by Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

Science fiction has had a long history of being comic.

Aliens can be funny.

When I was a kid there was, “My Favorite Martian”, in black and white. Then Robin Williams got his first TV bit as the alien, Mork from Ork, who visits Ritchie Cunningham on “Happy Days”. That turned into its own series, “Mork and Mindy.” I still use the word ‘Shahzbaht’ on a daily basis. Then came the puppet, A.L.F. and even later, “Third Rock From The Sun”. I don’t watch enough tv now to know what’s on, but I’m sure there is something on one of the thousands of channels currently available.

I would really love to be funny.

I think to be really funny you have to be a genius, like a chess master who sees all the moves in advance, and knows when to trip up the listener with the subtle twist that’s going to make them laugh. Like Steve Martin. He’s a genius. He’s even a member of Mensa. I read a book of his called, “The Pleasure of My Company.” It was serious, and at the same time, hilarious.

I’ve worked out a few standup routines in my mind, which I giggle about behind my hand. However, when I’ve tried out a few of these jokes on real live people, they get a curious look on their faces as if they are asking themselves, “Is this guy serious?”

My brother laughs at my jokes. We’re twins, though it’s not some psychic bond between us that makes us laugh at each other’s jokes. Really, we were inseparable for the first twelve years of our lives, so everything we saw and heard, we saw from the same vantage point. We understand each other and we know when to laugh. By the way, he’s the ‘evil twin’. Not only is he and accountant, but he’s also a ventriloquist. I’ve never heard of a more evil combination.

Speaking of my brother, we have always enjoyed humor in our fantasy and science fiction. We’ve shared all of our Xanth books by Piers Anthony, all the Terry Pratchet books we could find, and another more obscure author who has a wonderful layer of dry wit written into his books is James P. Blaylock, probably my favorite author of all time. “The Digging Leviathan” would be a good introduction to his works.

Humor is hard to write into fiction for those of us who are not geniuses. As a slush reader I have read a few that tried and failed. But we have had a few in the issues of Flagship that succeeded. For example, you might check out Issue 4 and read, “All Elves Are Stupid”, by Jeromy Henry, or, “ggg.earth.gxy” in issue 3, or “Workshop Gods” in issue 5. Both of which are by Larry Hodges, and both of which are among my favorite stories.

So, if you find you’re taking your fiction a little too seriously, take a break and check out some of the stuff on the lighter side.

Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll is the rock that we all stand upon and managing editor of our Autism Benefit Issue

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