A Discworld Analysis (in defence of Rincewind)

Even his name is cowardly

As anyone following my blog knows I’m working my way through the Discworld series. I’m finding it super interesting, especially Pratchett’s ability to create layered stories. I find it oddly funny that I never really thought of Pratchett’s works as being “fun-loving” or “comedy” not of course because they weren’t humorous, but that I always found it was the serious and intriguing themes that often ran underneath or alongside the hilarity.

Anyways one of my wonderings was kind of the deeper themes and ideas of the ongoing series. I’m not going to assess all of them, but after getting few the first 2-3 books in some I thought I would reflect.

Apologies I’m not going to cover all of them but the ‘main’ ongoing series of the early books: Rincewind, Death, Witches, and Guards.

I recently saw an r/books thread commenting that the OP couldn’t really get behind Rincewind, he was just too, well, Rincewind. He’s certainly a strange character, his core feature being cowardice, with a side-quest of cynicism and failed romances. He’s not exactly your typical protagonist, and not even very typical for your zero to hero MC (as he doesn’t manage the hero often).

As first when reading this post I found myself wondering what exactly is the attraction of Rincewind, is he meant to be funny, relatable, realistic?

I believe that the very first Discworld novels were very much born out of Pratchett’s love of Dungeons and Dragons BUT ALSO his love of subverting fantasy tropes and Rincewind seems to fit this model quite well.

That said I noticed something about Rincewind in rereading some of his books lately. Yes he is all those negatory things mentioned above, but there is something I find very interesting about the failed Wizard. While he is technically a true Discworld inhabitant, he is I believe the closest you’ll get in the Disc to an Narnia-like “Son-of-Adam” he is in fact an ordinary person in an extra-ordinary world.

Again, just to emphasize I know that he is actually a genuine Disc inhabitant, but I feel they way he responds to things and reacts is how a regular Earthling would thrown into a fantasy land. He certainly does have the sense of a naïve DnD player wondering what the heck is going on.

This is particularly notable in Faust Eric a story which is almost entirely more a riff on puns and literary interpretations of a supernatural classic.

But in saying all of this I don’t think the theme of Rincewind is ‘fish out of water’ even though that’s a context – I think its more Pratchett riffing on the absurdity of life and reality, how we’re all kinda faced with feeling like the only sane person in the room/planet or helpless in the face of the bizarre arbitrary nature of the world. Rincewind is that part of all of us that is smart enough to be constantly terrified.

Writing this I really wonder how Pratchett would have taken the past Pandemic years.

Death is a really interesting series. The obvious choice for analysis is to suggest that the theme is about Death himself becoming more and more human and kind of juxtaposing that with the consequences of a anthropomorphic force making choices about his duty.

And it is about that – but I feel intriguingly that a series about Death isn’t really about Death and mortality, its more about other big questions in life “Why is the world the way it is” This is why even though in my early post I critiqued Soul Music for having a weird mix of a Death plotline with a “Soul of Music” thing, but in terms of themes it makes sense. Pratchett clearly values music and believes that it is some sort of inalienable ‘heart-beat’ of reality.

Similarly in Reaper Man while the overt plot was Death being fired, the themes were very much about the passage of time and progress, how new replaces old (but sometimes shouldn’t).

I haven’t got up to my reread of Hogfather yet but my recollection is that its very much about human values like justice not being ‘real’ and yet being all the more important.

The Guards are quite a tricky one. They’ve always been my favourite focus, perhaps because they are in many respects the more straightforward characters, at least in terms of traditional fantasy story telling they are a rag-tag ensemble of city guards coming up against Dragons, ‘Gonnes’ and Golems. It is interesting though that many of the Guards stories read more like whodunnits than fantasy stories (sort of).

In terms of deeper themes I couldn’t really look further than the brilliant tagonism between Vimes and Carrot. Like many young fools I assumed the story of Guards Guards would be basically Carrot slaying the dragon and assuming the mantle of King but in defiance of the Cabal that summoned the dragon (in early days I didn’t realize how subversive Pratchett was).

