There are a few people that have merged comedy and speculative fiction with outstanding results. The Polish writer Stanislaw Lem was one of the earliest sci-fi writers to get funny with it and some of his work is really worth a look. For anyone that has never heard of him before, I advise you to discover him soon.
Take this opening sentence from the short story collection The Cyberiad:
When the Universe was not so out of whack as it is today, and all the stars were lined up in their proper places, so you could easily count them from left to right, or top to bottom, and the larger and bluer ones were set apart, and the smaller, yellowing types pushed off to the corners as bodies of a lower grade, when there was not a speck of dust to be found in outer space, nor any nebular debris-in those good old days it was the custom for constructors, once they had received their Diploma of Perpetual Omnipotence with distinction, to sally forth ofttimes and bring to distant lands the benefit of their expertise.
Other writers to venture into this territory have met with varying levels of success. Of the most successful, Adams and Pratchett stand tall as serial over-achievers. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (“the increasingly inaccurately named trilogy”) has become a benchmark for satirical sci-fi, as has Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books for the fantasy genre. In fact, Terry Pratchett’s work is so cleverly a commentary on our modern world that the fantasy tag is almost a misnomer, such is the skill of the man. Again, anyone that hasn’t read Adams or Pratchett (are there any such unfulfilled souls left in the world?) should rectify that situation immediately.
So, the general thrust of what I’m getting at here is that it’s not unusual for writers to combine the elements of speculative fiction and comedy, but few people can do it well. Very, very few.
I did recently discover an online comic, however, that does a pretty good job of it. Now this guy is no Lem, Adams or Pratchett (few mere mortals are), but he has taken a good solid swing at The Lord Of The Rings and scored a pretty impressive hit. However, one issue about this is that it will really only appeal in its full glory to people that have some experience of roleplaying in the Dungeons & Dragons style.
Just let me stand up here. Ahem. My name is Alan and I’m a role-player.
There, I’ve done it. Now none of you need to be concerned about “coming out”. Sadly I don’t actually have the time or a gaming group to play with these days, but for years and years my friends and I played every week. Those friends, back there in the land of my birth, still do play every week and I envy them.
The reason that this The Lord Of The Rings webcomic parody will appeal mainly, though not exclusively, to role-players is its basic premise. The idea is that the story is something written by a Games Master running a D&D style campaign and the players are all typical role-players, giving their Games Master a really hard time. The players in this case are Frodo, Sam, Aragorn and so on. The results are notably fine, especially as the comic has been put together using cut scenes from Peter Jackson’s movies. The construction of the comic is excellent and the gags are pretty consistent. There are spelling errors and flat points, some gags so gamer specific that even nerds have to quickly pick up the Player’s Handbook to unravel the comedy, but on the whole it’s a hit.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, parody, role-playing or all three, then give it a go. Here’s the first installment to whet your appetite:
From the Twenty Sided website – DM Of The Rings
Images from Shamus Young – http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?cat=14
Click on the images to see the full work. He’s halfway through the third film so far.