cover image Laugh Lines

Laugh Lines

Ben Bova, . . Baen, $23 (528pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-5560-5

Slapstick humor, mostly aimed at big business and the entertainment industry, fuels this mix of older works by veteran hard SF writer Bova (The Aftermath ). The collection opens with the 1975 novel The Starcrossed , about a television studio's bumbling attempts to rehash Romeo and Juliet with a space opera spin, showcasing Hollywood's uneasy three-way relationship between creativity, stroking egos and making money. The handful of short stories primarily use SF ideas to flavor humorous situations: “Crisis of the Month” reveals the truth behind the international crises that take over the news with clocklike regularity, while “The Great Moon Hoax, or A Princess of Mars” proposes an alternate history where Martians scuttle the American space program. The most successful piece, despite its awkward extrapolation, is the 1989 novel Cyberbooks , which skewers the publishing industry while envisioning the chaos that could ensue with the invention of “electrical books.” (July)