The Discworld has been a constant companion throughout the last 18 years of my life, I started the series when it was already twenty-five books old and like with any long series I quickly became complacent, expecting a book to come out every year or so. Since Pratchett was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I have come to regret my past ways of buying four or five books at a time and rushing through them like a hungry man at a buffet.
Having just finished the fortieth novel in the series Raising Steam, I have come to re-appreciate and savour my time on that world, all the more as the number of new stories that I will get to experience for the first time will now be a lot fewer. It is the way with a large continuation of books though, especially when one arrives when a body of work is already established, I think a good resolution for this year will be to savour each book as if it is the last an author will write irrespective of their back catalogues.
He could swagger while asleep. Greebo could, in fact, commit sexual harassment simply by sitting very quietly in the next room.
Anyway what is the Discworld? It is a place of satire and parody, situated as this flat world (ringed with by The Circumfence to prevent things falling off) is, atop four elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle that wanders through the universe. It is populated by a diverse range of characters including, an ape librarian, inept wizards, barbarian pensioners, Gods, a talking dog, Death and a camel who happens to be the best mathematician the world has ever seen, although nobody knows it.
The series was started in 1983 and as well as the forty novels there are also various offshoots: maps, The Science of the Discworld, guides to various places thereon and most intriguingly of all, books of books that were mentioned in various Discworld books…if that makes sense. Through all of this, the author has changed his mindset with age and evolved his original conception, whilst so have I with regards to age as well as my reading choices. Now looking back, I can see several distinct incarnations of the same world.
And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions
The early books were a carefree madcap ride through inventiveness, although the first few had footnotes commenting directly on things in our world which did tend to pull me out of the story somewhat, but that is a minor point. It was exhilarating to be exploring a new world, as the author was learning about its rules as well, the first ten books alone has parodies of Faust, various Shakespeare plays, ancient Egypt, Hollywood, Anne McCaffey’s Pern series and also attempts to give the character of Death a more…human side, so to speak. These books set a strong foundation for the series to grow and become the colossus that it is today.
I’ll put up part two in a couple of days for those of you interested in the rest of the series or at least the amusing quotes that I have expertly copy and pasted..