November 07, 2004

Disc Books

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Is Really That Weird.
(Thanks to Player Gallery for the image.)

Went to a star party last night out west of here. Got to use my shiny new super-bright green laser pointer from ThinkGeek to point out stars and constellations to people. While I was pointing at Cygnus, up near the zenith, an enormous meteor streaked right across our line of sight. Lasted maybe 3-4 seconds and even broke up into a few tiny fireballs at the end. It was the best sighting I've seen in years, maybe even in my life. Really cool. I took it as a sign that God is using Bush's re-election as an elaborate test of the strength of our nation. Anyhoo...

Terry Pratchett has written over a dozen books dealing with Discworld, a Brit-com approach to the fantasy genre (Monty Python meets Robert Jordan, maybe). I really liked the first couple of books in this series, but after a while, it really grew thin. The stories weren't that great, and the laughs were too few and far between for me to invest my time. There are too many other good choices out there. I was able to plow through them and be satisfied for a while, but I eventually ran into a real stinker ("Wyrd Sisters") and that put me off the series for good.

I really bring up this series because we found a illustrated story (if I remember correctly, it was "The Last Hero") in the library yesterday. It was a shorter version of a typical Pratchett Discworld story, written in the same style, lavishly illustrated. Looked pretty neat, so Justin wanted to give it a whirl. He's read enough fantasy now that he might appreciate some of the humor, but we'll see.

On the way home in the car, Justin showed Cody a picture of the worldview of this place, a version of which is shown above. The idea behind Discworld is that it truly is a disk, several thousand miles across, with weird Physics to go along with it, etc. The disk is carried on the back of four elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a gigantic sea turtle swimming through space.

So Cody asked, "Wait. How can the giant turtle swim through space if there isn't any air to breathe?"

Justin responded in all seriousness and even with an air of exasperation, "God, Cody! That's what the elephants are for!"

Posted by Observer at November 7, 2004 08:50 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

*smacks head*

Posted by: felicity on November 7, 2004 10:00 AM

I *loved* "Guards! Guards!". I've only read a few Discworlds, and only this year, but I'm looking forward to more of them.

Posted by: Humbaba on November 7, 2004 11:25 AM

That goes with what a lot of Pratchett fans say. I read the first 4-5 books, then gave up. Several people told me that if I wanted to start reading the series again, I should start with "Guards! Guards!" because it was the best of the remaining lot.

I read it, and it was as good as the first two ("The Colour of Magic" and "The Light Fantastic"), but that wasn't good enough to inspire me to go look for more, because I figured it was all downhill from there.

Actually, I think within the first two dozen pages, there was a reference to a character standing on a mountaintop in full-plate mail bronze armor in the middle of a lightning storm screaming "All Gods are bastards! All Gods are bastards!" Got a good laugh out of that image and it obviously stuck in my mind, but it was all downhill from that point.

Posted by: Observer on November 7, 2004 10:39 PM

Now, I actually like Wyrd Sisters, but then again I have an english degree and the Shakespeare parodies abound in that book. Espacially the fool being similar to King Lear's fool and the whole thing being very close to Macbeth.

The first one I read was Mort. I think Death is my favorite character in the series so far. I'm also fond of the various witches. Equal Rites was good. And of course the luggage is always fun too...

Posted by: Liz on November 8, 2004 08:31 AM

There are a number of jokes specific to the subject matter in every one. Depending on how closely you read and how familiar you are with the subject you'll get different levels of enjoyment.

My favorites include Soul Music (a commentary on music and the music industry), The Last Hero, and one that I can't recall the name of which is about Hollywood.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on November 8, 2004 11:48 AM