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Funny / Known Space

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  • Larry Niven's early writing is notable for his characters' witty dialogue and narration even in the face of mortal danger, such as the banter between Beowulf Shaeffer and Elephant in "Flatlander".
    Beowulf Shaeffer: We looked at each other, waiting. But there was nothing to say. Except, Elephant, look! We don't have a hull no more! Isn't that remarkable?
  • Among the Man-Kzin Wars stories, one of the few intentionally written as a comedy is "String" by Hal Colebatch and Matthew Joseph Harrington, in volume XII. It even has a Shout-Out to Girl Genius of all things.
  • Another is "Leftovers" by Matthew Joseph Harrington, in which Buford Early runs afoul of a rogue Protector. Seeing the most Magnificent Bastard in Known Space forced to play "Hot/Cold" with a mutant supergenius is kind of like watching a Vathara character being told to Stop Hitting Yourself. Perhaps the best stunt "Ursula" pulls is when Early manages to slip away for a moment, dials up one of his subordinates to warn them of the threat, only to find the screen's been shut off. "Ursula" then pops up behind him, clamps his mouth shut and says - in Early's (drunk!) voice - that said subordinate is a beautiful person, he should tell everyone, and the screen's off because he's naked.
    Buford Early: “Enthusiasm is no substitute for experience.”
    "Ursula": “No amount of practice will create talent.”
    • Aaand it all ends with a wimpering bang; Early finally gets his hands on a weapon...
      Buford Early: You missed one.
      "Ursula": And you missed my companion.
      Buford Early: Are you serious? "There’s someone behind you?" That’s The Oldest Trick in the Book.
      (Kzin companion steals gun)
      "Ursula": Actually, the oldest trick in the book is kidnapping a couple of teenagers, brainwiping them, waking them up in a prepared habitat, and saying, "I made you out of dust and I made her out of one of your ribs."
      (Kzin companion aims stunner at Early)
      Buford Early: (thinking) "I am the very model of a Modern Major General..."
    • There's a hilarious summary of The Hundred Years War, too;
      "Ursula": All this stuff on the battlefield is going on because a teenage French girl was prettier than her mother, who resented her and made her finish up some rye bread that had gone bad and should have been thrown away.
      Buford Early: Is that a serious explanation of Joan of Arc?
      "Ursula": It explains the visions, and some of her work displays the behaviors of an abuse survivor. It’ll do.

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