Thursday, 1 June 2000
Peter Chippindale: Laptop of the Gods (1998)
Review number: 516
It may seem a little perverse to read a comic novel based around the Y2K bug after the date when so little happened. However, my eye was caught by the Tom Holt-like title when I was browsing through the local library, and I thought the idea seemed quite fun. Basically, the premise is that in heaven, everything is run by the computer GOD, who is about to upgrade to Multiverse 2000 when the god Cupid - heaven being populated by every deity conceived by the collective imagination of the human race - discovers that GOD has been hacked by the Beast, out to remove all the life from the universe.
The problem is that Laptop of the Gods is not funny. Chippindale tries very hard to be Tom Holt, but doesn't have that kind of talent. The novel is perfectly acceptably written, reasonably engaging as fantasy - but not funny. The is partly because a large part of the novel is very downbeat; a major theme is the spiritlessness of modern life, and this really quells any humour that starts to build. On the other hand, the desire to be lighthearted and whimsical makes it difficult to say anything really serious about a serious issue. (It is possible to be comic and serious, as books like Catch 22 demonstrate, but I can't conceive of a combination of whimsy and seriousness.)