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Laugh Lines Hardcover – July 1, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416555609
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416555605
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,107,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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!

Cyberbooks

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.
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