Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Asprin
Every now and then I get tired of reading mysteries, thrillers, dark fantasies, hard science fiction, and other serious topics and just want to laugh. Robert Asprin had a nice collection of humor for us. From his wiki intro:
Robert Lynn Asprin (June 28, 1946 – May 22, 2008) was an American science fiction and fantasy author and active fan, best known for his humorous MythAdventures and Phule’s Company series.
Goodreads.com’s bio for Asprin has a little more detail:
Robert (Lynn) Asprin was born in 1946. While he wrote some stand alone novels such as Cold Cash War, Tambu and The Bug Wars and also the Duncan and Mallory Illustrated stories, Bob is best known for his series fantasy, such as the Myth Adventures of Aahz and Skeeve, the Phule’s Company novels and the Time Scout novels written with Linda Evans.
As happens so often, I forget exactly when I first discovered Asprin’s books. I’m thinking it was sometime in the early ’90s. I was most likely just wandering the aisles of a local bookstore wherever I was then living and saw a title that intrigued me. And I know it was a title and that I picked up two or three at the same time – Another Fine Myth, Myth Conception, and Myth Directions are the first three of the Myth Adventures series. As you can tell, the titles tend toward puns and wordplay and that is always fun. Apparently, according to the wiki for Myth Adventures, the titles and series all originated from a mistake in the publisher’s catalog:
Indeed, the first book was advertised under that title, Another Fine Mess, from Oliver Hardy’s often-used catchphrase directed towards his film comedy partner Stan Laurel, supposedly “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” (The actual catchphrase referred to “another nice mess”.) After it was too late to change the catalog, Asprin decided that using “Myth” would be much better if the book would become a series. They changed the title and claimed a typo in the catalog.
Go ahead and check out that wiki, I’ll wait for you to return.
You’re back? Kewl. I’m sure as you read through the various “dimensions” in the Myth worlds, you can get a strong sense of the humor. As I look at the titles, I know i have read most of the Myth… stories
Asprin’s other heavily comedic series was Phule’s Company, again with a lot of puns and word play in character names:
Willard J. Phule is the super-rich heir apparent of Phule-Proof Munitions, currently serving in the Space Legion. His Legion name is Jester, and holds the rank of Captain, being addressed thus as Captain Jester, and occasionally and inappropriately as Captain Phule or Captain Clown. Originally having the Legion name was Lieutenant Scaramouche, Phule was brought up on charges and to be court-martialed for ordering the strafing of a peace conference, owing, as he put it, to a “communications error.”
However, since Phule-Proof is the Legion’s arms and munitions supplier as well as the largest employer of their retirees, Headquarters see court-martialing the owner’s son as potentially disastrous. He is instead promoted to the rank of Captain and shipped off Haskin’s Planet to command the Omega Company, a dumping ground for the Legion’s foul-ups and misfits. It is envisioned that the posting to such an unruly, undesirable outfit may encourage him to resign his commission.
I think Phule’s Company could probably give McHale’s Navy or Sgt. Bilko a good run for foul-ups coming out on top against the brass. I have not read all the Phule’s Company but I have read and enjoyed the first three at least.
The Time Scout series I found entertaining but looking at the reviews of the first book, I might be an exception. I usually do find it easy to suspend belief and go with the flow of the story rather than have the full “harrumph harrumph” when I disapprove of the direction a story takes.
Picture from Chris Drumm licensed under Creative Commons