Gate Crashers - Tor/Forge Blog



Ewoks are Sci-Fi’s Most Dangerous Warriors

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In honor of the upcoming release of Patrick S. Tomlinson’s latest sci-fi space adventure, Starship Repo, we’re revisiting his guest post on why Ewoks are the most dangerous sci-fi warriors. Starship Repo is on sale May 21.

By Patrick S. Tomlinson

That’s right, you heard me. I know most of you in fandom believe the only thing ewoks could kill is the Star Wars franchise, but that’s because your childhood was a lie and you suck at being a geek. And now I’ll prove it.

Let’s think back to the ground component of the Battle of Endor at the climax of RotJ. A small rebel strike force with nothing but small arms and demo charges square off against an entire legion of Imperial Stormtroopers backed by scout troops on speeder bikes and at least four AT-ST armored units. The Empire knows they’re coming and has, by any measure, brought overwhelming force to the fight, so much so that when the trap is sprung, the Rebel force surrenders without a shot fired. It is a complete and utter defeat.

Until the Ewoks show up. Using nothing but stone-aged weapons, the ewoks launch a surprise attack that disperses the Imperial units entirely as they completely ignore their rebel captives in favor of pursuing the Ewoks’ incursion deep into the forest. They don’t even hesitate. Everyone drops what they’re doing and throws themselves into a counter attack against stone-aged natives. At first blush, this is an insane strategy that frees up the rebel force to continue their mission to take down the shield generator. The Imperials should have simply dug in and established a perimeter. But they don’t. They dive headlong into an Ewok hunt on their own turf. This only makes sense if the Imperials know a large-scale Ewok attack represents a massive, immediate threat to their survival that required an instantaneous counter attack to survive the encounter. The Imperials learned to take the Ewoks even more seriously than trained rebels with modern weapons.

Once in the forest, the Imperials find a nightmarish maze of booby traps ranging from simple tripwires that clothesline scouts off their speeder bikes, to drastically more elaborate traps that manage to destroy two AT-ST’s outright, including a rolling log trap, and the now-infamous double battering ram trap, the rather incredible effectiveness of which was definitively proven on Mythbusters.

Which begs the question. Where did those AT-ST killing booby traps come from? There are two possibilities:

    1. There are animals running around Endor so goddamned big the Ewoks developed the traps as defense against dinosaur-size predators, or to hunt dinosaur-size herbivores. If this is true, it means doe-eyed teddy bears were running around routinely killing things many hundreds of times their size since long before the Empire showed up. Or…
    2. There are no mega-fauna on Endor, and the little furries built all those booby traps as a direct response to the Imperial occupation in a matter of a few years. This is, by far, the more terrifying possibility, showing Ewoks are not only inventive and quickly adaptable, but are capable of large-scale engineering projects using nothing more advanced than stone tools and ropes, all without their efforts being discovered by the occupying force of a technologically advanced race.

I tend to favor the first possibility, partly because of the timeframe issue, but also because morphologically, Ewoks’ squat frames, short arms and legs, relatively stubby fingers, broad noses, and thick coats of fur strongly suggest they evolved in much cooler, more northern latitudes closer to Endor’s polar regions. They are not adapted as an arboreal species, yet built their society high in the immense trees of Endor’s forests. Why would a ground-dwelling race take to the trees? As protection against the immense predators they found roaming the forest floor once they migrated south.

As cute as they are, Ewoks are clearly predators. Their large eyes and binocular vision are more adapted for hunting than being hunted. This is borne out by the fact their first reaction to finding Luke, Han, and Chewbacca in one of their nets was to tie them up and spit roast them, something they’d doubtlessly done to wayward scout troops for years. Not even the threat of Han’s blaster deterred them. Most people assume Ewoks simply didn’t understand the threat Han’s blaster represented. They were ignorant, not brave.

But how likely is that? Return of the Jedi takes place three and a half years after the destruction of the first Death Star. Chances are good the Empire landed on Endor not long after to lay the groundwork for constructing the second Death Star. The very first thing they would have built is the Shield Generator to protect the nascent super-weapon through its development. To do so, Imperial troops had to drive the Ewoks from their territory. Knowing the Empire’s tactics, they likely sent in Stormtroopers to clear whatever area was necessary.

