Six Seriously Funny Speculative Short Stories

I’ve talked before about real-life things that can seem magical—food and music, for example. Sometimes, though, I come across stories like the ones below—stories that make me grin and giggle and laugh loudly, and find myself rushing to send them to my friends who reply with an abundance of tears-of-joy emojis—and I add “laughter” to the list of real things that are actually magic. Here’s a selection of stories to keep in mind when you need a bit of joy and humour in your day!

How My Sister Talked Me Into Necromancy During Quarantine” by Rachael K. Jones

Becca made her sister Lila promise, before the latter moved in, that she’d take out the trash on Wednesdays and not summon any entities inside the house. But they’re locked down, and there’s not much for a necromancer to do. Why not ask the Vampire Queen to bake some bread and have the zombies start a vegetable garden?

While I have the chance, I’d like to highlight my favourite out-of-context line from this wonderful little story: “Darryl looks scandalized. He clutches the IV like a string of pearls. The Queen swears in Romanian.”

“There Will Be No Alien Invasion by Sam F. Weiss

The aliens are tempting our narrator into being the nerdy hero who saves the day and fights off the bad guys. But there’s a thesis to write, networking to do, and research papers to publish. Our narrator, in short, is busy. The aliens are determined, but so is our narrator. Consider the subject lines of the memos sent in reply to the aliens, requesting them to please leave the poor student alone:

“LA LA LA I can’t hear you.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Post-wormhole musing.”

Try to avoid drinking anything while you’re reading this one, if you’re not a fan of spit takes…

Transcript of Interaction Between Astronaut Mike Scudderman and the OnStar Hands-Free A.I. Crash Advisor” by Grady Hendrix

It was once compulsory to have the OnStar Hands-Free A.I. Crash Advisor with you if you were travelling across space. They’ve since been discontinued, and the transcript shows why. Astronaut Scudderman—or what was left of him—was found after this interaction. When I started this one, I wasn’t exactly excited about the prospect of yet another A.I. story. Then the Crash Advisor congratulated Astronaut Scudderman on being alive enough to feel pain, asked him if he was cute, and suggested “sensual lovemaking” as a way to deal with the crash, so I had to keep on reading. And I am so glad I did—I’m grinning even as I write this.

The North Pole Workshops” by Mari Ness

I don’t know where Mari Ness got the idea to combine the joy and spirit of Christmas with the frustration and agony of consumer support helplines, but I’m glad she wrote about it—the result is my favorite Christmas story of all time. It’s so well done that I can hear the elves in my head as if I were actually on call with them. A short and hilarious take on an otherwise aggravating situation.

An Excerpt from the 2022-2023 Molitor University Course Catalog” by Dale W. Glaser

No matter how much you love books, you probably should take a proper look at the course catalog from the Department of Library Philosophy before signing up for their courses. It’s best to know how much risk is involved: What sort of material—vellum, papyrus, “gibbering souls confined to glass spheres”—will you be working with? Will you learn how to figure out if someone got lost in the stacks or vanished into a different dimension? What about ensuring that books will last through eternity by learning spirit-stitching? And then there’s always the question of whether the guest lecturer of the advanced-level course you want to take so badly will actually survive the previous course she was teaching…

Yo, Rapunzel!” by Kyle Kirrin

I would like to end this list with the best opening lines I’ve read in years:

And lo, the Princess said: “Motherfucker, I am content.”

“But Princess!” said the Knight, from the base of the Princess’ tower. His armor-clad ass was parked atop a huge black stallion, which the Princess found not only pompous, but entirely predictable.

The story, a refreshing take on the knight-rescues-princess-from-dragon’s-tower trope, only gets better with every line. I first read it a few years ago and ended up writing several takes on the trope myself, none of which were as funny as this one, unfortunately. I think it was because I didn’t include a donkey named Steve or a time-traveling Wizard who brings the princess pictures of the New York City skyline and wears pink heart-shaped glasses…

What are some of your favourite funny short stories? Let us know in the comments below! icon-paragraph-end

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