Hi. I am in the middle of a promotion where people can get electronic copies of five of my books for free. But, I am not entirely comfortable with such naked promotion (I’m such a Canadian!), so I’m going to talk a little about my life as a writer first. This should give you some small measure of what you can look forward to if you do pick up one or more of the books. On the other hand, if you don’t care about my life story, feel free to scroll down to the offer at any time.
Clear as mutton? Good.
When I introduce myself to people at cons, I always describe myself as a humour writer who fell into science fiction about a decade ago and decided to hang around for a while. I get the feeling that many people hold their breaths when I mention humour and give a little sigh of relief when I mention science fiction. Something they’re comfortable with!
You could say I have encountered a little resistance to what I write.
I heard a story a couple of years ago at a panel at a con that was repeated verbatim on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, so I assume that there is some validity to it. A man with a humourous science fiction novel tried to sell it to a Major American Genre Publisher. The MAGP rejected the book without looking at it, saying, “We’ve already had The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – we don’t need any more funny science fiction!” Even if the story isn’t true, it captures a truth: major science fiction publishers seem to be humour averse.
I’m not sure why, but it must partly stem from an aversion to humour on the part of science fiction readers. On the one hand, there are fans of Douglas Adams who agree that his work is the ultimate expression of humourous science fiction; they aren’t willing to try anybody who has written in the genre since, assuming that they can only disappoint. On the other hand, I get the feeling from some people I talk to at cons that they avoid humourous science fiction because they are afraid that the thing they love will be made fun of. (I like to think of my genre parodies and references as homages, but not everybody will see them that way.)
There was hope that the fact that Scalzi’s Redshirts won the Hugo for best novel last year was a sign that readers were open to humourous science fiction. I’m not so sure: it may be that readers are open to humourous science fiction when it’s written by John Scalzi which, unfortunately, doesn’t help the rest of us.
What is a poor writer to do? If I had devoted my life to writing speculative fiction, I would drop the humour and try to write it straight. Unfortunately, that’s not the position I am in: when I decided to devote my life to writing at the tender age of eight, I devoted it to writing humour, not science fiction. As anybody who has even glanced at my Web site knows, even with four novels and six collections of short stories under my belt, science fiction is only a part of what I do.
(ASIDE: On the TV show The Green Room, Eddie Izzard told a story about meeting his comedy idol: Richard Pryor. In the course of their conversation, they found they had something in common: they both knew they wanted to be stand-up comedians when they were four years old. Now, I thought I was pretty precocious because I wanted to write humour when I was eight, but I was actually half a lifetime behind the curve!)
So, I go on; we can only write what we write. For Hitchhiker’s fans, I would point out that if you’ve read all of the books in the series, you can still get pleasure out of them, but not the pleasure of discovery. Since so much of the what makes humour work is the element of surprise, rereading humourous books always loses something. If you take a chance on a new writer, you may find yourself enjoying that thrilling sense of discovery you experienced when you first read Douglas Adams.
As for the others: those of us who write humourous science fiction are not laughing at you, we’re trying to laugh with you. Much of science fiction these days (whether it’s post-apocalyptic, military or whatever) is pretty grim. I like to bring a sense of play to my writing, a sense of fun. If you’re really into grim fiction, my writing is undoubtedly not for you. But, if you’re not, or if you just want a break from the grimness for a little while, it could be.
I’m not just pleading my own case, here, though. There are some great writers producing very entertaining humourous science fiction who deserve to be much better known: David Wake (I, Phone), Hugh A. D. Spencer (Why I Hunt Flying Saucers and Extreme Dentistry), Mitis Green (The Ardley Effect), Gord Zajac (Major Karnage) and William Freedman (Mighty, Mighty and Land That I Love), just to name a few. (Sure, there are others who deserve their obscurity, but why should this genre be different from any other?)
All we are saying, is give humourous science fiction a chance…
OKAY, HERE IS THE FREE BOOK OFFER
To get you started on your voyage of discovery, for the month of July I am giving away electronic versions of five of my books for the low, low price of…FREE! You can’t get a much better deal than that (unless you want me to come to your house and not sing – if you had heard me sing, you would understand why).
The books are admittedly weirdlings: they belong to a series known as the Alternate Reality News Service (ARNS). ARNS sends reporters into other dimensions and has them write news articles about what they find there. It has been described by a couple of readers as “a science fiction version of The Onion.” Now, I fully recognize that humourous science fiction in the form of fake journalism isn’t to everybody’s taste, but, if you think you can be interested, this is a good opportunity to dip your toe into my waters.
I promise there are no sharks. Or vaguely dirty metaphors. Well, not many of them, in any case.
Below, you will find a list of the books available in this promotion, starting with the most recent. Just go to my page on Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ARNSProprietor), find the book (or books) you want, enter the promotion coupon code and…do what comes naturally. (Which, I hope, involves reading.)
What the Hell Were You Thinking?: Good Advice for People Who Make Bad Decisions (CODE: DX66J)
The Street Finds Its Own Uses for Mutant Technologies (CODE: PT93C)
The Alternate Reality News Service’s Guide to Love, Sex and Robots (CODE: ZT56R)
Luna for the Lunies! (CODE: UD59K)
What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys (CODE: KB28F)
PS: People often start with the earliest book and work their way forward. Because some of the material in these books is topical, I always suggest that people start with the most recent book and work their way backwards. I’m just sayin’…
PPS: Signal amplification (in the form of sharing the news with your social networks) is always appreciated.