Maurice Katz is not a hero. He is not, not, not. At least, that's what he keeps telling himself throughout most of When It's A Jar by Tom Holt. And yet he kills a dragon with a breadknife, is given an Excalibur-like letter opener, and has to rescue his one true love and a guy who just might be God. He also gets a crash course in multiverse theory and puts it to the test, usually with a donut (A bagel or a dumpling will do in a pinch.).
If this sounds loopy, then it's supposed to be. Tom Holt skewers science fiction and fantasy conventions along with the classic hero's quest in this book. The humor is very intelligent, and the jokes come thick and fast. Nor are the targets just geek in-jokes: Holt also has some funny things to say about the world of work and corporatism. If you don't get the hang of multiverse theory the first time (I didn't), Holt gives you plenty of opportunities to pick it up. After some of the books I've reviewed recently, this is a nice change of pace: lighthearted, happy-ended, genre fiction. When is a door not a door? When it's a jar. When is a jar not a jar? When it's a bottle of beer.
Ready for more fun? Here ya go:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Mild-mannered Arthur Dent's house gets destroyed just before Earth does, and that's just the start of his morning.
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett: The first book in the Discworld series, the space tourist Twoflower gets caught up in the machinations of a world supported on the backs of four elephants standing on a space turtle.