I’ve been a longtime fan of Pratchett and the Disc series, but I would have to say that I found his early books to be nowhere near as good as the ones that came later. I don’t think the Disc started coming onto its own until somewhere around Mort.
Good Omens notwithstanding, the only non-Disc book of Pratchett’s that I’ve read was Strata. Quite frankly, I hated it. The plot, characters, and general style were quite awful and clunky, and what made it worse was that I was hoping for something as least on part to Color of Magic.
Has anyone read the non-Disc books? Thoughts on them? What about the ones that aren’t directly Discworld like the Maps?
I am trying to get hold of some of his short early stuff, particularly a trilogy that I think is called The Bromeliad - consists of Trucks, Wings, and another one. Unfortunately, I have only been able to get hold of the last one in the series and read about half of it - great stuff, very Discworld-Pratchitt. They’ve been recently reprinted in the UK, but I haven’t found them here in the US. Can any Brit dopers help us out?
I agree with you on “Strata” - a couple amusing bits, but I hated the story.
Started reading "Dark Side of the Sun’. Got about a third through and literally threw it out. Absolutely hated it. I’m a huge Pratchett fan (you couldn’t have guessed by the handle I bet?)and I almost never fail to finish a book, but that one was absolute shit. Far too much philosophising about the implications of parralel universes and far too little time spent making the characters into something I could identify with. It was almost like the characters were only their to provide someone to ask questions so the author could expand on his pet theories.
I read ‘Johnny and the Dead’ just to see what it was like. Actually incredibly good for what was written as a kids book. Easily on par with his best philosophical stuff in the Discworld Death novels (and with a minor tear jerker ending).
‘The Unadulterated Cat’ is pretty good but not exactly world class. Recommended only if you really like cats.
I am trying to get hold of some of his short early stuff, particularly a trilogy that I think is called The Bromeliad - consists of Trucks, Wings, and another one.
‘Truckers’, ‘Diggers’ and ‘Wings’. I’ve only read ‘Truckers’ and while it was alright I never felt compelled to find the rest of the trilogy. The characters were a little to cutesy and unreal. Kind of like the way Twoflower was in the first couple of Discworld novels. It’s very hard to empathise with someone who is so completely divorced from reality, and that doesn’t really make for a good leading character in a novel.
Were written as children’s books, before the discworld novels (I believe) DreamWorks SDK have the rights to the trilogy and plan on turning them into computer generated films - they are about gnomes who go on a journey, relocating from their home across the trilogy.
I enjoyed them as a child. TP also wrote, for children, ‘Johnny and the dead’ ‘Johnny and the Bomb’, ‘Only you can save Mankind’ and ‘The Carpet People’.
I’m not sure I’d recommend these for adults though.
I recently reread Moving pictures (the 9th DW novel), which I thought was excellent and as good as some of the more recent DiscWorld series, (although I am always biased to the book I have most recently read)
I am waiting for ‘The Truth’ and ‘Thief of Time’ to come out in paper back.
I liked The Bromeliad, the “Johnny” books didn’t do a lot for me, I thought Strata was interesting in the same way that reading Tolkien’s History of Middle-Earth Series was interesting, and I really enjoyed The Carpet People.
But really, I think the discworld stuff is the best. Am I alone in thinking that his latest books are actually getting better, deeper, richer, more subtle and thought-provoking?
I could see that Carpe Jugulum was trying to explore some serious philosophy, what with Granny Weatherwax facing the light and stepping backward into the dark. However, this made it a little jarring when Pratchett stepped back into slapstick mode, and even made the comedy seem a little forced. I sometimes wonder if he’s sort of shrinking back from being a really serious writer.
I think I heard that he wrote the Carpet People when he was 17, so I daresay clumsy is fair enough. I haven’t read it.
He’s also a bit of a one for ripping himself off. For example, the Carpet People sounds a lot like the Nomes trilogy (which is certainly worth buying). And doesn’t a robotic version of the Discworld show up in Strata? Or DSOTS?
I read every Discworld book in a few months, which ended with the Hogfather era, then I kind of passed out. I think the last one I read was… I can’t even remember what it was called. You know, the counterweight continent, Rincewind in Australia, etc.
He is a fine writer. I always loved his logic, and his image of what it was like inside a golem’s mind - far behind the red eyes, the golem himself sat tiny on a distant desert, waiting.
