Gag stories. They’re a lot harder than most writers realize, particularly when the joke at the core of the story has to sustain several thousand words. Not joke stories that amount to one long setup for a snappy punchline, but full blown shaggy dog stories that revolve around an absurd situation. Most humorous concepts wear out their welcome long before the words “The End” appear in fancy script in the reader’s mind’s eye.
Not so with Moonshot. Michael Wiesenberg finishes off this issue of Cirsova in style with the story of a rejuvenated NASA proving her chops by landing a Wisconsin barn on the moon. Not content with lampooning the bureaucratic hobbling of scientific inquiry, Wisenberg spoofs Midwest practicality with a light touch, and even manages to deftly cram some serious orbital physics lessons into the story. Where Moonshot lacks the belly-laughs of a Ring Lardner story, it more than makes up for it with a constant haze of amusement that reminded me very much of a Garrison Keillor work. And that’s a huge compliment. Keillor was a master at the enthralling story that hovers for long periods just on the cusp of open laughter, with a steady dose of light chuckles sprinkled throughout the narrative. If Keillor was a science nerd instead of a literary nerd, Moonshot is the kind of story that he would have written.
A fitting end to a fine issue, and a great bookend to the Tarzan tale that kicked off this second volume of strange and wonderful tales. Really looking forward to Issue Two.