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The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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After finishing the excellent (but long and relentless) Otherland series, I was in the mood for something lighter, so I picked out some stories in a more humorous vein. I came up with three that satisfied the need, and reviewed them below. It started me thinking about how they used humor in different ways.
Terry Pratchett knows how to write humor; he writes satire, irony, farces, and parodies. Since this one was about the wizards, it was primarily slapstick; the wizards are the Keystone Cops of the Discworld.
John Scalzi’s humor was somewhere between a farce and a satire, poking fun at bad SciFi.
T. Kingfisher’s humor was harder to quantify. Much of it stemmed from taking a well-known folktale and twisting it in unexpected ways. A lot of the laughs came from her quotes and epigrams:
“Dryads like things that come in threes.”
“Poison ivy comes in threes.”
“Magic’s similar. You don’t notice you’ve run into it, and then it itches you for weeks.”
or the folksy sayings:
So poor they can’t afford cobwebs, her mother had said once, about a relative.
or just the whimsical observations:
She liked birds, but Canada geese didn’t really fall into that category, did they? They were more like airborne sheep.
If lockdown has you down, these are great ways to spend the time. Check out https://lamp.works/books-we-like; there’s a category for humor. What’s the funniest SciFi or Fantasy you’ve read? The first five people who send a nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org will get a coupon for a kindle edition of one of our books. Tell me in your submission which book you would like.
Sellenria: The Starship and the Citadel
Chuck Boeheim, Daniel Elswit
… this story bolstered my faith that someone can still write decent sci-fi.
Sellenria brings you back to a timeless quest on an alien world. Archaeologist Stenn Gremm was following the trail of an ancestor who had vanished hundreds of years ago. It lead to a world where legends came to life and ancient evils threatened everyone who lived there.
This book delighted on so many levels. It‘s smart, insightful, and wise. The many passages I highlighted are to remind myself how to be a better person.
Stenn came to realize that he had more strength than he knew, and that he still needed his friends to succeed.
This story contains all you expect from SciFi: alien creatures, epic battles, and strange worlds; but even more it‘s a story about the best in people, whether human or otherwise.
Join Stenn‘s trek to the Citadel in the desert and find out for yourself what it takes.
What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
Otherland: Sea of Silver Light
Book four of the Otherland saga draws the tale to a satisfying conclusion. Renie, !Xabbu, and the rest are stranded in a strange land with terrifying gods. There is no way out; the only way is forward or die. And if they die, so do all the young children the Brotherhood has used to build their simulated world. Jongeleur‘s henchman Dread has taken over the core of the simulation and things go from bad to worse. Their best hope is the badly burned and nearly immobile Sellars, who is almost out of time. Two things impressed me about this book. The first was that it had a cast of nearly thirty major characters, each of which had such a distinctive voice that you tell them apart just by their dialog. The second was that every single one of them contributed to their success. There were no huge acts of heroics, just many small ones.
The Last Continent
It‘s a Discworld novel, so anything‘s fair game, including all the tropes from Down Under. (No, a trope is not a marsupial.) The Wizards of Unseen University go in search of a missing colleague, who seems to have a portal to a beach in his bathroom. They meet the god of evolution, hard at work but missing the point of natural selection. Then they wash up on the continent of Fourecks, nearly on the rim of the world. Rincewind and the Luggage have also landed there, and the two groups are bound to meet, even though they have arrived thirty thousand years apart. On the way to that meeting, Pratchett skewers all the popular cultural images of Australia, from crocodiles and their hunters, to the beer, the opera hall, and more. It‘s a grand romp. No worries.
Redshirts starts off like a bad SciFi novel. And that‘s the point. Andy Dahl realizes that a posting to the Universal Union‘s flagship isn‘t the opportunity he thought it was. Why does the bridge crew always lead the away teams personally, and why does some low-ranking ensign always end up dead? Why do officers make snap decisions that make no sense, other than they‘re dramatically appropriate? And why are the laws of physics suspended just in time to save the ship? Most of the crew just ducks any hazardous assignment but Andy and his crewmates are determined to find a reason for the madness. Their journey becomes even stranger than one of their away missions. Redshirts is a wickedly funny satirical sendup of popular but flawed SciFi shows of today and yesteryear.
Jackalope Wives and Other Stories
Jackalope Wives is a collection of short stories. The story of the title won the Nebula for short story, and deservedly so. This is a collection of homey, quirky, and downright funny stories set on the edges of backcountry legends. What happens if you catch a Jackalope without its skin on? (They take them off to dance in the moonlight.) What if Cinderella was a much more sensible girl? What about unicorns? Are we certain they have the same definition of virginity that we do? Sixteen evocative, poignant, homespun tales that will keep your attention. And did I mention that they‘re funny?
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