I don’t know if it’s available in the US, but Pratchett recently co-wrote The Science of Discworld with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. It’s a really great mix of a Discworld story and a discussion of the science that underlies it.
As for the non-discworld books - I enjoyed the Bromeliad, but I couldn’t get into Strata or DSOTS at all. Haven’t read the Johnny stuff- it doesn’t really appeal. Strata was too… something for me. I can’t put my finger on it. It just didn’t sound like Pterry.
There’s a new Discworld hardback coming out here next month. I’m in agreement with Q the M and Fenris - as the books progress they get darker and (to me) much more interesting and entertaining. I really enjoyed Thief of Time and I’m hoping the next instalment is a Vetinari one. (Incidentally - I only just got that recently: Vetinari/Medici. Heeee!).
Okay, confession: I’ve never read any Discworld books. I bought the Colour of Magic long ago when it first came out and never finished it because I thought it was kind of dull. By the time Discworld was a hit, I was wary of it for two reasons, neither of which are good reasons:
For some reason I had visions of Xanth in my head. It seemed to me to be that all over again.
Have you ever seen alt.fan.pratchett? I used to read alt.humor.best-of-usenet and half the submissions on there were from alt.fan.pratchett and involved people desperately trying to be funny and amuse pratchett, who evidently hung out on the newsgroup. I didn’t really want to associate with them.
As I said, those are bad reasons. If I was going to give it a try, what would you suggest?
Great. You’ve just turned this thread into a Great Debate.
Anyway, the general consensus is that if you’re only going to try one Pratchett, Small Gods is the one. It’s not my favorite, but it’s a stand-alone and is very good.
With the Discworld stuff, there are several sub-series: The Death series, the Witches series, the Rincewind series, and so on. Each group of series has a loose internal continuity. Most books (even within the sub-series) can be read in any order, but are better if read in order. The first two books (The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic are dramatically different in tone from the rest of the series. The series changes tone dramatically with (depending on who you talk to) book 3 or 4).
Speaking as a Pratchett fan who’s got all of his non-Discworld stuff (and I even have The Science of Discworld in hardcover, so there):
[li]Strata was okay. Not great, not horrible, but merely okay. Overall it reads like a parody of Larry Niven’s Discworld series (which I believe was the intent), but tends to wander quite a bit, which reduces the humor level. You definitely have to read Discworld to enjoy it, though.[/li][li]Similarly, Dark Side of the Sun is a major parody/pastich of Isaac Asimov’s novels. Note that Dom Salabos’ robot is also named Isaac, and the overall plot of future predictability is a riff on Asimov’s Foundation novels.[/li][li]The Carpet People is definitely spotty, but since he wrote it in his teens (14? 17?), I’ll cut him some slack. It is definitely an early draft of the Nomes trilogy, which is (are?) terrific. I plan to introduce them to my kid once he gets old enough.[/li][li]And I’m definitely a fan of the Johnny Maxwell titles, simply because Johnny’s a fun character to be with. Not quite as out-and-out insane as the Discworld novels, but certainly entertaining. Johnny and the Bomb gets a little deeper than the first two, touching briefly on issues of racism and cultural changes, but it’s still a lot of laughs. And as a video-game fan, I thought Only You Can Save the Universe was so dead-on…[/li][li]Finally, I don;t know how much Pratchett contributed to The Science of Discworld, but given that the non-Discworld “factual” text has some Pratchettian-style jokes sprinkled throughout, I find it to be a great read. The Wizards’ creation of the universe was definitely ROTFL material.[/li][/ul]
Ditto, and I have the Nanny Ogg Cookbook, the Granny Weatherwax story in Silverburg’s Legends anthology, the (once) rare short story “Theatre of Cruelty” (which can be gotten on-line with PTerry’s permission here too, PLUS I have British and American editions of most of the books so there right back atcha!! (You realize that all this proves is that I’m a slightly obsessive person)
Apparently quite a bit of the non-Diskworld stuff was Pratchett, if one compares the sparkling text of The Science of Diskworld to the plodding tedium which is Flatterland, also by Ian Stewart. I got Flatterland based on the strength of Science of Diskworld and it was atrocious. A review by me of Flatterland can be found here, although I’m a bit traumatized that no-one responded to it.