The best science fiction books for people who enjoy comedy

Will Hartzell-Baird Author Of The Taste of Cashews
By Will Hartzell-Baird

Who am I?

In my teenage years, it was sci-fi (and later fantasy) comedies that made me fall in love with reading. There was just something about exploring worlds where anything could happen mixed with the joy of laughter that kept drawing me back in. Naturally, in the many...many...years that followed, I've read countless novels from a wide variety of genres, but sci-fi comedy will always hold a special place in my heart.


I wrote...

The Taste of Cashews

By Will Hartzell-Baird,

Book cover of The Taste of Cashews

What is my book about?

Wesley Harden was an ordinary history teacher, until he was accused of leading a rebellion that doesn’t exist and stealing a weapon that no one understands. Now, if he wants to survive, he’ll have to outrun a devious bounty hunter, a tyrannical Empire, and a local dictator who, on the whole, would rather have been an accountant.

But along the way, Wes just might learn that some things are more important than surviving. And, while he’s at it, he might even prevent a cashew-flavored apocalypse.

The books I picked & why

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Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

By Douglas Adams,

Book cover of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Why this book?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so naturally, I won’t. If you’re checking out a list like this, you don’t need me to tell you about it. Instead, let’s talk about Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. If you saw any of the 2016 BBC series based on the book–it’s nothing like that. It’s probably not much like the 2010 BBC series, either, but I never saw it, so who knows? In any event, if you enjoyed the classic humor of H2G2, Adams’s bizarre detective novel will help satisfy the craving for more that’s lurked within you since you finished the Guide and its four sequels.


Run Program

By Scott Meyer,

Book cover of Run Program

Why this book?

Is it even a list of sci-fi books if you don’t include a story with a rogue artificial intelligence? Sure, it’s not necessarily the funniest premise, but when you throw in the fact that the A.I. in question has the mind of a six-year-old, the heroes trying to catch him are essentially his daycare providers, and the author is Scott Meyer, creator of the webcomic Basic Instructions and the Magic 2.0 series, and you’re sure to have a good time.


Anomaly Flats

By Clayton Smith,

Book cover of Anomaly Flats

Why this book?

Tired of spaceships and A.I.? Then how about a humorous take on sci-fi horror? If Twin Peaks were a comedy…and also a book…it would’ve been Anomaly Flats. Weird, disturbing events abound in this quaint Midwestern town where an ancient evil lurks behind the canned goods at the local Walmart, and–since they weren’t trying to kill me personally–many of them were hilarious. Or at least the way the characters reacted to them were hilarious. And in the end, isn’t that close enough?


Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

By Jason Pargin, David Wong,

Book cover of Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

Why this book?

If all my picks so far have been a bit highbrow for you, let’s go in a new direction. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is the work of Jason Pargin (a.k.a. David Wong), former executive editor of Cracked.com, and that should tell you most of what you need to know about his writing. Sometimes clever and insightful, sometimes crass, dumb, and offensive, this book will please anyone who enjoyed Cracked during its heyday, but prefers science fiction to listicles.


Scharlette Doesn't Matter and Goes Time Travelling

By Sam Bowring,

Book cover of Scharlette Doesn't Matter and Goes Time Travelling

Why this book?

This is a fun, relatively light novel that involves the fate of all humankind, etc., etc. The overarching plot here is enjoyable enough, but the real appeal is taking a somewhat meandering trip through a fun universe and getting to know the characters within. Don’t get me wrong; the plot is more than just a joke, which happens occasionally in comedies. It has a satisfying payoff, and Scharlette has a character arc, but–at least for me–the way the story is told is the real draw, not so much what the story itself is.


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