Humourous Novels
The ships hung in the sky, much the way that bricks don't


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The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1959)


Jam-packed with many of Vonnegut's trademark devices - like mock religions, multi-temporal viewpoints and the manipulative Tralfamadorians. The richest, most depraved man on Earth is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. He survives flying into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum and founds the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent.





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Cat's Cradle
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1963)


Vonnegut takes aim at science and religion in this side-splitting satire. A scientist invents 'ice-nine' because a general is tired of soldiers' boots getting muddy. Unfortunately, it is a chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. An array of misfits take us through some typical Vonnegut mayhem. The book preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it.





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The Futurological Congress
by Stanislaw Lem (1971; 1st English edition 1974)


Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure. The translation by Michael Kandel is highly recommended for English readers.





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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [S1]
by Douglas Adams (1979)


Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Arthur is soon to become the last human left alive, so he is just going to have to make the best of things.





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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe [S2]
by Douglas Adams (1980)


Facing annihilation at the hands of the Vogons is a curious time to have a displaced Arthur Dent and his comrades desperately in search of a place to eat. Arthur and Ford Prefect, a contributor to the 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy', are joined by Zaphod Beeblebrox, ex-president of the galaxy; Tricia McMilan, a fellow Earth refugee; and the neurotic robot Marvin. Don't panic!





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The Diamond Age
by Neal Stephenson (1995)


Nanotech engineer John Percival Hackworth steals a copy of a computer-interactive book he designed for his wealthy employer. Neo-Victorian society is never the same again when an underprivileged girl gets a hold of it and radically reprograms the future. It is a world in which there is nowhere to hide from nanotechnology. Stephenson adeptly turns serious themes into fun.





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Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog
by Connie Willis (1998)


The hero jumps back and forth between the 21st century and the 1940s on a mission to find the missing piece to restoring Coventry Cathedral. When too many jumps leave him exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But a fellow time traveller has thrown a spanner in the works, and love at first sight makes his holiday anything but restful.





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Redshirts
by John Scalzi (2012)


Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. He begins to pick up on the fact that senior officers always survive Away Missions, while at least one low-ranked crew member (a Redshirt) is, sadly, always killed. Fans of the original Star Trek series will recognise pretty quickly where this idea came from.


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