Friday, May 5, 2017

Djinn Rummy - Tom Holt

    1995; 277 pages.  Full Title:  “Djinn Rummy; A Work of Comic Genies”.  New Author? : Not by a long shot.  Genre : Mythopoeia; Humorous Fantasy; Spoof.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    “In an aspirin bottle, nobody can hear you scream.” (pg. 231)

    Ah, but after he’s been freed from that glass prison, it seems like everyone, especially his liberator, Jane, would just as soon have the genie, Kiss, shut up.  Indeed, despite now being entitled to three wishes (with some “fine print” limitations), Jane seems to be a tad bit disappointed by the turn of events, as she was looking to end it all with an overdose of aspirin pills.

    But Jane is persuaded to stick it out for at least a few days longer, since her first wish is to have an infinite number of wishes, which, frankly, will clear up a number of problems in her life.  And since Kiss is a Force 12 genie, which is an uber-powerful sort, when he says “your wish is my command”, there’s not much he can’t do.

    Like remodel Jane’s apartment.  Or wash the dishes.  Or whip up something fancy for dinner.  And in his spare time, perhaps he can even save the world from being destroyed by another Force 12 genie.

What’s To Like...
    Djinn Rummy is one of Tom Holt’s earlier novels (#10 out of – to date – 33 of them), and from the Mythopoeia stage of his career.  Being a fan of mythology, these happen to be my favorite books by the author, and a couple others from this sub-genre are reviewed here and here.

    The author again employs his trademark storytelling format.  He invents a whole new spin on the Aladdin “genie-in-a-lamp” story, and mixes in copious amounts of his wit and zaniness.  He examines the consequences of what would be my first wish upon encountering a genie – to have a zillion more wishes, and also comes up with a clever rationalization for why omnipotent genies don’t destroy the world.

    As always, there are multiple plotlines running concurrently through the tale.  Among them are: Kiss & Jane, Kiss vs. Philly, Asaf & Neville, Kevin the Frog, Armageddon, and Asaf and the Dragon King.  In the hands of a lesser writer, this would turn out to be contrived and confusing, but Tom Holt brings them all together nicely for a boffo ending, and order is restored in the Universe.

    The requisite flying rug plays a pivotal part, and weird critters abound.  My favorites were the carnivorous telepathic vegetable intelligences.  Let’s just say you’ll think twice before calling anyone a “pansy” again.

    The only R-rated stuff is some cuss words strewn among the crazy goings-on, and I thought it fit in well.  Tom Holt is British, and I was lucky enough to find a “UK version” of Djinn Rummy at my local used-book store, meaning it was written in English, not American.  There was also a smattering of French, a brief cameo by Druids, and the fascinating British expression, “Bob’s your uncle!”  All these are plusses for me.

Kewlest New Word...
Bonzer (adj.) : excellent; first-rate.  (an Aussieism)
Others :  sarny (n.); bludge (v.); jip (n.); doddle (n.); recidivist (n.).

    A plague of locusts.  The phrase trips easily off the tongue.  But consider this.  The average locust needs a certain amount of food each day, or it dies.  Nine hundred million locusts, gathered together in one spot awaiting distribution in plague form, need nine hundred million times that amount.  Neglect to provide nine hundred million packed lunches, and before very long you’ll have a plague of nine hundred million dead locusts, untidy, but no real long-term threat to humanity.  (pg. 111)

    There is a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation of how genies manage to transport themselves from one side of the earth to the other apparently instantaneously; it’s something to do with trans-dimensional shift error, and it is in fact wrong.  The truth is that genies have this facility simply because Mother Nature knows better than to try and argue with beings who only partially exist and who have all the malevolent persistence and susceptibility to logical argument of the average two-year-old.  Let them get on with it, she says; and if they suddenly find themselves stuck in a rift between opposing realities, then ha bloody ha.  (pg. 228)

“Well, stuff me for a kookaburra’s uncle.”  (pg. 158)
    There aren’t really any quibbles to speak of.  At one point a character named Justin becomes “Julian” for a page or two, but I blame that gaffe on the publishing company, not the author.  And some of the threads are tied up rather loosely, but hey, at least they were knitted together.  Just you try keeping things together when the Earth is 90% underwater, one of the protagonists can’t swim, and Romance is only halfway up in the air due to Cupid-turned-hitman.

    Overall, Tom Holt once again delivers exactly what I was looking for – a light, enjoyable read without any slow spots, bizarre characters to meet, and a plethora of plot threads to keep me wondering how he was going to prevent the storyline from getting out of control.

    8½ Stars.  Subtract ½ star if myths aren't your cup of tea.

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