Thursday, 24 July 2008

Science Fiction and Fantasy that makes you laugh…

I used to be a big fan of Terry Pratchett when I was a teenager, not only was he writing fantasy (all he needed to be doing to become a favourite author of mine) but he was writing fantasy that made me laugh out loud because it was so funny. He was poking fun at the fantasy genre but in a way that made me think, “You know what? He’s right and it’s really funny at the same time.”
Christmas was the time of year when I would get the new Terry Pratchett ‘Discworld’ paperback and you wouldn’t see me (you’d hear me laughing though) until Christmas Dinner was on the table!

But then it all changed. While Terry was poking fun at fantasy tropes I was really enjoying the ride but when his eye started to focus on the real world the Discworld evolved to fit in with it. It was still a fantasy setting but there was enough of the real world there to take that sense of escapism, that I lived for, out and leave me with a book where (horror of horrors!) the jokes weren’t making me laugh any more…
I bowed out of the series (although you’ll still see me picking up ‘Guards! Guards!’ occasionally) but that was ok as I had just discovered Robert Rankin’s ‘Brentford Trilogy’…

Here’s a set of books (along with some of his others) where I think you need to have been born and bred in Britain to really get the humour. Having said that though, I think anyone will get a lot out of other books such as ‘Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse’. Matters of life and death begin and end in the pub and will often take second billing to compiling that winning ‘accumulator’ on the horses or trying to cheat Neville (the part time barman) out of a pint. John Omally and Jim Pooley don’t really want to save the world but when it’s a choice between that and looking for full time employment…

These days Rankin is my drug of choice when I’m after a read that will make me laugh. Christopher Moore is another good one; ‘The Stupidest Angel’ is a book that I think I’ll be reading every Christmas from now on! :o)
It’s also refreshing to see comedy moments popping up where you least expect it, Steven Erikson is a great example here with his epic fantasy series veering off into comedy every now and then with characters such as Kruppe and Iskaral Pust (not forgetting the mighty Bauchelain and Korbal Broach!)

I don’t read an awful lot of humorous genre stuff though and I’m after you to help me fill in the gaps. What am I missing out on? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any humorous sci-fi stuff, anyone care to enlighten me on what’s out there?
Comments in the usual place please! :o)

13 comments:

weariedjuggler said...

You're totally right about Erikson..I forgot how funny Kruppe and Pust are, thx!

Also, I'm always laughing while the Dresden Files. Call me silly but Butcher's humour just connects with me.

Rhian said...

Never seen humorous sci-fi?! Never heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy then? :-P

Also, the Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison are very very good.

ThRiNiDiR said...

Robert Asprin's early M.Y.T.H. books are a must :)

Anonymous said...

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart does the trick for me. I've must have read that book at least a half a dozen times and I still laugh out loud. What a brilliant novel!
Prachett is hit or miss for me...

Guinevere Seaworth

Sarah Heacox said...

If you haven't read Tom Holt you are seriously missing out. Flying Dutch, Expecting Someone Taller, and a bunch of others.

Film Dilettante said...

Among the recent releases I personally really enjoyed Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. Quirky humour, so much fun.

gav (nextread) said...

I found Looking for Mr Piggy-Wig a fun read. I gave it a good review.

It was a silly but fun read and futuristic sci-fi mixed with pulp detective fiction.

Tinkoo said...

A lot of Eric Frank Russell.

More humorous genre stories (some online, far more shorts than novels): page, feed.

sdn said...

don't forget diana wynne jones!

Jessica Strider said...

For fantasy, try John Moore. His Unhandsome Prince is quite funny. Also Moira Moore's Resenting the Hero series.

Anonymous said...

I second the Tom Holt recommendation.

In a completely different vein, space opera/adventure with tongue firmly in cheek:
- Keith Laumer's Retief books
- Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson's Hoka books (Earthman's Burden, etc)
- Gordon Dickson's Spacial Delivery and it's sequel (name eludes me)

Isaac Asimov and Anthony Boucher have a lot of funny (usually punny) stories out there.

And if you like your jokes straight up, Spider Robinson's EARLY Callahan's stories - the short stories only, not the later novels.

Anonymous said...

Try most Jack Vance. Especially, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, Rhialto the Marvellous and Showboat World.

Highlander said...

Graeme,

Currently reading Starship Titanic by Terry Jones (yes the Monty Pyhton one)and yes its funny based on a PC game by the even funnier Douglas Adams. Mind you I found the Difference Engine quite funny but dont think it was supposed to be!!

Cheers