People who knew markets, knew their readers or their audiences. These people had a sense of humor. The new leadership comes from the ranks of the bean counters, the accountants and attorneys. Their only interest is in putting together a package that will have the broadest possible appeal. Publishers with genres are like politicians with race. Mixed race folks are difficult if not impossible to target in politics, but they are rapidly becoming the norm. The target murkier.
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In the same way, the publishing industry ignores a quickly growing volume of mixed-genre speculative fiction; it seems to me, because it too is hard. Humor seems to especially flummox them. My guess though is that it is because humor, at its heart, is frivolous, so it is hard for publishers to be serious about frivolity. The combination of humor and sci-fi is such a natural though! I mean, sci-fi is taking the world and making it odd, or making an odd world unlike our own, and humor is actually the very same thing.
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They both serve up a twist on the norm, so to combine the two enriches both. At least this is how I see it. My novel The Hoax is a cross-genre if ever there was one, but after taking more hits than the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan , I learned. I finally got the damn thing read, and once I got it read, I got it sold.
I think Gary makes a good point in saying that people still DO want humor. I believe that the avid reader out there is basically an intelligent, enlightened being with a great sense of subtle humor. Now that certain no-fit genres, that once met with the scratching of heads by marketing departments have busted through, they become their OWN genre. And when they do, the sales they generate, and the fan-base they generate is immense.
I discovered science fiction in general and humorous science fiction in particular by reading any of the scores of magazines that used to print science fiction stories. Other, mainstream magazines did it too. I learned how to craft fiction and how to tell a funny story by writing stuff for publication in those magazines. So there are far fewer places for budding writers to hone their craft and for new readers to discover how funny humorous science fiction can be. As a side note, I probably caused the demise of a goodly number of those magazines personally.
I lost count of how many of them went out of business the month after publishing one of my stories. That would certainly seem to not bode well for Amityville House of Pancakes 4. AOB : For me, so much of life is observably funny and this automatically feeds my writing. I find these kinds of things to be so twisted and humorous and odd. Another example: The cool street fashion for a while was for tough teens to wear HUGE pants with their underwear showing, and then have to hold them up with one hand all day long.
Here in LA that was considered uber-cool. Circus clowns used to do that for laughs. I bring it up though because it is so extreme, and if you were to write such things say, years ago, everyone would think you were nuts or your writing was too unbelievable. It is merely life as it is, or perhaps will be in the case of EVE. As writers, we all select and edit things we observe; we reform them into something new. We do this whether our writing is funny or serious — the process is the same.
I think the best humor is the stuff that on some level rings true. Adrienne is especially gifted at combining humor and the horrific. I laughed and cringed all the way through The Hoax, and really all her stories. AJ : Wow, I think Aurelio said it all just then. What do stand up comedians do but point out the obvious silliness of life and make the audience laugh? Funny you brought up the McNuggets; we were just talking this week about how funny it is to have a farm theme in the kitchen.
I know people with chicken kettles, cow cream pourers, Salt and pepper shakers shaped like cute little pigs; or even the food brands that have a happy little apron wearing pig on the packet of ham. Observation is the key. AJ : I think the largest ingredient in creating a character that will tickle the reader in any genre is the flaw.
The reader enjoys characters that have it worse than they do. In my own novella, Gypsies Stole my Tequila ; the plot was all spring-boarded off the character of Joe Blood; washed up, jaded, former punk rock star about to turn 40, working in a butcher shop where he has to wear a degrading cow costume. GKW : Humor arises not from the character but from the personality and inclination of the humorist. In the second Terminator, Ahnold was a discontinued robot.
Dracula was…well, DEAD. Good stand up comedians have the same ability, taking everyday situations and making them funny. They do it verbally.
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All well and good except they were talking about what I consider to be my serious work. I see a situation, I make it funny. AOB : I think observing real people you know is the key to creating a believable character, and is especially important in creating funny ones. This is what makes writers like David Sedaris so irresistible. We all know people who are just plain funny. They have unique ways of looking at things. Their very personalities cause those around them to see things from their own odd angle and humor is the result.
As writers, we can observe and recreate these people in our work. They are my favorite archetypes to draw on, because they carry an endearing quality with the humor — you love to read about them, and you inevitably care about their outcome. I DO think that the characters themselves can start out the humor; but of course these have to be humorous characters. Whether you are writing a character or acting a character, or more to the point, writing a character for book or screen the difference between shtick and personality is the same. Shtick gives you a joke, or a pratfall, or a one-liner; character creates humorous possibilities in ordinary things and involves your reader in the humor-building process.
Pete : I suppose that probably should sum it up. Ok, delicate readers, support these poor bastards and go out and buy their books. Christmas is coming — skip back up to the top and see where you can find their works — or Google them. Pete — Adrienne — Paul — Aurelio. Tagged as: adrienne jones , Aurelio O'Brien , gary k wolf , litpark , paul kane , sci-fi humorists , susan henderson.
In the UK market, publishers are reluctant to take on anyone new in the Fantasy Humour genre because of Pratchett, and I guess Douglas Adams had the same effect on the SF humour market. I agree about humour writers not necessarily being sparkling wits in person. Our brains seem to work differently to those of stand-up comedians. Great Britain, circa time travel is routine, cloning is a reality dodos are the resurrected pet of choice , and literature is taken very, very seriously.
Not all of these stories there are over one hundred of them are funny, but plenty are. Tales of Pirx the Pilot is funny in a slightly disturbing way because Pirx is so believable as a character. One can argue that there are real aliens since the main character in addition to the narrator is an unreliable witness to his own life.
But with The Ware Tetralogy , I put the big book down and wondered what the hell just happened to me.
The four Ware novels Software , Wetware , Freeware , and Realware explore consciousness as an information pattern in a fearlessly absurd, awesomely readable way. The books all move like a bat out of hell, are packed with enough ideas for forty normal science fictions books, and you can feel beat poetry in the background as you read them. Which is why the hard-boiled detectives are the most heroic characters out there.
While they try to stay out of trouble the kids, not the spiders , Armageddon finds them anyway. Hilarity and horror ensue. Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right—not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself. This is one of the funniest books written in the English language.
It begins with the destruction of Earth, and things go downhill from there. Jules is a young man barely a century old. Disney World! A new group has taken over the Hall of the Presidents, and is replacing its venerable audioanimatronics with new, immersive direct-to-brain interfaces that give guests the illusion of being Washington, Lincoln, and all the others. For Jules, this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself.
Worse: it appears this new group has had Jules killed. This upsets him. Doctorow has served up a nicely understated dish: meringue laced with caffeine. It probably is considered sci-fi, right? I was laughing silently, but shaking the bed so badly it woke her up. I forgot to mention Iain M. As you know, these books are top shelf and the dialogues between the Minds of the ships and the drones etc. How could I forget? Think I need a V8.
The Road to Mars by Eric Idle on Monty Python fame is a very funny read… two comedians in space, with an android assistant who looks like David Bowie… hijinks ensue.
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Can you post a link to it? Trying to find an older book about a guy who flies a Harrier jet around a post apocalyptic USA. He has a three legged dog named tripod. Anyone know what the title would be? Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
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Finders Keepers. Dimension of Miracles. Hal Spacejock. The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. Robots Have No Tails. The Automatic Detective. The Automatic Detective is a fast-paced mishmash of SF and hard-boiled detective story. The Eyre Affair. From These Ashes. Tales of Pirx the Pilot.