During this forced relocation, countless Ewoks must have fallen to Imperial blasters as their territory was pacified. They weren’t ignorant of the threat Han’s blaster represented. They knew exactly what it was and didn’t give a shit.

Further proof of their warrior prowess is how utterly fearless the little bastards are once the fighting starts. They run straight into the teeth of storm troopers spitting lightning and fire from their guns without a second thought. When their arrows prove ineffective, they close to hand-to-hand range and start beating storm troopers to death with rocks. They only retreat in the face of overwhelming force, and even then, they are leading the invaders into ambushes, like the unholy offspring of Teddy Ruxpin and Leonidas.

And think of how they fight. There is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene with an ewok standing on an AT-ST’s foot, hammering away at its ankle with only a stone ax. At first, this scene appears comical, with an ignorant savage whacking away in a completely futile attempt against a walking tank. But is this a fair assessment?

I say no. His only problem is that he hasn’t encountered metal before. If, however, he was fighting against one of the proposed mega-fauna, his tactics make perfect sense. He’s attacking a vulnerable joint that, if damaged, would completely immobilize the animal, much like hyenas biting at the achilles tendons of their prey. And what happens when the first few blows don’t work? He adjusts his grip and goes right back at it, not giving a solitary fuck. This isn’t his first rodeo, folks. He’s hacked down colossal monsters before and isn’t sure why it’s not working this time, but isn’t about to quit, either.

This pattern continues throughout the battle. From the Redbull-chugging nutcase in the hang-glider, dropping rocks on Stormtrooper heads like a DJ droppin’ beats, to the precision of their catapult crews placing rock after rock onto an AT-ST’s head, these guys are badasses.

If it were animals and not armored vehicles they were fighting, they’d have won in the first minutes of the engagement. When things are looking bad, they don’t run, they adjust and adapt, probing for weaknesses in their foe. They suffer lopsided losses without breaking. This isn’t their first large-scale engagement. When you realize that, their eagerness to join the final battle becomes all the more amazing. They knew exactly what they were getting into, knew the impossible odds, looked at an entire Legion of the Emperor’s best troops, and said in one voice, “I’m your Huckleberry.”

And they won. Without them, Han wouldn’t have taken the shield down, Wedge and Lando wouldn’t have destroyed the reactor, and the rebel fleet would have been obliterated. Give them their due. Forget Wookiees, Klingons, Cylons, Krogan, Minbari, Elietes, and Fremen.

Ewoks are the most dangerous warriors in sci-fi.

Order Your Copy of Starship Repo

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Follow Patrick S. Tomlinson on Facebook and his website.


$2.99 Ebook Deal: Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Poster Placeholder of - 81The ebook edition of Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson is on sale for only $2.99 for a limited time! Pick up a copy of this thrilling sci-fi novel now for less than your morning coffee.

About Gate Crashers

Humankind ventures further into the galaxy than ever before… and immediately causes an intergalactic incident. In their infinite wisdom, the crew of the exploration vessel Magellan, or as she prefers “Maggie,” decides to bring the alienstructure they just found back to Earth. The only problem? The aliens are awfully fond of that structure.

A planet full of bumbling, highly evolved primates has just put itself on a collision course with a far wider, and more hostile, galaxy that is stranger than anyone can possibly imagine.

Order Your Copy

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This sale ends May 1.


New Releases: 6/26/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Drop By Drop by Morgan Llewelyn

Image Place holder  of - 8 From Morgan Llywelyn, the bestselling author of Lion of Ireland and the Irish Century series, comes Drop By Dropher first near-future science fiction thriller where technology fails and a small town struggles to survive global catastrophe.

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible—navigation systems, communications, medical equipment—fail.

Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Place holder  of - 55 Humankind ventures further into the galaxy than ever before… and immediately causes an intergalactic incident. In their infinite wisdom, the crew of the exploration vessel Magellan, or as she prefers “Maggie,” decides to bring the alienstructure they just found back to Earth. The only problem? The aliens are awfully fond of that structure.

A planet full of bumbling, highly evolved primates has just put itself on a collision course with a far wider, and more hostile, galaxy that is stranger than anyone can possibly imagine.

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

Poster Placeholder of - 60 In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god. When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?


