Posts Tagged ‘Terry Pratchett’
Thanks to the kids for borrowing this fabulous book from the library!
They talk about authors writing better as they age and there’s been discussion about Agatha Christie and how her writing became a little less great as she aged and probably acquired Alzheimers or some other form of dementia. They talk about writers’ becoming better writers due to writing more. What I’ve never heard about how some writers transcend all health problems and produce their best work yet.
Snuff is ostensibly about Commander Sam Vimes and his holiday. He didn’t want to go on holiday, he was very reluctant and only pretended to hand his badge over, arranged by his wife, Lady Sybil Ramkin, and Lord Vetinari, it’s hinted they did this as there were problems in the area where Vimes now owns land. Vimes very reluctantly drives down there and even more reluctantly tries to do the right thing and spend time with his family. While there he felt it incumbent on himself to try and find the missing blacksmith, the man who was supposed to meet him at midnight and give him some information, the fact that he’d been framed for murder might have something to do with it.
What this is really about is race relations and how some races look down on others as subhuman and therefore feel it’s okay to use them as slaves and work them until they die. This has happened so many times in the real world it’s impossible to count and it will continue to happen until the message gets through that we are all equal.
In this book Pratchett makes the point very clearly and I couldn’t help admiring how he did this. As many people know Pratchett has Alzheimers and that means his brain cells are deteriorating and his memory is going which logically means his writing will deteriorate as well. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Snuff. This book blew me away, I felt it was his best book ever and I want to go on record as saying this is Pratchett writing as if he’s come of age. Every other book before this now feels as if he was in his adolescence but this is adult writing and it’s superb!
I’b been there before and knew exactly where to go so please tell me why I didn’t go straight up the stairs as soon as I got through the doors.
As I was going up the stairs the adrenalin started as I recalled the last time I was at the Sebel. It was called the Carlton Crest and we abbreviated it to CC I tried to refrain from silly comments at the time. I recalled the last time I’d been in the foyer, wearing a witch’s hat and cape I entertained the queue of very excited people while we waited for the volunteers to finish assembling the paperwork, bags and badges.
Today we sat in the part we’d previously designated the breakout room. It had tables, chairs and we used it for the odd occasion that had missed the programming or didn’t need a designated room. It was the room Sir Terry Pratchett sat down in for a chat to a few people and ended up being surrounded by a large group totally disrupting the carefully planned programming.
Have you guessed yet? It’s the location of the First Australian Discworld Convention. Yes, my conference today is in some of the exact same rooms and it’s helping to make things that much better.
Discworld in Australia is moving into a new era. We’ve gone from a little convention in Melbourne to another convention in Melbourne, to another in Sydney and this year there’s a little something happening in Adelaide with another one planned in Melbourne next year. We’re also putting together groups for Discworld related events, tomorrow is one of these events and people will be meeting at Realm of Legends for a games tournament, search for Nullus Anxietas IV on Facebook for more details. I’m blogging on my iPad from the conference sitting only a couple of metres from where Sir Terry Pratchett sat in 2007 and can’t figure out how to put in links.
Yesterday I was part of a flash mob. It wasn’t a large mob but it was fun and I’m exhausted. We were advertising the Fourth Australian Discworld Convention, we had our first batch of flyers and were off to advertise!
You can find some details of the organising of the flash mob here and more information will be forthcoming about future flash mobs both there and also on the Facebook page. I’d like to share photos with you but they’re top secret. The video is so top secret we didn’t take one, it might be because I was singing and that’s a sound you don’t want to hear.
Anyway, we gathered at Federation Square, sat down for our cups of cocoa (AKA hot chocolate or coffee) and flexed our lungs for our first rendition of “A Cup of Tea is Just as Good”. I didn’t ask where the words came from and I’m not sure I want to know. It has been set down in The Black Ribboner Songbook which will be auctioned off at Nullus Anxietas IV in 2013. If you want to look at it you’ll have to attend the convention.
We dressed up as incognito Black Ribboner’s, some were less incognito than others, pinned on black ribbons with our motto of Not 1 Drop and besieged various shops, trying to act as humans. Some of the shop assistants were more puzzled than others and others were quite happy to be involved, although none of them joined our singing. We still didn’t do a video though, be grateful, my singing truly is challenging…one day I’ll write about my Dad and his singing…I have his skills.
