A short tale of how a man's life is turned upside down, this never pretends to be anything other than a teaser for the author's other books. I'm not s...moreA short tale of how a man's life is turned upside down, this never pretends to be anything other than a teaser for the author's other books. I'm not sure if it's fair to judge a writer on so short a piece as this and while I'm not gasping in admiration neither is it terrible; so I'll reserve my judgement for the next book, if I read it. The Angels though, hint at what is to come and I wonder if comparisons with C.S. Lewis are as much about faith as writing style.(less)
This could be the best Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book so far. Some of the stories in the first 40% or so of the book see Fritz Leiber experiment with...moreThis could be the best Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book so far. Some of the stories in the first 40% or so of the book see Fritz Leiber experiment with form and structure when compared with his earlier tales - one in particular is perhaps more akin to some of his horror writing than his swords and sorcery yarns, with the heroes toyed with by malicious gods keen to make them suffer psychologically. In this, they have nothing to fight and can merely try to stay sane.
For the most part, the stories follow on from one another pretty well and, for the first time (including in the tale referenced above) we see several key figures from earlier stories begin to return in a meaningful way. This is a welcome development and one which is carried forward into the final part of the book, consisting of two stories so closely linked as to be one cohesive whole. Here, characters are not only returning but there's marked development in the characters of the protagonists as well. The humanity - and human weakness - of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have always been a hallmark of Leiber's treatment of the genre but here there is a palpable sense of emotional growth in their characters, no longer the callow youths of Swords and Deviltry or the lusty adventurers of Swords Against Death.(less)
In Men at ArmsTerry Pratchett proposed that trolls had a reputation for being stupid due to having evolved in cooler climes - their brains don't fun...moreIn Men at ArmsTerry Pratchett proposed that trolls had a reputation for being stupid due to having evolved in cooler climes - their brains don't function properly in the warmer places where people live. Here, we get to see the effect of that societal change on the trolls left behind - the ones who haven't moved to the city. The first two Discworld short stories were basically sketches, jokes of one form or another. This one is a little longer and rather different in tone. It's still written with Pratchett's typical humour but it's an essay on nostalgia; a hero and a troll reminisce and talk about change. It should be easy for everyone to relate to: the world's not like it was when I was a boy...(less)
Like Theatre of Cruelty I'm not sure that this counts as a book but it is listed on GoodReads, so I'm reviewing it. Like that story too, this is prob...moreLike Theatre of Cruelty I'm not sure that this counts as a book but it is listed on GoodReads, so I'm reviewing it. Like that story too, this is probably best judged as a joke rather than on its merits as a story, being so short. Where that one was built around an overworked punchline though this one has some good ideas and dialogue before the pay-off whilst presenting a Death more tired than intrigued by humanity.(less)
Amusingly Terry Pratchett take (view spoiler)[on Punch and Judy shows (hide spoiler)]. I'm afraid I'm not a short story fan - in that I never know how to judge them fairly against novels. This one was originally a two page spread in a magazine, hardly the place to develop plot or character, so I suppose it's best seen as a joke rather than anything else. Like all jokes it hinges on the punchline and this one's as satisfyingly groan-inducing as any other. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
There was a rather contrived (I thought) but widely cried surprise registered at the announcement of Dodger: what's Terry Pratchett doing writing abo...moreThere was a rather contrived (I thought) but widely cried surprise registered at the announcement of Dodger: what's Terry Pratchett doing writing about Victorian London, bit of a departure from goblins and dragons, isn't it? Those more familiar with Pratchett's output, and the Discworld books in particular, could see this vacuous, snobbish rhetoric for what it was. We know that through the loosely-knit series of books Ankh-Morpok as evolved, becoming less and less like Lankhmar and more and more like London with every passing tome. Here, the transformation is at last complete: the trains have arrived.
This is a book that's obviously written with a lot of love. The narrative of the Victorian Golden Age of Steam is replete and is built up with just about every Railway related story you can think of - from Brief Encounters (albeit with a happy ending) to the Transcontinental railroad. Indeed, as I read it I constantly wondered if it might be a good gift for my steam-train and industrial heritage loving uncle, despite him having no interest in fantasy books. Pratchett fans need not be put-off, however, this not just a paean to a by-gone age of locomotives.
That was what the technology was doing. It was your slave but, in a sense, it might be the other way round.
The Discworld novels have always been, essentially, satires. From the earliest genre satire of The Colour of Magic to the modern societal mores of the later books such as Snuff Pratchett's prose has always been capable of raising a smile and a laugh whilst, occasionally, making the reader think about a topic in a new way. Here, the heart of the novel is our relationship with technology, a pertinent subject as it spirallingly takes over our lives.
It's probably no accident that the author chooses to frame a debate on the future in symbols of the past; in a sense, the Discworld has always been about change and his conclusion is that change is the one constant: mastering it or accepting it is the key to happy and successful change and - by extension - a happy and successful life. In one sense though, this book does differ markedly from the best of the Discworld books. Pratchett has shown himself to be adept at exploring a variety of themes through a multitude of now familiar personalities, here though, those personalities are missing. Their names are here, of course, almost all of them, but not the personalities.
The world is changing and it needs it shepherds and its butchers.
Terry Pratchett obviously had a lot of fun riffing off of Shakespeare in Wyrd Sisters, a book which I enjoyed immensely. It's probably no surprise th...moreTerry Pratchett obviously had a lot of fun riffing off of Shakespeare in Wyrd Sisters, a book which I enjoyed immensely. It's probably no surprise then that he should choose to revisit that idea. Here, it's the witches who are the star of the show again but spoofing Tragedies is out of the window as, instead, the author lovingly (if not faithfully) rewrites A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Pratchett embellishes The Fairy Story with Northern European folk beliefs and his own trademark humour which, where the witches are concerned, involves an admiration for countryfolk and country traditions, poking fun at those who have so often charactured them over the years.(less)
I was first given a copy of The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul to read many, many years ago. It was great but when I noticed that it was the second i...moreI was first given a copy of The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul to read many, many years ago. It was great but when I noticed that it was the second in a series I was a little surprised I hadn't been given the first one to read. Now, I think I understand why. Douglas Adams is often compared with Terry Pratchett but it's a very lazy comparison. Both authors wrote a very British kind of comic speculative fiction at the end of the twentieth century but there, arguably, the similarities cease.
Where Pratchett has evolved into a top novelist, Adams was a brilliant writer of radio screenplays. Often, it must be said, his brand of joyous wordplay and comic meditations did not translate terribly well to the written page. Perhaps this is because he wrote sketches linked by a narrative, rather than writing a narrative encompassing occasional sketches, as Pratchett does.
The first of the books in this omnibus then,Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency very much fits that pattern. Reading the novel, (view spoiler)[with it's devices of time-travel, spaceships and alien planets (hide spoiler)], is very much like reading another episode from Hitchhiker's and the key character of Richard MacDuff, in particular, could simply be Arthur Dent. Basically, this story was amusing but not entirely satisfying. 3/5
The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, on the other hand, was even better than I remembered. Here, Adams leaves his Sci-Fi security blanket and writes a well-structured tale of Norse Gods coming to terms with life in modern Britain. Some of the themes, such as how belief effects gods, how they come into being and how they die, are covered in Pratchett's Small Gods, too, but here they are treated less earnestly as Adams at last lets the narrative come to the fore. The characters, even the gods, are well drawn and believable and this is probably the author's greatest written work. 5/5["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)