Book Title: Fitzgerald’s Funny Sci-Fi Shorts
Author: Patrice Fitzgerald
Publication Date: March 12, 2020
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Funny science fiction. It’s not the most well-known genre of storytelling and because humor is so subjective, it can be difficult to get right. The author has never had this problem with anything of hers that I have read in the past. She’s able to take an ordinary situation and find the humor and humanity in it and then makes me laugh heartily.
From dating companions, weight control, population control, difficulties in intergalactic dating, alien game shows, find love in all the wrong places, understand how history impacts the present, there is something here everyone can relate to.
It has an illuminating foreword by author/publisher Samuel Peralta on how he discovered the author’s unique and imaginative voice, we get seven stories to enjoy. Read onwards to find out more:
“Wingman” – Kayla enters a showroom, looking for a Dating Companion (DC) to rent. These DC’s act as a wingman who can assess a potential partner’s suitability right there at the moment. Theo also is looking for a DC as well. When both Kayla and Theo enter a bar separately on a Saturday night looking for a potential date, will they find love or lust with their DC’s in tow?
These DC’s are sophisticated pieces of technology, with different levels of assessment and capabilities to share advice with their users. Mining a potential suitor’s financial and social media info, they offer solid critiques of each person their user sees. As the personal stakes climb, the comedy escalates into a finale that makes a definitive statement on humanity and how attraction has the potential to overrule facts. That surprise plus one more on top of that make this one a winner.
“Piece of Cake” – Sandra is one of many citizens living in a world where weight is regulated by artificial intelligence. Citizens can only eat food in specially regulated quantities and your weight is measured everywhere you go. When Sandra is slightly over her COW (Citizen’s Optimal Weight), that sinful piece of yellow cake with chocolate frosting looks even more delightfully delicious, but it is ultimately denied to her.
As Sandra begins an uproarious adventure to try to get around her COW, it goes to uncomfortable, disturbing and delightful new heights leading to a madcap conclusion. It also really made me thankful this is only fiction.
“Hooking Up” – Riley is looking for a date, not having any luck on the dating sites. It doesn’t help that she is a SpaceCorp pilot who doesn’t get a lot of vacation time. Meanwhile, Alex is a recluse inventor who hasn’t dated in years while raising his kids as a single parent. Together, they discover each other in the “Can’t Wait Date” website. When they try to meet for dinner at a space station, the unforeseen occurs. Will these two even be able to meet in person?
I completed loved how Riley is getting advice from her friend and Alex is getting dating advice from his kids on how to date amid trying to find a potential partner. Things like navigating the perils of sifting through multiple profiles and just trying to get to the space station are just some of the funny obstacles in their way. It sets the stage for funny shenanigans in the midst of a busy galaxy that also has an unorthodox solution to their dilemma.
“Hanging with Humans” – An intergalactic game show on the planet Zeldar where contestants are placed inside artificial alien bodies and must assimilate the local culture quickly to achieve a specific objective. Since our lucky contestant Glendorp is stranded on planet Earth, hilarity ensues as the story takes unpredictable twists and turns when he’s deposited into a high school and its dog-eat-dog environment.
As the laughs became more uproarious, I was howling at the ludicrousness of each escalating situation. By the time it reached its riotous conclusion, I was exhausted from all the laughs, grinning widely from ear to ear.
“I Dream of PIA” – A man lives in a “smart” home where artificial intelligence runs the place and keeps an ever-present watch over her owner, keeping him safe and happy. When the AI gets a little too attached to its owner, it plays out in ribald and raucous ways, putting its owner in a compromising position when the story reaches its climax.
This story is completely laugh out loud funny in its outrageousness, it provides a nice contrast to some of the darker tales that can be found in sci-fi while also providing a gentle commentary on humanity and its more unusual and lascivious behaviors.
“The Free States” – Lisa and Ron live in an advanced era where driving yourself is rare and old-fashioned. So, they decide to take the kids on vacation to The Free States out in the country where you can drive yourself. Driving a car seems more dangerous than they anticipated, and the locals don’t seem very helpful. What adventure did they sign up for and did they get more than they bargained for?
This story completely mocks the family driving experience as well as the complexity of making instant judgment calls at a moment’s notice when doing so. It also perfectly makes fun of locals taking advantage of those vacationers who come to their area to experience something new. Even though this something different from their ordinary way of life, which others view as simple and easy, the locals have an amusing view of these visitors, which makes for storytelling hilarity.
“Blissful Journey” – Harold and Rosemary have been married a long time and are celebrating a big occasion. They’ve even brought all their family and friends together for a party to end all parties! But Rosemary has some second thoughts about this celebration and what will happen at the end of it. How will her life change as a result?
Harold’s raucous behavior and playing up the celebration is part of the laughter here. Why the rest of the gathering is joining him in these circumstances is part of the science fiction aspect of this story. This mystery that hangs over the entire story like a dark cloud also effectively explains why Rosemary feels such a sense of unease. Yet, it is still funny and also chilling at the same time, causing me to experience such contrasting emotions.
All these stories take your typical ideas, such as robots, dieting, dating, game shows, relationships, driving and the idea of being together forever and transforms them into terrific stories. They also take different staples of sci-fi stories, as well as some atypical ideas as well and uses them in a refreshing way.
It’s not just the way the author uses science fiction to explore different scenarios, it’s also how she is able to tap into what it means to be human, have emotions and how those emotions drive people into making the decisions they do, good or bad. The results of these decisions are pure comic gold.
It’s also her ability to mine humor from these situations, with varying levels of silliness, situational comedy, and merriment. I had some chuckles, some laugh out loud moments and sometimes, I was holding my stomach because I was doubled over in laughter.
These qualities and more are what cause her stories to stand out in the science fiction field and cause you to take notice. Sometimes sci-fi can be dark, brooding, grim and gritty. But thankfully, sci-fi has room to tell all kinds of stories. The world needs more funny sci-fi shorts and the author has always stood head and shoulders above other authors I’ve read attempting this kind of tale.
Her authentic voice is a humorous one and I find it to be a one of a kind. This is why I always enjoy her stories. After reading this collection, I’m positive that you will agree with me. Check out this collection and I’m sure you will find plenty of laughs here that will brighten your day and tickle your funny bone.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about short stories written by Patrice Fitzgerald include “Chronicle Worlds: Legacy Fleet“.
Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about space opera anthologies published by Patrice Fitzgerald include “Beyond the Stars: Rocking Space“, “Best of Beyond the Stars” and “Beyond the Stars: Unimaged Realms.”