JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

For the last few days ...

... part of me has had the urge to re-read all the Pratchett things. And another part just isn't ready to (there would be tears). So, ignoring the ever-present to-read pile, I reached into the appropriate bookcase and hauled out a book at random by the sole surviving member of what I've always considered the Holy Trinity of fantastical British humourists ... what Terry Pratchett did to fantasy and Douglas Adams did to science fiction, Tom Holt has always done to mythology, legend, folklore, and sometimes history. And, like them, done it brilliantly.

The random Holt book turned out to be "Djinn Rummy":
Jane stared. "Are you serious?" she demanded.
"No," Kiss said, pointedly not looking at the picture of the three kittens. "Most of the time I'm aggravatingly frivolous. If you mean am I telling the truth, the answer is yes."
"A friend of yours was trying to destroy the planet?"
"Well, sort of," Kiss yawned, and stretched. "Actually, he's just this bloke I've known for, oh, donkey's years; and he wasn't planning on destroying the Earth, just all non-vegetable life forms. Or at least I assume that was what he had in mind. My split-second spectroscopic analysis of the plant seeds leads me to believe that that would have been the inevitable result. Bloody great primroses," he added with a grin. "With teeth."
"Hadn't you better tell me what's going on?"
Kiss shook his head. "Tricky," he said. "You remember what I told you about being limited to the possible? However; to start with the primary question, Is there a God? we really have to address the ..."
Jane asked him to be more specific.
"Guesswork, largely," Kiss replied, materialising an apple and peeling it with his claws. "My guess is that somebody hired my old chum to destroy the human race. Somebody a bit funny in the head, I shouldn't be surprised."
"This chum of yours--"
"A genie," Kiss explained. "A Force Twelve, like me. That's pretty hot stuff, actually, though normally I wouldn't dream of saying so. We rank equal and above the Nine Dragon Kings, just below the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven. We get fuel allowance but no pension."
"And this particular ..."
"He goes by the name," Kiss said, straight-faced by sheer effort of will, "of Philadelphia Machine and Tool Corporation the Ninth, or Philly Nine for short. Remarkable chiefly for how little time he's had to spend in bottles. He's a shrewd cookie, Philly Nine, always was. Mad as a hatter, too, of course."
"I see." Jane sat down on a desperately fragile Tang-dynasty vase, the molecular structure of which Kiss was able to beef up just in the nick of time. "So he's dangerous."
"You might say that," Kiss responded, spitting out apple pips, "if you were prone to ludicrous understatements. If midwinter at the South Pole is a bit nippy and the Third Reich was, on balance, not a terribly good idea, then yes, Philly Nine is dangerous. Apart from that, a more charming fellow you couldn't hope to meet. Plays the harpsichord."

Tags: reading

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