With the Kickstarter campaign under way for the fourth installment in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to find out the answer to this question: What are your favorite funny genre short stories? Author and Perihelion editor Sam Bellotto Jr chose Envoy to New Worlds (Retief Book 1) by Keith Laumer –
I’ve been a fan of humorous science fiction since I began reading the genre, which was a long time ago. I can’t recall all the titles and authors. Most of the big names wrote humorous tales, too. Like Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Harrison. Keith Laumer’s “Retief” stories were always a favorite. I recall thatGalaxy published more comedy than F&SF or Analog, but this may be my foggy perception only.
Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide came along when I was an adult.
These days, my penchant for good, funny science fiction is reflected in my online science fiction magazine, Perihelion, that I edit. Among the up-and-coming authors who do a terrific job writing with a humorous bent are Chet Gottfried and Tim McDaniel. We’ve published several stories by both of them. In the November 2013 issue we published “Chickenzilla” by Molly N. Moss, which is one of the funniest science fiction pieces I’ve ever run across. But I have a warped sense of humor.
I find it a bit curious that there isn’t much more humorous science fiction being published these days. I’ve even noticed that on some webzine’s submission pages, funny stories are almost prohibited. Seems more than odd to me. Back in the day, when I attended science fiction conventions regularly and they weren’t overtaken by the cosplay crowd, science fiction enthusiasts had an exceptional sense of humor in addition to their sense of wonder.
But I’m getting old and grouchy. Sam Bellotto Jr. is currently editor of the online science fiction magazine Perihelion. He founded the magazine in 1967, when he was still a journalism student at Long Island University, along with classmate Eric M. Jones. It was a print magazine back then; but print was prohibitively expensive. Sam could not afford the publication and distribution costs so he put the magazine on hiatus while he pursued a 40-year career in journalism. After he retired, Sam realized that he had the opportunity to bring back Perihelion as a webzine. It resumed publication in November 2012.The authorized history of the frontier worlds of the 29th century is readily available to anyone who cares to pore through the official files of the Terrestrial Diplomatic Corps.
For serious students of history, however, it would be well to read between the lines of what has been set down for posterity. The records, for example, fail to grasp the full significance of the work done by a career diplomat named Jame Retief, in his efforts to alleviate strife on the emerging planets of our galaxy.
Contained here are several accounts of Retief’s contribution to the peace of the universe—written in the hope that the injustice committed by the history books will thus be rectified.