SLCLS Genre Study discussion

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Sci Fi Subgenres > Light/Humorous Science Fiction

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message 1: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments A book that's not only filled with science fiction, but is funny, too; could such a thing exist? If you guessed yes, then you're correct. Humorous science fiction, to put it bluntly, exploits the genre's conventions for comic effect. If you're not laughing or some part of the science fiction genre isn't being mocked or satirized, then it's not light/humorous science fiction. Chances are if the title sounds funny and it falls into science fiction, then it probably falls into this category as well, but no guarantees.

Some example include:

1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

2. Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky

3. Dude, Where's My Spaceship? (Weird Planet Series) by Dan Greenburg

4. Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett-Smith

What are some of your favorites? What ones do you get a lot of requests for?


message 2: by Cherie (new)

Cherie The absolute best humorous, science fiction books have got to be the Miles Vokosigan books. The funniest one is "Civil Campaign," where Mile's brother tries to set up a butter bug business and they get out all over the place.


message 3: by Kira (last edited May 12, 2014 09:29AM) (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments That's sounds like a great example. Bugs make for a great laugh and it sounds like it doesn't go well. What would you consider the most memorable about it?


message 4: by Cherie (new)

Cherie Probably the bugs getting out of the labratory and getting all over the house and everyboyd trying to gather them up.


message 5: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments The most memorable part from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is actually at the beginning: “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

I also liked when Mr. Prosser was talking about bypasses and Douglas Adams "narrator" interjects, "Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what's so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what's so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where . . .they wanted to be.”


message 6: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments For me, I loved where Douglas Adams said at the beginning: "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

I also like, however, the part where Mr. Prosser is talking about bypasses and the narrator interjects:

"Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what's so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what's so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where . . .they wanted to be."


message 7: by Nora (new)

Nora (norawb) | 23 comments Cherie--don't forget the part where they come to take Dr. B away & there is the big bug butter battle! LOL! It's always good for some laughs.


message 8: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments Douglas Adams has another series that bears a mention here. The first is called Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and the second, The Long Dark Tea Time of the soul. Both are predominantly humourous mysteries with a dash fantasy and sprinkling of science fiction just for kicks. For example one of them has an electric monk that came from another planet who somehow manages to get himself and his horse stuck in someone's bathroom. I recommend them both. If we are quoting favorite passages then I have to say that my favorite passage from any of Douglas Adams books has to be the beginning of Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, 'As pretty as an airport. Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only known exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs."


message 9: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments That sounds like a hoot Nora and Cherie, now I really do have to read that one just to see the big bug butter battle. So does Douglas Adams' other series titles you mentioned Cara. What elements do you think make up a good "light/humorous" science fiction?


message 10: by Kira (last edited May 27, 2014 02:24PM) (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments Now I'm going to have to read that book Cherie and Nora, that book sounds like it's up my alley. Thanks, Cara for also mentioning the other Douglas Adams' books, I had forgotten about those. I also like the Franny K. Stein series mentioned at the training.

What elements do you think an engaging "light/humorous" science fiction needs? What conventions are there that you like to see made fun of?

For me, I think humor is the most obvious, but I also like to see this genre take on multiple personalities when it comes to making fun of conventions. It's fun to see the author make fun of the books making fun of science fiction. I don't really have a particular part of science fiction that I like to see made fun of, though.


message 11: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments I don't think light and humorous Sci-Fi necessarily has to make fun of itself, although many do, they just need to be lighter than the usual affair. A lot of Sci Fi is the serious drama and really heavy on the science. I even know some people that feel if the science isn't theoretically possible it is fantasy and not Sci Fi. but to me that rules out most alien stories and all Zombie stories. These people also rule out Doctor Who. Which I feel is on the light/humorous side.
Hmm That makes me wonder. this isn't really the place for this comment but I'm not sure where is, if you have a story about Alchemy does it count as Science Fiction? because Alchemy is sort of like debunked science


message 12: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 37 comments Cara wrote: "I don't think light and humorous Sci-Fi necessarily has to make fun of itself, although many do, they just need to be lighter than the usual affair. A lot of Sci Fi is the serious drama and really ..."