I figured there’s just time enough to fit in another Terry Pratchett before the Third Australian Discworld Convention (aka Nullus Anxietas 3 or NA3) starts on Friday. For some lucky people the fun and games start on Thursday as they get together for some stargazing with Sir Pterry but I’m not getting to Sydney until 10am Friday so I’ll have to forego that pleasure. I managed to fit in Men at Arms a couple of days ago and I’m now going to scribble a few words for you.
Here’s the description from the back of the book. It tells you enough but not too much and makes some things totally unclear which is just as it should be.
‘ Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!’
But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detritus (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).
And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…
What this doesn’t mention is Captain Vimes impending nuptials to Lady Sybil Ramkin and therefore his moving into the upper echelons of society which is a big shock to most of the echelons. It doesn’t tell us about Corporal Carrot and the rumour that he’s royalty, nor does it tell us about his charisma oozing from every poor without him even trying. It doesn’t tell us about Angua or Nobby Nobbs…not that you want to know about Nobby Nobbs, he’s a good person not to know about.
It is a bit misleading, as they don’t need to clean up Ankh-Morpork, they only need to solve the murders that have been happening and do this without upsetting the guilds as they feel they should look after their own.
I picked up this Pratchett as I do all Pratchetts because I wanted a light read. I should know better by now, while all of his works can be a light read they have several depths to them and it depends on how extensive your knowledge is as to how deep you read them. This book has a great deal about politics and I’m not politically adept so there’s one area I’m left guessing at. It does skirt around the edges of society and also puts in a great deal about policing. We see how the Night Watch go around achieving more than they normally would as they’re thinking about Corporal Carrot and Captain Vimes and how they would not appreciate them coming back with the job only half done. It’s interesting seeing how these people operate and how they achieve so much more by looking at their superiors, they don’t need to be told what to do.
I find Corporal Carrot absolutely fascinating. He is friendly to everyone and expects everyone to be friendly not just back to him but to everyone else. Here’s a small example.
A beggar looked Carrot up and down. His mouth dropped open.
‘It’s Cumbling Michael, isn’t it?’ said Carrot, in his cheerful way.
The door slammed.
‘That wasn’t very friendly,’ said Carrot.
On another occasion Carrot was between a legion of Trolls and a legion of Dwarfs. A fight was about to explode and he just stood there telling them all off and telling them to put their weapons down…just as if they were errant children. It worked and they stopped all thoughts of fighting…until he walked away when the world exploded.
Pratchett has a particular turn of mind that comes up with some very interesting ideas and that includes someone called Bloody Stupid Johnson who invents things but has no idea of scale. His Colossus of Morpork was easy to lose; the caretaker checked his pockets for it. According to Corporal Carrot
‘I’m afraid that for Mr Johnson accurate measurements were something that happened to other people.’
As with all Discworld books, I’m left feeling I’ve learned a lot about people and how they work. I’ve been entertained and fallen in love with Corporal Carrot once more…actually that’s not true, I much prefer Captain Vimes. I don’t really like people who are too good to be true so Captain Vimes is much more my style, he’s got foibles and weaknesses and is a truly rounded character.
The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett is also known as Truckers, Diggers and Wings. They are a fabulous little set of books and take a serious look at religion and it’s beginnings. They’re aimed at kids but are readable by any age. Truckers was made into a TV series and I saw that with my kids…when I say with I actually mean without as they wandered off totally bored and I was transfixed. The series is made in stop-motion and is really well done so when you then read the books you find the only major difference is going from visual to print. I read these as part of the Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010 on The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader, there’s still time to join us as it doesn’t finish until 30th November 2010!
The premise of the story is that nomes live on Earth with us, they arrive many thousands of years ago and have forgotten where they come from. They are small enough to fade into the background and live with us without being seen by us. A group of Nomes live in The Store and think the owners of The Store, Arnold Bros, are God. They’ve taught themselves to read using the signs hanging in The Store and have a religion based on everything around them. One day some Nomes from ‘outside’ come into The Store and upset everyone’s notions, then ‘The Thing’ wakes up and tells them The Store is to be closed and they have to make some big decisions. ‘The Thing’ is a little black box that’s been carried by the Outside Nomes since forever and for the first time has started to talk. They decide to leave The Store and it’s a wonderful story of co-operation and argument, learning and opening of minds.
