I was browsing the shelves at my local library the other day, and saw they had two older books by Terry Pratchett, The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata. I picked them up just to see what they were like.
They are both set in the same “universe,” a pretty straight forward science fiction kind of place, and were pleasant and interesting enough, if not earth shaking. The interesting part is in Strata, where the protagonists end up on the Discworld!
It is presented as a world created by humans, who set it up with various futuristic technology which appears to be magic. (Arthur C. Clarke, anyone?)* The Discworld itself is a mechanical construction, and the gears and such are wearing out, so the robots who maintain the place kidnap technologically advanced creatures to rebuild it.
My question is, are there more in this series? I have read all the Discworld novels, and they clearly take off in a very different direction. Did Pratchett just like the Discworld so much that he went with it? Did Kin Arad ever get back and start interacting with people there? What happened to the overt Christianity of the locals? Now I’m really curious about all this, and the library doesn’t have any more books.
Has anyone else read these? What do you think?
Also, the dust jacket copy describes Pratchett as “one of the cleverest of the younger generation of science fiction writers.” That just tickles my fancy, somehow.
*I’m not accusing Pratchett of plagiarism or anything, I just think he ran with the idea.
Strata and DSS were “Proto-worlds.” Pterry wrote them while he was young, and hadn’t fleshed out the Disc yet. Since you have read all of Pterry’s books, ponder on how the Discworld has evolved since CoM and Equal Rites. Consider Strata and DSS to be the primeval slime from which the glory that is Hogfather and Small Gods evolved.
But no, there is no more after those. Pterry stripmined them for ideas, and launched Great A’Tuin into the starry void.
I’ve read them, and I didn’t like them. It just missed with me.
I’m not sure they were set in the same universe, BTW, I don’t recall any direct connection betwen them. If I remember correctly, in DSOTS there was an ancient race that had been there a few billion years before, while in S the universe was young and artificially created.
The world in Strata wasn’t Discworld, it was a flat Earth, with our world’s geography, history, and placenames. discworld was a different place altogether, a similar idea, but done much better.
You might like to check out Carpet People another of his early books, although heavily revised for reprint. Its one of my faves.
I thought it was Earth? Or rather, that it was the planet we started out on, and the proper planet they transferred the inhabitants to at the end is where we are now. Note the couple of references to the history of Kin’s Earth being other than ours.
And yeah, I thought they were set in different universes as well. I preferred DSOTS as well
No, at the end of Strata, Kin Arrad agreed to build a real world and transfer the residents of the Disc to it, in exchange for the knowledge she would gain from the central computer. The Disc did closely resemble Earth and in some aspects was more like the real world than the one she came from. In the book-reality Rome was called Reme and America was colonized by the Norse. Essentially it’s an alternate history book.
Dark Side of the Sun is different since in it the universe is billions of years old whereas in Strata it’s only about 70,000.
I enjoyed both books and it’s amusing to see themes that were resurrected from them and The Carpet People in the Discworld books.
I saw on the L-Space website that there’s a short story book in the works. I hope so.
Thanks for the responses. I thought that these two books were in the same universe because both of them refer to The Jokers as an earlier race that built all kinds of weird stuff. But since they had multiple possible universes, there could have been branches that included the Jokers and had the different time frames.
I will look for some of Pratchett’s other early work. It is interesting. It is true that the Discworld itself has evolved quite a bit.
Of course, I like this stuff. I’m one of those who read every volume of The History of Middle Earth and thought it was fascinating. I have a friend who thinks it is a really sick and morbid thing to publish, and that it takes the magic out of LOTR, but I love it. So I like to see how a prolific author has changed and developed, which ideas he has kept, where things have gone.
For example, both of these books had sections on how it is simply not possible to understand a different species, because we can’t understand their perceptions. There is some of that in the Discworld books (which I have read, but not memorized, or pondered deeply), but usually played for laughs, not contemplated for what it might mean for individual humans, for example.
I’ve got both, as well, though I never really thought of them as sharing the same universe.
Neither book is Pratchett’s best work, but they each have their own quirky appeal. The Dark Side of the Sun is a parody of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi stories, and is best appreciated if you’ve just finished reading a few of his robot novels. Pratchett takes every Asimov convention in sight, turns them upside-down, then runs with it. I think the humor could have been better, though, and wonder what it would be like if Terry were to re-write this novel today.
Strata was mostly a take-it-or-leave-it book for me, though I think the brief bursts of humor work better in it than in TDSotS. It was supposed to be a parody of Larry Niven’s Ringworld, and even a novice sci-fi reader could see the parallels between Marco and a K’zin.
Still, as I’ve always said, even bad Terry Pratchett writing beats 98% of the stuff out there. I’ve also got a complete collection of the Carpet People books and the Johnny Maxwell stuff for that reason, two non-Discworld books that ISTM not a lot of Pratchett fans have read.
You know, rjung, now that you point it out, of course they’re parodies. My excuse is that it’s been years since I read Asimov or Niven, and they were never my favorites. That actually helps me place them, mentally, on my Terry Pratchett map. Thanks.
I’m keeping my eye out for the Carpet People and Johnny Maxwell books. I’m not going to spend money (or at least not a lot of money) on them, but I’d like to read them. I’ve seen those books referred to, but hadn’t heard of these two, which is why I started the thread.
If you have to choose between them, I’d say go for the Johnny Maxwell stuff sooner – they’re closest to Terry’s current “style,” in terms of writing style and themes. The last/latest one, Johnny and the Bomb, reminds me of The Fifth Elephant for some reason.
Strata is actually the reason I’ve never read anything else by Terry Pratchett. I read it a few years ago, and hated it, and said to myself “That’s an author to stay away from”. Now that you’ve let me know it isn’t typical of his work, I’ll put Pratchett back on my list of authors to give another try.
Oh yeah, Cap, don’t let one book put you off. I personally wasn’t all that impressed by The Colour of Magic and probably wouldn’t have read farther but when I read Good Omens and then The Light Fantastic, I was hooked.