More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer by Casper Kelly (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, social commentary in a fun, absurd way
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer” is a collection of absurd short stories. Using several “hosts” including a skeleton, a super hot dead chick, and a werewolf who works in a fast food place, “you” the reader are guided through a bizarre world of stories that are anything but ordinary. There is no pretending to be something they’re not – these stories are 100% smart with intelligent things to say – the cave-like vaginas, large breasted ninjas, and universe-ending ejaculations are unapologetically awesome and necessary. This book will make you think about your place in the world and contemplate what’s really important in life. But mostly you’ll just laugh a lot.
Casper Kelly has written for Harvey Birdman, Squidbillies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and more. He’s won an award for his work on “Scooby Doo.” He also asked us if we would review his book – I AM SO GLAD HE DID. More Stories about Spaceships and Cancer was absolutely awesome. It reminded me of buying a book or a DVD of Stephen Colbert’s – it’s immediately funny before you even get to the actual content. I was dying laughing at the Table of Contents which featured things like “These are not Short Story Titles” and “Go Ahead. Tap it. The Links Don’t Even Correspond to Anything.” Turns out it’s a story of its own, but I won’t spoil the ending. The dedication then reads, “For You.” For me? I’m so stoked before I even start reading!
Moving on to the Introduction, the book is in second person and a skeleton bursts out of my e-reader and introduces himself as host, Professor Badbones who along with assistant Snervley try to convince me that I do in fact want to read this book. Badbones compares a collection of short stories to “a hodgepodge of one night stands.” They’re not really long enough to want to develop a real relationship and usually they don’t really go together or connect. He continues with a bunch of commentary about the standard story and what we’ve come to expect from it and how even if it isn’t good, we still appreciate the symbolism or whatever. After that, we dive into the first story – where a duck is sad about his divorce and just when you think things are too normal, a guy gets sucked into a giant TARDIS vagina. (It’s so much bigger on the inside.)
And that’s just the first story! The book starts off amazing and does not let you down. (Even though Badbones admits in the beginning that most short story collections get kind of iffy in the middle.) I’m not sure I can even pick a clear favorite from this collection because I just really enjoyed them all. My fantasy loving self did very much like “Sneezy” – the story of the dwarf who apparently was completely infatuated with Snow White and was dying for her to love him more than those six other dwarves. This story again has some second person action, though in this case the “you” was Snow White herself. His unrequited love was just dripping off the page. And as with a lot of the stories in this book, our narrator is an incredibly real mix of relatable and creepy. Also during the Intermission following this story, we discover Badbones has killed and eaten Dumbo, Ariel, and Mickey Mouse. He’s in the middle of consuming Bambi and has already made Thumper into a hat. OH MY GAH.
Another excellent piece was “An Aspiring Haberdasher.” Here we have an incredibly absurd and exaggerated email exchange between a very important Assistant Haberdasher to the King and a nobody who is dying to acquire the esteemed position of scrotum-licker to the Assistant Assistant Haberdasher. This Mr. X composes long, wordy emails declaring that his grandmother once knew the Assistant’s aunt and after endless flattery begs to be allowed a job. We are taken all the way through this painfully embarrassing exchange as X never stops flattering the Assistant and blaming himself while the Assistant continually blows him off. I most definitely felt the humiliation of X as over and over again he blamed a bad internet connection or himself (all while selling his grandmother’s house, his clothes, and starving to death naked trying to get this guy’s attention.) I mean, how many times have you had to write an email saying, “Oh hey! I’m not sure if you got my last email. It’s my fault I should have checked back with you sooner…” when really you want to say, “I know you read that email, why the fuck didn’t you reply to me, bitch??!!” But I actually also felt the annoyance and embarrassment of the Assistant who clearly is awful and can’t bring himself to just directly tell X “No way.” to begin with. At the end, we finally see what X is really feeling outside of his emails and I think we’ve all felt that way before.
The last story is “Sex Fantasies at Work” – another fantastic piece that really kept me guessing and I was very pleased with the ending. This is about someone who is just imperfect and feels like they have no control over anything except their ability to fantasize and put themselves down. Good for anyone who’s ever felt like they’re trapped in their job and have no life outside of it.
Even after the story ends, we continue to the Acknowledgements which are hosted by Snervley. I have to say this book IS kick-ass, actually.
I definitely recommend this book. It took me hardly any time to read and kept me so amused and entertained. Again, while the elements of the stories are absurd, the stories themselves are just so smart and Kelly did not try to hide it. I appreciate that because I totally do want to read a story where an ATM is attacking you and your family in the dead of night – but I want to feel the fear and terror and ridiculousness, not feel bogged down by the symbolism. This book was just handled so well. I love the tone and the flow and how absolute silly and intelligent it is at the same time. These stories will make you laugh and be sad and think about Things with a capital T. Also there’s a girl with a penis on her face. A really great read!
-Immediately funny and interesting from the Table of Contents
-Interesting use of second person
-Use of funny absurdism to create a super intelligent story
-Amazing, fun to read writing style
-Too short – I want more stories!