Sunday, 20 July 2008

Tom Holt – “Overtime”

Apart from Robert Rankin I can think of no author whose work is like that of Tom Holt. It is probably an acquired taste being silly, comic fantasy / adventure,
Guy, a World War II Mosquito pilot, is surprised when his dead co-pilot seems to start speaking to him as they fly over Northern France. And before long Guy is caught up in time and travel, a search for Richard the Lionheart, and a beautiful damsel.
Some of my favourite quotations:-
in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and God saw that it had potential, if it was handled properly... The problem was the Eden (Phase II) Area Plan, and it was the same old story all over again. You hire an architect... ... in other words, the earth’s temporal system, which was installed on the afternoon of the fifth day by a team of contractors found by God in the Golden Pages under the trading name of Cheap ‘n’ Cheerful Chronological Engineers, is a classic example of a Friday afternoon job, and fundamentally unstable.””
(On the subject of time travel) – “Very volatile stuff, history. Give you an example. You tread on a fly. The fly is therefore not available to walk all over your great-great-great-great-grandfather’s breakfast, and so he fails to die of food poisoning. Your family therefore does not sell up and move from Cheshire to Norfolk, with the result that your great-grandfather doesn’t meet your great-grandmother at a whist drive, and you don’t get born. That means you never existed, so you can’t travel back through time and squash that fly in the first place. Result: your great-great-great-great-grandfather gets food poisoning, the family moves from Norfolk to Cheshire... and you become a temporal anomaly, zipping in and out of existence like the picture on a television screen, thousands of time a second...”
“Experience the psychologists say, is like a man who walks into a lamppost, knocking himself out. When he comes round, the blow has caused a partial memory loss, which means that the victim forgets, inter alia, that colliding with lampposts causes injury. He therefore continues walking into lampposts for the rest of his unnaturally short life.”
“You know how, as you get older, the beer never tastes as good, the policemen get younger every year, that sort of thing. Now I do my return visits in reverse chronological order whenever I can, so I get the opposite effect; yummy beer, geriatric policemen, and the last time I was here it was thirty pence a pint more expensive.”
“ was like watching a woodlouse climbing a wall, listening to Marco doing joined-up speaking...”
“In any military force, there are always a select body of men whose job it is in the event of an ambush to clutch their sides, scream convincingly and fall off their horses. It’s a lousy job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

TOM HOLT was born in 1961, and produced his first book, Poems by Tom Holt, at the age of thirteen. He began writing his distinctive brand of comic fantasy while at Oxford, and has also written two well-recieved historical novels, as well as collaborating on the (unauthorised) biography of Margaret Thatcher, I, Margaret. He is married, and lives in Chard, Somerset, "just downwind of the meat canning factory".
I have read a number of his works -
Lucia in Wartime (1985)
Lucia Triumphant: Based on the Characters Created by E.F. Benson (1986)
Expecting Someone Taller (1987)
Who's Afraid of Beowulf? (1988)
Flying Dutch (1991)
Ye Gods! (1992)
Here Comes the Sun (1993)
Overtime (1993)
Faust Among Equals (1994)
Grailblazers (1994)
Djinn Rummy (1995)
Odds and Gods (1995)
My Hero (1996)
Paint Your Dragon (1996)
Open Sesame (1997)
Bitter Lemmings (1997)
Wish You Were Here (1998)
Alexander at World's End (1999)
Only Human (1999)
Snow White and the Seven Samurai (1999)
Olympiad (2000)
Valhalla (2000)
Nothing But Blue Skies (2001)
Falling Sideways (2002)
Little People (2002)
Song for Nero (2003)
Barking (2007)
The Better Mousetrap (2008)
May Contain Traces of Magic (2009)

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