Sunday, May 12, 2013

Illegal Aliens by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio


This is a disappointing example of humor in sci-fi and fantasy. The jokes are ham-fisted and the characters are two-dimensional. Everything is taken to the extreme of absurdity but there is no serious character or world building as a starting point so the humor falls flat.
It was horrible. It was madness. It was WAR! Worse, it was like an E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith space battle—only more so.
Satire can be a great deal of fun and a good way to deliver a message. Pollotta sets up and knocks down as many sci-fi tropes as he can fit onto a page. The problem is that he goes for quantity over quality.

Harry Harrison did the same kind of absurdist satire of sci-fi with his Bil the Galactic Hero series. Harrison was successful because he created a protagonist that we cared about despite many repulsive character flaws. All of the characters in Illegal Aliens are throw-away sock puppets for hack jokes and send ups of standard sci-fi themes.

I'm a big fan of humor in sci-fi and fantasy so I'm going to give his work another chance with the Bureau 13 series.