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Laugh Lines Mass Market Paperback – 27 Oct 2009

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About the Author

Ben Bova is a six-time winner of the coveted Hugo Award, and many other awards, including the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year (2006, for "Titan") and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation. He is the former editor of "Analog" and "Omni" magazines, and the author of over a hundred books, both fiction and non-fiction. Bova has served as president of both the Science Fiction Writers of America and the National Space Society. He lives in Florida.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Serving Very Dry Humor 18 Jun. 2008
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Laugh Lines (2008) is an SF and fantasy collection containing two short novels, six short stories and an introduction by the author. All these stories are supposed to be humorous, but the wit is very dry throughout the book. These works are mostly satirical and often outright farcical. Both novels are based on personal and painful experience.

The Starcrossed (1975) is a novel about the creation and production of a Hollywood 3-D Sci-Fi series. The technology is an improvement on prior efforts by the same inventor, but with royalties. Nonetheless, the shows are terrible according to both the critics and SF fandom. Naturally, Murphy's Law and human perversity dominate the whole process despite efforts by the creator, the producer, the director, and the technical advisor to make it a true masterpiece.

Cyberbooks (1989) is a novel about the invention of the first electronic book and the efforts to produce and destroy the product. Again, Murphy's Law and human perversity are very evident.

"Crisis of the Month" (1988) is about the Crisis Command Center, a secret organization that provides media around the world with a single point of focus in their sensational reporting. The CCC has run out of crises to feed the ever hungry media and is desperately trying to find another.

"The Great Moon Hoax" (1996) explains the reasons for the American effort to reach the Moon in the 1960s. The Martians had something to do with it.

"The Supersonic Zeppelin" (1974) relates the rise of a supersonic lighter-than-air project and the political consequences. The idea itself dates back to the 1920s, but it had one major flaw. In this story, that flaw is corrected, but human nature raises many political issues.

"Vince's Dragon" (1981) is a fantasy story about a female dragon and a minor mobster. Vince meets Sizzle when he sets out to burn down a warehouse. He often talks to the dragon, but seldom listens.

"The Angel's Gift" (1983) tells of a deal with an angel made by a crooked politician to keep himself out of Hell. After all, deals with the Devil are rather commonplace, so why not a deal with God? The results are highly sensational.

"A Slight Miscalculation" (1981) concerns the prediction of earthquakes. This tale has haunted me for decades. I could describe the plot -- and often used it as a morality tale -- but could not remember the name of the author. Now I once again know that Ben Bova wrote it and now you know that it is more than a read and forget story.

As stated above, these tales display a very dry wit. The two novels definitely derive from incidents that lead one to either laugh or cry. The author chose to laugh, inflating these events into ridiculous situations and adding a touch of future technology. A moral of these stories is that technology probably will change, but human nature almost certainly will not.

Recommended for Bova fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of dry humor, human folly, and a touch of romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Of Course, It's Ben Bova 10 Aug. 2008
By D. Drake - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of course it's a fun book to read. Why wouldn't it be? I have enjoyed every Ben Bova book I've read since Mars. I think that was the first I learned of Mr. Bova. I was amazed to see how long he had been writing. I missed many years of Bova books. Maybe one day I'll catch up. By the way....Jupiter is my very favorite.D.
Ben Bova makes Lemonade for his readers 25 Feb. 2012
By Neil G. Matthews - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dale Carnegie famously said "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade". The two novels in this collection - The Starcrossed and Cyberbooks are both good practical illustrations by Ben Bova of how to do just that - turn frustrating personal experiences in the television and book publishing industries into amusing stories that provide us with insights into how our entertainment industries work. The Supersonic Zeppelin is a similar lighthearted expose of the way the USA defence industry worked in the 1970's and probably still does today... All three include romantic side stories developed in parallel with the main plot. The Starcrossed will particularly appeal to anyone that has enjoyed s television series (particularly SF) that has been filmed either entirely in Canada or been relocated there during the life of the series.

The remaining brief stories are gently amusing, with some requiring familiarity with USA politics and history to get the most out of them. In fact, all stories are very much USA centric and readers that remember the 1970's will enjoy the book more so than younger readers.

Given how long ago these stories were written, they have held up very well, which shows how good the author is at identifying and portraying basic human behaviours in an entertaining manner as well as having reasonable skills at predicting the future.

For those that enjoy Ben Bova's work, it shows what he was capable of 20 - 40 years ago. I'd rate this book between 3 and 4 stars but finally decided to go with 4 stars as these stories resonated well with my technical background and industry experience.
At several points I actually had to put the book down I was laughing so hard! 4 Oct. 2013
By Imagine A Book SF - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While Ben Bova is more well-known for his hard science SF, when he decides to be funny he is extremely funny.

Laugh Lines is a reprint compilation which includes the novels The Starcrossed and Cyberbooks as well as several humorous short stories.

The Starcrossed

Based on a true story, with names changed to protect the guilty and one innocent (Harlan Ellison), The Starcrossed is a very witty satire of the entertainment industry. At several points I actually had to put the book down I was laughing so hard!

The novel was written in 1975, and while some things may seem slightly dated it doesn't matter at all since the basis of the satire, namely the industry and human nature, haven't changed at their core.

I highly recommend this book!


Bova says he has been writing science fiction for so long that some of his fiction has become fact. This is true for Cyberbooks (as you read it on your Kindle).

But mostly it is a satire of the publishing industry in the late 1980s. It is dated in many respects but individual scenes make it worth reading all the way to the end.

Also, if you know any programmers, statisticians, or mathematicians, make them read A Slight Miscalculation. I laughed out loud.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Some laughs but ... 26 Feb. 2013
By Harry Peek - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The title story was a bit too over the top and not really up to Bova's high standard. I really enjoyed the other short stories.
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