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When his fans complain there are no plots, he gives us this.
on 15 March 2002
"Falling Sideways" is Tom Holt's 19th mainstream comic fantasy, following on from where his "Nothing But Blue Skies" left off: in Holt's very own, extremely unique vision of his pseudo-Britain, complete with clonemongers, frogspawn, and grounded-to-Earth gods. This time Holt decidedly goes all out in the premise department: "Falling Sideways" is dependent upon the countless, billowing convolutions creating by the plots; if they were none, this novel would fail in its objective. That, of course, to make people laugh. There are numerous laughs to be found here, of course; it's somewhat obligatory, when upon reading a Holt novel these days, you instantaneously bark at one of his dizzyingly creative, sometimes obscure, but always clever similes. But in "Falling Sideways", seemingly, he has gone too far in that department. You cannot turn a single page without being barraged by the complex, satiric and overwhelming little quips that Holt takes at anything within his eyeline. There are so multitudinous a number of potshots he has taken at the great institutions of History, that at some distant points within this almost-epic, it's difficult to find the comedy. Nonetheless, Holt always manages to entertain, and if it isn't with the sardonic little catchphrases he turns, it comes from his absurdly-drawn characterisations.
It just so happens David Perkins is a somewhat dull, uninspiring man...who is swept into a *magnum opus* of weirdness via his relationship with his long estranged familial members--but it's also due to the exceedingly large amount of telepathic, civilized, Universe-ruling frogs...but, then again, that's another story altogether. When David decides to do something wholly out of the nature of his character he cannot define why; until he is swept into the fold of cosmic bizarre that is Honest John, and *his* green gloop-infested clone-making vats. The questions come thick and with fury: Will David Perkins live? Will he get arrested? Will he get arrested again? Will he escape? Will the frogs take dominion of the world? What's with the white sugar and the dandruff? And what's this about occultist witches in modern day Britain...?
Unfortunately, Holt's "Falling Sideways" is so undeniably plump that practically one-hundred pages before the end, you may find yourself wondering why the obvious conclusion has been delayed. This is where Holt failed: in making his reasonably hilarious, and rather complicated novel an epic, when it could easily have been an average-sized, appreciable comic fantasy. *Meh* More's the pity.