Results tagged “Terry Pratchett” from kwc blog

Book: Thud! by Terry Pratchett

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In increasing order of specificity: Thud! is a Discworld book. It is an Ankh-Morpark book. It is a Watch book. It is a Sam Vimes book.

There are probably ten or so Discworld books that share all these traits, and yet I found this one fairly refreshing. I always enjoy a Discworld novel, having now read about a third of the 30+ books in the series, but even though I have often used Discworld novels as light refreshers between more heavy books, they themselves can oversaturate you with Pratchett-like humor -- much like eating a pound of fudge. It is probably for that reason that I waited a full year to read this book after picking it up at a Pratchett talk in Mountain View.

Sam Vimes is a "father who suffers from Lego foot." That's how Pratchett started off describing Thud! at his talk and it's a good starting point as to why I think this book is a bit different -- there's more heart than satirical skewers. There's still plenty of humorous jabs at racism, Da Vinci Code, Blackberrys, fatherhood, fundamentalism, art, and more -- it really isn't possible to have a serious book set in a world carried on the backs of four elephants -- but the humor is scaled back a bit to give Sam Vimes, Young Sam, and Sybil room to breath.

This isn't the funniest of Pratchett's books and if you're looking for constant side-splitting satirical fantasy humor, this probably isn't the one to pick up. Luckily, there are 33+ other books of his that you can pick up that probably fit this bill. I happen to really like this one.

Before reading Thud!, I recommend reading Fifth Elephant. Of the many Discworld novels, it is the one I can think of with most appropriate background material.

Talk: Terry Pratchett

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talk at Books Inc in Mountain View

Pratchett opened his talk comparing the security at airports to "evil clowns at the circus." Shoes off, belt on, shoes off, belt off. "Trousers down -- they haven't done that yet -- you know they want to do it." There was a "guy with one leg. They took his shoe away." He found the focus on pocketknives puzzling in a country where we have so many guns.

On heart surgery

Pratchett had heart surgery last year. Afterwords his surgeon said that they had a little "fun and games." Pratchett asked if that was medical speak for "you nearly died." His surgeon responded, "heart surgery is medical speak for you nearly died." Apparently throughout the process Pratchett kept trying to get up saying, "he's got sandwiches." He never managed to get close to the man with sandwiches in his dream, so he chalks it up as a "near sandwich experience." Reflecting on this, he thinks that when you die "it's obviously some distance because they give you something to eat on the way." He doesn't know what type of sandwich it was, but if it was a cheese sandwich with a Branston Pickle he would go with but if it were a cucumber sandwich with the edges cut off he would turn away.

Q: What kind of sandwich would Death and the Death of Rats have?
A: Death would have a curry sandwich and the Death of Rats would have a double gloucester cheese sandwich (see Hard Cheese of Old England)

more notes in the extended

Book: Sourcery

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I have a pattern of alternating styles of books, usually intermixing non-fiction or thought-intensive fiction with light-hearted sci-fi. I've often referred to this latter category as a "palette cleanser," as its main purpose is to wash my mind clean.

I'm starting to rely on Terry Pratchett books to fulfill this role (not that humor isn't good literature) because his books are both hilarious and quick-to-read, which are both good properties of a good interstice. I also don't feel bad about not remembering the details of what happened, as Pratchett doesn't appear interested either, particularly as it pertains to geography. Seeing as Pratchett's written a bazillion of these Discworld novels, his books will enable me to continue this pattern into the foreseeable future. (I used to use Stephen King as my palette cleanser

I've finished the fifth book now -- Sourcery -- and I figured its about time that I do an entry on one of these books. It somewhat defeats the purpose of an interstitial palette cleanser to do a blog entry on each one, but five sounds like a good number to do one. It wasn't my favorite of the first five in the series (that honor probably goes to Color of Magic or Equal Rites), but it was entertaining nevertheless.

In the extended entry I have four quotes that I liked, with full page images for you to enjoy.