Uncommon Sense

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Great SF and Great Comedy

I like Schlock Mercenary. Howard Tayler, the author/artist of that webcomic, does two difficult things well -- science fiction humor, and "hard sf" storytelling.

Now, people often disagree on humor; I know sf readers who would balk and then gag at Howard's sense of humor. But even so, if you like SCIENCE fiction or cracking good storytelling, you owe it to yourself to read a few weeks of Schlock ("basic training" is a good place to start).

Hard sf -- sf where the science really matters -- is difficult to write well. In Schlock, for all the color and all the wisecracking, the science matters to the story. Dueling FTL techniques, artificial intelligences, nanotechnology, high energy physics--Howard covers them all and makes them his own, deftly and with an eye towards their humorous aspects.

Howard is up for a Hugo award this year, and I hope he wins it. Like John Scalzi, he's one of the few sf authors to appear in the past decade who even attempts to play in the hard sf space; the shelves are filled with far too much "fantasy with rivets."


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