If, Then: A Discovery Guide

Seek and Ye Shall Find

How do we find great fiction to read? It's an important question: the difference between a book that we connect with and one that we don't can be the difference between choosing to read or watch Television. This is part of a new series of posts where we'll be using one story from the current edition of our Frontpage and using it as a springboard to suggest other possible reads.

The Source Material

"The Sun, Earth, Moon," by T.D. Leonard, is a great little piece of speculative humor. The story is characterized by its extensive use of personification: giving human traits to nonhuman things. This technique matches the prose style of the story: it's playful, it uses humor to great effect, and it capitalizes on knowledge that is widely available, but it does it in a new and exciting way. It isn't science-fiction in the traditional sense, but in a really fundamental way it blends scientific history with fiction. 

What we're looking for, then, is a humorous, playful piece of science fiction that uses humor to diffuse otherwise droll or uninteresting topics. 

Sore Thumb

Never read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Well the stakes are low: it's $6 on Amazon, fairly short at only 224 pages, and it's a nearly universally beloved story. 

Earth is being destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway, and Arthur Dent gets off in the knick of time. He spends time traveling around the universe with his buddy Ford Perfect, getting into various hijinks adventures. Hilarity ensues. Adams is British, which means this novel is awash with black comedy: it's part Kafka, part Penny Dreadful. Like Leonard's story, The Hitchhiker's Guide uses its sense of humor and imagination to cast a wide net about things we already know about. Adams riffs on bureaucracy, death anxiety, capitalism, from a million lightyears away, and it's subtle: you've got to pay attention to see it happening. If you're excited about adventure, humor, and imagination, this is a great next read.

 

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