Laughs in Space

Authors often use science fiction to ask Big Questions. That's fine and all, but could we yuk it up once in a while? The truly gifted can manage both, and I tried to include some of them in this post, but mostly, this is for fun.

R. Wilson Rogers is returned to the military after a stint of (inept) smuggling in Joe Zieja's Mechanical Failure. However, it is not the military he remembers. Despite the 200 Years (And Counting) Peace, things are gearing up again for war with the Thelicosans, but something is not right. After bumbling his way to the top of the command structure, Rogers has to put down a droid uprising and put those pesky war rumors to rest. Skewering pretty much every trope and device in military science fiction, this is good fun for those who think that sometimes Honor Harrington is wearing her underwear a little too tight.

The prolific Lois McMaster Bujold brings the wit to space opera in her Vorkosigan Saga. In these page-turners, Miles Vogosian flits around the galaxy as both a government agent and privateer, dies, is reborn, and romances the ladies. More emotionally resonant than James Bond and funnier than Horatio Hornblower, this series compares favorably to both.

Eric Idle (yup, that Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame) asks, what is funny? In The Road to Mars, he sets his three protagonists, two underemployed comedians and their robot, to find out with laughs along the way. The robot ends up writing a thesis on the subject, but not before saving his comrades, himself, and a planet or two.

While not taking place entirely in space, I want to include Towing Jehovah. James Morrow takes a decided and literally irreverent tone in this madcap adventure. Hired by angels and the Vatican to tow God's corpse to the Artic, a disgraced oil tanker captain can't imagine who would have a problem with that. Turns out, plenty of people. What should be an easy, if unusual, job turns into something out of Homer as Morrow muses about subjects like navigation and science, as well as the obligatory theology in this sharp satire.

In space, no one can hear you scream. But maybe they can hear you giggle a little. Tell us about it in the comments.

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