Edition 7: Book Review: Unidentified Funny Objects edited by Alex Schvartsman
Reviewed by Damien Smith
I came across Unidentified Funny Objects when the open call first went out. It caught my attention because for the life of me I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a humourous speculative fiction anthology and, as the editor points out in his foreword, I’m not alone here. So it was with high hopes and a hint of nerves that I submitted a story of my own for scrutiny. Within 24 hours it had been received, read, evaluated and summarily (albeit rather kindly with a couple of encouraging words of advice) rejected.
Shocked and dismayed with the rejection (as any author who has ever submitted to anywhere ever would of course be) I put it out of my mind until I got wind some months later that the final product was available. So bitter, jaded and with a deep sense of foreboding I acquired and read a copy. I soon found out that I wasn’t alone. Over 900 fellow authors had been relegated to the “maybe next time” pile leaving just 29 offerings. Having read the book from cover to cover my ego is somewhat soothed, as I had a hard time finding any weak links in this collection and I hope, as does the editor, that there is enough interest in this (and humourous tales in general) for further anthologies to follow.
It’s extremely difficult to highlight some stories without mentioning all 29, but there were a couple of extra-special stand-outs for me for no other reason than they were so different in theme or style than what I’ve read in the past.
The Alien Invasion as Seen in the Twitter Stream of @dweebless by Jake Kerr is a case in point. Just like the movie Dude, Where’s My Car? this is one of those rare pieces that can be pretty much entirely summed up by its title. The premise is alien overlords (@alienoverlords) have chosen the most modern medium to warn the people of Earth of their arrival. Cue sceptics, trolls and the odd cameo as the whole thing unfolds over several dozen tweets.
Fight Finale From the Near Future! by James Beamon is another quite short but patently absurd offering that feels something like Google’s Augmented Reality meets Wayne’s World, while Jennifer Pelland’s Temporal Shimmies demonstrates a fresh and very real consequence of time travel.
If You Act Now by Sergey Lukyanenko (translated from Russian) speculates on why aliens would really travel thousands of light years to Earth and goes to show how there are some deep shades of grey with the old “We come in peace and friendship” mantra.
Then there are the more “adult” offerings like the dystopian futuristic Cake From Mars by Marko Kloos and One-Hand Tantra by Ferrett Steinmetz (where we are introduced to the thankfully obscure art of masturbancy), which added a bit of spice to the mix.
Interspersed throughout the stories were some great illustrations by Phil Selby and Mike Jacobsen that were little flash fiction pieces in their own rights and complemented the written offerings very well.
With 900-plus stories not quite fitting between the already nicely expansive covers, there is most certainly the scope and interest for future humourous speculative fiction anthologies, so I sincerely hope UFO Publishing make this the first of many offerings. Visit them over at www.ufopub.com to check out some free stuff and keep the pressure on for more collections.
Unidentified Funny Objects, edited by Alex Shvartsman
Science Fiction / Humour
Publisher: UFO Publishing, 2012
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.