The Good, the Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt
Perennial favorite Tom Holt gives us another episode in the donut multiverse. As usual, the characters are sympathetic despite their cartoonish flaws. Holt exploits the diversity of the multiverse to play around with cultural norms, creating universes with comically inverted and perverted rules and values. Yet throughout the multiverse, “people” are people, and everywhere comes out just as comical as everywhere else.
It’s difficult to take yourself too seriously, in Holt’s multiverse.
This story includes the usual cast of ordinary Joe’s and Jane’s caught up in inexplicable travel between multiverses, as well as some really bad guys and some flawed good guys, and some guys we can’t make up our minds about. Everyone is basically trying to get through life.
Much of the story follows a “buddy picture” formula, and unlikely collaboration of a goblin and an elf who share at least one value: they both loath humans!
Amongst the jokes and satire, Holt plays around with tricky philosophical issues of cultural heritage and “good” and “evil”, which are all the more difficult in a multiverse. Not only are these values culturally contingent, there are infinitely many multiverses, each with its own rules.
This is a good book (though I liked Barking (2007) better). If you haven’t read him, you have dozens of books to catch up on. Get ‘em.
- Tom Holt, The Good, The Bad, and The Smug, New York, Orbit, 2015.
Sunday Book Reviews