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A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

(Discworld #10.5, 14.5, 16.5, 22.5, 23.5, 37)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,836 ratings  ·  594 reviews
In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world's best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 29th 2012 by Doubleday
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
". . . short stories always seem to cost me blood, and I envy people who can do them for fun."

Sadly, Pratchett's own words ring true; short fiction does not seem to be an area where he shines. On the whole, this collection was disappointing. There are some cute fairy tales and a clever poem about picking up hitchhikers on the road to the Glastonbury Festival. Looking back over the titles listed in the table of contents, I have to admit that I've already forgotten what most of them were about.

Althea Ann
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Memoriam, Terry Pratchett, 28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015.

Foreword by A. S. Byatt

Non-Discworld Shorter Writings

"The Hades Business" (1963)
According to Pratchett's introduction, he wrote this when he was 13. He decries it as 'juvenile- but it's really not. Not many 13-years-olds write like this. Hell isn't too popular lately, and the Devil needs some good PR. Hell-arious!

"Solution" (1964)
An inspector badly botches a smuggling investigation. Funny, but the 'punchline' wasn't quite as
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What kind of a fan am I that I hadn't bothered searching out all of the assorted publications that this collection of stories had previously been published in? I should probably had in my membership card. Only I made
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
For me, A Blink of the Screen was a venture into nostalgia.Itstarts at the very beginning of Pratchett’s published writing career, which, as it turns out, was when he was 13 years old. "The Hades Business," which involves the Devil hiring an image consultant, demonstrates that while Thirteen-Year-Old Pratchett may have loved exclamation points not wisely but too well, he was an absolutely brilliant, terrifyingly precocious kid. To tell the truth, I think I enjoyed the early stories the most. ...more
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley, but I received the approval notice the same day that my brought physical copy arrived in the mail.

One of the greatest literary sins in today’s world, as far as I’m concerned, is that Terry Pratchett never won the Booker or the Nobel . He should have simply because he shows the reader, any reader, that literature is just heavy going, but is fun and light. Writers like Pratchett are important because they allow and encourage people to love reading literature. In her
JD Newick
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Covers the whole of his career, some Discworld related, some not. The earliest stories date back to Pterry's teenage years, and are amateurish if promising- The Picture was probably my favourite of his juvenilia. Another favourite was Glastonbury Tales, a Chaucerian poem about picking up hitchhikers on the way to Glastonbury Festival in 1977.

Of the later non-Discworld stories, Turntables Of The Night is a great piece featuring Death (apparently the Death of Good Omens, rather than the Death of
Terry Pratchett has written an awful lot of books, for adults and for children. He started with short stories, back when he was still a journalist. He wrote a few more for various publications, as a full-time author, but admits this wasn't his comfort zone.

And it shows, you can't deny that. This compilation consists of many non-Discworld stories and a bunch of Discworld stories. Each part contains stories which are funnier than the other (and Terry managed again to make me laugh now and then
Thomas Edmund
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this revealing work Pratchett himself reveals that short stories 'require blood' referring to his own difficulty in producing them. Nonetheless in his huge career he has pumped out enough works to put together a compilation and A Blink of the Screen is it.

Pratchett's works range from funny, to barely understandable bizarre and quirky, to surprisingly dark and violent. Each story has a short intro and history from the author, providing what I found to be the most enjoyable parts of the book.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am not normally a fan of short stories but for Terry Pratchett I am prepared to make an exception. I really enjoyed reading these and at several times laughed out loud (as a teacher the medical disorder of the attention seeking pupil was spot on and very funny). What was most fascinating about these was to see the early germs of an idea which were later developed into full length books (Truckers and The Long Earth). I really enjoyed the non disc world writings particularly the author who ...more
Richard Due
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Blood well spent.
Richard Wright
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I felt an overwhelming sense of crushing disappointment as I started working through the first few stories and articles in this book. I love Pratchett, and had high hopes. However, the pedestrian comic tales I found, with nothing to distinguish them from any decent (but not great) humourist, let me down in a way Pratchett never had before. They weren't stories that really deserved to be collected together - this was obviously a vanity project, riding off his name rather than the worth of the ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As the title says, this book collects all of Terry Pratchett's short stories, both Discworld and otherwise.

The first story in the book is also the oldest, first published when the author was just 13 years old. You can tell immediately that it's Terry Pratchett, and despite his own misgivings about the story, a Pratchett at age 13 still writes a better story than I ever could.


Ahem... jealously aside, this first story has more than a hint of Good Omens in it, and has all the wit that you
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A collection of short stories, not-so-short stories, poems, speeches (by fictional characters, of course), rants articles and squibs from the master himself. Some are set within the Discworld, others set... well, all over the place... and varying in style from serious to seriously tongue-in-cheek, they are presented in rough chronological order, each introduced by and very distinctly Pratchett - even the very first short story he ever wrote. You'll also see precursors to certain Discworld ...more
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This is the kind of niche publication that hardcore Pratchett fans (yup, I'm one of those) would be foolish to skip, and folks unfamiliar with Pratchett likely wouldn't appreciate, should probably skip, and definitely should start reading Pratchett elsewhere.

