Thursday, 28 October 2010

Tom Holt: Blonde Bombshell (2010)

Tom Holt's latest novel seems to follow in well trodden footsteps. An advanced alien civilization finds itself threatened by the Earth's broadcasts through space, as music (not a concept previously known to them) is addictive to the Ostar. They send an intelligent bomb  to destroy the Earth, only to loose contact; Blonde B ombshell concerns their second attempt,  to find out what the Earth's hidden technology which put paid to the first bomb could possibly be, and carry out the destruction mission. All gung ho, the second bomb arrives, and sends down a probe, putting a copy of its mind in a human body created for the purpose. While it realises that "Mark Two" would not be an acceptable name for human culture, it decides that "Mark Twain" would be - a slight variation on the choice of "Ford Prefect" as the name used by the alien guide researcher in The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (albeit one which is likely to go out of date less quickly).

Holt's writing generally relys on characters who are fish out of water to provide much of the humour, and Blonde Bombshell is no exception. Here, there are both machines trying to pass as human and the Ostar relationship with people: they are shaped like dogs, and keep pets who are like humans, and the inversion is a natural source of jokes. But the jokes are all essentially the same, and this lack of variety palled for me quite quickly. In essence, the problem I had with Blonde Bombshell is that I didn't find it very funny. Some Tom Holt books do strike me this way, including Wish You Were Here. This one is not as bleak, being instead a tired repeat.

I like Holt's work, but not in this case: my rating - 4/10.

Edition: Orbit, 2010
Review number: 1410

1 comment:

Andrew McLeish said...

He's done the "machine is human" body swap thing before in Only Human - when I get around to reading this I'll be interested to see how different this attempt is from the first. I do feel though that his pre-J.W.Wells work is almost entirely superior to his post-J.W.Wells work - I often feel I'm reading him out of habit these days, although I thought Barking and May Come With Traces of Magic both showed a glimmer of his earlier inventiveness.