Review: Cosmic Laughter

What a strange and beautiful world it is in which I get to reread Cosmic Laughter. Laughter is a collection, edited by Joe Haldeman, of light hearted science fiction and fantasy that I first happened on when I was 10 or 12 years old.  I borrowed it on more than one occasion from the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira and read it back to back. Rereading it was more polishing the memories than reading a book.

So, it’s not like this will be unbiased.

Each of the stories has a nice twist to it, or a great setup.  For instance, “Gallagher Plus,” by Henry Kuttner remains one of the great set-ups of all time – man who is a brilliant inventor only when drunk wakes from a bender with a strange machine humming, no money, and a few clues to indicate he’s taken more than one commission – some of whom are already angry.  The execution doesn’t live up to the possibilities, but oh the possibility of it.  Andrew J. Offut’s “The Black Sorcerer of the Black Castle” hits the perfect spot between send-up and homage to R. E. Howard, and Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man” is everything it’s known for.  The best of the lot is Haldeman’s own “Eye of Newton” in which a mathematician summons a demon and uses logic to get out of it.  It’s breezy and just long enough to build up some suspense without overstaying its welcome.

All fun stuff.


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