Comic Fantasy 101: From Tom Holt to Douglas Adams
There are as many reasons to read fantasy as there are novels in the genre. Want a gritty story of magic on the city streets? Check out urban fantasy, you’ll find it there. There are dragons and romantics, bandits and demonic CEOs, adventures and even incest (looking at you, George R.R. Martin). But what if, more than any of that, you’re seeking for LOLs?
Tom Holt is among the many comic fantasy authors who can crack you up. His early March release, "Doughnut" is about losing one’s job, a dead man’s seemingly worthless security-deposit box leading to a fight to save humanity--rewriting physics along the way--and, well, doughnuts. Holt has written dozens of hilarious fantasies; our favorites include "The Portable Door," perfect for anyone who's ever wondered if they’re working for a secretly sinister organization that may (or may not) be managed by actual goblins, and the aptly named "You Don’t Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps."
Still looking for the right fit? Worry not: whether you’ve read everything from Tolkien to Charlaine Harris, or have never set foot in the fantasy section your whole life, comic fantasy has something sure to split your sides (literally and figuratively).
Since the first book came out in 1978, nearly 20 installments have followed in the MythAdventures series about journeyman magician Skeeve and his adventures with magic and puns (MythAdventures is, of course, a pun on ‘misadventures’). The most recent novel, “Myth-Quoted” (again pun!), takes Skeeve to the island of Bokromi where a campaign of magical myth-information (it never stops!) has derailed an election for five years, and Skeeve will be forced to face the most vile, duplicitous creatures he’s ever encountered: politicians. MythAdventures books are ideal for those who like their books equal parts magic, satire and puns.
Terry Pratchett’s many Discworld novels take parody to whole new level. Discworld--a giant, flat disc balanced on four elephants that are carried, in turn, on the back of a giant turtle--is home to hilarious characters such as Rincewind, a cowardly wizard of little talent who’s constantly finding himself in danger, and Death, the black-robed skeleton, with his horse Binky and butler Albert. “The Color of Magic” is the first in the Discworld series about cynical Rincewind, the naïve tourist Twoflower, and their struggle against the champions of Fate, the Crocodile God and Zephyrus, the god of slight breezes.
Looking for some comedy in space? Look no further than Douglas Adams: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” follows Arthur Dent, who narrowly escaped Earth’s destruction by hitchhiking, with the help of his friend Ford Prefect, on the very ship that attacked his planet. Together, the two travel across the galaxy, catching rides with the two-headed, ex-hippie president of the galaxy, Marvin the depressed robot and the Vogons, writers of the universe’s worst poetry. The Hitchhiker’s trilogy takes Dent all the way to the restaurant at the end of the universe--and is a trilogy that actually consists of five books.
Want a vampire love story little less brooding and sparkling, and a little more hilarity? Christopher Moore has you covered. When Jody starts her new undead life by waking up under a dumpster, she spends less time marveling at her unasked-for super strength, and more time wondering how you’re supposed to get things done when most places close before nightfall. She enlists the help of wannabe writer Tommy to help with the daytime tasks, but the two discover that a recent string of murders may be the work of the vampire who attacked her.
As Toy Town grew into Toy City, it lost some of its jolly and took on a bit of a dystopian. A serial killer stalks the streets, targeting rich old nursery rhyme characters, slaughtering them one by one. It’s up to Jack and Eddie, the battered teddy bear, to track down the killer in this story with car chases, heavy drinking and some truly naughty toys. Along with the sequel, “The Toyminator,” Robert Rankin shows us what would have happened if "Toy Story" were an action movie.