The last two Discworld books I read were Unseen Academicals and Making Money. I had enjoyed everything in it I read prior to that, to various levels of enjoyment. Strike that, I detested Monstrous Regiment. The Tiffany Aching stories had eye rolling moments of feminism, but I kept going. With the comic thud of MM and the political screed of UA, I just left it.
Add to the list of failing humor the Xanth series. I read, read, and reread those books until about a decade ago. Then I read Cube Route, the first new one I’d read in at least five years. The jokes fell flat. The plot was formulaic for the series. I gave up on it then, and from what I’ve read about the series since, I’m glad I did.
Philip Jose Farmer’s Retief books are hilarious sendups of the US State Dept.
Keith Laumer was the author, actually.
Whatever the reason, it’s nice to see Laumer’s name mentioned around here. The man could write.
The last 5 or so Discworld books were heavily ghostwritten by his daughter, or so I’ve heard; the later the books, the more ghostwritten they are. This article suggests that the ghostwriting started no later than 2012.
Readers, of course, can see right (not “write”) through bullshit..and don’t peddle (not “pedal”) dogma.
Was hoping to see more about “Variety Detective”!
My entirely biased opinion is that humor doesn’t work with sf at all. Humor depends on some kind of twist on the familiar, on common experiences. Science fiction involves, well, the opposite.
In TV land: the worst (original) Star Trek episodes were the “funny” ones – “Mudd’s Women”, “Trouble with Tribbles”, etc. The most unbearable episodes of “Next Generation” involved the (awful anyway) android being “funny”.
As for real sf, I’ve never read more than a few pages if the author attempts to go for laughs.
ERB interjects a good bit of humor without distracting from the story. In Tarzan #22, one character actually mistakes Tarzan for Johnny Weissmuller – both household names when the book was written. I laughed and laughed, and could just imagine Burroughs sitting at his typewriter laughing himself silly. He must have had a lot of fun creating his stories.
The only Scalzi book I read was Red Shirts. I love the redshirts from the original Tek series – many were played by beefy actors who seemed appropriate for security details unlike later Trek security.
I was hoping Scalzi’s book would give the feel of an old Trek story – it didn’t. Short of that, it should have at least been funny, given the plot.
Spoiler alert?? – the protagonists are self-aware characters on a SF TV show, who somehow confront the writers of the show to get them to stop killing off all the characters. But Scalzi’s characters are so flat and unlikeable that I didn’t care if they lived or died. The “men” were milquetoast shadows and the female lead was a slut with, ironically enough, about as much feminine allure as a Peterbilt dump truck. I wanted the writers to whack ’em all.
Even better–he is mistaken for Johnny Weissmuller after he is forced by circumstances to do something he’s never done before–swing across a gap on a rope. And he hesitates, because it’s such a cliché. And sure enough…
You’re right–ERB must have been laughing his head off.
The first time a Hitchhiker’s book really HAD a plot was in book three.