The best comedic fantasy/sci-fi to fill the void of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett

Who am I?

Growing up, I’d always been fascinated by science fiction narratives, having been suckered in by Star Wars at a very young age. But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that I realized stories didn’t have to take everything so seriously. This pivoted to an obsession with comedy, leading me to write skits for the stage and screen in my late 20s as a fun side-gig along with my own comedic sci-fi novel series. I’ve always appreciated stories that lean into the lighter side of things. Reality is grim and dark enough as it is, our escapism doesn’t need to double down on that.

I wrote...

Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire

By G.M. Nair,

Book cover of Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire

What is my book about?

Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his best friend, Stephanie Dyer, only makes him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things get worse when they get evicted from their 5th-floor walk-up and find ads for their Detective Agency plastered all over the city. The only problem is: Michael and Stephanie don’t have one of those.

Despite their incompetence, Stephanie pursues this crazy scheme and they stumble upon a web of missing people linked by a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the hole they tore in the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, cease to exist.

The books I picked & why

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The Audacity

By Carmen Loup,

Book cover of The Audacity

Why this book?

Carmen Loup's The Audacity is the successor to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that I've been looking for for a long time. Loup takes strands of Hitchhiker's Guide DNA lovingly engineers it into its own unique tale filled with bright, colorful, and snarky characters and a fun, insightful (and, indeed, inciteful) voice that rings incredibly true to an Americanized Douglas Adams (that is, lacking in British poise and restraint). The Audacity is simply an amazing sci-fi comedy from start to finish and feels like a love letter to The Hitchhiker's Guide and, indeed, to all its fans. Plus, the entire first trilogy is available now (with more to come!).

The Hike

By Drew Magary,

Book cover of The Hike

Why this book?

The Hike is a completely bizarre, surrealist masterpiece by former Deadspin Columnist Drew Magary. While it’s impossible to describe the plot, I personally recommend this book if you don’t mind being taken on a strange, strange journey filled with fantastical creatures, a bit of horror, and some mind-bending introspection. You might not know where you’re going to end up, but part of the fun is strapping in and enjoying the crazy ride. Fans of animation like Infinity Train or Adventure Time might enjoy this if they’re looking for something with a grittier, adult edge to it.

Lingeria: Book One of One

By Daniel Kozuh, Rocky Negron (illustrator),

Book cover of Lingeria: Book One of One

Why this book?

Lingeria is a sarcastic, humor-infused take on the portal fantasy, which forces the author of a beloved fantasy series into the world that he's written - and come to despise.

It's a solidly entertaining book that appropriately skewers a lot of the tropes of fantasy fiction and the associated fandom.

I enjoyed the world of Lingeria and it's definitely a fun read for people seeking to scratch that Discworld itch.

Old Cold Cannibal

By Todd Maternowski,

Book cover of Old Cold Cannibal

Why this book?

Old Cold Cannibal is a bit of an outlier in this list, as it doesn’t fully conform to the Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett style of humor/narration or plotting. But it’s a unique book with an amazing voice. I have a soft spot for harsh 1800s white narrators whose doubling down on arrogance and (historically accurate) racism wrap around from being awful to weirdly and unsettlingly charming. Old Cold Cannibal delivers on that 100% and allows it to infuse some humor into what is otherwise a very dark and disturbing narrative that follows a journey across the pre-Civil War U.S. to find and slay a dragon. It’s a rough, but entertaining read.

World Enough (And Time)

By Edmund Jorgensen,

Book cover of World Enough (And Time)

Why this book?

World Enough (And Time) is an absolute gem of a book that reads like Fawlty Towers set on Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic (if you’re old enough to remember that game!). It reads like a drawn-out comedy of errors that balances madcap situations and multiple outlandish characters into a brilliant narrative that – albeit a bit long at times – dovetails nicely with the protagonist's emotional journey. This is one to pick up if you enjoy character-driven stories told with wit and a bit of poignancy.

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