Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Journalist Judges Terry Pratchett’s Books Without Reading Any of Them

Jonathan Jones has just shown himself to be a poor journalist. Absolute garbage. He’s an art writer for the Guardian, and he wrote about how Terry Pratchett was just a mediocre writer who he never intends to read, and that a big deal is only being made about him because he died earlier this year. What?

Terry Pratchett is one of the best selling fantasy authors in history! He’s just behind three other authors, who are all heavyweights in fantasy writing: J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, and C. S. Lewis. Even before he died, a big deal was being made about him. His witty satire is some of the best and funniest fantasy I’ve ever read.

Jones says he’s not a literary genius. How does he know? How can he boldly state that without ever reading even one of his books? That’s like an art critic saying he doesn’t like Picasso without even looking at a single painting of his. It’s like saying you don’t like the burgers at Five Guys without ever trying their burgers. You cannot judge something while being totally ignorant of it at the same time.

Honestly, Jonathan Jones should just retract that piece of garbage he calls an article. He chose Terry Pratchett simply because he died this year, and a lot of people made a big deal about it, while other authors recently died and not much was said about them. You see, Gunter Grass was a “true titan of the novel.” Terry Pratchett was not, because…well, just because. Actually, because he thinks that Discworld is just light reading, so it’s not real literature. If he’d actually pick up a Discworld novel and read it, he may find that it’s very intelligent. And it most certainly is. It also tackles a lot of social issues, takes on a lot of different styles, and continues to be very engaging and entertaining. I guess he doesn’t think it’s ambitious writing. It’s lazy writing. Far from it.

It irritates me when someone judges something without actually knowing a single thing about it. Jonathan Jones, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Sam Jordison, another writer for The Guardian, and someone who actually is in the publishing industry, wrote a rebuttal. You can read it here.

What do you think of this situation? And what do you think of Terry Pratchett?

Death Has Taken Terry Pratchett from Us

Announced on his Twitter account, Sir Terry Pratchett has died at age 66.  The prolific author of Discworld’s death was announced in typical fashion and with a bit of humour, though it was quite sad.  The announcement was written in all caps, which is how Death’s speech was written in the Discworld novels.  The final three Tweets were:

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.

He’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past eight years, though had been able to continue writing.  I wish he could’ve continued writing for another twenty years.  He will be missed.

Book Review – Moving Pictures

movingpicturesMoving Pictures

Author: Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #10

Genre: Fantasy, Humour

Published 1990

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Goodreads Description

Discworld’s pesky alchemists are up to their old tricks again. This time, they’ve discovered how to get gold from silver — the silver screen that is. Hearing the siren call of Holy Wood is one Victor Tugelbend, a would-be wizard turned extra. He can’t sing, he can’t dance, but he can handle a sword (sort of), and now he wants to be a star. So does Theda Withel, an ambitious ingenue from a little town (where else?) you’ve probably never heard of. But the click click of moving pictures isn’t just stirring up dreams inside Discworld. Holy Wood’s magic is drifting out into the boundaries of the universes, where raw realities, the could-have-beens, the might-bes, the never-weres, the wild ideas are beginning to ferment into a really stinky brew. It’s up to Victor and Gaspode the Wonder Dog (a star if ever one was born!) to rein in the chaos and bring order back to a starstruck Discworld. And they’re definitely not ready for their close-up!

Review

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett is a very obvious parody of the Hollywood movie industry, particularly the early years.  This is the tenth Discworld book in the series, and the tenth I’ve read.

The characters are a very interesting bunch this time.  It centres around Victor Tugelbend, a wizard in training at Unseen University who also happens to be an expert slacker.  He becomes the unlikely hero of the story, and is a pretty likeable character.  As a mashup of several Hollywood actors, in my mind, he looks mostly like Clark Gable.  Then there’s Theda Withel, or Ginger as she’s best known in the book, a small town girl who becomes a movie star.  She starts out stuck up and unlikeable, but I warmed to her as the story went on.  She’s a kind of mix of several Hollywood actresses, though there’s quite a bit of Marilyn Monroe going on.  Gaspode is also a major character, but he’s a dog that can talk.  He provides a lot of the humour.  Other major players are Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who is a greasy businessman who seems to be able to sell anything.  Not a very nice character, but he’s well-known in Ankh-Morpork.  Thomas Silverfish is the President of the Alchemists Guild, who ends up becoming the first movie executive.  He’s pretty aggressive at first, but he’s a bit of a pushover.  There’s also a lot of other characters, including the Librarian, several wizards from Unseen University, trolls, and more.  It is a pretty funny group, though.

The story presents a big mystery that Victor must try to solve.  Although this is a fantasy satire, it has a bit of mystery  He has to find the secret of Holy Wood.  Throughout the book, there are a lot of gags, especially involving stereotyped movie characters and Hollywood people, but I think the most impressive and funniest has to do with the Librarian toward the end.  It spoofs a very well-known movie very well and turns it on its head.  I thought that was very funny.

As with all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, many things are parodied.  The most obvious are silent movies, guy-gets-the-girl-in-the-end movies, miraculous last minute heroics, Lassie, and even one of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic photos.  See if you can spot all of these and more.

The setting is an interesting one.  Holy Wood is where most of the story takes place, though also sometimes in Ankh-Morpork and Klatch.  But Holy Wood is the star.  The whole town is kind of like a Hollywood set, everything showy on the front, but look behind the facades and you see rickety wood supports.  It reminded me of the wild west, but Hollywood style.  It’s cheap, hastily built, and not very impressive-looking. But there was a buzz about it, and although of crappy quality, it was exciting.

