Okay, stop right there. I know what you're thinking. Didn't I say last month that the Speculative Spotlight feature was going to be posted on the last Monday of the month? And don't I still owe you a Tropes entry this month, as well? Well yes, I did. And yes, I do. But I have a fickle heart and this is my party. I can do what I want.
Actually, the reason I'm posting it early is because I've decided to move the feature to the second Monday of the month, which actually works perfectly for the subject of this month's entry. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance reader copy of Unidentified Funny Objects, a speculative humor anthology due for release on December 17th (next Monday).
What's the Story?
"A good humor story is hard to find."
So says editor Alex Shvartsman in the foreword to Unidentified Funny Objects. And where science fiction and fantasy is concerned, I can't help but agree. While some of the most popular genre works of all time have been filled to the brim with humor, from Douglas Adams to Terry Pratchett, opportunity for authors of such work in the short fiction space is lamentably slim compared to the usual speculative fare. There are a handful of quality publications that are open to lighter stories, but most professional markets prefer the serious stuff, and that makes it tough to find a home for these kinds of stories (as I'm learning from my own experience). With this anthology, UFO Publishing is stepping in to help fill a bit of that void, showcasing twenty-nine stories of a funny, speculative bent.
Why It's Awesome
A quick glance at the table of contents makes that variety apparent, as you'll find work from award-winning veterans like Mike Resnick, rising stars like Ken Liu, and fresh names like James Beamon. The array of stories within ranges from the wacky to the witty in an effort to hit your funny bone from all angles, and the kitchen sink approach works. While I can't say I laughed aloud at every turn of the page, pretty much every story got at least a few grins out of me, and many of them go beyond giggles and well into compelling territory. My favorite story (though it's a tough call) might be The Alchemist's Children by Nathaniel Lee, in which a young girl treks through an enchanted forest to find her alchemist father, her scientific disposition clashing with the fantastic particulars of the journey.
But that's just one example of what you'll get in this anthology. You're also going to find time traveling belly dancers, lunar Nazis, naked werewolves, and Santa Clause with a shotgun. "Quality over quantity" is a maxim oft repeated by those who toil at something worthwhile, but UFO delivers on both fronts. If you like science fiction and fantasy, and you like to smile, I say give it a shot. If enough of us do, it might become a yearly anthology, and that's something I would love to see.
Unidentified Funny Objects comes out next Monday, but you can preorder an ebook or paperback copy now. You can also read a few stories for free on UFO Publishing's website.