Because many fans first entry point into the sci-fi/fantasy world is Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, it can be easy to assume that writing funny genre pieces is something that just about anybody can do. But a look at the myriad of pale imitators who have tried and fallen short continues to prove that being funny on the printed page isn’t as easy as it first appears.
Every once in a while an author comes along who is able to channel what made Adams and Pratchett work so well. And while not all of John Scalzi’s works have been a “laugh riot,” he has shown the capacity to land his jokes more often than not.
Not content just to make readers snicker or laugh out loud (and you will laugh out loud), Scalzi gives himself the additional challenge of not having any of the pieces in his “Miniatures” collection run more than 2,300 words. This gives Scalzi time to stretch his creative chops, all while making sure that his pieces don’t overstay their welcome like too many “Saturday Night Live” sketches.
And that just about all of the entries in this collection have at least one to two moments to make you smile, if not outright snicker shows that Scalzi knows what he’s doing. Among the highlights of the collection is a companion piece to his award-winning “Redshirts” that he used on the book tour to introduce the novel (added fun can be had by surfing over to YouTube and seeing Scalzi read the piece at signing with Wil Wheaton), a story looking at why having our appliances becoming sentient is probably not a good idea to a series of Tweets that Scalzi used to amuse himself and his followers while traveling by air.
Just when you think Scalzi has shown you all his tricks, he goes and pulls a few more rabbits out of his hat. “Miniatures” may not be nominated for a ton of awards, but it will certainly entertain you and it might be a great introduction to new readers of the greater rewards of reading Scalzi’s other works.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.