This is thoroughly enjoyable, of course, and I really like watching Discworld expand and hurtle toward modernity. Raising Steam is maybe the most mildThis is thoroughly enjoyable, of course, and I really like watching Discworld expand and hurtle toward modernity. Raising Steam is maybe the most mild-mannered of the Discworld novels that I've read (the most recent was Snuff, which had a deep core of anger and so maybe the contrast is just sharper in that context) although it's still pretty sharp-eyed....more
One of the things I've always liked about the Watch books in Pratchett's Discworld series is that they are very self-aware. I mean this even beyond thOne of the things I've always liked about the Watch books in Pratchett's Discworld series is that they are very self-aware. I mean this even beyond the self-awareness that all the novels have, given their relationship with other literature, but in an ethical sense. The Watch books are preoccupied with justice. Pratchett has filled these books with publicly-minded characters: Vimes and Vetinari (albeit in a benign despot kind of way), of course, but also Carrot and Sybil. I wonder if there's a lot of crossover with fans of The West Wing and Parks and Recreation (although the Watch books keep a careful balance between call-it-idealism and something more hardbitten, which Parks and Recreation can manage and TWW can't - perhaps it's a virtue of being a comedy [and not being hampered by Aaron Sorkin's, uuuh, Aaron Sorkinness] [ILU, Aaron Sorkin]). The bad things in the Watch books have sff accessories, but they are always recognizable: they're the kind of problems we see every day.
Snuff wears its conscience on its sleeve. And on its hat. And on its shirtfront. I found this endearing, but also essential, given the magnitude of the injustice. It's maybe less aggressively hilarious than others (which have kind of a Marx brothers "here's a joke - here's a joke - here's a joke - you haven't laughed yet, screw you, here's a joke about you" feel) (I love the Marx brothers). But it also avoids sentimentality, hooray.
Anyway, Vimes is my favorite forever and ever. I wish Sybil . . . well, here is the thing about Lady Sybil, right? She is perfect. She isn't long-suffering, because Pratchett is too clever for that, and he's made her too arch, and to be fair, she does have a lot of her own interests and things. But there is something about her aggressive perfection that troubles me. Angua doesn't have this problem, because Angua screws up all the time. And I guess if I remember to consider Sybil as the other side of the Vetinari coin, then it isn't such a problem, but sometimes I'm not sure the books remember to consider her in that light - and that is a problem. (Especially in a book about justice.)...more