According to the Goodreads description of this book it is “9 Comedic space opera tales of big spaceships, poor life decisions, and lots of Pew!” I can’t disagree with any of that. There are, in fact, nine novellas/novelettes included here. There are some big spaceships, and most of the characters make some poor life decisions. Most of these could also be called ‘comedic’ – which, according to Merriam-Webster, means “relating to comedy.” Oh, yeah … and there’s plenty of “pew.”
I’m not sure why I requested this except that I have been in a mood to read some humorous sci-fi lately and this didn’t look like it took itself too seriously. What I didn’t expect was a number of stories with sub-par writing.
The problem with setting out to write humorous fiction … much like the problem with writing horror … is sustaining a level of humor (or horror) through the entire story. Unfortunately, in the case of humor, this usually means resorting to the ridiculous or cheap laughs. This is done by tossing in a word – usually a word considered to be humorous all alone (such as vacuum, kumquat, naugahyde) – that is completely out of place in the context and then using it a lot to remind us that this is supposed to be funny. Or it relies on college-level sexual infantile humor – think Captain Underpants for an older audience.
I rarely find this sort of ‘humor’ funny – perhaps for a brief moment, but not as a sustained work.
Given all of that, one story really stood out for me in this collection. “The Last Bounty” by Barry J. Hutchison is one of the few works here that features story over humor, which is not to say there is no humor, but what’s there works precisely because Hutchison isn’t trying so hard to just be funny.
The story centers around Konto Oon – a retired bounty hunter who just wants to live a quiet, normal, family life. Being retired means he’s available to go on field trips with his step-daughter – who hates Konto and reminds him of this at every turn. But when the field trip students are taken hostage by terrorists, t’s up to Oon (and a vomiting, pudgy student) to rescue them.
This one story makes me glad I read through the book, but I do wish more rose to this level.
Two other stories in the anthology were not bad. Both “Gli+ch” by Drew Avera and “Bat Johnson, the Mad Mortician of Mars” by Rachel Aukes held their own and were (according to my notes) “not bad” and “decent,” respectively. “Gli+ch” deals with the unluckiest man on his way to Europa. “Bat Johnson, the Mad Mortician of Mars” is about …well, the title says it all.
I don’t want to get too involved in the stories that were not very good. I’ll leave it with my impression that one story was written solely for the purpose of being able to use the phrase “space balls” over and over.
Looking for a good book? In the anthology Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My!, the good stories are outnumbered 3-to-1 by the not so good works.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My!
series: Pew! Pew! #1
publisher: Createspace Independent
Kindle Edition, 381 pages