Moving Pictures was a fun book.  Not Terry Pratchett’s best, but it was very enjoyable.  It’s definitely recommended to Discworld fans.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Unhappy Embuggerance Coincidence

Anyone who knows of Discworld author Terry Pratchett would likely know that he has a form of early onset Alzheimer’s.  He’s been able to fight it for the past 7 years, but it’s finally caught up to him.  He’s had to cancel an appearance.  This is quite unfortunate, but not unexpected.

The reason I said it was a coincidence is that I finished reading his novel Moving Pictures this week.  There were some elements in the book that were similar to his situation.  I don’t want to spoil it, but I thought it was unusual.

Anyway, I’m hoping he’ll be able to attend future events and hold off this embuggerance a while longer. Good luck, Mr. Pratchett.

Book Review – Eric

ericEric is Terry Pratchett’s 9th Discworld book, and it’s a pretty short one.  It also features the return of the popular character Rincewind.  I like Rincewind, but does he make this book good?

As with Pratchett’s other Discworld novels, this is a parody of several themes, including Faust (the title of this book is alternately Faust Eric), Dante’s Inferno, and Homer’s Iliad.  It involves Rincewind (and his Luggage) getting pulled out of the Dungeon Dimensions by a young demonologist, Eric.  Eric, thinking Rincewind is a demon, commands him to do three things for him.  It’s through these commands that we’re treated to the humourous journey that Eric and Rincewind take through various places and times.  That’s all I can really say without spoiling the story.

The main characters are, of course, Rincewind and Eric.  Rincewind is his usual inept self, unable to conjure up a spell, and just plain making a mess of things.  Eric is a teenager who thinks of himself as a demonologist, although he isn’t very good, either.  He is also quite naive, doesn’t listen well, and doesn’t seem to learn well, either.  Death makes an appearance at the beginning, but that’s all.  Then there’s the demon king Astfgl who seems to love paperwork and bureaucracy.  Doesn’t seem very much like Hell, does it?  There’s a lot of other more minor characters that show up, as well.  I like Rincewind, of course.  He’s probably my favourite character of Discworld at the moment.  Eric, I didn’t really care about.  If he lived or died, it didn’t matter to me.

Usually, a Discworld book is a winner with me.  However, this is probably the first time I have to say that is not so.  While it was mildly humourous, it featured Rincewind, and the situations were ridiculous, the story felt quite muddled and unfocused.  It jumped around a lot, and I just couldn’t get into it like Pratchett’s other books.  Sure, I liked it.  I enjoyed it.  But it wasn’t that funny.

I’d still recommend it to fans of Pratchett.  But I wouldn’t use it to introduce Discworld to anyone.  It is a very quick read, though.  It won’t take much time at all.  Overall, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – Guards! Guards!

guardsguardsTerry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! is the eighth book in the Discworld series. Pratchett is a master at satirical humour in a fantasy setting, and his books are always great light reading.  Guards! Guards! is one of the better ones.

This book centres around the Night Watch of the City Watch in the city of Ankh-Morpork, the greatest city on the disc.  Carrot is a new recruit from the dwarf mines, while his colleagues are Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, and Corporal Nobbs.  Carrot is a young, eager man, ready to please anyone.  He is quite naive, but has great knowledge of the law.  Captain Vimes is the often drunk leader of the group. Sergeant Colon doesn’t like to see much action, and is usually in the office.  Nobby is one strange guy who seems to never play things by the book.  All four of these main characters are delightfully developed, and they go through quite a bit during the course of this book.  Vimes develops into a wonderful character, and has some hilarious drunken thoughts.  Carrot shows amazing initiative in a law enforcement group that basically has no power.  The Librarian, an orangutan at the Unseen University, joins the group.  He is one of my favourite Discworld characters.  Nice to see him here.  Lady Ramkin is another colourful character who breeds swamp dragons.  She is quite funny, and a great addition.  Lord Vetinari also plays a part in this book.  And you can’t forget the dragon.  The ensemble cast was very entertaining.

The story was Pratchett’s usual witty plot, poking fun at various subjects, such as police novels and “hero defeats the dragon and turns out to be the last king’s heir” kind of story.  Unexpected incidents is what I expect with Discworld novels, and this one did a very good job at that.  I expected Keystone Cops kind of buffoonery, but got an actual good story, albeit a silly one.  But it worked remarkably well.  I find that Pratchett has a good comic sense most of the time, though sometimes it isn’t as funny as I’d hoped.  However, Guards! Guards! was very funny.  There was more than one occasion when I laughed (thankfully, no one looked at me on the train when I did that).

Most of Pratchett’s books involve more than one setting location, but Guards! Guards! took place about 99% of the time in Ankh-Morpork.  I got to know the city better through this book, and sometimes revisited locations I’d seen in previous novels.  It’s a very interesting city in many ways, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  It’s a city that works with Guilds for thieves and assassins, who legally do their illegal work.  The city has a lot of unusual characters, shady neighbourhoods, and a dangerous, yet popular bar.

I think you should visit Ankh-Morpork through Guards! Guards! and take a tour with the Night Watch.  It’ll be worth your time.  So far, this may be the best Discworld novel I’ve read.  Highly recommended!

So, I will give this a full 5 stars.