The best thigh-slappingly funny science fiction books

Mark Roman and Corben Duke Author Of The Worst Man on Mars
By Mark Roman and Corben Duke

Who are we?

Who, apart from the innately humorless, doesn’t like a good laugh? We do, whether it’s at Mark Roman’s opera singing or at Corben Duke’s naked balloon dance. We also enjoy funny science fiction books. We’ve tried writing them, too, but it’s devilishly difficult. So, time and time again, we turn to the masters in the field to see how they did it, studying the words they used, the way they joined them together, and where they inserted the punctuation marks. Most instructive. Here are our top five and their funny SF books.

We wrote...

The Worst Man on Mars

By Mark Roman and Corben Duke,

Book cover of The Worst Man on Mars

What is our book about?

Blunt Yorkshireman Flint Dugdale has used his large frame and ‘persuasive personality’ to take charge of Britain’s first mission to Mars. He’ll wish he hadn’t bothered for, unbeknownst to him, the base – built by an advance party of inept robots – is not finished, having no food, no water, and no doors. Worse, as Dugdale and his oddball crew and quirky colonists prepare to make History, the ship’s scanners detect Life down on the surface. What form will it take? And will it be pleased to see them?

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The books we picked & why

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Why did I love this book?

This is an obvious choice as it is one of the funniest sci-fi books ever, and one of our personal faves. It’s been a massive hit all around the world and even now, over 40 years after its publication, still ranks high in the bestseller charts and readers’ all-time-favourite lists. Our first encounter with it was the BBC Radio 4 series that spawned the book. We loved its originality, its production, its sound effects, its cleverness, its humour and, most of all, Slartibartfast. The book – and its subsequence sequels – did not disappoint. So, if you’re in need of cheering up – grab a copy of HHGTTG, or H2G2, or HG2G, or whatever you want to call it.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

Book cover of Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

Why did I love this book?

This book is the first one based on the Red Dwarf TV series. There have been twelve series to date, and they provide a glut of delightful sci-fi comedy – quirky, ingenious, and always very funny. Great for binge-watching if you can put your life on hold for a bit. The books are great, too. Possibly even funnier? The first, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, expands on the backgrounds of Lister, Rimmer, The Cat, Holly, and Kryten. What a gang, eh? In real life, you’d probably end up strangling them.

By Grant Naylor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Red Dwarf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awakening from a drunken spree in a London pub to find himself on one of Saturn's moons, Lister joins the Space Corps and boards the Red Dwarf, determined to return to Earth

Dark Star

By Alan Dean Foster,

Book cover of Dark Star

Why did I love this book?

A very funny book based on the John Carpenter movie of the same name. It’s about the crew of the malfunctioning Dark Star, engaged in the suitably pointless mission of “destroying unstable planets.” Highlights include the alien shaped like a beach ball, and the philosophical bomb agonizing over its purpose in life – to blow or not to blow. Sadly, the book is out of print, although you might bag a second-hand copy. One of us (Corben) obtained a manky copy on the No. 47 bus as he made his way with his greyhound Professor Wagglesworth to the Catford Dog track in 1974. The Professor performed poorly that night – distracted by a frisky poodle in the crowd – so Corben read the book instead. It made him realise that life, unlike greyhound racing, is not to be taken seriously.

By Alan Dean Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dark Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

The Witches of Chiswick

By Robert Rankin,

Book cover of The Witches of Chiswick

Why did I love this book?

If you’ve gone through life thinking that a sprout can’t be funny, this book will convince you otherwise. Barry the Sprout is the star of the show, lodged in the head of lead character Will Starling. But the whole book is a joy. Highly inventive and very funny. It involves time travel, weird conspiracy theories, Queen Victoria, the Elephant Man, Jack the Ripper, the Brentford Snail Boy, and many more. 

By Robert Rankin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witches of Chiswick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We have all been lied to. A great and sinister conspiracy exists to keep us from uncovering the truth about our past.

Have you ever wondered how Victorians dreamed up all that fantastic futuristic fiction? Did it ever occur to you that it might just have been based upon fact? That THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was a true account of real events? That Captain Nemo' s Nautilus even now lies rusting at the bottom of the North Sea? That there really was an invisible man?

And what about the other stuff? Did you know that Queen Victoria had a…

Book cover of Schrödinger's Caterpillar

Why did I love this book?

Here's a little-known gem that is clever and witty, packed with funny incidents and terrible puns. It’s about downsizing consultant Graham Paint who owns the eponymous insect. Much to his inconvenience, the caterpillar (which, like its namesake cat, exists in a state of quantum uncertainty) starts spawning alternative realities, each with their own copy of Graham – causing havoc for him, and the police. The storyline has echoes of the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors, but is much funnier and smarter. Oh, and check out the book’s trailer on YouTube.

By Zane Stumpo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Schrödinger's Caterpillar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Graham Paint is a downsizing consultant, and sick of it. One morning he misses his bus when he stops to put a strange caterpillar in a matchbox. As the bus passes he's shocked to spot himself inside. Like Schroedinger's Cat in the famous quantum thought experiment, the caterpillar has spawned parallel possibilities. This comic novel explores Graham's search for a better life among the various overlapping alternatives. Another clone, Grim Dupeint, is a loathsome international arms dealer. Graham infiltrates Grim's corporation, then embezzles cash for charity. When a furious Grim realises, Graham throws him overboard from his luxury yacht and…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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