Review of Unidentified Funny Objects 5 edited by Alex Shvartsman
Unidentified Funny Objects 5 was a tremendous success. And makes me want to find volumes 1-4.
What is my definition of success, you may ask?
To me, a short story compilation is akin to one of those giant bags of mixed candy you buy for Halloween. Some of what you get are your favorite kind, some are exceptionally good (just not your favorite), some are OK (but still candy, so pretty darn good), and some are awful because you can’t stand the flavor but you know other people love them anyway. And occasionally it includes one or two kinds of candy even the kids won’t touch.
With that in mind, I consider any short story collection to be a success if at least 3 or 4 stories fall into the first two categories of favorite or exceptionally good, and one (or better, none) fall into the even the kids won’t touch it category.
Unidentified Funny Objects 5 was a tremendous success. Thirteen (13!!) of the 18 stories were either favorites or exceptionally good. The stories’ humor ranged from laugh out loud, to chortle quietly, to snicker uncontrollably, to smile softly.
Only one of the stories was of the even the kids won’t touch it variety, and none merited the “I can’t stand the flavor” pile.
My favorite story was “Customer Service Hobgoblin” by Paul R. Hardy. I would give it 5 stars plus. Partly because of the spot-on caricature of working in a call center but mostly because it is a truly excellent story.
My other 5 star stories included “The Trouble with Hairy” by David Gerrold, “B.U.M.P in the Knight” by Esther Friesner, “Rude Mechanicals” by Jody Lynn Nye, “Kaylee the Huntress” by Tim Pratt, and “The Problem with Poofs” by Gini Koch.
Highly recommended. If you need a laugh, go buy this book.
I give it 5 stars.
Short notes on the individual stories:
“My Enemy, the Unicorn” by Bill Ferris
Fine story but not my cup of tea. 3 stars
“The Trouble With Hairy” by David Gerrold
I laughed so hard I cried. I can see the committee meetings in full Technicolor in my head. 5 stars
“B.U.M.P in the Knight” by Esther Friesner
Excellent. Any other details would spoil it. 5 stars
“If I Could Give this Time Machine Zero Stars, I Would” by James Wesley Rogers
Short but funny! 4 stars
“The π Files” by Laura Resnick
What do you get when you mix classic films with multiple fandoms? This fast-paced story. 4 stars
“Prophet Margins” by Zach Shephard
Well done. Cute. 3 ½ stars
“The Deliverable” by Shaenon K. Garrity
Ever worked in a coding shop? Don’t drink coffee while you read this story. 4 stars
“The Mayoral Stakes” by Mike Resnick
Another Mike Resnick gem. 4 stars
“Rude Mechanicals” by Jody Lynn Nye
Excellent. Short murder mysteries are challenging, but adding funny as well? Great story. 5 stars
“Kaylee the Huntress” by Tim Pratt
Excellent spin on the Wild Hunt. 5 stars
“Best Chef Season Three: Tau Ceti E” by Caroline M. Yoachim
Amusing but reminded me of why I don’t watch reality TV shows. 3 stars
“Won’t You Please Give One of These Species-Planets a Second Chance?” by Nathan Hillstrom
Interesting premise done well. 4 stars
“Fantastic Coverage” by Mitchell Shanklin
Amusing, especially the ending. 3 stars
“Mistaken Identity” by Daniel J. Davis
Highly amusing. 4 stars
“Customer Service Hobgoblin” by Paul R. Hardy
This story is perfect. If you have never worked in a call center, ask someone who has. 5 stars
“The Lesser of Two Evils” by Shane Halbach
Enjoyable. 4 stars
“Appointment at Titlanitza” by Fred Stesney
I did not enjoy this story at all. 1 star
“The Problem With Poofs” by Gini Koch
Lovely, fun story. 5 stars