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7 Sci-Fi Comedy Books That Will Make Your Commute Fly By

by  | July 22

Sci-fi sometimes gets a bad rap for being the serious cousin of speculative literature, but if you take the time out of your day to really think about the future, it makes sense that all you can really do sometimes is just laugh, look sideways at your peers, and say, “What the f*ck?” 

via GIPHY

Look, the future is scary. And ridiculous. Don’t even get me started on space. If Groot is the most beloved character in the galaxy, it’s not because he’s a soliloquizing do-gooder. Honestly, all of this is going to be funny in a few centuries, I promise. Hilarious even. Look at the poncy fashion in 16th-century France. And Bjork’s swan dress is going to go down in history as the funniest article of clothing ever created—we just have to wait until 2300 to make sure we get the joke and it’s not “too soon.”

So, to get you through the next nearly 300 years, or just…the next thirty days, here’s a list of the funniest sci-fi comedy books published since the definitive Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Whether you’re looking for sassy aliens or feisty time travelers or even spirited glam rock divas, we’ve got you covered. 

The Obsoletes

The Obsoletes

by Simeon Mills

So, this book isn’t set in the stars, exactly, but it is about twin brothers, Darryl and Kanga, growing up in the Midwest, in a strange proto-future where robots are a thing of the present. Having to hide that you’re a robot is hard enough when you can’t eat, get hurt, or even really understand humans despite the help of a massive manual called The Directions, but doing it when you’re a high school freshman and have to deal with programmed hormonal urges and growth spurts on top of that? Terrible. This tongue-in-cheek story has an earnestness that will have you rooting for Darryl and Kanga to the very end.

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The Big Aha

The Big Aha

by Rudy Rucker

Imagine, for a second, that you can implant a little piece of technology on the inside of your arm and you will be perpetually high, guaranteed, for as long as your battery stays charged. Zad, a plant artist and DNA hacker, is getting kicked out by his wife when suddenly, out of nowhere, mouths appear and start eating people. Unsure whether this is just a really intense trip or people are actually being eaten by interstellar mandibles, Zad has to find some friends willing to believe him...or talk him down. I know this all sounds pretty cutesy, but there is a lot of science in this novel. Zad explores quantum entanglement, nanotechnology, and wormholes in a weirdly deft way, mixing his psychedelic trip with theoretical relativity as easy as you might mix alcohol and bad dance moves.

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The Martian

The Martian

by Andy Weir

Honestly, if you haven’t read this book yet, what are you even doing here? Yeah, there’s a movie, and yes, it’s cute, but some kitschy one-liners by Donald Glover and a half-hearted “Screw you, Mars!” doesn’t measure up to just how absolutely funny the book is. Getting into the head of interstellar botanist Mark Watney, who is a man starving to death on an inhospitable planet, is wildly comedic. If you thought Matt Damon did a good job, you’ll want to read the original as soon as possible.

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Astro-Nuts

Astro-Nuts

by Logan J. Hunder

All right, nerderinos, listen up. If you like Spaceballs-esque cultural references, errant paladin/heart-of-gold captains a la Firefly, and some wildly militaristic misunderstandings, Astro-Nuts is your next novel. When Captain Cox encounters a lone survivor on a floating hunk of space trash that in an earlier life might have been a ship, he has to navigate the cosmos, love, loss, and really, really shitty timing to get back to Earth. Mars, the red planet, has quite literally become red, and if you read in between the mashed-up fantasy tropes, emotional moments, and action scenes, you’ll find a biting political satire at the heart of this book.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog

by Connie Willis

A poor undergraduate, Ned Henry is tasked with finding an original bishop’s ornament for a rich old lady’s recreation, and has to go back in time to do so. If you think it sounds easy, think again. Time travel is notoriously, ridiculously, and often even stupidly tricky to get a handle on. Ned is caught up in trying to remember his Victorian history while also trying to avoid being discovered by a rogue time traveler, all while trying to convince his doctor back home in 2057 that of coursehe’s getting enough rest! Of course, so restful: he just loves learning that he has a cat allergy in the middle of a rescue mission; it’s so, so peaceful here.

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Year Zero

Year Zero

by Rob Reid

Much of this list is focused on the mishaps of human beings in space, but Year Zero is the book for when you’re really worried about what’s happening in Roswell. Turns out, aliens aren’t planning for our imminent destruction, but they have been jamming along to Madonna, Selena, Whitesnake, Queen Latifah, and Melt-Banana since 1977 (missing The Beatles entirely), and, in the process, committing the worst case of intergalactic copyright infringement known in the galaxy. Enter, Nick Carter, our bumbling protagonist, an everyman with a keen sense for paperwork and a nose for trouble who has just two days to sort this mess out. He’s got 48 hours to un-bankrupt the galaxy, get home safe, and impress the girl. Talk about high-volume stakes.

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Space Opera

Space Opera

by Catherynne M. Valente

If any book on this list is the literary inheritor to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this is it. Space Opera is irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, wildly creative, and full of beautiful, trash-can characters like Decibel “Dess” Jones, a gender-splat omnisexual glam-punk revival tour-touting has-been who’s destined (or doomed) to save the world in an intergalactic interpretation of Eurovision meets Battle Dome. It’s basically Space Jam, except instead of playing basketball, it’s a singing competition, and instead of Michael Jordan they get a Michael Bublé impersonator and Lou Bega to perform for the lives of all humanity. Recently nominated for a Locus award, this book deserves every second of attention it gets. The descriptions are lush and fantastic, the absolutely madly specific interactions of the aliens with their favorite karaoke machines are enough to make you want to brush up on your song of choice, and above it all, there is a deep and resonant love for music, for humanity, and for the stupid, beautiful, hilarious world we live in.

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