Assassin’s Code by Ward Larsen

Bitter Trail and Barbed Wire by Elmer Kelton

Book of Judas by Linda Stasi

The Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milan


A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 13 Story by Kazuma Kamachi; Art by Motoi Fuyukawa

Bloom into You Vol. 5 Story and art Nakatani Nio

Captive Hearts of Oz Vol. 4 Story and art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru; Story development by Ryo Maruya

Claudine Story and art by Riyoko Ikeda

Clockwork Planet Vol. 2 Story by Yuu Kamiya & Tsubaki Himana; Art by Shino

Devilman Grimoire Vol. 3 Story by Go Nagai; Art by Rui Takatou

Freezing Vol. 21-22 Story by Dall-Young Lim; Art by Kwang-Hyun Kim

Getter Robo Devolution Vol. 1 Story by Ken Ishikawa and Eiichi Shimizu; Art by Tomohiro Shimoguchi

How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord Vol. 1 Story by Yukiya Murasaki; Art by Naoto Fukuda

Magika Swordsman and Summoner Vol. 9 Story by Mitsuki Mihara; Art by MonRin

Re:Monster Vol. 4 Story by Kanekiru Kogitsune; Art by Kobayakawa Haruyoshi

My Monster Secret Vol. 11 Story and Art by Eiji Masuda

Not Lives Vol. 9 Story and art by Wataru Karasuma

NTR – Netsuzou Trap Vol. 5 Story and art Kodama Naoko

True Tenchi Muyo! Vol. 1 Story by Masaki Kajishima and Yousuke Kuroda; Art by Kajishima Masaki

The Voynich Hotel Vol. 1 Story and art by Seiman Douman


Excerpt: Gate Crashers by Patrick Tomlinson

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Placeholder of  -55 The only thing as infinite and expansive as the universe is humanity’s unquestionable ability to make bad decisions.

Humankind ventures further into the galaxy than ever before… and immediately causes an intergalactic incident. In their infinite wisdom, the crew of the exploration vessel Magellan, or as she prefers “Maggie,” decides to bring the alienstructure they just found back to Earth. The only problem? The aliens are awfully fond of that structure.

A planet full of bumbling, highly evolved primates has just put itself on a collision course with a far wider, and more hostile, galaxy that is stranger than anyone can possibly imagine.

Gate Crashers will be available on June 26th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

Chapter One

It was a cold, dark night in deep space. Of course, that’s the sort of night experienced spacers preferred. A hot, bright night meant you’d flown into an uncharted star. Such nights were known for their brevity.

The American-European Union Starship Magellan streaked through the vacuum at a sliver under half light speed. When christened sixty-two years ago, Magellan was heralded by reporters, tech writers, and industry mouthpieces as a marvel of engineering, which she was.

They also described her using words like gracefulelegant, and sleek, which she most certainly was not. The sight of Magellan brought to mind a seventeen-hundred-meter-long mechanical jellyfish with an inverted bell made of a giant dinner plate, drainage pipes, and an entire box of novelty bendy straws.

Buried beneath a jacket of water built into the ship’s hull to shield them from cosmic radiation eager to redecorate their DNA, the crew chilled through the dull bits of their journey in cryogenic pods set at less than a tenth of a degree above freezing. Hearts beat once every other minute. Blood flowed with the speed of buttercream frosting. Dreams played at a pace that would make a Galápagos tortoise glance at its watch.

The year was 2345, and Magellan’s 157 peoplecicles were just a sliver over thirty light-years from Earth. As they slept, Magellan was hard at work. She balanced the deuterium flow to the beach-ball-sized star in her stern, which was the source of her power, extrapolated the trajectories of thousands of bits of stellar dust no bigger than a flake of crushed pepper, and then used her battery of navigational lasers to vaporize those flakes on intercept courses.

One would usually attribute the quaint human tendency to anthropomorphize machines as the reason the pronoun she was applied to a starship. However, Magellan herself had decided long ago that any entity that selflessly nurtured so many helpless children must be female.

While pondering her myriad duties, one of her ranging lasers blinked, beeped, and generally made a nuisance of itself. Magellan gave it the cold shoulder for several nanoseconds before she caved to its persistence and queried its data packet to see what was so important it couldn’t wait a millisecond.

What she found caused her only the second moment of confusion in her sixty-two years of operation. The first happened many years ago when her chief engineer had tried to explain the appeal of chewing tobacco, with little success.