As disclosed, the book is a collection, but more accurately, a mish-mash, if not a potpourri - all of which adds up to a mixed bag full of some gems, some polished rocks, and some coal briquettes. For me, there were enough familiar
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2013
I have been a fan of Pratchett for a long while now, and have read almost all of the Discworld books and some, but not all, of his collaborations with other authors. I have read very little of his short stories, but thankfully with this collection this has now been resolved.

The best way to think of this collection is as a box of rocks. But as you read these, it dawns on you that even though they are a little rough looking, they are actually uncut gems and carry the potential thoughts and ideas
Baal Of
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Pratchett is much better at long form fiction, but I still enjoyed this collection. Pratchett's dry, gentle wit comes through strongly, especially in the Discworld stories, which were correctly gathered in the second half of the book. Nothing in here was as great as the best of his Discworld novels, but it was fun seeing what he could do with smaller bite-sized pieces.
Phil Leader
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, amazon
For someone who was as prolific at writing novels as Terry Pratchett he didn't write much in the way of short stories. As he himself comments in this collection of his work this is because 'they cost blood' to write and he wondered how others such as Neil Gaiman could write so many short stories. This is all the more surprising given his grounding in journalism, something that demands producing a story withing a set number of words.

The basis for this seems to be that the nugget of an idea behind
Joey Woolfardis
Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, author of one of the most successful book series of all time in Discworld is pretty bloody terrible at the shorter format, actually.

This is collection of some shorts: some Discworld, some non-Discworld. It's unlikely anyone would read this without having read at least one Discworld book, but if you are thinking of picking it up as a little taste of what he can do, skip them all and head straight for The Sea and Little Fishes, which is the longest, the best and the most
Cenk Gokce
Jul 02, 2015 rated it liked it
A few good tales, but not as enjoyable as the Pratchett of longer works--in fact, the best stories for me were the Discworld ones, and the earlier sketch of DEATH.

I did get a favourite quotable passage from the book, however:

"It was the same in just about any trade. Sooner or later someone decided it needed organizing, and the one thing you could be sure of was that the organizers weren't going to be the people who, by general acknowledgement, were at the top of their craft. They were working
Arranged in chronological order, this collection is a great way to see how Pratchett's style has evolved over the years. It even includes a short story written when he was a teenager and published in a local paper (and of course it's far better than anything I could write now, let alone when I was that age).

I'd read some of the Discworld stories before, including The Sea and Little Fishes, which is available free online, but the collection also includes a deleted scene from that story so it was
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even at 13, Pratchett was a humanist, trying to make the world a better place through stories that weave the old myths into our new world. That bubbles through the oldest story in the book about a devious advertiser who tries to trick the devil into reconciling with heaven through Gytha Ogg retrieving Granny Weatherwax after the fire. It was a hard book to read, knowing this will be the last time I will see anything new of most of these characters from Sir Terry’s own hand, and maybe the last ...more
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2015
This collection gathers Terry Pratchett's shorter fiction, both from and outside the Discworld, into one book. Obviously the Discworld stuff will draw fans (the Granny Weatherwax story is a standout), but the book also includes the first story he published at age 13, a later story that would evolve into his novel The Long World (co-written with Stephen Baxter), and some shorter pieces and squibs written for various events and publications. Essential reading for Pratchett fans.
K.V. Johansen
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! Every Pratchett reader needs this in their collection. There are some familiar short pieces in here, like Troll Bridge, and other things very few will ever have seen, including some juvenilia that leaves no doubt he's a genius, a short story that shows what The Long Earth should have been, and a great revisiting of Chaucer on picking up hippie hitchhikers.
Doubleday  Books
Terry Pratchett can create an entire world in a single sentence, so it's no surprise that his short fiction is as fulfilling as his epic series. Reading this will give you a new sense of the shape of Pratchett's once-in-a-generation brilliance, and show you a few crazy corners of his mind you haven't imagined. A must for fans of Discworld!
Kate Millin
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An interesting range of stories - including some with old favourites. Makes me want to go back and start reading them all from the first in the series again - will do that some time in the future. It was great to see how Terry started writing too
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Entertaining in parts.

Too bizarre in parts.

Fun little time-waster.
Florin Pitea
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A nice collection of short stories by the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Recommended.
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of short stories, especially if you're a disc world lover.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

In Going Postal, Terry Pratchett wrote, among many other marvelous things, that, “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.” If that maxim is true, it will be a very long time before his legacy is finished. This review of A Blink of the Screen is just one of many millions of ways that his spirit is being kept alive.

This collection, finished before the author’s death, contains all of Sir Terry’s published shorter works, including his first published
Dane Cobain
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is beautiful, a hardback collection of some of Terry Pratchett’s short fiction from throughout the years as it was published by newspapers, anthologies and more. The book is a beautiful artifact in and of itself, especially because of the colour illustrations that are included inside of it, but the artifact is just the beginning.

What I liked about this is that it really was a comprehensive look at Pratchett’s entire career throughout the years, featuring early versions of stories like
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Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels,

Other books in the series

Discworld (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Death, #1; Discworld, #4)
  • Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
  • Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)
  • Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)
  • Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10; Industrial Revolution, #1)
“I did start out in witchcraft to get boys, to tell you the truth.'
'Think I don't know that?'
'What did you start out to get, Esme?'
Granny stopped, and looked up at the frosty sky and then down at the ground.
'Dunno,' she said at last.'Even, I suppose.”
More quotes…