Great "fun" science fiction novels? (Think: Ready Player One)
July 8, 2012 12:23 PM   Subscribe

What are some great "fun" science fiction novels? (Think: Ready Player One)

I read a lot of science fiction. Gaiman, Stephenson, OSC, Richard K Morgan, etc. Currently reading Hugh Howey's "Wool."

I love them all, but I don't think I've read something as "fun" as Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" in forever, and would like to know if MeFi has suggestions for books of a similar vein. Granted RPO revolves around a dystopia similar to many sci-fi novels, but I love how it still maintained a light-hearted and "feel-good" nature to it.

Contemporary/classic, well-known writers/indie writers are of no concern as long as it's science fiction and fun.
posted by petah to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Mefi's own jscalzi has a couple of humorous sci-fi novels - Redshirts (Star Trek pastiche/metafiction,) The Android's Dream, Agent to the Stars. All of them are funny and worth a read, imo.

Obviously the Hitchhiker's Guide series. Charlie Stross's Laundry novels (Lovecraft meets hacking meets British bureaucracy) are funny and great.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:33 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

My assumption is that you're looking for stuff that, like Ready Play One, remains fundamentally SF--the SFnal premise takes priority over the humor of the situation--but that still makes you smile.

Contemporary: all of John Scalzi's standalone novels. He's better known for his Colonial Union books, but this is really his specialty.

Classic: Alexei Panshin (Anthony Villiers novels), James White (Sector General), James Schmitz (Telzey Amberdon stories and the Witches of Karres), Keith Laumer (Retief), etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thirding John Scalzi, especially Redshirts. Really enjoyable read.
posted by Ridge at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2012

Oooh Max Barry's book Jennifer Government.
posted by Tesseractive at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2012

Imho, the Retief books really bugged me.

However, fun and science fiction I have enjoyed include Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Miles Vorkosigan's saga and the classic Stainless Steel Rat series (fwiw, even Niven's Flatlander aka the long ARM of Gil Hamilton is fun SF)
posted by infini at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2012

Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds by Brian Daley as well as the two sequels.
"Alacrity, what would you do if you were dining with Srillans and your host suggested that it was getting late?"

The breakabout vaulted off the bed in a swirl of sheet and began an animated, prancing shuffle around the center of the room. Ash watched interestedly.

Alacrity postured in grandiloquent style. He sang through his nose in imitation of the ebullient Srillan form. "Ning-ning-a-ning!" he cock-crowed. He danced around the executioner, addressing the song to him as though Ash were the hypothetical Srillan host.

"Let us all now praise Lord Ash, ning-a-ning! For his generous hospitality"—he struck a pose, a waggish aside to his invisible audience—"(don't let the door strike you in the rump!) ning-a-ning!"

He resumed his declamatory posture. "For this marvelous repast"—and again the aside—"(were all the toxic waste dumps closed?) ning-ning! For his thoughtfulness (it's so seldom you see utensils chained to the table!) ning-a-ning-a-ning!"
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:57 PM on July 8, 2012

Thank you for reminding me of that series, Confess, Fletch, now I'm homesick for my book cupboard.
posted by infini at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2012

Lots of good recommendations here. I second the Miles Vorkosigan books and the Stainless Steel Rat books. Also, pretty much anything by Rudy Rucker—his whole hardware/software/wetware series is insane.
posted by adamrice at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2012

Scalzi's Android Dream is the funnest book I've read in years.
posted by ye#ara at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2012

I thought The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi was very fun.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:15 PM on July 8, 2012

Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Diamond Age certainly made me smile more than once. They're a bit overexposed nowadays, I suppose, but if you haven't cross paths with them yet, there's some fun to be had.
posted by philip-random at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2012

The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens made me laugh out loud.

I also liked Tom Holt's Blonde Bombshell a lot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2012

Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, I've tried other books by him but couldn't recapture the feeling.

I've like all of Walter Moers' translated stuff as well

Frank Tuttle's Markhat books are good light reading too, more of a fantasy/mystery vibe
posted by edgeways at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World has what ever SF book needs more of: ninja mimes.

