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A feghoot (also known as a story pun or poetic story joke) is a humorous short story or vignette ending in a pun (typically a play on a well-known phrase), where the story contains sufficient context to recognize the punning humor.[1]


Ferdinand Feghoot[edit]

The term for this storytelling model originated in a long-running series of short science-fiction pieces that appeared under the collective title "Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot", published in various magazines over several decades, written by Reginald Bretnor under the anagrammatic pseudonym of 'Grendel Briarton'. The usual formula the stories followed was for the title character to solve a problem bedeviling some manner of being or extricate himself from a dangerous situation. The events could take place all over the galaxy and in various historical or future periods on Earth and elsewhere. In his adventures, Feghoot worked for the Society for the Aesthetic Re-Arrangement of History and traveled via a device that had no name, but was typographically represented as the ")(". The pieces were usually vignettes only a few paragraphs long, and always ended with a deliberately terrible pun that was often based on a well-known title or catch-phrase.

"Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot" was originally published in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1956 to 1973. In 1973, the magazine ran a contest soliciting readers' feghoots as entries. The series also appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction's sister magazine Venture Science Fiction Magazine, and later in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Amazing Stories, and other publications. The individual pieces were identified by Roman numerals rather than titles. The stories have been collected in several editions, each an expanded version of the previous, the most recent being The Collected Feghoot from Pulphouse Publishing.

Many of the ideas and puns for Bretnor's stories were contributed by others, including F. M. Busby and E. Nelson Bridwell. Other authors have published feghoots written on their own, including Isaac Asimov and John Brunner. Numerous fan-produced stories have been written, as well.

Bretnor said that the idea of the name occurred to his wife and him during a game of Scrabble. He always arranged his letter tiles alphabetically; at one point, he had EFGHOOT. His wife suggested that, if the first two letters were transposed, the silly name 'Feghoot' could be formed. Bretnor did so, and began using the name in his punny stories.

Other story puns[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Briarton, Grendel (1980). The (Even More) Compleat Feghoot, Manchester: The Mirage Press, LTD. ISBN 0-88358-022-5.
  1. ^ Ritchie, Graeme D. (2004). The Linguistic Analysis of Jokes. London: Routledge. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-415-30983-7. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  2. ^ "Spider Robinson (person) by Nekojin - Everything2.com". everything2.com.
  3. ^ Isaac Asimov, "The Winds of Change", Granada 1983/ Panther, 1984/Doubleday 1984, ISBN 0-586-05743-9
  4. ^ Isaac Asimov, "Battle-Hymn", in "Gold", Harper 1995
  5. ^ Anthony Boucher; Robert P. Mills, eds. (1958). The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction. Vol. 7. Doubleday & Company. pp. 182–183.