What I think the Guards series is really about is how can ordinary folk fare in the face of politics, and the machinations of mad despots and manipulative but brilliant Patricians (more on that later).

Pratchett uses Vimes and Carrot as two important dichotomies in life, optimistism and pessism, experience and passion, hope and street-smarts. I feel throughout the series Carrot and Vimes rub off on each other the best ways, leading to Carrot honing his naivety into something almost like a cunning weapon, while Vimes learns to have some faith in progress.

Just a quick note on Veteranari, a strange character in the Disc, who I think at first was supposed to be a fairly sinister background tyrant, however as Ankh-Morpork and the Discworld evovled he turned into a more benevolent manipulator figure. It’s hard to know what Pratchett himself thought about the character, if he believed this was the ideal ruler, a cynical representation of how he thought politics worked, or perhaps just the only sort of person he thought could run a city like Ankh.

Trying to analyse the witches left me feeling a bit bamboozled at first. Esme Weatherwax is such an interesting complex character, between her iron-clad morals somehow fitting in with her borderline abusive pride and patronizing approach to the other witches I had trouble making sense of what these stories were really about – despite them always feeling meaningful.

Then I realized that all their plots involve Kings and Queens, and/or power squabbles. Within many of the stories is an internal battle of Granny Weatherwax. I mentioned in the Guards paragraph that I wasn’t sure if Veternari was supposed to be an ideal ruler, whereas in the Witches series Pratchett frequently riffs on ethics of rulership, whether through their interactions with the King/fool of Lancre, Elves, the Fairy God Mother or (looking forward to rereading Carpe Jugulam) Vampires.

I think through Granny Weatherwax Pratchett explores ideas like how you sometimes can’t do the right thing AND be nice or how the overtly wrong thing might be right if you look at the bigger picture.

My suspicion is that in later books I’ll have trouble overanalysing them, as they sort of get deeper and more complex as the Discworld novels progress (with the likes of Jingo, and Night Watch) but I look forward to a year ahead of more Discworld.

Review (Discworld): Soul Music

So I’m going to do something counter to almost all my other Discworld reviews and write a (slightly) negative review… GASP.

I have read Soul Music before, and guess it didn’t really stick out for me in the past and I sort of see why. Like all Discworlds, Soul Music is pretty darn good overall, but I feel has a few weaknesses among its strengths.

To recap – Soul music is Death’s 3rd book and we finally get introduced to Susan, who I sort of feel like the MC Pratchett was looking for in the Death series, where Mort didn’t quite cut the mustard and Reaper Man lacked. It’s interesting to me that Pratchett doesn’t really ever give Death much page-time, but rather creates a story around the few actions that Death does take.

Susan appears on the scene because Death has decided he needs to forget (it’s never explicitly stated but its implied that Death is struggling with Mort and Ysllabells respective deaths). As Death’s granddaughter Susan is called upon, Harry Potter styles to take up the job. This sequence is by far my favourite part of the story, where we see Susan struggle with but also embrace the situation.

The second plot thread is ‘Imp’ an elf-like fellow who wishing to pursue a career in music, discovers “music with rocks in it” after purchasing a cursed guitar. Imp was ‘supposed’ to die early in his music career, but Susan watches on as Imp’s life is supernaturally preserved by the ‘soul’ of music. Imps plot is largely characterized by a number of musical puns and satirical sequences riffing on rockstar fame as the Soul of Music increasingly takes over his ‘life.’

All the plot threads are really fun as they’re introduced but where I felt this book didn’t quite work is how the two main threads fitted together. Yep on a practical level Susan is involved because she witnessed Imp fail to perish and starts protecting him – a bit akin to Mort saving the princess in his story. But there is no real reason the Death plot really fits with the Music one. Once all the interest in everyone getting introduced is done with the characters just kind of meet every now and again until eventually the ‘Music’ is confronted (and defeated)

Death’s own journey to forget is kinda undermined and reduced to a few gags before zooming to Susan’s aid the end, his issue isn’t exactly resolved (although as said its sort of implied that he copes with his grief).