Interesting question. I think that because alchemy is debunked science it usually falls into the fantasy category. It seems like science fiction usually needs to have the science at least be plausible. Although if the story posited alchemical science in such a way that it suddenly looked possible (like with manipulation at an atomic level or something) and the science were described to make it at least sound real, it would fall in sci-fi. Do you think?


message 13: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments That's what I'm wondering. I mean yeah there always seems to be an element of magic associated with Alchemy, but then there are stories like fullmetal alchemist (which is a manga) where people study really hard and they have to know the structure of things and it looks like magic but it is very specific about how you can't make something out of nothing, you have to have the right materials for alchemy to create anything. And then of course Alchemy was the precursor to chemistry. if you had a book about alchemy that included real chemistry and then moved into things we can't do with chemistry yet... Something to think about I'd say


message 14: by Tina (new)

Tina B (readinghonor) | 22 comments Cara wrote: "That's what I'm wondering. I mean yeah there always seems to be an element of magic associated with Alchemy, but then there are stories like fullmetal alchemist (which is a manga) where people stud..."

I can totally see how fullmetal alchemist seems more sci-fi than fantasy. This is one series where the characters treat alchemy like science. Especially since the "spells" always work if done correctly and can be written down in such a way that they can be duplicated by anyone with the right education/training. This is one of the main characteristic of real science. The experiments have to be repeatable.


message 15: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments I agree with you all, I think it is all in the way it is presented. Fullmetal Alchemist seems mire sf but The Alchemyst by michael scott would definitely be fantasy. What are some contrasting additional examples you can think of? Humorous or not.


message 16: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments Well one that immediately comes to mind is Harry Potter since the first book mentions Nicholas Flamel and the Philosopher's stone. I find it really interesting that quite a lot of scientists and mathematicians were witches and wizards in Rowling's fantasy world. Definitely fantasy. But it also implies that quite a lot of science could come from magic. I always thought potions was a lot like chemistry. And also cooking.


message 17: by Kira (last edited Jun 03, 2014 06:46PM) (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments I did too. for example, this summer, Whitmore is having a Harry Potter Potions class, but it's really just chemistry with a Harry Potter twist. One example I can think of is one I recently read called Project Excalibur. It crosses alchemy, humor, science fiction (alien invasion), and fantasy (Merlin from King Arthur's time), is it science fiction, is it fantasy? It's really both really.


message 18: by Jewel (new)

Jewel Remember the Readers Choice book several years ago "Blonde Bombshell" by Tom Holt--that was very humorous and very science fiction. But I've noticed that books by British authors sometimes do not "translate" well enough for patrons to "grab and go".


message 19: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments When is the potions class? that sounds super fun also I Should read this book Project Excalibur.


message 20: by Cara (new)

Cara | 49 comments I have friends who have said they just don't get British humor. I love it but acknowledge you have to be in the right mood for it. I need to add Tom Holt to my list as well


message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah  (sarcare) | 58 comments I love funny sci fi too--I'm listening to a Terry Prachett Douglas Preston book The Long War. It is the second in a series about the discovery of parallel worlds and how it changed humanity and how society has struggled to adapt. Terry Prachett is funny, and there are some laughs, but it isn't campy. At our genre book group here, one of the CSS reported on a book Whales on Stilts that she said was laugh out loud funny!


message 22: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments I agree, terry Pritchett is a hoot as well as whales on stilts. Another favorite of mine is Franny K. Stein series that was mentioned at the training. I also like John scalzi books.


message 23: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Hunt | 11 comments There's a YA book called "Boom!" by Mark Haddon that I think is hilarious. There's not much science in it, but it does feature aliens and interplanetary travel.


message 24: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments I think this category isn't always science heavy. Sometimes they just mock a couple of elements. What do you think? I just watched
a movie that would fall in this category. The version of Around the World in 80 days. Admittedly I've never read the book, but this version with Jackie Chan was really funny. At one point Lord Kelvin says "this is the academy of science, we don't have to prove anything." Think about it for a sec and you might see why I found that funny.


message 25: by Kira (new)

Kira (kiramoody) | 104 comments Oh and the potions class is July 31st at 2.


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