London Frog

Falling Sideways, by Tom Holt – While Robert Rankin claims to have invented the term “Far-Fetched Fiction” in hopes of getting his own shelf at the bookstore, I don’t know that he’d necessarily be the only one whose books would end up there. From what I’ve read of Holt, I think he could also qualify for this category. So could Douglas Adams, whose influence on these other authors seems quite likely. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld started out as sort of an anything-goes fantasy parody along the same lines, although it became much less far-fetched as the series progressed. It’s a style that seems well-suited to British writers in particular, but that’s not to say American authors can’t use it as well. In some ways, Kurt Vonnegut also fits the mold, and of course he did it before any of these others. While there are certainly variations, I’d say this sort of writing usually contains absurd plots where seemingly unrelated characters and events fall together, frequent sarcasm, a good many tangents, and a mixture of the mundane and the fantastic that both satirizes everyday life and mocks some fictional conventions. There are also frequently plot holes, sometimes lampshaded by the authors. As far as Holt goes, the two books I’d previously read of his, and a lot of his others as well if the descriptions are to be believed, deal with specific myths or legends. Falling Sideways is a little different in that it doesn’t specifically reference any earlier works, but it’s no less funny for that. What starts out as a story about a shy nerd who falls in love with a historical figure and somehow obtains a lock of her hair AND finds a cloning factory later becomes one of frogs from outer space with magical powers of persuasion influencing life on Earth as part of a convoluted plan. Confused yet? Well, it’s hard not to be when each new bit of exposition contradicts much of the last, and several of the characters are clones of other characters. The theme of frogs pervades the story, and when frogs take on human form and humans are convinced they’re frogs, you can never be totally sure what’s going on. One frog mentions that their homeworld is in the Sirius system, and when the main character says that’s the Dog Star, the amphibian replies, “Dog Star? With a ‘D’? Must be a typo.” I have to wonder if Holt might have been thinking (even if not consciously) of Adams’ Frogstar, said to be “the most totally evil place in the Galaxy.” There’s also a frog claiming he had to take human form to play the role of God, because he “just couldn’t get the idea of a frog-shaped god to catch on with these people.” He doesn’t mention the Egyptian frog goddess Heqet. Anyway, in addition to its charmingly ridiculous plot, the book also has a lot of amusing asides and a generally enjoyable writing style.

This entry was posted in Authors, Book Reviews, Discworld, Douglas Adams, Humor, Robert Rankin, Terry Pratchett and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to London Frog

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