Again it doesn’t really fit together that well – the ‘Music’ plot feels similar to Moving Pictures and in my opinion could have had a similar ‘solo’ story that didn’t need Susan or Death. Whereas other than the cool introductions the Death story felt like a rehash of Mort (Death wants some time off, a human takes his job and interferes in the natural order of things).

Finally not exactly a critique but a fair warning that Soul Music has SO MANY puns, mostly about late 1900 rock and pop music – its funny, but holy crap there was a lot.

I’m really looking forward to Hogfather which I feel is peak Death series, although I see that Thief-of-Time is consider an entry in the Death series which I never registered it as.

Weekly Writing Roundup: End of Jan 2023

Cue an entire year of saying “wow is it already X-month??”

Jenna Moreci released her On-Writing debut “Shut up and Write that Book” (specific post on the book coming soon) Jenna is a great resource on all things writing and sass about tropes – the book is highly recommended for writers, its a pretty accessible read and a lot of fun.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before (or enough) on this blog but a really interesting chapter of Nabarov’s Favourite Word is Mauve on adverbs explains that eliminating adverbs is a. unlikely, and b. the actual numbers on successful authors shows they use a lot less adverbs but by no means cancel them.

I think this is a really useful perspective on all things writing rules as it supports a more flexible but significant approach – while the above sauce doesn’t cover all the topics available my argument would be that most writing rules fit a similar pattern, e.g. use of clichés, and other techniques.

I lost a post asking about how to make their writing less bland and explanatory. While searching for it I saw any number of posts on the topic. I suspect a lot of the issues with this stem from many many writers (myself included) treat fiction as an attempt to document the amazing story in one’s head, NOT creating material that entertains and sparks other’s imagination. My advice for the person in this (maybe I imagined the post still can’t find it) was to focus on removing ‘perception’ verbs (saw, heard, realized, thought) and also try to vary up sentence structures consistent with the action conveyed in the scene.

Anywho – that’s this month, anyone else feeling ultra tired already (looking forward to Easter break its not even Feb yet)

Weekly Writing Roundup 22/1/2023

2023 – place to be

Image has nothing to do with this week is just a nice picture

Getting back into making sure I pay attention to writing related stuff, not just deranged relationship stories on Reddit.:

K.M. Weiland posted about overcoming a LONG period of writers block:

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/6-lessons-learned-from-4-years-of-writers-block/

Its a really interesting and honest post – something I like is making some distinctions between different sorts of ‘block.’ In particular the different between being stumped about something specific to do with your story e.g. a ‘plot-block’ or something personal about writing which is producing a barrier in you.

I’ll leave it to the post to explain further, unfortunately there are no magic solutions to either – although in reading the post I did have a few thoughts about ‘plot-block’ or specifically when people feel they have written themselves into a corner.

Feeling stuck in a plot often happens because a writer has creatively stuck their characters into a serious situation with high stakes and few resources as writing guides are always telling us to do. However after getting into such a deep pit writers get stuck on how to get their characters out of it without some sort of Duex Ex Machina type device.

What I came up with is a process to fix this sort of cornering:

  1. Decide what ‘sort’ of solution you want. By this I mean do you want your MC to do something Clever, Brave, Heroic? Do you want a plot twist? For one thing once you consider this the answer might become a little more clear anyway. Often the corner that we write into is more a practical issue of the plot, but we’ve lost track of what we’re trying to show about our MCs
  2. Once you know your subtext of the conflict and what you want from a solution you can then “backtrack” or create elements earlier in the story to setup and justify a solution for your hero. Often when the plot hits a corner a writer has been writing largely chronologically (I’m always guilty of this) a direction of progress which sooner or later has to change.

A lot of people might think this is ‘cheating’ but remember when writing a book you’re not living the story right then and there. Going back and forth in the story to better setup the plot isn’t bad writing, in fact its what’s required for good writing!

5 Reasons Scenes needs Deleting

Jessica Brodie explains why you might to erase material in editing a.k.a. kill your darlings. I have to be 100% honest this isn’t usually my problem, as a procrastinator I’m usually begging to gather enough material to delete to improve my work! Still I find most writers are quite passionate creators so any resources on good editing is useful.

