18 December 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Review: Unidentified Funny Objects – Online edition

written by James Hanzelka (intro by Frank Dutkiewicz)

When Alex Shvartsman announced his speculative humor anthology project last summer, and asked for some volunteers to help him out, I jumped at the chance. For three months I received a steady stream of fantasy, science fiction, and every murky definition in between, written with the intention of tickling my funny bone. Some stuff I found to be hilarious, and more than a few very funny stories were left on the cutting room floor. With a small army of associate editors, Alex wanted to be sure that he picked only the best for his collection. But what is funny? That answer proved to be very subjective. Alex told me he didn’t have one story that received a unanimous thumbs up from his associate editors. Everyone had a different opinion of what was funny and what wasn’t, but by the end, a consensus of 29 stories were picked for the upcoming anthology. That still left some wonderful stuff behind, so Alex decided to give his customers a little something to whet their appetite.

The UFO publishing website has offered seven stories for all who are looking for some free, original, and funny, speculative stories to read. They are a little taste of what the print anthology will be like. But are they funny? I asked our own James Hanzelka to give us his opinion†–

 

“The Alien Invasion as Seen in the Twitter Stream of @DWEEBLESS” by Jake Kerr

The aliens have invaded and offered Canada as a relocation point for all peoples of Earth. Unfortunately they have chosen to announce this using Twitter and YouTube. This means of communication is fraught with shortcomings, not the least of which is the people interpreting the message. Will they understand this is not a movie before it’s too late?

I think I’ve actually gotten this Twitter stream. Nicely done. The humor in this is there for all to see, however it may cut too close to home for some of us. I also liked the underlying theme of our self-absorption in our own lives, leading us to be totally oblivious to the real world. Well worth the few minutes it takes to read, and I found it hilarious right down to the Nickelback references.

 

“The Ogre and the Piemaker” by Tarl Kudrick

This is the story of some not-too-bright Ogres who attempt to fill their desire for pies. Led by their only slightly less dim leader their tale is one of struggle and comic failure, but ultimate success, even if they fail to grasp the manner in which they achieve it.

I found this story quite odd. There is nice comic theme that runs through it, but I was never fully caught up in the story. For those that like wry humor based on the failings of dense, bumbling monsters this is your cup of tea, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

 

“You Bet” by Alex Shvartsman

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a man walks into a poker game with a witch, an alien, a fairy, a robot and a vampire. That’s the premise of this story, an odd collection of characters involved in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. But who is this Joe that wandered in, even he doesn’t know. Maybe if he can figure it out he can hang around and not fade away like others before him.

I liked this story a lot. Loved the premise and the little nuances thrown in along the way, like the references to the crop circles and Twilight. The poker game provided a nice vehicle to allow for the conversation and each character is given a believable personality. Very well done.

 

“A Midnight Carnival at Sunset” by Terra LeMay

Suppose on your way home from work you decided to stop by a zoo full of mythical creatures. Would you be upset if you didn’t see much in the fading sunlight? Or would the sight of more activity after the light fades make you nervous? And who would you need to bring along with you to actually know if there is a unicorn in that stall?

This story is set up as a series of suppositions (see above). I thought it was a novel way to present a storyline. I also thought the premise was inventive and the writing was clear. I just didn’t find a lot here to make me laugh, beyond the single twist at the end. Nice story though.

 

“Demonology for Nerds” by Andrew F. Rey

Computers can be such pesky things, particularly when your anti-curse software is out of date. Demons are more difficult to deal with than a call center in Mumbai. The only saving grace is that math and physics aren’t their strong suits. Just make sure you keep those programs up to date, it can be devilishly tough otherwise.

This story is nicely done and the author did a nice job of weaving the technological world with the mythical world of demons and devils. The writing was clear and concise and the structure of the story was solid. The author does a good job of injecting his sense of humor through the piece. I would recommend it.

 

“Morte Cuisine” by Kara Dalkey

Chef Galbadon’s cooking class for his Zombie staff is rudely interrupted by two livelies wielding a shotgun and an axe. They proceed to wreak havoc on the small culinary staff, until the smell of blood rouses them to action. Chef Galbadon’s concern that their frenzy will waste the precious raw materials proves to be unfounded as the staff rises to the occasion.

This story has a nice wry sense of humor, but if you’re not into black humor it may not be for you. The story is very engaging and the author does a good job of creating a believable story out of the absurd situation. If you’re not too squeamish give it a read.

 

“Mr. Terwilliger Confesses” by Amanda C. Davis

A night full of drink causes one Mr. Terwilliger to confess to his mates he’s from the future. Determined to find out more, one of them gets him drunk and cajoles out the whole story of how he came to be in this time. Mr. Terwilliger, it seems, was the victim of pure happenstance and he has survived for five years by his wits. The two determine to expand the scam to the higher echelons of London society when Father Time intervenes again.

Nicely set is late 1900s England this is a well turned tale of time travel with comic consequences. The writer has done a good job of drawing us slowly into Mr. Terwilliger’s world. The story strikes a nice blend of humor and speculation. Well done and a good read for anyone interested in the subject.

 

When I asked what Jim thought of the stories as a collection he added “I liked the stories and the premise of the anthology. I would be interested in reading more of them.

If you would feel the same way Jim does, by all means pick up a copy of Unidentified Funny Objects.

As an added caveat, Diabolical Plots’s own David Steffen will be reviewing the printed anthology. Can’t wait to see what he thinks.

 

James Hanzelka is a published author, aspiring writer, and accomplished reviewer. Thousands and thousands of people have read his published works in the form of army technical manuals. His reviews have found a more pleasing audience however as they are often quoted by authors he has praised. Jim is working hard at his own fictional career. He has been submitting to the Writers of the Future contest for the last couple of years where he has received Honorable Mention honors on a consistent basis.

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