A feghoot (also known as a story pun or poetic story joke) is a humorous short story or vignette ending in a pun (typically a play on a well-known phrase), where the story contains sufficient context to recognize the punning humor.[1] It can be considered a type of shaggy dog story.


Ferdinand Feghoot

This storytelling model apparently originated in a long-running series of short science-fiction pieces that appeared under the collective title "Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot", published in various magazines over several decades, written by Reginald Bretnor under the anagrammatic pseudonym of 'Grendel Briarton'. The usual formula the stories followed was for the title character to solve a problem bedeviling some manner of being or extricate himself from a dangerous situation. The events could take place all over the galaxy and in various historical or future periods on Earth and elsewhere. In his adventures, Feghoot worked for the Society for the Aesthetic Re-Arrangement of History and traveled via a device that had no name, but was typographically represented as the ")(". The pieces were usually vignettes only a few paragraphs long, and always ended with a deliberately terrible pun that was often based on a well-known title or catch-phrase.

"Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot" was originally published in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1956 to 1973. (In 1973, the magazine ran a contest soliciting readers' feghoots as entries.) The series also appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction's sister magazine Venture Science Fiction Magazine, and later in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Amazing Stories, and other publications. The individual pieces were identified by Roman numerals rather than titles. The stories have been collected in several editions, each an expanded version of the previous, the most recent being The Collected Feghoot from Pulphouse Publishing.

Many of the ideas and puns for Bretnor's stories were contributed by others, including F. M. Busby and E. Nelson Bridwell. Other authors have published feghoots written on their own, including Isaac Asimov and John Brunner. Numerous fan-produced stories have been written, as well.

Bretnor said that the idea of the name occurred to his wife and him during a game of Scrabble. He always arranged his letter tiles alphabetically; at one point, he had EFGHOOT. His wife suggested that, if the first two letters were transposed, the silly name 'Feghoot' could be formed. Bretnor did so, and began using the name in his punny stories.

Other story puns


  • Briarton, Grendel (1980). The (Even More) Compleat Feghoot, Manchester: The Mirage Press, LTD. ISBN 0-88358-022-5.
  1. ^ Ritchie, Graeme D. (2004). The Linguistic Analysis of Jokes. London: Routledge. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-415-30983-7. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  2. ^ "Spider Robinson (person) by Nekojin - Everything2.com". everything2.com.
  3. ^ Isaac Asimov, "The Winds of Change", Granada 1983/ Panther, 1984/Doubleday 1984, ISBN 0-586-05743-9
  4. ^ Isaac Asimov, "Battle-Hymn", in "Gold", Harper 1995
60th World Science Fiction Convention

ConJose was the 60th World Science Fiction Convention, held in San Jose, California on August 29-September 2, 2002. The convention was held in the McEnery Convention Center, as well as the Fairmont San Jose and the Hilton San Jose & Towers. ConJose was co-chaired by Tom Whitmore and Kevin Standlee and organized under the auspices of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions.

Guests of Honor for ConJose were writer Vernor Vinge, artist David Cherry, fans Jan and Bjo Trimble, and the imaginary Ferdinand Feghoot. Tad Williams served as toastmaster.

Bruce Ariss

Bruce Wallace Ariss, Jr. (October 10, 1911 – September, 1994) was an American artist and writer.

E. Nelson Bridwell

Edward Nelson Bridwell (1931–1987) was a writer for Mad magazine (writing the now-famous catchphrase, "What you mean...we?") and various comic books published by DC Comics. One of the writers for the Batman comic strip and Super Friends, he also wrote The Inferior Five, among other comics. He has been called "DC's self-appointed continuity cop."

Give My Regards to Broadway

"Give My Regards to Broadway" is a song written by George M. Cohan for his musical play Little Johnny Jones which debuted in 1904 in New York.

Cohan, playing the title character, sings this song as his friend is about to sail to America, looking for evidence aboard ship that will clear his name for allegedly throwing the English Derby.

Gold (Asimov book)

Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection is a 1995 collection of stories and essays by American writer Isaac Asimov. The stories, which comprise the volume's first half, are short pieces which had remained uncollected at the time of Asimov's death. "Cal" describes a robot that wishes to write, and the title story "Gold" expresses both Asimov's admiration of King Lear and his thoughts on cinema adaptations of his own stories. The story "Gold" won a Hugo Award.