This Redditor is creating wordcount type software to help writers keep on track. There are such websites already avaliable but I often find they take as much clicking and admin as setting up to write which does not help, so fingers crossed they create something useful – waitlist link in post: Tool

Finally a disturbing new trend is AI writing:

At present is seems to be more of an academic issue, particularly students submitting assignments, but ‘ChatGPT’ has been listed as an author on some published papers, and I have no doubt in some form AI bot type stuff is coming to fiction.

That’s this weeks blog. In the coming week I hope to post a slighter deeper analysis of Discworld characters, and also keep up with a ‘write everyday’ plan (this happens almost every new year so I don’t consider this particularly new, although I feel I do slightly better each year)

Hope 2023 is looking good for you!

Review (Discworld): Men at Arms

Men at Arms is one of my original favourite Discworlds, and I confess a mild worry that perhaps modern me might not experience the same hype. Certainly Men at Arms is a bit more of a traditional novel in some respects and has a reasonable amount of build-up in the introduction and I was starting to worry more…

However as I got into it the pacing really took off and I transported back to the same enjoyment of the first billion times I read this book.

As the second ‘Guards’ book the focus of this one is actually quite strange. Carrot feels more like a main character and Vimes almost just hovers in the background (but is extremely significant). Men at Arms reads a bit more like a typically who-dunnit thriller story which is a bit different up to this point in the Discworld books, and to be honest Pratchett’s ability to create a humorous, exciting, sense making mix of fantasy and police procedural is beyond Godlike.

Men at Arms is also a bit more high stakes than previous novels. In a very interesting introspective twist Vimes considers how facing off against a massive dragon was somehow easier than a human foe. (This book is also where Vimes introduces his ‘Boots’ theory of social equality)

Finally we start to see a longer story in this one, something which I think continues for a bit as Pratchett fleshes out more characters and themes. Compared to earlier books there is definitely a much more solid impression of Ankh-Morpork and the denizens within.

I have a bit more to analyse about the themes of Pratchett’s main characters but I need a bit more time to scintillate – but what I will say is I think I like the Guards series the best of all because they are the most optimistic.

Review (Discworld): Lords and Ladies

Google searching for the book cover image was not as weird as I expected.

I have read Lords and Ladies before, but unlike some other rereads I hadn’t actually remembered too much from this one except that the Elves were scary AF and Granny Weatherwax AIN’T DEAD (spoiler alert).

Rereading this one was quite interesting, in terms of evolution of the Discworld series I thought that Small Gods was actually quite dark and brutal, which while Lords and Ladies continues a fair amount of this – I couldn’t help but notice a lot of humour and silliness throughout. And While I consider Pratchett to be the GOAT at what he did I feel on in comparisons to his other books the balance of humour and action is a bit off in this one. Nothing too extreme just at times some of the jokes don’t land as well – for example there is a moment where one of the characters talks about ‘psyching’ up the others, which in itself is quite anachronistic and funny, and fits with the Witches’ themes (and sort of fits with their ‘headology’) but in order to keep with the times ‘psych’ is spelt pssike. It takes a moment to translate, and the intentional misspell doesn’t exactly add to the joke, its already funny to hear a fantasy character use modern language like that.

However despite this imbalance Lords and Ladies I think shows a big lead forward in character complexity, its the only Discworld other than The Light Fantastic (an immediate sequel to Colour of Magic) which has a ‘previously on’ and follows essentially immediately on from Witches Abroad. I confess as a younger reader I didn’t really like Weatherwax that much, other than respecting her bad-assery but in rereading I actually wonder if Esme W is the closest to an author insert we get from Pratchett. I always assumed he was Vimes (and sometimes wondered if he might actually be Rincewind) although I’m relatively certain that isn’t how Pratchett worked exactly.

As a final comment the plot of Lords and Ladies is slightly leaning into ‘proper’ story telling, while its still a twisted trope on fantasy clichés the actual story is much more mainstream than early Discworld, by which I mean there are clear ‘bad-guys’ and the MCs undergo triumph and character development a little more traditionally. And WHAT a group of bad-guys, the Elves in Lords and Ladies are disturbingly abusively evil – I feel like both Small Gods and Lords and Ladies reveal a darker part of Pratchett’s imagination which I relish but also find a little scary.

