Edition 13: Book Review: Unidentified Funny Objects 2 edited by Alex Schvartsman
Reviewed by Damien Smith
For anyone carefully reading the heading up there it will come as no surprise that this is the second in a series of planned annual humorous speculative fiction anthologies. I would not normally review a subsequent anthology in a series; however, there is such a dearth of similar offerings around that I had to put it through its paces.
As with the previous edition, it was difficult to pick any weak links. There were some familiar characters popping up such as Jody Lynn Nye’s head-dwelling aliens from UFO 1. Also, the addition of some heavy hitters (anyone come across Robert Silverberg before?) gave the book some real clout. This time around, the cute illustrations (by Barry Munden) scattered throughout the stories were related to the stories themselves rather than stand-alone puns. I’m not certain if I preferred this or not; I did enjoy this pictures, but I rather missed the little Far Side-esque breaks between stories.
There was a distinctive nod to Lovecraft in a few of the stories, most obviously Josh Vogt’s The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo which, while brief and pretty linear, was a great lark. Similarly and only slightly more subtly, A Stiff Bargain by Matt Mikalatos left me with a sense of dread at the mere thought of mayor Katie Lou Riley, although I did learn some valuable alternative techniques when bargaining with elder gods.
Where UFO 1 revealed an alien invasion via Twitter, this time around we have an interesting email exchange in J.W. Alden’s Item Not As Described which was, according to the author, inspired after a bad eBay experience and some fantasising about what level of justice could be served upon anonymous sellers were magic an option. Just as with the Twitter story, I really enjoyed the quirky set up as this one unfolded.
Other highlights for me were just some of the weird concepts some of these authors were able to come up with such as milking a dragon (Esther Friesner’s Service Charge), long-term workplace health hazards for super heroes (Jim C. Hine’s Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy) or marauding orcs in the legal system (James Beamon’s Class Action Orc).
Some of the stories did feel they wound up a little quickly and this is not really a book to sit and read cover to cover in one sitting if you want to appreciate every story. Overall, this is another great outing from Alex Shvartsman and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next edition.
Unidentified Funny Objects 2 edited by Alex Shvartsman
Humorous Speculative Fiction
Publisher: UFO Publishing, 2013
Being a writer requires dedication, commitment, devotion, diligence, a skin like an armadillo and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. By this definition, Damien is most definitely not a writer, although he does occasionally put pen to paper. More accurately, Damien is a lover of the written word in nearly all its forms (you can keep vampire romances) and always feels a little down if he can see over his To Read pile.