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Holt, Tom

(1961-    ) UK author – a solicitor before he turned to full-time writing in 1995 – whose debut was the precocious "Poems by Tom Holt" (coll 1973 chap). He is best known for his numerous comic fantasies, beginning with the genially myth-based Expecting Someone Taller (1987) and Who's Afraid of Beowulf? (1988) [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Later examples, which beneath rapid-fire quips tend increasingly to convey despair at the human condition, sometimes verge on sf with notions like sending oneself by fax (see Matter Transmission). Here Comes the Sun (1993), perhaps the most science-fictional of Holt's fantasies, postulates an Alternate Cosmos in which constant intervention is required to keep the Sun lumbering on its daily course, using Steampunk-like Technology operating with the inefficiency of British industry and civil servants at their caricatured worst.

Of direct sf interest is the atypical and far from humorous Someone Like Me (2006 chap), a short thriller set in a post-technological Ruined Earth where humanity has become prey for creatures with fur, fangs, claws and also tool-using Intelligence; the Monster-hunting hero duels one of these inimical beings Underground. Blonde Bombshell (2010) is comic sf with a tone similar to the fantasies: doglike Aliens wish to destroy the Near-Future Earth for implausible reasons, only for their Faster-than-Light, AI-minded bomb to go native while investigating our planet's weaknesses; there is much Matter Transmission, which here facilitates Shapeshifting and allows the alien "dogs" to switch to and from human form like Werewolves. Incidental Satire is chiefly directed at Computers and Microsoft Windows, also a frequent target in the humorous fantasies.

Some of Holt's historical novels are published as by Thomas Holt. Rumours that his pseudonyms include the non-comic fantasy author K J Parker (whose debut was in 1998), widespread since the early 2000s, were at last confirmed by Holt in April 2015; some of his stories under this name – an example being The Last Witness (2015), whose protagonist performs Memory Edits for a living – edge into sf territory. [DRL]

see also: Elements; Secret Masters.

Thomas Charles Louis Holt

born London: 13 September 1961





The Walled Orchard (ancient historical)

J Wellington Wells (comic fantasy)

individual titles: fantasy



individual titles: sf

collections and stories

as by K J Parker




Engineer Trilogy

individual titles



Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 11:06 am on 30 September 2020.