Next up is Men at Arms – one of my favourite Guards books which I have read many times over – but like all of these not for some time. Will be interesting.

First Post of 2023

It’s good to be getting into the year – but I have to confess not much writing activity! Instead here are some of my favourite murals/other spotted on my holiday.

Kea – bush below is interfering
I was almost more impressed by the expertly placed shadow
Shared Murder rooms – (not where I stayed!)
My Child couldn’t work out if the bird ate the cage or was the cage
Put your hand on the glass
An early Shocked Pikachu Face
These ghosties were about a lot
Am I spending too much time on my phone?
Statue Pigeon has the right idea
Even visited Dosnay Land and saw Murky Moose

By far my most favourite artwork spotted though…

Here’s wishing everyone a happy (or content) 2023 and looking forward to sharing everyone’s writing/and other pursuits journey.

The Rings of Power: A Rambling Spoilery Review

Mood: kinda weird

As a ginormous fan of Lord of the Rings both book and movie (but not necessarily hugely knowledgeable about the wider lore) when the announcement for this series happened I was in two minds. Excited for more material, but also apprehensive about what story they planned on telling. Part of the reason that Lord of the Rings stands out as the seminal tale of Middle Earth is its both finality, and perfection of character vs epic stakes.

As trailers started coming through I was very glad to see that Rings of Power would be Woke (although in hindsight I feel like most the main characters were still white, and there really was only the lightest of sprinklings of representation still moreso than the original movies)

BUT I also got that trepidation that sometimes trailers give, while its hard to judge a movie from its trailer, you can sometimes get a sense of tone and Rings of Power just seemed to lack something. Was is going to be an epic battle type tale, or a heartfelt emotional journey like LOTR, or some sort of complex GoT approach? Not a lot was revealed by the promotional material which is usually a good thing, but there really didn’t seem to be anything to sink your teeth into…

So?

I don’t really want to use this post to do a lengthy plot summary, but a small amount is required to make sense of it all, the central plots of ROP were quite varied and I’m probably going to miss some key points, but the main threads were that Galadriel (surely if you’re reading this you know who that is) tries to convince all around that Sauron and Orcs are still a threat, mostly focussed on Númenóreans. This is while Elrond tries to convince the Dwarves to let the elves get access to some Mithril, Sexy Elf ranger (I can never remember his name) battles some orcs in the Southlands, and a mysterious robed and bearded magical figure is helped by some half Harfoots.

Much of the plotting has that annoying fantasy trope/style that I’m not sure bothers others, but where the practical plot and character motivation kind of become expedient on each other – like when here someone critique a plot point because “it needed to happen to have X occur.” in ROP it felt like each character would be graced with a single plot point forward each sequence regardless of how the pacing felt or the emotive nature of the point, for example in one sequence and not too badly thought-out scene involved a group of villages successfully defending themselves from attack, only to discover their victory was tarnished by the fact their attackers where their own former countrymen forced by the orcs to attack – it was a somber moment that was never mentioned again or having little impact as the orcs attacked shortly after and they tried to play a ‘riders of Rohan’ moment shortly after, essentially cramming too many feels into one sequence.

Not to mention the show was full of weird and unnecessary tropes and clichés and at times missed the mark moments.

For example when defending against said Orcs the human and Single (in both senses) Sexy Elf abandon their secure tower and somehow rig the whole thing to collapse in flames around the orcs with a single flaming across shot to a pulley. I usually don’t try to nitpick the practical matters of fantasy stories because that’s not what its about, but it just felt like lazy writing – they’d spent a lot of time building up a Helm’s Deep type scenario (and to be fair the tower falling didn’t solve everything) but it just struck me (and I suspect other viewers) as kind of add that against overwhelming odds that the whole bring down the house strategy was even an option.

There were also multiple weird choices of tone and direction, while a lot of the show attempted to have that high pitched elven emotional feel, there would be these action sequences like something out of a horror film. Sexy Elf battles one particularly big orc initially like a Matrix subway fight, and then inexplicably stabs orcy in the eyeball and we get minutes of gushing eye goop during their struggled before the eventual death stab.