This time was worse. The laser revealed an object, sixteen meters long, less than two light-hours ahead of her. After a few milliseconds of data streamed in, Magellan determined, while abnormally large for space dust, the object did not pose a direct threat, as it was not on an intercept course. Curiously, it was not on any course at all.

Out of tens of millions of particles Magellan had spotted, projected, and vaporized, she’d never observed one that wasn’t moving. You didn’t end up in the void between stars without inertia; it just wasn’t possible. As an exploration vessel, her software possessed a certain baseline curiosity, and the paradox of the object ate at her processors. However, her ability to make command-level decisions was deliberately limited to the protection of her crew while they were incapacitated. Since the object didn’t pose a danger to crew safety, her programming didn’t permit a course alteration. If she wanted more than the meager data she could acquire in a two-hundred-million-kilometer flyby, she’d need to wake the captain.

Safely waking from cryosleep was a two-hour ordeal. As the body slowly warmed, neurons fired with the vigor of an asthmatic 4×400 relay team. Imagine the pricking-needles sensation felt when an arm falls asleep and map it over one’s entire body. If that weren’t enough, the sluggish metabolism of cryo caused a buildup of the same toxins that result from a three-day bender.

This marked Allison Ridgeway’s sixty-second cycle. As her consciousness stirred, Allison drew on the considerable experience she’d acquired in college to deal with the worst hangover imaginable. She kept her eyes closed until they stopped lying to her, placed one foot on the ground to anchor her sense of balance, then grabbed the pod’s hydration tube and sucked down as much fluid as she could stomach. After an eternity, Allison sat up and pondered how to use her feet.

Something was missing.


“Yes, Captain Ridgeway?” answered a soothing voice that sounded suspiciously like her mother.

“Why don’t I have a soul-crushing headache?”

“I don’t know, Captain, but I can probably synthesize a compound to approximate the effects.”

Allison smiled. It was tough knowing if Maggie, as she liked to call the ship, was still naïve or if she had developed a dry sense of humor. She suspected the latter.

“How long have I been out?”

“Three weeks, two days, seven—”

“Three weeks?” she asked. Crews woke for one week per year to keep their minds fresh. They’d gone through the cycle less than a month ago. “We just crossed the thirty. We won’t reach Solonis B for eight months.”

“That’s correct, Captain. However, I require your judgment.”

“You mean you require my authorization to indulge your judgment.”

The Magellan reflected on this for a moment, and decided there was no reason to lie. “Yes, Captain. Please join me on the bridge.”

“I’m not dressed.”

“You’re the only person awake.”

“I’m freezing and covered in cryo snot, Maggie.”

“Yes, of course. I await your arrival on the bridge once you’re more comfortable.”

“It’s all right. You’re in a hurry, I get it.”

Allison staggered along the wall toward the showers. The hot water rinsed away the cold, viscous fluid clinging to her body, which felt and smelled like used fryer oil. She was glad not to wake with the headache for once.

Allison put her hair in a towel and walked to her locker. She retrieved a plush, embarrassingly expensive pink bathrobe with matching kitten slippers. It was a small luxury she afforded herself, and she sank into the depths of its soft warmth.

She moved to the RepliCaterer and finished her waking/hangover routine with an order of hot coffee with double cream, two sugars, and a grape popsicle, which it produced in seconds. The RepliCaterer was an amazing device. Half waste-recycling plant, half food processor. It was best for morale to ignore which half the food came from. Crews had long ago named it the DAQM—Don’t Ask Questions Machine. Feeling vaguely human, the fuzzy pink captain made her way to the transit tube.

The bridge was awash with the gymnastic light of holograms and the dry breeze of air processors. It had the sterile yet lived-in look of a small-town doctor’s lounge. Allison dropped into her chair and spilled the remains of her coffee into her lap.

She grabbed the towel from her head to rescue her bathrobe from the brown stain. “One of those mornings.”

“Actually, Captain, it’s 1537.”

“The worst mornings usually start in the middle of the afternoon, Maggie. So what’s important enough to wake me eight months early?”

A cloud of pitch black expanded in the air in front of Allison’s chair as an intense holographic field persuaded the ambient light to saunter off somewhere else. A faint, blue, 3-D grid materialized. A small icon representing the Magellan appeared at the center, with course and velocity information in red.

