Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett


I was so thrilled when I saw this at the library. As if it were not enough that it was a book by Terry Pratchett,  it had an introduction by A. S. Byatt. I got it immediately and spent the next couple of weeks reading the many pleasing stories in it. I have to admit though, the introduction was a bit disappointing.

I am a firm believer in the fact that very few authors can write good short stories, ones with a plot (unlike those of Byatt, which are nice but pretty vague.) The first story delighted me, because Pratchett had written it at the age of thirteen. While it was nothing like what he's written now, it was entertaining finding that voice in him that is so familiar. Most of the stories were based on various prompts, which he has elaborated on at the beginning of each story.

One of my favourites was The Sea and Little Fishes, starring Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. A coalition of witches, led by self-appointed organiser Lettice Earwig, asks Granny Weatherwax not to participate in the annual Lancre Witch Trials, on account of her always winning. She agrees, becoming disconcertingly nice. The sudden change in Granny's usual stern unforgiving attitude hilariously terrified people. What follows goes on to show that you don't have to be nice to be good. The story gets its title from an ancient Discworldian phrase: "The big sea does not care which way the little fishes swim."

Death and What Comes Next was another favourite. It is the story of a conversation between Death and a dying philosopher. It's short and not wanting to give anything away, I'll just link you to it. Turntables of the Night was another story with Death; but a more Good Omens Death than the Discworld Death we all know and love.

Read it, if you are a Terry Pratchett fan! However, don't let this be your introduction to the author. While awesome, this is certainly not Pratchett's best work. I'd recommend starting with a Discworld novel and you have almost forty to choose from.

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