Books : reviews

Edward L. Ferman.
Oi, Robot: competitions and cartoons from Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Mercury Press. 1995

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 6 July 1997

The winning entries, and runners-up, to 57 SF-based competitions running from 1972 to 1993. Ranging from hilarious and very clever, to obscure and very clever. Puns on titles, 'worst opening/ending lines', Feghoots (stories leading up to dreadful puns), future cliches, misprint titles (whence the title of this collection), awful blurbs, future classified ads, title translation errors (He Has a Hole in His Head and His Teeth Glow in the Dark, by Roger Zelazny), limericks, imaginary collaborations (If All Men Were Androids Would You Let One Marry Your Electric Sheep?, by Sturgeon and Dick), alien lexicons, future bumper stickers, transposed titles (Mothers Nine Hundred Grand, by R. A. Lafferty), and more.

Some of the entries are from SF writers; my favourite one of these is from 1986: "You know you've really landed in an alternate universe when you discover that ..."

...Old time fans are sitting around reminiscing about the big splash The Last Dangerous Visions made when it was published fifteen years ago.

Harlan Ellison

But my favorite of the entire book is from 1972, a blurb for a new novel:

The Muckers-about From Mid-future "M" (Exegesis on Eventuality "E ") by Brian Aldiss
Was it the lawn that stretched between the seemingly unexceptional gabled cottage and the toolshed set on a secant to the north northeast of it? Or was it something far more sinister — somehow slightly too green and aware in a manner both more and less than human? What was it that the voiceless Interloper from Intertemporality "I" had seen dimly reflected in the blade of a pair of pruning shears hanging on the wall of that same tiny shed where he stood motionlessly through the seasons, thinly disguised as a lawnmower? And what of the mysterious Onlooker from Otherwhen "O"? What was his game? Was it parcheesi, or was it something infinitely more meaningless? And what creature from an unimaginable future passed and repassed behind the leaded panes of the cottage window on the sill of which the hellish avocado pit sent out its tender shoot...and waited? And, finally, what could possibly be the motives of the strange being buried up to its "neck" in the marigold plot? Only time could tell. And that, it seemed, it disdained to do.

— Ralph C. Glisson

If you don't think any of the above is funny, or don't get it, then this isn't the book for you. But if you do, there's much more where that came from!

Edward L. Ferman, ed.
The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction 15.


Richard Wilson. The Eight Billion.
Avram Davidson. The House the Blakeneys Built.
Isaac Asimov. Eyes Do More Than See. 1965
R. A. Lafferty. Hog-Belly Honey.
Robert J Tilley. Something Else.
Hal R. Moore. Sea Bright.
Len Guttridge. Aunt Millicent at the Races.

Edward L. Ferman, ed.
The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction 22.


Bob Leman. A Lexicon from an Alien Language.
Manly Wade Wellman. The Ghastly Priest Doth Reign.
Harvey Jacobs. Dress Rehersal.
Tom Reamy. San Diego Lightfoot Sue.
Edward Wellen. Sanity Clause.
Ray Bradbury. Out of Dickinson By Poe.
Isaac Asimov. Thinking about Thinking. 1989
Reginald Bretnor. Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All.
Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth. Mute Inglorious Tam.
Richard Cowper. The Hertford Manuscript.
James Tiptree Jr. The Women Men Don't See. 1973
Baird Searles. The Fantastic Ten.
John Varley. In the Bowl. 1975
Ralph C. Glisson. The Muckers-About from Mid-Future "M" (Exegesis on Eventuality "E").
Robert Bloch. A Case of the Stubborns.
Algis Budrys. Where We Are and Where We Came From.
Liz Hufford. This Offer Expires.
Joanna Russ. My Boat.