October kicked my ass, but man, what a ride. The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] came out at the start of the month. I did my first-ever guest of honor stint at Icon. There were signings and readings. I also did a final revision on Red Hood’s Revenge, which I turned in on Sunday (woo hoo!)
I’m probably going to be playing catch-up for a while longer, but wanted to talk about one of the panel discussions we had at Icon, about humor in science fiction and fantasy. I’ve thought about this a fair amount, having published a number of rather silly stories over the years. One of the things we chatted about was the style of humor in some SF/F stories and circles–the puns, the in-jokes, the puns, the Star Wars and Monty Python quotes, the puns…
One of the reasons I think a lot of us enjoy this sort of thing, whether it’s competitive punning or protesting, “You keep using that word–I do not think it means what you think it means,” is that it’s a group identity thing. It’s a shibboleth, a way to identify fellow geeks, to affirm that yes, I belong. Every family has its quirks, its unique language and vocabulary. Geek humor serves the same purpose.
Another thing we discussed is the fact that humor is hard to write well. Trying to balance the funny with the needs of the story, learning where humor will have the most effect in a story, using it as a counterpoint to the serious moments to balance and strengthen both … there’s a lot to learn.
Sadly for those of us who broke in with bunny knives and nose-picking goblins, humor doesn’t get taken that seriously. (Go figure, right?) I’m not saying every pun-filled title deserves to be on the New York Times Bestseller List, but can someone explain to me why the heck Terry Pratchett hasn’t taken home a Hugo or a Nebula yet?
So I’m thinking about starting a roundup of humorous stories and books published in a given year, including links and information to make it easy for anyone nominating or voting on the Hugo and Nebula to read the funny stuff that’s eligible.
Sure, this is partly self-serving, as it gives me the chance to share my muppet werewolf story. (On that note, if you’re in SFWA or registered for Worldcon, and if you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll e-mail you a copy of “Creature in Your Neighborhood”.) But I think it would be good to build more awareness and recognition for the humorous side of the genre and the writers doing it well.
For now, this would probably be a page on my site that I’d maintain myself. I’m thinking of restricting it to paid publications–an arbitrary choice that would eliminate self-published stories, but something I’m willing to reconsider.
So, thoughts about humor in general or an annual humor round-up in particular? Good idea? Lame idea? Pitfalls I should be aware of?