"William E. Emba"|
Tom Holt is generally considered one of the masters of
comic fantasy. His humour is apparently too British,
though, since he hasn't had an American publisher for
quite some time. The British-only editions have to be
sought specifically in the States. (The biggest US
distributor of British books is Trafalgar Square.)
Holt's usual gimmick consists of having the protagonist
discovering that some well-known bit of mythology or
folklore is genuine, although not exactly in the form
everyone knows it. While highly cliche, Holt has done
it very well repeatedly. LITTLE PEOPLE is possibly his
weakest, perhaps because it takes several dark turns
that jar unpleasantly with his usual light touch.
The little people of the title turn out to be elves.
These elves are, to a large extent, stereotypical
supergeniuses at mathematics and physics who lack
most forms of common sense. Along the way, they do
the protagonist's high school homework, and its
sheer revolutionary brilliance turns out to be
important to the novel's plot. Mathematical touches
run through most of the novel, most blatantly when
one of the elves, out of boredom, writes down a
simple solution to Fermat's Last Theorem.
The mathematical content is, unfortunately, one of
the novel's weaknesses. It doesn't feel mathematical,
and after each invocation, disappears as if it was
never there in the first place.