Whenever I’m feeling down or overwhelmed with life, it helps to remember how to laugh. Few things do the trick like a funny science fiction novel.
Absurd, slapstick, irreverent, or goofy, I find myself ever returning to this list of authentic gut-busters. They’re smart. They’re surprising. They’re funnier the second time through.
They’ve got quirky characters and witty banter. They star hapless heroes you can’t help but love, placed in ridiculous situations that make you think, “Thank God I’m not them!”
So if you’re looking for a pick me up, try one of these sidesplitting science fiction comedies.
Stranded on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney scrambles to survive. From making repairs to his disintegrating habitat to learning how to grow potatoes in Martian soil, Watney scrapes by with limited supplies, biding his time and keeping a video journal about his experiences. Meanwhile, scientists on Earth slowly come to realize what happened, leading to a rescue mission that the whole world watches.
This book is a modern-day castaway story from the near future. Mark Watney is absolutely hilarious in his video logs, and even when he’s piecing together in exacting detail the materials he needs to survive, he does it with optimism and a relentless spirit. The book is in a genre known as Hard Science Fiction, so all the equipment used is real and available to contemporary engineers, and the orbital calculations made programmed by Andy Weir himself.
You can’t help but smile as the whole scientific community of Earth mobilizes to rescue Mark Watney in The Martian.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I couldn’t leave off the most famous of Douglas Adam’s works, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This intergalactic comedy adventure spans five novels that are often sold as a collection. It’s also been made into a film starring Martin Freeman.
The book description reads, “It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed with the big, friendly words: DON’T PANIC.”
A must-read if you love sci-fi comedy stories.
Aliens are among us, and Austin, Texas just got a whole lot weirder.
Meet bounty hunter Anderson Gunn — a good private investigator and tracker who’s strapped with debt. When the missing fugitive he’s chasing turns out to be a tentacled alien from Ridley Scott’s worst nightmare, his life gets turned upside down.
Gunn is introduced to the alien underbelly of Austin. And that’s only the beginning of the worst Friday night of his life.
This is the first in a series of books known as The Gunn Files. Set in my hometown of Austin, TX and inspired by Men in Black, you’ll love the tongue-in-cheek humor in this funny, contemporary science fiction mystery.
What do you get when you wake a terminally ill technophobe from cryogenic deep freeze and put him in an advanced space-age with intergalactic travel?
If it weren’t for his space-traveling rescuer, who also happens to be an archaeologist, Collin would never survive in this strange new galaxy where toilets talk back, and door handles are a long-forgotten relic.
I had a chance to speak to the author of Insterstellar Caveman. When I asked Karl Beecher what gave him the idea for such a wacky story, he said, “I love sci-fi/fantasy comedy and very little like it already existed. Plus, I’m always drawn to a relatable lead character who is not at all special but gets thrown in at the deep end. In this era of superhero obsession, it’s not something you can easily find. So, in Colin Douglass, I decided to make my own character who’s clearly not up to the task, and then hurl everything I could at him.”
With over a thousand Amazon reviews, this fan favorite by multi-award-winning Barry J. Hutchison is a sci-fi comedy you don’t want to miss.
“When small-time conman, Cal Carver, is thrown in jail and forced to share a cell with a semi-naked cannibalistic serial killer, he’s pretty sure his day can’t get any worse.
Boy, is he wrong.
It isn’t until two-thirds of the human race is wiped out and Cal is mistakenly abducted by aliens that things really start to go downhill.
Whisked across the galaxy, Cal is forced into a team of some of the sector’s most notorious villains and scumbags and tasked with delivering a package to a warlord-run solar system where the authorities daren’t venture.”
Last but certainly not least is a nihilistic science fiction novel by Robert Kroese. If you need a book where the villains are bad, and the heroes are worse, look no further than Starship Grifters.
A space-faring ne’er-do-well with more bravado than brains, Rex Nihilo plies the known universe in a tireless quest for his own personal gain. But when he fleeces a wealthy weapons dealer in a high-stakes poker game, he ends up winning a worthless planet…and owing an outstanding debt more vast than space itself!
The only way for Rex to escape a lifetime of torture on the prison world Gulagatraz is to score a big payday by pulling off his biggest scam. But getting mixed up in the struggle between the tyrannical Malarchian Empire and the plucky rebels of the Revolting Front—and trying to double-cross them both—may be his biggest mistake. Luckily for Rex, his frustrated but faithful robot sidekick has the cyber-smarts to deal with buxom bounty hunters, pudgy princesses, overbearing overlords, and interstellar evangelists…while still keeping Rex’s martini glass filled.
What other hysterical science fiction novels do you recommend to your friends? The people need to know! Leave a comment below.
Featured Image credit: Don’t Panic Wallpaper.