Kevin Andrew Murphy

Kevin Andrew Murphy is an American novelist and game writer from Northern California.

List of Worldcons

This World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) list includes prior and scheduled Worldcons. The data is maintained by the Long List Committee, a World Science Fiction Society sub-committee.


Name – a convention is normally listed by the least confusing version of its name. This is usually the name preferred by the convention, but fannish tradition is followed in retroactively numbering the first Worldcon in a series 1 (or I or One).

Guests of honor – custom in designating guests of honor has varied greatly, with some conventions giving specific titles (Fan, Pro, Australia, U.S., Artist, etc.) and some simply call them all guests of honor. Specific labels have been used where they existed, as have regional variants in spelling.

Size – where available, this column records two numbers: how many paying members attended the Worldcon and how many total members there were (in parentheses). The available data is very incomplete and imprecise and many of these numbers are probably substantially in error.1942–1945: Worldcon not held due to World War II

List of science fiction short stories

This is a non-comprehensive list of short stories with significant science fiction elements.

Little Bunny Foo Foo

"Little Rabbit Foo Foo" is a children's poem, involving a rabbit harassing a population of field mice and many other creatures. The rabbit is scolded and eventually punished by a fairy. Like many traditional folk songs, there are multiple versions with differing variations.

The poem is sung to the tune of "Down by the Station" (1948), and melodically similar to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the popular French-Canadian children's song "Alouette" (1879).

The rhyme is usually sung by an older person to a younger child, using a repetitive tune that reinforces the meter, accompanied by hand gestures. It is often passed as childlore.

Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson

Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson is a 1993 anthology by George Alec Effinger, collecting all of his stories (up to 1993) about Maureen "Muffy" Birnbaum, a Jewish American Princess who is magically teleported to various fantasy and science fiction universes, and later recounts the tales to her best friend, "Bitsy" Spiegelman. Originally written on his own initiative, the character proved popular enough for Effinger to gain several requests from authors to have versions of their work visited by Muffy.

In addition to satirizing and spoofing the various themes, the stories had a feminist undertone, as Maureen dealt with the often sexist reactions of the inhabitants of the worlds she met, struggled to find the Martian prince she had fallen in love with, and contrasted her adventures with Bitsy, a housewife with an increasingly unhappy marriage.

The anthology had two editions:

Swan Press trade paper (June 1993, ISBN 1-883722-01-2) cover and interior illustrations by Peggy Ranson.

Guild America/SFBC hardcover (Aug. 1994, ISBN 1-56865-101-5) cover and interior illustrations by Ken Kelly.The hardcover reused the trade paper’s copyright page (i.e. date and illustration credit). The hardcover's jacket has the correct credit, and the correct date was advertised in Locus magazine.

My Word!

My Word! was a radio panel game broadcast by the BBC on the Home Service (1956–67) and Radio 4 (1967–88). It was created by Edward J. Mason and Tony Shryane, and featured comic writers Denis Norden and Frank Muir, famous in Britain for the series Take It From Here. The show was piloted in June 1956 on the Midland Home Service and first broadcast as a series on the BBC Home Service on 1 January 1957. The series also ran on BBC Television for one series from July-September 1960.

For decades it was also broadcast worldwide via BBC World Service shortwave.

In the United States, the show was syndicated on the WFMT Fine Arts Network until 1 October 2013, when BBC ended US distribution.Australia's Radio National had also been airing reruns for years but discontinued them in July 2014.

A companion programme, My Music, ran from 1967 to 1993.

Neutron Tide

"Neutron Tide" is a short story by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1970. It is among his shortest pieces of writing, consisting solely of a 2-page, detailed description of a futuristic scenario in order to use a pun as a punch-line.

Pearls Before Swine (comics)

Pearls Before Swine, (also known as Pearls) is an American comic strip written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis. It chronicles the daily lives of an ensemble cast of suburban anthropomorphic animals: Pig, Rat, Zebra, Goat, and a fraternity of crocodiles, as well as a number of supporting characters. Each character represents an aspect of Pastis' own personality and world view. The daily and Sunday comic strip is distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication (by United Feature Syndicate before 2011).