There was a green circle far in the simulated distance with nothing but a single pinprick of white at its center. It, too, had course and velocity data displayed in red, but they both read zero.

“Magnify, please.” A small box opened next to the green circle. The image inside was just a larger smudge. Allison grimaced, then glanced at the radar returns and spectrographic data. “Right, then. Our object is sixteen meters long with a high metal content. Great, we’ve discovered an iron meteor.”

“Captain,” Magellan purred, “is there anything else about this object you find interesting?”

Allison knew she was being patronized, but studied the numbers. With a flash of realization, her finger launched toward the ceiling, then pointed at the blurry image. “It’s not moving. How does a rock get into deep space without momentum?”

“I arrived at the same conclusion; hence my decision to wake you.”

“Good work, Maggie. What’s our time to flyby?”

“Forty-seven minutes, six seconds from now.”

“How close will we be able to get if we alter course?”

“At our current velocity, we will pass within ten light-minutes of the object.”

“That’s still more than an AU. If we start a full deceleration right now, how much of that can we cut?”

“Another four and a half million kilometers.”

“Not nearly enough.” Allison churned through a dozen other possibilities, but they were all worse.

Even with Magellan’s powerful eyes and ears, a flyby from such distance wouldn’t improve on the smudge by much.

Allison fixed on her decision. “Well, nothing for it. Maggie, begin a full decel and plot a spiral course toward the object. We should be close enough by the third pass to get decent readings. Once we’ve satisfied your curiosity, we’ll resume previous course and speed.”

“Immediately, Captain.”

“Why do I get the sense of playing a bit part in Kabuki theater?”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, Captain.”

“Uh-huh.” Allison felt a sudden kinship with harps.

Maggie poured a flood of deuterium into the nuclear furnace at her stern. A torrent of enraged electrons charged through the scaffolding of superconducting conduits connecting the reactor to the engines at the bow.

The engines were front-mounted because gravity propelled Magellan, at least that’s what space was led to believe. In fact, protected behind the concave shield that formed her bow, bulky generators created and focused gravitons into a point ahead of the ship, duping the surrounding space-time into perceiving a large mass. Fooled by this theatrical bit of three-card monte, space obligingly curved itself into a well and pulled the ship forward. This was the origin of the slang term yank, as opposed to the more colorful etymologies proposed by several limericks popular among dockyard workers.

Allison felt the almost imperceptible lurch as the internal gravity adjusted to compensate for the appearance of a new gravity well a few degrees off their heading. Turn sharper than that, Magellan’s keel would break under the stress. With little to maneuver around in deep space, this wasn’t usually an issue. Seconds flew by as Allison tried to stay on top of the riot of raw data the various sensors returned.

“Are there any other crew members you’d like me to wake?” Magellan asked.

“So I can get blamed for putting them through two hours of amateur acupuncture and vertigo just to see an asteroid? No, none of them have done anything to deserve that kind of treatment for at least twenty years. Then again, there was that spittoon incident . . .”

“Chief Engineer Billings threw his supply of chew into a waste receptacle after that unfortunate event, Captain,” the ship added in defense of her personal physician.

“Really? He went cold turkey?”

“I don’t believe he switched to turkey, Captain.”

“No, it’s a . . . never mind. So he quit?”

“Yes, for three days. Then he started growing a tobacco plant in hydroponics.”

“It’s the thought that counts, I suppose.”

Crimson numbers on Allison’s display trickled down as the range fell. Telescopes slowly resolved the smudge into a slightly more coherent blur, which wasn’t much help. The spectrograph was another matter. It reported that the object was comprised primarily of titanium, with traces of several other metals, which was as likely to occur naturally as a petrified tree made of Portland cement. Allison was excited, and more than a little anxious.

Magellan broke the silence. “Captain, I’m detecting a signal coming from the object.”

“Why are you only detecting it now?”

“The signal is weak. I mistook it for background static, but after correlating the last several hours of data, a pattern emerged.”

Allison realized she was sweating. She felt torn between the hope of hearing a completely benign radio echo and the excitement and danger of discovering something more interesting. “Let’s hear it, then,” she said at last.

