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Bewildering Stories

An Homage to Humor

by Michele Dutcher


I wanted to leave a couple of observations about “Loophole” by Richard K. Lyon. Humor is so difficult to do well in Sci Fi/ Fantasy, and this little gem had pieces of it I really enjoyed.

“...but if an experiment was so obvious that you could satisfy a committee, it was trivial.” So true.

“If Lazarus had died in Texas, even Jesus might have had some trouble raising him.” Very funny.

“To keep out the bears, Sam kept the store’s door closed at night but he didn’t lock them because someone might need to get away from the bears.” This does sound like something a person might do in ‘Mosquito Corners Alaska’.

I know the author died recently. I was thinking that if I sent this message into cyberspace, maybe he could catch it while it was up there.


Michele Dutcher

Copyright © 2009 by Michele Dutcher

And I thank you, Michele, not only for a fitting tribute to the late Richard K. Lyon but also for bringing up an important subject.

You’re right that humor is difficult; it’s tricky in any genre. But it may be especially so in science fiction and fantasy, because humor is the art of the unsaid. A joke is funny only if it doesn’t have to be explained. It depends on a complicity between author and reader and on the recognition of a departure from a commonly understood norm. It’s a cultural metaphor, in a way.

All the fiction we’ve published of Richard K. Lyon is comic: even his novel, recently concluded, The Long Dark Road to Wizardry is a long, funny irony on the sword-and-sorcery genre.

Authors reveal themselves in their writings. Lyon strikes me as a North Dakotan who would have been cheerfully at home in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, where all the jokes are ironic and all the comedy is straight-faced. And Lyon also has (sit down, now, this will slay you) Stephen Colbert’s sense of the moral and the ridiculous.

The one-liners about Lazarus in Texas and the unlocked doors are typical Lyon: he uses logic to snare the unwary. At first I smile. But then I do a double-take: “No, wait... that’s really funny!”


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