The strip's style is most notable for its dark humor, fourth wall meta-humor, social commentary, mockery of other comic strips and stories concocted in elaborate fashion leading into a pun.


The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple correct interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, as their usage and meaning are specific to a particular language and its culture.

Puns have a long history in human writing. For example, the Roman playwright Plautus was famous for his puns and word games.

Reginald Bretnor

Reginald Bretnor (born Alfred Reginald Kahn; July 30, 1911 – July 22, 1992) was a science fiction author who flourished between the 1950s and 1980s. Most of his fiction was in short story form, and usually featured a whimsical story line or ironic plot twist. He also wrote on military theory and public affairs, and edited some of the earliest books to consider SF from a literary theory and criticism perspective.

Bretnor’s father, Grigory Kahn, was born in Russia, but he and his family left Siberia for Japan in 1917 and later settled in the United States. Bretnor’s mother was born a British subject, became a Russian subject, spent from 1917 to 1920 in Japan, then settled in the United States with her children Reginald and Margaret. Reginald Bretnor himself was born in Vladivostok, Russia. He was married to Helen Harding, a translator and U.C. Berkeley librarian, from 1948 until her death in 1967. He subsequently married Rosalie, whom he referred to in a letter in the Southern Oregon Historical Society Archives as Rosalie McShane, although she wrote under the name Rosalie Bodrero.

According to papers in the SOHS Archives, Bretnor’s military background included service in the last cavalry unit in the U.S. Army. Health issues led to his discharge in August 1941. He tried to reenlist in 1942, but was rejected. He was hired by the Office of War Intelligence to write propaganda to be sent to Japan, and papers related to his work are held in the SOHS Archives. After World War II, Bretnor worked for the U.S. State Department until ill health once again caused him to resign. He died, aged 80, in Medford, Oregon.

In addition to wars, weaponry and science fiction, Bretnor’s interests included cats. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats, written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote multiple articles about cats, always owned cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats.

It has been alleged that Bretnor was an early associate of Anton Szandor LaVey in the days before the founding of the Church of Satan, and that Bretnor and other science fiction authors were members of LaVey's "Order of the Trapezoid" in the early 1950s.

Shaggy dog story

In its original sense, a shaggy dog story or yarn is an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax or a pointless punchline.

Shaggy dog stories play upon the audience's preconceptions of joke-telling. The audience listens to the story with certain expectations, which are either simply not met or met in some entirely unexpected manner. A lengthy shaggy dog story derives its humour from the fact that the joke-teller held the attention of the listeners for a long time (such jokes can take five minutes or more to tell) for no reason at all, as the end resolution is essentially meaningless. The nature of their delivery is reflected in the English idiom spin a yarn, by way of analogy with the production of yarn.

Tales from the Spaceport Bar

Tales from the Spaceport Bar is an anthology of science fiction club tales edited by George H. Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer. It was first published in paperback by Avon Books in January 1987. The first British edition was issued in paperback by New English Library in 1988.

Venture Science Fiction

Venture Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, first published from 1957 to 1958, and revived for a brief run in 1969 and 1970. Ten issues were published of the 1950s version, with another six in the second run. It was founded in both instances as a companion to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; Robert P. Mills edited the 1950s version, and Edward L. Ferman was editor during the second run. A British edition appeared for 28 issues between 1963 and 1965; it reprinted material from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as from the US edition of Venture. There was also an Australian edition, which was identical to the British version but dated two months later.

The original version was only moderately successful, although it is remembered for the first publication of Sturgeon's Law. The publisher, Joseph Ferman (father of Edward Ferman), declared that he wanted well-told stories of action and adventure; the resulting fiction contained more sex and violence than was usual for the science fiction (sf) genre in the late 1950s, and sf historian Mike Ashley has suggested that the magazine was ahead of its time. It succumbed to poor sales within less than two years. The second US version was no more successful, with less attractive cover art and little in the way of notable fiction, though it did publish Vonda McIntyre's first story. By the end of 1970, Venture had ceased publication permanently.

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