Stuff like this is just plain weird, because they aren’t mistakes or necessarily bad, its definitive choices. Someone, or ones decided things like we’ll have this battle play out this way, or we’re have ?Gandalf? drop a clanger of a line “I’m……..Good” (If you haven’t seen ROP basically the whole storyline is a mystery box tease about who is the bearded stranger hanging out with hobb Harfoots almost every sign points to Gandalf but then some weird cultish characters find him and call him Sauron. In a dramtic confrontation they realize he is not in fact Sauron he’s- they are cut off by maybe-Gandalf yelling out “I’m Good” its very Jar Jar Binks level).

But not all of ROP is that bad, its just well, like I keep saying, odd. There are some genuinely awesome moments, the rapport and jokes between the dwarves and Elrond are great, for somehow Adar the overt bad-guy of the season is the best character and gives surprisingly rousing and meaningful battle speeches to his orcs, which he treats (relatively) humanely.

The budget was obviously insane, and many of the sets and special effects looked off the planet.

I think ultimately ROP has not done well as it tried to do too much, create new characters and dynamic stories, while still being akin to the Jackson Trilogy. It definitely had a sense of too much influence of GoT on the style and trying to be complex, edgy and surprising where I think most fans of Lord of Rings love the stories for their emotional impacts, not the twists and turns.

Funnily enough I am missing the series, even though sometimes it was rage-watching I did enjoy sitting down at the end of a long week and watching an episode, I’m looking forward to Season 2 although I have a bad feeling with the general consensus seeming to be that ROP hasn’t magically elevated Amazon Streaming to the biggest platform and blown everyone’s socks off the show might be relegated to a kind of production purgatory.

Anywho – what are others thoughts on the show, enjoyed, hated, mixed??

Any points I missed worth pointing out?

Favourite characters?

A Yearly Roundup: 2022

Phew – its been a bit of a 2020 round three this year, and I’m finding myself having to dig deep into my Goodreads profile and Steam library to make sense of what I’ve been up to!

The Shows

So as a positive I guess(?) I haven’t been watching too many shows over the year, but there have been a few standouts at least for a comment or two:

Ozark finally wound up this year, which kinda emphasizes how long a years its been – seems like ages ago. The last season was from a purely entertainment perspective a bit of a let down, but from a discussion generation POV not too bad there were a few interesting literary type techniques and throwbacks (See discussion of the car accident)

While it was a close race my most anticipated AND enjoyed series was Sandman, if you’re somehow unfamilar Sandman is Neil Gaiman’s original claim to fame a series of graphic novel about the Lord of Dreams. Adapting for the screen must have been no easy task and its a very surreal and magical story, but Season 1 which covered the first two novels did an amazing job with a great cast and I’m really looking forward to future seaons.

So Lord of the Rings was a kind of highlight of the year for my watching, but I confess there was an element of rage-watching. There has been a fair amount of internet controversy over this series and I don’t really want to add to the hate and that, but it was a very strange watch overall.

I never did a post on it but might consider it in the new year – basically the series had some of the strangest writing I’ve ever experienced in a series, which I can best sum up as a lot of very unusual choices in dramatic direction and tropes. It was like the writers wanted the show to be sleek and exciting, timeless, twisty, and Game of Thrones complex but couldn’t really pull it off exactly so the end result was an oddly slow paced story with many cliffhangers, weird horror moments and some of the dumbest dialogue juxtaposed with some epic lines. I dunno I probably better do a whole post devoted to this – even though it was rage watching I did enjoy it immensely!!

The Games

2022 has been a bit of a nostalgia trip for me – I replayed most of the Quest For Glory series including trying the VGA remake of I and finally (After literal decades) number V

I also played through the Coles’ follow up Hero-U

This has been a passion project for them for some time – its set in the the same ‘world’ as Quest for Glory but is a very different style of game, much more of a pick-a-path choice sort of storyline almost entirely set within a university setting.

