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First published: 2 Dec 1999
Publisher: Orbit, published 2 Dec 1999
ISBN: 1857238982, Hardcover, 320 pages
Size: 21.6 x 14.4 x 3 cm
Publisher: Orbit, published 21 May 2000
ISBN: 1857239881, Paperback, 308 pages
Size: 10.9 x 2 x 17.7 cm
Publisher: Hachette Digital, published 5 Nov 2009
ISBN: B002TXZT0M, Kindle edition, 308 pages
Book synopsis (The back of the book says)
Once upon a time (or last Thursday, as it's known in this matrix) everything was fine: Humpty Dumpty sat on his wall, Jack and Jill went about their lawful business, the Big Bad Wolf did what big bad wolves do, and the wicked queen plotted murder most foul. But the humans hacked, cried havoc, shut down the wicked queen's system (mirrors 3.1) and corrupted her database - and suddenly everything was not fine at all. But at least we know that they'll all live happily ever after. Don't we? Computers and fairy tales collide to hilarious effect in the latest sparkling cocktail of mayhem, wit and wonder from the master of comic fantasy.You can download a a sneak preview of the first chapter of the book.
Tom Holt's own words about the book:
Snow White; My Part In Her Downfall. I wanted to write a book about the Seven Deadly Dwarves. They were cute, those dwarves. Their names were Greedy, Lustful, Slothful, Angry, Snobby, Soapy and Doc, and they lived in a little cottage in an executive residential development with mauve velvet curtains (with tiebacks) and a red light permanently aglow in one upstairs window, which got burned to the ground at least once a week. I had a lot of fun with them along the way, but in the end they decided that the direction their career was taking them made it advisable for them to seek alternative representation (agentspeak for, they fired me). The hell with them, I thought; and instead I began to think long, engaging thoughts about the seven Spice Dwarves (Grumpy Spice, Sleepy Spice, Dopy Spice etc). That was fun, too, for a while; but sooner or later I'd walk round a corner and bash my face against an invisible lamp-post called Snow White. I hate it when that happens. For every seven dwarves, you see, there has to be a Snow White. It's the rules. You can't have a bunch of Dwarves Behaving Badly living the life of Riley on their own miles from anywhere, with last week's chip wrappers all over the living-room floor and pyramids of empty beer cans in the bathroom; sooner or later, what Goethe called the Eternal Feminine is going to creep in from the dark woods and make them tidy the place up. This thought depressed me so much that I gave up all dwarves for Lent and decided to write a book about computers instead. It had come to my attention that a whole bunch of writers - quite respectable, some of them - had figured out that if you set a book somewhere inside the workings of a computer, you can do what the hell you like and it doesn't have to make sense or anything. Me for some of that, I thought; so, being a craftsman and a professional, I resolved to research computers. I bought one. I bought one from my mate Pete Thompson; an amiable ex-headmaster with the finest vocabulary of hair-curlingly foul language it's ever been my privilege to encounter. He showed me how it worked - where you hit it to switch it on, where you kick it to switch it off, all those abstruse, nerdish technical details that have come to dominate our lives here in History's armpit - and retreated to a safe distance with my money and, I assume, an enormous grin. Two things soon became apparent; (A) the sort of virtual reality stuff you get in Gibson, Sterling and Bethke ain't gonna happen so long as there's a Microsoft. These days, one of my recurring nightmares concerns a future where Microsoft has merged with the Disney corporation and taken over the government of the planet. I wanted to write a book about it, but felt I lacked the necessary ability to convey a sense of bleak, mind-bleaching horror. Stephen King might be able to do it; so could George Orwell. Too heavy for me, though. (B) When Pete sold me the computer, he included in the software package a really nifty little accessory called Literary Critic For Windows 6.1, which assesses the quality of the work I've done in, say, an average 12-hour shift, and suddenly deletes it without warning if it isn't good enough. I've had a lot of use out of that facility over the past few years. Apparent Thing B set me thinking about an unexpectedly sentient computer that writes people's books for them; but word of this got around, and after I'd received gagging writs from both Lord Archer and Dick Francis, I gave up on the idea and started thinking about stories. I considered a secret agent who works for a little-known U.S. federal bureaucracy called the Bureau of Anomalous Statistics, whose job it is to find that One Particular Butterfly and stop it flapping its wings at precisely the wrong moment; but then it struck me that it'd be much more fun to play in an environment where the butterfly had already done its stuff. Accordingly, I gave some thought to the possibility that what we call cold germs are in fact refugees, the microscopic equivalent of White Russians who fled their planet (inhabited by incredibly intelligent and enlightened life-forms who just happen to be very, very small...) and sought refuge where they'd never be found, namely up the noses of huge, dumb, lumbering humans. Nobody realises this until a scientist finally stumbles on a 'cure' for the common cold. The night before he's due to publish his findings to the world, the leaders of the cold community get themselves smuggled into this spoilsport's lab (they stow away inside the head of an industrial espionage agent sent by a big Swiss pharmaceuticals company to swipe the recipe; then they hotwire his brains so they can communicate via his voicebox etc) and plead with the scientist not to commit genocide and wipe out their unique and unbelievably rich and wonderful cultural heritage. I was planning on calling it "The Cold That Came In From The Spy"; but fortunately Literary Critic For Windows 6.1 intervened, formatting my hard disk twice in a matter of days (harsh but, in retrospect, necessary) and I went back to thinking about dwarves again. But that was all right; because suddenly I had my Snow White. Just suppose, I thought, that Nightmare Vision A (see above) had, to a certain extent, come to pass; but, given that the operating system running the show was a product of a Certain Large Corporation, compiled to their usual exacting standards and thoroughly debugged before release, it could only be a matter of time before That Ole Butterfly put wing-membrane to thermal and brought the whole kaboodle crashing down in chaos around the heads of the poor, unsuspecting characters. The rest, of course, is bibliography. And if this all sounds rather searing and apocalyptic, console yourself with the thought that there might also have been a subplot about God introducing the Y0K bug around the time of the first ever Christmas, by way of distracting attention from his impending impeachment before the Heavenly Host on charges of inappropriate behavior, if it wasn't for good old Literary Critic for Windows.
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