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Literature / Djinn Rummy

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Inside an aspirin bottle, nobody can hear you scream...

Djinn Rummy is a comic fantasy novel by Tom Holt, written in 1995.

All Jane Wellesley wanted was to peacefully overdose on some expired aspirin so she could end her life in a British Rail waiting room. Alas, the bottle she chose to open, instead of aspirin, contained an authentic Genie. Now, instead of suicide, she has a life of infinite possibilities to contemplate. Lucky old Jane.

Lucky old Genie, too- because Kiss (short for Kawauchiya Integrated Circuits III- it's a corporate sponsorship deal) would rather be doing other things. Not least of which is saving the world from his old friend Philly Nine, another Genie, who has decided that the best way to avoid being indentured to humans is to kill them all...


Djinn Rummy contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Myths Are True: With the variation that genies are responsible for them all. For instance,Santa Clause is a genie. You get the general idea.
  • Ax-Crazy: Philly Nine.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Could be the trope codifier. Examples abound:
    • Jane asks for breakfast in bed; she gets a sleeping hedgehog, which is still in its bed of leaves and grass.
    • While being recklessly flown over Moscow, Jane orders Kiss to put her down, "NOW!!" They land in a pedestrian crossing in a main road (in front of an oncoming bus!), because they were directly over it at that moment.
    • Jane wants her apartment redecorated, and asks for something that looks nice. What she gets looks like something out of The Arabian Nights. (It looked nice to Kiss...)
    • Then there's the succession of mortals tricked by Philly Nine into making wishes that will allow him to destroy all human life. Luckily, Philly himself is under the influence of the one wish Kiss tricked him into granting; that whenever he does something evil, he will make a mess of it.
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  • Butt-Monkey: Kiss goes through hell for his mortal. He even contemplates becoming mortal himself, under Cupid's influence.
  • Chew Toy: Poor Justin. Left in charge of his uncle's carpet shop for an afternoon, he finds himself magically hijacked, nearly drowned, and almost involved in the end of the world, among other things. He is compensated for his troubles in the end.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Philly Nine, Kiss' old foe, banters with him as they duel to the death. (Well, since they are both immortal, they are duelling to great amounts of pain...)
  • Interspecies Romance: A genie who very reluctantly finds himself falling for a human.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: Kawaguchiya Integrated Circuits III's acronym is pronounced "Kiss", not "Kick". "The 'C' is soft, as in 'certain', 'coelocanth', or 'celery'."
  • Jackass Genie: Philly Nine twists any orders given by humans in such a way that he can use them as part of his scheme to destroy the planet. He is also not above giving helpful suggestions for wishes, which he then gleefully misinterprets.
  • Kick the Dog: If it's gratuitously cruel, Philly can be relied upon to do it.
  • Literal Genie: This is not only the main power of the genies, it is also their Achilles' Heel. It's how Jane initially tricks Kiss into granting her unlimited wishes, rather than the standard three.
  • Magitek: Several Genies have given up the bottle and are now doing day jobs, being mistaken for technology. (You really thought elevators went up and down because of wires and pulleys?)
  • Only Sane Man: Asaf, who gets sent on a magical adventure by the Dragon King, feels this way after a while. So does anyone who has very much to do with genies, sooner or later, due to the sharp increase in craziness around them.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon King of the South-East wears shorts and a T-shirt with tennis shoes, drinks beer, and materializes a VW Microbus to travel in. He also greets everyone with "G'day". Guess which continent he's in charge of...
  • Our Genies Are Different: Genies are part of the Heavenly Host, come in 12 grades along with Cupid, the sole Force 13 genie in existence, and are absolutely everywhere. They are transdimensional beings (which is how they can fit into those bottles), and like to hang out together in their spare time and get drunk. On milk.
  • Pet the Dog: On the part of the author; after Jane and Asaf have been put through the wringer by the supernatural forces in their lives, they end up together and at least potentially have a happy ending.
  • Precision F-Strike: From God, no less, when Kiss having been blown into billions of pieces by a nuclear bomb, puts in a claim on his life insurance policy with the Chief Underwriter; who realizes that each molecule of Kiss, having the same consciousness, will be entitled to an identical payout when it dies, thus bankrupting Heaven. Clearly, a miracle is called for.
    Kiss: Lucky you reminded me of that. Left to myself, I would never have seen it that way.
    God: SHIT.
  • Psycho for Hire: Philly manages to be employed by several human beings who really should have known better, since once he has a mandate, he immediately tries to twist it in a way that would let him destroy all human life.
  • The Unfavorite: Asaf is the youngest and laziest of three brothers, who was told he would be a good-for-nothing all his life. Sure enough, that's how he turned out. Then he gets three wishes from the Dragon King of the South-East.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The environmentalists who develope gigantic, self-propelled carnivorous flowers capable of wiping out major cities really just want to preserve the balance of nature. Their leader qualifies as a Knight Templar.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: Midway through the book, a pair of low-level genies try to trick Jane by disguising themselves as Tom Cruise and Robert Redford. She sees through the disguise and forces them to get into some empty ketchup bottles, which she puts back on the shelf. Presumably they're still there....


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