Henderson’s Humor

Before we grow any closer, there’s something you should know about me…

I’m a fan of puns.

Let me show you why:

  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • I’d tell you a chemistry joke but I know I wouldn’t get a reaction.
  • It’s not that the man didn’t know how to juggle, he just didn’t have the balls to do it.
  • My teacher accused me of plagiarism. His words, not mine.

And if you didn’t laugh at any of those, you’re broken inside.

Anyways, these stand as proof that puns can be funny. If they’re done right, they can make you laugh, and I love how they play on words. But, at least for me, I imagine they’re very hard to create from scratch. You’d probably have more luck finding your own than making one up. Unless you’re Henderson.

The white jacket and pants became brown and green camouflage, blending with the pine trees and ferns around us.

“Nice!” I said. “Jacket by Ralph Lothlorien.”

I’d actually seen a real elven cloak once…(211).

You can tell he tries to be funny. And I’m sure with part of his audience he succeeds…not so much for me. I can tell he does try, which in itself is pretty impressive since puns are hard to create. But I do think there is a fine line between good puns and bad. Speaking of which…

Speaking of bad witches, riding piggyback reminded me of Pete, who’d often given me piggyback rides when we were younger, which reminded me again that Pete wasn’t with us, which reminded me why he wasn’t with us, which made me sad. It also reminded me of the time I gave barefooted Heather a piggyback ride across a field of gravel while walking her home, which reminded me that she wasn’t talking to me, which again made me sad. That was a lot of bad whiches indeed, which was too bad because I suspected that piggyback rides came along very rarely in adulthood, and it seemed a real shame to not enjoy them. (212)

This made me wince so hard, internally cringing to the point that I think I pulled a muscle. Although, I have to give credit where credit is due. Anyone notice he started with “bad witches” and ended with “bad whiches?” Cute. Either way, there was so much repetition of piggybacks and “which reminded me” that it really aggravated me a lot. This was one of the few instances in this book that greatly grated on my nerves, but I don’t think this is what truly bothered me about this book, nor was it the puns.

It was the constant references to pop culture. I think this book would attract fans who have a lot of trivia knowledge, or keep up with music or art or anything other than books. But not knowing any of that, I felt kicked out a lot, like I was always missing out on a joke, especially since it happened so often. I get it if you mention a reference once, maybe twice. Even if it was something common like The Beatles, where it was so big in history, everyone would know about it, but having seen uncommon references so many times, it was more annoying. Like I’m not in on the joke. That I shouldn’t be reading.

That’s not something I would like to replicate.

Henderson, Randy. Finn Fancy Necromancy. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

Write by example

You want the good news or bad news first?

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Bad News: 

I don’t like parts of this story, particularly…

As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not a man’s brain that was speaking; it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck. (Orwell 56)

This is not the part I don’t like. It’s what follows immediately after this:

“There is a word in Newspeak,” said Syme. “I don’t know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck.” (Orwell 56)

I think it’s not the topic of discussion that bothers me so much, it’s the fact it repeats itself. It also hits me as a bit strange for the character to think that, and then the other to voice his exact thoughts – too much of a coincidence or stretch for it to go un-notice.

I don’t think it would’ve taken much to fix this, only a simple call out with the character recognizing that this was a strange coincidence as well – a neat fix-it-all technique for when something out of the ordinary or strange happens in your book.

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Good News: 

Page 52 to 54.

All about Newspeak – the revolutionary language of the totalitarian society in this novel – this part of the characters’ discussion talks about how language is being destroyed and minimized to the bear roots, meaning “every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller” (Orwell 54).

I loved how Orwell didn’t only invent a language, he invented a language with the sole purpose to limit the range of thought, to limit their expression, therefore destroying the people’s creativity and individuality, adding to the novel’s successful portrayal of his totalitarian society.

It just shows the amount of effort and thought he’s put into creating this world, showing he’s not only successful with realistic social behaviors but world building as well.

This book would be a good example of how to build your world: create a routine for your characters, a language, a setting and time period, a history, a future…etc.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Centennial ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.

Repetition

This sounds weird that repetition is a good thing, and maybe this overlaps with foreshadowing, but I was reading “The Ghosts of Christmas” and I found through each repetition, the author was actually reinforcing the character’s wants and needs, strengths and weaknesses. Through repetition, the author helped construct a more believable story. (Spoiler alert!)

1st: “It’s been proved that certain traits formed by a child’s environment do get passed down to its own children…I’m going to be a terrible parent” (Cornell 37)

In this quote, Cornell establishes that his protagonist belief that she is going to be a terrible parent because that is how she believes her parents were. To re-establish this fact, or repeat it, he transitions to a memory.

2nd: Dad watched football and in response to his daughter’s ‘play with me,’ said “You start, and I’ll join in later.” (38)

Another memory.

3rd: “…and in a moment they’d be bound to notice me…But they went to bed without looking in the lounge. I listened to them close the door and talk for a while, and then switch the light off, and then silence, and so it was just me sitting there, watching the greys flicker.” (38)

Her parents always forgot her. And although they weren’t particularly abusive, they were neglectful, never giving her the attention she deserved. In another memory, he drives home the point of her parents’ neglect.

4th: “I was standing in a lay-by, watching the cars go past, wondering if Mummy and Daddy were going to come back for me this time…I was six years old.” (38)

This was all back to back memories, stressing the protagonist’s concerns that she is going to be a terrible parent because that is how her parents were, which is a familiar feeling for most parents – will we grow to be like our parents?

I really liked this technique, this repetition of memories after her fear in order to stress what kind of parent she thinks she’ll be and in order to develop her history, since the reader can tell early on there is a stressful relationship between her and her parents.

It’s backwards of action, reaction. Sort of a reaction, action, used more for internal reflection rather than external response. I think this technique definitely worked rather well, especially in combination of Cornell’s expert weaving in and out of scenes. Just like the last story “Old Paint,” he did a good job combining mini-scenes to establish this character.

Cornell, Paul. “The Ghosts of Christmas.” Year’s Best SF 18. Ed. David G. Hartwell. New York, NY: Tor, 2013. 34-54. Print.