Science fiction comedy (sci-fi comedy) or comic science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that exploits the science fiction genre's conventions for comedic effect. Comic science fiction often mocks or satirizes standard science fiction conventions, concepts and tropes – such as alien invasion of Earth, interstellar travel, or futuristic technology. It can also satirize and criticize present-day society.
An early example was the Pete Manx series by Henry Kuttner and Arthur K. Barnes (sometimes writing together and sometimes separately, under the house pen-name of Kelvin Kent). Published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the series featured a time-traveling carnival barker who uses his con-man abilities to get out of trouble. Two later series cemented Kuttner's reputation as one of the most popular early writers of comic science fiction: the Gallegher series (about a drunken inventor and his narcissistic robot) and the Hogben series (about a family of mutant hillbillies). The former appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1943 and 1948 and was collected in hardcover as Robots Have No Tails (Gnome, 1952), and the latter appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, comedy became more common in science fiction. Some of the authors contributing to the sub-genre included: Alfred Bester, Harry Harrison, C. M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl, and Robert Sheckley.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comic science-fiction series written by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it later morphed into other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and 2005 feature film. A prominent series in British popular culture, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has become an international multi-media phenomenon; the novels are the most widely distributed, having been translated into more than 30 languages by 2005.
- "Comedy Science Fiction". Sfbook.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
- Compare: The Animal Fable in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Bruce Shaw, McFarland, 2010, page 19: "[...] the objective of making social comment, if not social change, is to be found in those earlier forms."
- The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders, Volume 1, Gary Westfahl, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, Page 145
- "Jo Kent saves cult hg2g game from scrapheap". Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Douglasadams.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- Gaiman, Neil (2003). Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Titan Books. pp. 144–145. ISBN 1-84023-742-2.
- Simpson, M. J. (2005). The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker's Guide (Second ed.). Pocket Essentials. p. 120. ISBN 1-904048-46-3.
- "The Ultimate Reference Guide to British Popular Culture". Oxford Royale. 23 November 2016.
Moody, Nickianne (2016). Matthews, Nicole (ed.). Judging a Book by Its Cover: Fans, Publishers, Designers, and the Marketing of Fiction. Routledge. ISBN 9781351924672. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
Pratchett was associated with irreverent and comic writing which is an established sub genre in science fiction - for example Strata (1982) a parody of Larry Niven's Ringworld[,] a classic science fiction series.