Probability, Improbability, & Humor

One of the problems I find myself running up against in writing from the standpoint of ‘probability’ rather than ‘improbability’ is it is much harder to think of it as humorous. My favourite all-time science fiction series are the ones by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I know it’s an odd kind of sci-fi but that’s what it is and I love it.

My own series, The Modest Proposal Institute, has a dry, ironic flavour that is somewhat humorous but it isn’t funny the way The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is. That’s what I was looking for in the second series. However, that’s when I discovered the problem I mentioned in my opening sentence. Why is that? I’m not sure but I think it has to do with the thought that ‘probable’ is uncomfortably close to ‘actual’, whereas ‘improbable’ is too fantastical to be dangerous. Or maybe I’m just struggling to find anything humorous to say in 2020:-)

Traditionally, science fiction has dealt with the possible and likely, even the monsters we conjure up are usually not far away from things that already exist. I mentioned Dr. Who’s Daleks the other week and what are they but individual tanks. The Aliens in every movie often look just like something that shows up on a camera trawling the depths of Earth’s oceans — Loch Ness Monsters for moviegoers. They may be monsters but they’re too ‘real’ to be funny. What I was planning was things that are so improbable that they’re funny, like the Douglas Adam’s Bloodbladder Beast of Trall. It hasn’t come to me yet. I’m too focused on my new series of cozy mysteries, perhaps. If you have ideas for real monsters that are so unreal they’re funny, let me know in the comments below. You’re monster might get into the first book.

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