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Knights of Madness:  Further Comic Tales of Fantasy

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Knights of Madness: Further Comic Tales of Fantasy

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Author: Peter Haining
Publisher: Ace Books, 2000
Orbit, 2000
Souvenir Press, 1998
Series: Comic Tales of Fantasy: Book 3

1. The Wizards of Odd
2. The Flying Sorcerers
3. Knights of Madness

Book Type: Anthology
Genre: Fantasy
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Following from his comic-fantasy anthologies The Wizards of Odd and The Flying Sorcerers, Peter Haining presents a third collection of oddities, now with a somewhat wider scope. Besides funny fantasy and SF, these 24 stories include absurdism, allegory, historical tomfoolery, and even offbeat crime fiction. They range from inevitable names like Terry Pratchett--here with an SF riff on the old mystery of why or how the chicken crossed the road--to unlikely ones like L. Frank Baum of Oz fame, who contributes a wholly uncomic murder story.

Jerome K. Jerome spoofs SF's utopian socialist futures, Robert Bloch introduces a Tuxedo of Invisibility into the lowlife world of Damon Runyon, Ray Bradbury is exuberantly funny about low-budget SF/horror movies, Peter Beagle explores the embarrassments of being a lady werewolf's boyfriend, Mark Twain deliberately paints his daft medieval-romance plot into a corner, John Kendrick Bangs invents a new and silly Munchausen adventure, and Gene Wolfe actually lives up to his splendid title "How I Lost the Second World War and Helped Turn Back the German Invasion." It's a wildly eclectic mix, whose famous names also include Woody Allen, G.K. Chesterton, Philip K. Dick, Mervyn Peake, Spike Milligan, A.A. Milne, Peter Sellers, and James Thurber.

Everyone has different views on what's funny and what isn't, and some of Haining's choices seem eccentric--but most readers should find enough chuckles in this plump anthology to make it well worth the price of admission. --David Langford,

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