What came through the speakers had a musical quality. Specifically, the sound of a pipe organ being fed through an industrial shredder, complete with an organist in a mad dash to finish a concerto before the hammers reached his seat. Yet as alien as it was, she knew instinctively the sound wasn’t static. There were patterns and rhythm in the noise. Allison Ridgeway, captain of the AEUS Magellan, successfully beat back the impulse to hide under her chair.

She took a moment not to vomit. “Maggie, forget the spiral course. Bring us to a zero-zero intercept, five clicks from the object. Wake everyone. I want that thing in my—I mean, your—shuttle bay yesterday. And get the QER online. I need to talk to Earth.”

“Immediately, Captain Ridgeway.” Magellan tried not to let any smug vindication creep into her tone.

Without success.


Copyright © 2018 by Patrick Tomlinson

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7 Sci-Fi Novels for When You Want to Laugh

When characters discover new worlds, take on galactic invaders, time travel or gain extraordinary powers, it can lead to heroic, epic adventures—or everything going hilariously wrong. Or, even better, some combination of both. So from not-so-super heroes to socially-anxious killer robots, here are seven humorous stories of people who are in over their heads.

Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Image Placeholder of - 94 When the crew of the exploration vessel Magellan discovers an alien artifact during humanity’s furthest trip into space, they decide to bring it back to Earth so they can study the technology. Unfortunately, the aliens happened to be rather fond of this artifact. As the people of Earth put themselves on a collision course with the rest of the potentially hostile galaxy, they find the only thing as infinite as the universe is humanity’s ability to mess up.

Super Extra Grande by Yoss

Place holder  of - 68 Bizarre, hilarious, and a scathing critique of Western politics, Cuban author Yoss’s satire follows Dr. Jan Amos Sangan Dongo, a veterinarian who specializes in treating large alien animals. When Earth faces colonial conflicts with the other intelligent species, Dr. Sangan is forced to embark on a mission to rescue two ambassadors from the belly of an enormous creature. It’s intergalactic road trip meets raunchy satire and you need it in your life.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Placeholder of  -7 In this first book in the Murderbot Diaries, a self-aware security android hacks its settings and dubs itself “Murderbot”… because it sort of killed several people. Now free of restraints and bugs that might send them on another killing spree, the introverted droid has discovered soap operas and just wants to be left alone. But when something goes wrong on a mission to protect scientists on an alien planet, Murderbot gets strangely attached to their pesky humans and decides to risk discovery to protect them all—even if humans are much more complicated than they look on TV.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Image Place holder  of - 80 The good news is humans have made it to interplanetary space and discovered inhabitable planets. The bad news is that aliens want these planets too, and humans, led by the Colonial Defense Force, will have to fight for them. But the Defense Force doesn’t take young recruits—it enlists the elderly and transfers their experienced minds into younger bodies. John Perry joins the military on his 75th birthday. And while there’s plenty of drama and battle, there’s also a lot of old dudes making fart jokes and getting excited about their new abs. Old Man’s War is another one of the books on this list that show an outer space is full of sarcasm and witty rejoinders.

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault by James Alan Gardner

Poster Placeholder of - 24 When dark creatures start to offer immortality in exchange for money (and maybe your soul) and magic and science combine to create beings with extraordinary powers, a battle ensues between the Dark and the Light. Caught in the middle of it all are Kim Lam, our snarky, gender-fluid hero, and their three roommates, turned into the super-powered Sparks by a freak accident. Equipped with capes and costumes, the friends use their new-found abilities to seek truth and justice…for the most part. The explosions were definitely someone else’s fault.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

This Hugo and Locus-award winning comedic novel begins in the year 2057, where they use time machines to study history. Ned Henry, suffering from time-lag due to jumping back and forth to often from the 1940s, is in desperate need of a rest. But when a historian takes something from Victorian times that could upset the results of World War II and destabilize the timeline, Ned is the only available man to go back and set things right. Hijinks, mischievous butlers, boating accidents and social snafus ensue as the historians of Oxford pop back and forth in time and search for a gaudy artifact of dubious proportions.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

A classic when it comes to humorous science fiction, this story follows Arthur Dent and his best friend and actual alien Ford Prefect. They, and of course all the dolphins and mice, survive when Vogons destroy Earth to make way for an intergalactic highway. Joined by a two-headed alien, a human woman, a depressed robot, and a graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of his pens, they begin a journey full of wit and lunacy to discover the answer to some of life’s most important questions.

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