Fool” is excellent.

  8. Lynn McGuire // March 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm //

    Robert Heinlein.   His “juveniles” are always extremely enjoyable due to his tongue in cheek humor.  “The Rolling Stones” comes to mind immediately.  Even “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” has many funny parts.

  9. Pete Tzinski // March 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm //

    Actually, the weird choice I’d make is:

    Isaac Asimov.

    Not really remembered for his humor, I suppose, at least his humorous fiction. But I own a tatty little book by him called “The Sensuous Dirty Old Man” which is hilarious. It’s not SF, but Asimov definitely is, so I say it counts, dammit.

    I dunno if he counts, being televised, but what about Joss Whedon? There are a lot of moments in Firefly and Serenity which are hilarious.

  10. Lots of good choices. A recent author with a unique and quite humorous style is Matt Hughes. Also I was surprised Larry Niven didn’t get more than the brief, oblique mention above.

  11. shockedyeahright // March 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm //

    uhm…i guess women aren’t funny, right. no sense of humor. like Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign seems to have fallen right off this list somehow. duh. what a surprise.

  12. No Sladek?  Seriously?

    “Space Shoes of the Gods” anyone?

  13. Um, never mind, I found him buried up there twice after my indignance passed.  Nothing to see here, carry on!

    Don Sakers, I never thought I’d find anyone else who knew of Jack Sharkey’s Addams Family novelization.  I’ve got a copy signed by Sharkey himself, with the inscription, “Thanks for buying this.  I have the other one.”  So apparently there was a third copy he didn’t know about.



  14. Brian Dolton // March 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm //

    Nobody mentioned Thorne Smith (apart from Gardner Dozois in passing)?   How sad.   You can’t realistically consider “The Stray Lamb” or “Turnabout” or “Night Life Of The Gods” as anything but fantasy.   The Fulton Fish Market scene in the latter book remains one of my favourite single chapters of anything I’ve ever read.

    Also , Zelazny’s “Those are my entrails and I will not have them misread by a poseur!” is one of the greatest lines in all SFF.


  15. Jerry House // March 25, 2009 at 4:36 pm //

    Sharkey’s short stories and Kuttner’s Hogben stories.  Sladek’s novels.  Disch was bittingly funny.  And Ballard and Aldiss and a lot of new-wave guys.  Reginald Bretnor’s Papa Schimmelhorn and Ferdinand Feghoot, Nearing’s Professor Ransom, Lanier’s Brigadier ffellowes,  Dunsany’s Jorkens,  Clarke’s White Hart, and a zillion other series.

  16. Lots of great suggestions. For new authors, I’d add Minister Faust, especially for The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad. As for the venerable elders of the genre, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens! Like Shakespeare, Twain was writing SFF, and funny stuff at that, before the genre was even labeled. How about A Conneticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court? Or A Curious Pleasure Excursion? Lots of good examples of his SF short stories with the typical Twain slant in the Tales of Wonder – Mark Twain collection published back in ’84.


  17. I fully agree on the “Get Smart” novelization, though actually I think “Get Smart Once Again!” is funnier, with Max teamed with a genius female cryptographer (which is apparently not someone who takes photos of cemeteries, as the running gag would have it) who is sick of being taken seriously and so acts like the proverbial dumb bunny throughout the plot, to Max’s exasperation. How good is it? I read it the only time in 1969, and remembering the gags still makes me chuckle forty years later.

  18. PapayaSF // March 29, 2009 at 1:50 am //

    Everybody I can think of has been mentioned, but I want to thank Don Sakers for reminding me of <a href=””>the map in Bored of the Rings</a>. My favorite bit: The Square Valley Between the Mountains. A joke based on a geological impossibility . . . how nerdy can you get?

  19. PapayaSF // March 29, 2009 at 1:52 am //

    Oops, I guess plain old HTML links don’t work here!

  20. Nobody even mentioned Piers Anthony and his “Xanth” series. I laughed my way through those books on just the visuals alone.  And the best title in the series?  “The Color Of Her Panties”, no contest! But that’s just my own opinion.


    And as for Asimov, what about the “Norby Chronicles?” a robot made from a garbage can? that has abilities eve he doesn’t know about?  Again just my opinion, and I could very well be wrong!

  21. nephtis // June 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm //

    Lois McMaster Bujold

    It would be a travesty to leave her off the list. I laughed out loud reading Barrayar, Young Miles, Cetaganda, A Civil Campaign… heck, all of them. Even Memory had chuckle-worth moments.

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