by Tom Holt
Cover Artist: Design by Lauren Panepinto Earth Image / Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
Orbit Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316086998
Date: 18 June 2010 List Price $13.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Tom Holt, noted for his humorous fiction, excels in the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories in Blonde Bombshell. He takes the reader on a whirlwind ride as a bank security consultant and a computer whiz stand between the Earth and a massive bomb designed to destroy it. Luckily, the intelligent bomb decides to investigate why its predecessor failed to do the job. Worried the apparently undefended Earth has a secret defense system, it sends probes to seek information.
The novel opens on the planet Ostar where dogs rule and they breed humans as pets. Earth music has interfered with logical thought on Ostar and the dogs have constructed a bomb to destroy Earth (they call it Dirt). The first such bomb failed to detonate, so they send another.
Meanwhile, banks on Earth are losing trillions of dollars. George Stretchkin, the brilliant security analyst with a severe drinking problem, realizes someone has stolen the aposiderium used as a security stripe in all currency. For what he has no idea.
At the same time, the richest woman in the world, Lucy Pavlov is losing her memory. She has invented a new operating system and other software on which the world now depends. In trying to identify what caused the loss, she learns aposiderium has such an effect. However, all supplies of it are tightly controlled.
Meanwhile, the Ostar bomb and some of its probes, explore the possibility of AI self-awareness. They ponder what it means for a weapon. Normally, the bomb constructs probes from spare materials aboard and reabsorbs the probes when they gather the needed information. The probe Mark Twain, Mark Two since the second bomb created him, begins evolving in odd ways and wants a continued existence as a Dirter (human).
Holt manages plenty of digs at the current establishment and warmongering. Clichés abound, but with interesting twists. Writing humor, which appeals to broad groups of readers, is hard and not everyone will like Holt's over-the-top story. I'm generally regarded as humor-impaired, but I loved the book.