Growing up, I was fascinated with space and science fiction (if you need a recap: Returning to Roots).
Isaac Asimov had several short stories that had humorous endings or situations. But for sci-fi humor writing, Douglas Adams has to be the benchmark-although I do admit, the Hitchhiker series could have ended sooner than it did. John Scalzi seems to have taken the reins for this. Kurt Vonnegut has written many science fiction stories, and his writing always has elements of humor.
There has been many sci-fi based T.V. shows and movies that either had some elements of humor (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who), while others went straight for the funny-bone, some more successful than others. I’ll list the ones that I think missed the mark, in no particular order-cuz’ they are both bad: Avenue 5 and Moonbase 8. Similar titles, similar bombs.
Now the hits. In my opinion, BBC’s Red Dwarf takes the top spot-hands down. Brilliant writing and hilarious characters made this a must see for my friends each week (in re-runs). It may have have gone on a bit to long, but it continued to make us laugh.
Galaxy Quest: Because I grew up with Star Trek, I could relate to everything they were poking fun at.
The Orville: I find much of Seth MacFarlane’s humor on Family Guy hard to watch, but he is a funny guy. Like Galaxy Quest, he is able to pick out the situations that lend itself to humor.
When I began to write short story science fiction, I knew that humor was going to be involved at some point. The story even made my editor laugh out loud. Now that’s a good sign!
Reasonable Hand-drawn Facsimile
I heard a tapping on the window, like the sound of a tree branch in the wind hitting the glass. At first, I thought I was dreaming, but I slowly opened my tired eyes, rolled over, and listened again.
TAP … TAP
I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep no matter what it was, so I got up and walked out to the living room. As I stood in the center of the darkened room, barely breathing, I heard it again, coming from the sliding patio door.
TAP … TAP
Slowly, I moved toward the curtain and slid it aside. There, on the patio, was a figure, my height, holding a cup. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It raised a hand slightly in a gesture that I took to be a greeting.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” he asked in a gentle but firm voice. He held out the cup.
“Umm, it’s kinda late, and who are you?” I inquired. I didn’t feel threatened; I felt curious.
I saw in his hand, where the cup used to be, a jerry can. “I meant, can I borrow some fuel for my shi — um, my vehicle,” he said.
As I reached for the light, thinking I should have done so earlier, I said, “I’m going to turn on the light.”
It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the brightness and a few more to adjust to what I was seeing. He was grayish in color, skinny, with large, dark eyes. It looked like he was wearing something, but I couldn’t tell what, as it was somewhat form-fitting and only a slightly different color than his skin. I don’t know what compelled me, but I opened the sliding door.
“Thank you. It was getting cold out there,” he said as he came inside.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” I asked.
“Well, not here, but not far, if that’s what you mean,” he answered. I didn’t know what I meant.
“I mean, you look different. Not human,” I said.
I could see concern in his eyes. “You mean I don’t look like you?”
He gestured to the kitchen table. “Can we sit?” he asked.
“Sure, can I get you something to drink?”
“Scotch, if you have it,” he replied. It just so happened that I did.
As he took a seat at the table, I grabbed a couple of glasses and the scotch and brought them to the table. Pouring a couple of ounces in each, I slid one toward him. He reached out and with his spindly fingers picked up the glass.
“You know, we can’t really tell you apart from one another.” He took a sip and placed the glass in front of him. “We thought this,” he motioned to himself, “was pretty good.”
I looked at him and said, “It’s generally close. You have the right amount of everything.”
He looked dejected. “We have been practicing a long time. We made a bunch of paintings on some caves, scratched figures in a desert, made some big heads. One time we tried, and it looked like an animal. It’s frustrating.”
“It’s like this,” I got a pad of paper and a pencil from the kitchen and started to draw. “I have a heck of a time trying to draw people, too. It always comes out close, but not quite good enough.” I finished my sketch and turned it to face him. “See, you can tell it’s a person.” His eyes lit up and he looked at me.
“Can I keep this?” he asked as he reached toward it.
My alarm must have been going on for ten minutes before I woke up. I put on my robe and went to make coffee. On the table was an empty bottle of scotch and two glasses.
So, if you see a guy who looks like this:
Don’t let him in. He’ll just drink all your booze.
Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella trilogy, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.
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