In Truckers they actually leave The Store and find their way to the Quarry. In Diggers they’re living in the Quarry and Masklin decides it’s not where they need to live forever so he asks ‘The Thing’ lots of questions, watches the aeroplanes and then makes a decision that they have to get onto an aeroplane so he takes a couple of Nomes and off they go leaving the rest behind to argue and then defend their Quarry against humans. In Wings Masklin takes the Nomes on the ultimate trip.
You need to know more about Masklin at this point. He’s the youngest of the Outside Nomes and was used to doing all the hunting and all the hard stuff and found himself at the head of the decision to leave The Store. It was an interesting transition and it happened as he was the most vocal of the Outsiders and kept asking questions. He also feels it’s time to get married and tells this to Grimma but she takes exception to the way she is ‘told’ and not ‘asked’ so she gives him a piece of her mind and when he comes back at the end of Wings he brings her a present.
There are so many different transitions in the this series. There’s the transition the Abbot makes from being a total believe in Arnold Bros to being a very pragmatic person who is constantly challenging his own beliefs. There’s the transition Masklin makes in going from a hunter and collector to a thinker and manager. Grimma goes from being a young female who organises everyone and everything in the home to someone who challenges others and makes them constantly think.
I can’t recommend this series enough. Yes, there is death and dying but they’re dealt with in a matter-of-fact way and shows they are a part of life. The books constantly indicate that you should be aware of other people’s traditions and let them continue even if you don’t actually agree with them. They are beautifully written and they withstand many re-readings.
What happens when Death takes an apprentice? Thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett you can find out. Mort by Sir Terry Pratchett is the story of Death and his apprentice, Mort.
Mort is not very good at anything, he tends to think too much about things and his father takes him to the hiring fair on Hogswatch Eve in the hopes someone would pick him up as an apprentice, as it turns out that someone is Death. There are very few books where Death is an active participant and this is one of them. He talks slowly, in capitals and is trying to understand humans with very little success. On this night he comes down to the hiring fair and hires Mort. Everything is okay for a while until Death gives him a chance to work on his own for one night when his feelings get the better of him and he ‘kills’ the wrong person. History must be given an chance to work and so chaos ensues.
I love this book. I can see why my friends aren’t so excited about it as everything seems to work out for the best with Death manipulating time and the Gods to make certain. I have to admit to a certain amount of bias as I really like Death, he has a heart of gold and really means well, in this book we see him trying to understand fun and what it is we do in order to enjoy ourselves; it’s a nice unbiased look at people and questions why we do these things.
I was happily working my way through my blogs today and found Tony Martin had dropped some names in his blog. A bit careless of him and I hope one day he’ll pick them up again but for the moment I’ll just link to his post so you can see which names he dropped. The Scrivener’s Fancy is a lovely blog written by four different people and I drop in a couple of times a week to read Tony Martin’s entry.
I was delighted to read about one of my favourite actors from Fantasy Island, a programme from the 1970s about a man and his dwarf assistant who owned an island and charged people exhorbitant amounts to fulfil their fantasies. It had Ricardo Montalban as Mr Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as his assistant. Martin wrote a brief passage about Hervé Villechaize and it made me realise that whenever I read about Giamo Casanunda, a character from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of books, I always thought of Hervé Villechaize, very strange. Villechaize described himself as a ladies man and with some quick research I found that information elsewhere, he apparently continually propositioned women on the set of Fantasy Island.
Why did I always think of Villechaize when reading about Casanunda? Well, there’s the height for a start. Villechaize was 3′ 11″ (1.19 m) and Casanunda was 3′ 9″ in his high heels. I always felt Villechaize was into the ladies and Casanuda definitely was, he described himself on his business card as The World’s Second Greatest Lover and propositioned Nanny Ogg at every opportunity. Those are the only two facts I have, the rest is just my leap of intuition and my family know my leaps of intuition.
We give our grateful thanks to Terry Pratchett for being such an understanding man and letting us get away with creating cartoons from his works.
P.S. Is that enough grovelling?