Now I may be getting my years mixed up (double checked I am not) I also played through the 2015 reboot of Kings Quest, while not without flaws (just like my posts) it was an interesting and enjoyable game to sink my teeth into during this bout of nostalgia.

Other games of note this year included:

Lamentum – a sort of cross between Resident Evil and Amnesia the Dark Descent, all in pixel art, if had both a creepy/cosmic horror vibe and gloomy premise that I love in a game – only flaw (probably my own) is I’m really bad at completionism type games and I simply Googled the multiple endings rather than achieved them

Provided a fun and simply story about a mysterious mage traveling across a ravenged land. It had a very mindful puzzle mechanic where you working through stacks of cards basically by going up or down one number until all the cards were gone. Simple but a good brain tonic

Finally by far my most enjoyed new game this year was Hob’s Barrow:

A relatively straightforward point and click adventure, this game captures the tone and presentation of Lovecraftian works just perfectly – the lead developer is even a Kiwi and said Kia Ora to me over Twitter 😀

Non-Fiction

I actually read a very weird mix of non-fiction this year, not much on writing craft – but a mix of books about cults, abusive relationships, dictatorships, and conflict!

Probably the highlight was The Human Swarm, one of my most nerdy special interest is non-fiction about long term human development. Its hard to summarize this chonk of a book but it really deep dives into analyzing society from a long term / bird’s eye

Fiction

I actually thought I hadn’t read as much as I had this year (which is a weird blind spot) I continue my journey through the Discworld novels – I also devoured and redevoured the Sandman graphic novels in anticipation of the series. It’s hard to believe it was just this year that I pushed myself through Atlas Shrugged (geeze).

By far the most exciting fiction related element from 2022 was a friend of mine published their YA sci-fi novel MindWalker

It’s really quite a phenomenal achievement and an amazing book to have out there!

Myself

I confess I feel 2022 hasn’t been the most amazing year personally, not being a negative its more that a large portion of the year has been taken up by covid anxiety or having covid or taking covid related pre-cautions, I managed to get the Flu and Covid this year and would not recommend either.

Writing feels like its taken a bit of a backseat – although I have been enjoying what I have gotten around to I haven’t achieved much in the way of word-counts. I have enjoyed releasing a weekly blog, it seems a good format for keeping something regular (even though I flaked for most of the last quarter!) without trying to come up with a full blog topic every post.

If you’re reading this Merry Christmas, its nice to have you around and I hope you stick around for whatever 2023 brings. All the best and take care

Review (Discworld): Small Gods

Hope that the person I borrowed this book from doesn’t mind I read it with Covid-19. (I’ll return to them in a week or two after airing it out….)

So, for anyone following my Discworld reviews, a major theme of my thoughts is the difference between young me and old me’s interpretation of each book.

Small Gods is doubly interesting on this point. Strangely it wasn’t a book that I didn’t understand even when young – in fact for Pratchett its a pretty accessible satire compared to some other entries or rather more accurately the focus is a lot narrower, basically all about religious dogma and political power. (I find while Pratchett usually has one central theme like in Moving Pictures, but usually sprinkles multiple jokes and analysis throughout a book).

But in saying all that I liked Small Gods much more as a grown adult. I think it felt more significant and real, almost not just a story. The character of Vorbius that much more sinister.

So just to backtrack a bit, Small Gods is a stand alone ‘ancient civilization’ story that follows ‘Brutha’ an possibly Autistic man who finds himself caught between his one true God (currently a lowly tortoise due to only having one believer) and Vorbius, the violent voice of authority for his church which seems more concerned with conquering the known world than actually believing in Om.

I’ve mentioned before that Discworld novels seems to evolve quite a bit from most of the early editions being random romps throughout the fantasy land – to tighter more traditional storylines. Small Gods, IMO is the most focussed story yet, even complete with a growing character Arc for Brutha, with rising tension, major climax and everything. That’s not to say that these later books are more “sell-out” in fact Pratchett’s badass plots are among my favourite.

Looking forward to some Lords and Ladies next.

P.S. for an Easter egg I never realized – this book introduced Lu-Tze (Thief of Time) as a minor side-character. I don’t know if he’s snuck into any other stories but I will report back.