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This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
Tom Holt is the author of no fewer than seventeen hilarious comic fantasy novels and three historical novels. Described as 'dazzling' by Time Out, 'brilliantly funny' by the Mail on Sunday and 'wildly imaginative' by New Scientist, his novels never fail to bring a smile to even the most weary soul. But there's one thing that Tom himself has, in the past, had very good reason to find decidedly unamusing: computers. One unfortunate incident (see below) even led him to pen the following ode …
Ode to Windows 95
Like a trouser needing hemming,
Like a nose that longs to sniff;
Like the squealing of a lemming
As it totters off a cliff;
Like a maggot in an apple
That you notice once you've bit;
That's how I feel when I grapple
With this useless piece of shit,
Reinstalling on my hard drive
Bloody Windows 95
So, for our first Electronic Newsletter author interview, we thought we'd pose some technologically-challenging questions to one of Britain's funniest and most inventive comic writers:
What was the first computer you used? Do you still have it?
The first computer-shaped object I used was the basic model Amstrad. I wrote about 18 books on it until somebody pointed out that it was Bronze Age technology, and even owning such a thing made me a major Luddite and an abomination. So I bought an old 386, which worked fine, until somebody pointed out that in many respect, old 386s are even more of a stench in the nostrils of God than Amstrads, and unless I stopped mucking about with industrial archaeology and got with the program, I was in grave danger of waking up one night to find a bunch of techies in white sheets burning a Commodore on my lawn. So I bought a proper computer, which immediately crashed, taking three month's work with it. That was several computers ago.
The extremely fine Pentium on which I'm typing this is nearly 4 months old, making it the longest serving and most reliable Proper Computer I've owned so far. All its predecessors have died; none from old age.
My favourite computer joke is the one that maintains that if cars had evolved in the same way as computers, a Rolls Royce would cost £650, do 5,000 miles to the gallon, cruise at 250mph and explode without warning after six months, killing everybody inside.
How much do you use e-mail?
Incessantly. It's the only way to get a response out of me, short of sticking needles in my ears. I find it curious but significant that three of my five closest and dearest friends are people I've never met.
Do you think that the Internet has changed the world?
Changed the world, yes (but so does the fall of a sparrow). Changed it significantly? No, not really. It has the potential to do more good than any other major invention since the 1830s; given the attitude of the British and other governments, however, I doubt it'll get the chance.
Which Internet sites do you list as your Favourites?
Apart from the dazzling plethora of Tom Holt fan sites, you mean? A couple of engineering discussion forums, Jim Wright's 'Voyager' reviews, a bunch of online bookstores and the like.
The aspect of the Net I use and love most is Usenet; I post to at least half a dozen newsgroups at any given time, and lurk on several others.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit
. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit
and is printed with their permission.