Tom Holt’s Doughnut is an utter confection* of silliness, sci-fi, world hopping, and awkward family relationships.
If you’re unfamiliar with the realm of funny sci-fi, then dearest reader let me introduce you. Funny sci-fi might be just about my favorite thing ever. It deals with all of the fantastical, intriguing sci-fi concepts we can’t stop fiddling with (alternate universes, time travel, all that jazz), and somehow makes the prospect of an apocalypse light, easy, and even downright hysterical.
Tom Holt is especially good at the hysterical side of funny sci-fi. I’ve read quite a few of his books, and felt fondly toward all of them. Are they challenging books? Not at all. Are they filled with characters I’ve never met before? Not really. Are they the most special star books I’ve ever read? No. But they are warm, funny, and tend to feature the misadventures of clueless bumbling Average Joe’s who mostly just want to either go home or not get fired (both if possible), and whom I therefore want to simultaneously affectionately make fun of and feed soup to. And the ladies, while unfortunately rarely main characters, are often no nonsense and nearly always orders of magnitude cleverer than our bumbling can-we-call-that-a-hero?. These books are not perfect, they’re not radical or paradigm shifting, they’re not nearly as diverse or inclusive as I’d like, but they are joyful, hysterical, ridiculous fun. And sometimes that’s enough.
Actually, reading Tom Holt books tends to be, for me, what I think the Chicken Soup For the Whatever Soul books are intended** to feel like: lovely, healing, sort of warming-from-the-inside, sometimes with crumbled crackers. Clearly, reading Tom Holt books also deludes me into thinking that I am a funny writer.
I am not a funny writer.
Holt actually is, though. And it’s delightful, although, obviously, also dangerous (my b, guys).
Anyway, Doughnut tells the tale of Theo Bernstein, a now down-and-out physicist fired from his job at the Very Very Large Hadron Collider (he may have caused a Very Very Large Accident at work), sent spinning into other worlds when bequeathed the odd (and seemingly random) junk in his recently deceased mentor’s safety deposit box. Theo must follow odd connections, deal with his pathologically charming brother and homicidally paranoid sister, change the laws of physics, and if he wants to get home he’s going to need a doughnut.
Yes. What you ought to be getting out of this plot summary is that Tom Holt is a silly silly billy. I’m not telling you more because some of Holt’s mental gymnastics around the physics are too great to be missed. The point is, Doughnut is a hilarious, bubbly romp (as well as a Serious examination of the plight of working class minor characters in sci-fi and fantasy), and if you like inventive, wacky, physics-flavored fun, you should read it.
*I’m not sorry