Daniel O'Malley's The Rook is the first of a promising new series of novels. The premise (secret organization combats supernatural threats) is done to death, but O'Malley puts his own stamp on it. There are some dangling plot threads that bothered me, but I hope he'll address them in the next book.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:30 PM on July 8, 2012

Someone here reccommended Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog a while back and it totally cracked me up
posted by Mchelly at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2012

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu.

Bill, The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison.

Anyone who was on USENET in the 1990s and early 2000s will find Charles Stross's "Accelerando" loaded with humorous references thereto.

Stanislaw Lem, the Polish author of "Solaris" has a few that'll crack your ribs. The best, without a doubt, is The Cyberiad, the story of two robots who build other robots to order. A credit to the author as well as the translator, Michael Kandel (accept no substitute), it has some astonishing wordplay when the two bots build a robotic bard.

Kandel has his own novel which I found amusing: Captain Jack Zodiac, set in an apocalyptic LA.

Oh, Mchelly- yes, an hundred times. Nearly all of Connie Willis' works are hilarious. Her time travel books (Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout/All Clear) are manners comedies-- there's plenty of danger and melancholy in the first and last two, but there are comic characters throughout, and To Say Nothing is very light, IIRC. I also recommend her short "Even the Queen," which has a topic mainly for women, but comedy crosses all genders. And the book "Bellwether" is pretty funny. And once you've read "To Say Nothing of the Dog," I recommend the book that inspired it, Jerome K. Jerome's sidesplitting book "Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)," which is not science-fictional in the least.

I hate to admit I read it, but L. Ron Hubbard's "Invasion Earth" dekology was mainly comedy SF.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:44 PM on July 8, 2012

Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey (not to be confused with the similarly-titled travesty of a book. Also, this novel is vastly different from his other books.) I also read a lot of Terry Pratchett and simply pretend that I am reading rigorous science fiction, rather than fantasy. I'll second Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocolypse. Recently I have also been buying the various yearly collections of Best Science Fiction short stories, and finding many humorous and smart stories in them... I just stop reading the ones that seem to go in a more dire direction... Good luck.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:02 PM on July 8, 2012

Sewer, Gas, and Electric by Matt Ruff is hilarious.
posted by Daily Alice at 3:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Stainless Steel Rat and all of its sequels by Harry Harrison.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Stainless Steel Rat and all of its sequels by Harry Harrison.

I'd hold back on that blanket recommendation. They get markedly worse as they go on - the most recent was borderline unreadable. The first three are classics though.

Terry Pratchett is a good call - 'Only You Can Save the World' and 'Strata' are straight and very funny scifi.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:50 PM on July 8, 2012

Bill the Galactic Hero, for sure.
The Cyberiad by Lem.
Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin
posted by plinth at 4:57 PM on July 8, 2012

Epic by Conor Kostick. A world without violence, that depends on their MMORPG for their economy, to settle disputes, etc. I loved Ready Player One, but I think Epic easily outshines it.
posted by Xere at 7:00 PM on July 8, 2012

Niven has some silly-fun stuff. The Flying Sorcerers, which is basically built of science fiction in-jokes. Also, his short stories about Hanville Svetz (I think they're all collected in Flight of the Horse) which contain fantastical elements but are still science fiction.
posted by anaelith at 8:08 PM on July 8, 2012

Yes, its Flight of the Horse and its lovely.
posted by infini at 1:12 AM on July 9, 2012

Any John T. Sladek.
posted by kandinski at 6:48 AM on July 9, 2012

It's steam punk rather than pure SF but I adore G.W. Dahlquist's Glass Book of the Dream Eaters and its sequal The Dark Volume (third volume due out this summer).
posted by londonmark at 8:10 AM on July 9, 2012

Second Rudy Rucker. My favourites are Postsingular and Master of Space and Time.
posted by Chenko at 8:20 AM on July 9, 2012

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