Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thief of Time, or, Why I Idolize Terry Pratchett and Why I Am Unlikely to Write a Time Paradox Novel

It never fails. I crack open a new Terry Pratchett novel, and before I've turned page one I'm writhing on the floor (figuratively, at my age), groaning, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" I'm scorpion-zapped by the knowledge that I'm in the company of one so vastly my superior, in wit, wisdom, and wordplay, that it's almost enough to make me hang up my word processor. But here ecstasy and torture overlap, and I happily plow onward. Someday I may need to write an essay, for my own education, on all that Terry Pratchett does so well, but that sounds suspciously like an Auditor thing to do.

But back to my unworthiness. The first Pratchett novel I read that was not written for children was Wyrd Sisters, and before I'd gotten five pages in I ran for my college paperback of Macbeth, not wanting to be deprived of a single allusion. Thus Pratchett is both delicious and nutritious. I don't know if all his novels are a direct parody of a cultural touchstone, or not. Thief of Time, as near as I can tell, wreaks happy havoc upon snips of the book of Revelation. Any attempt at plot summary would be futile. I'm going to need to read it again myself. Time paradox stories always make my eyes glaze over. Sooner or later, every fantasy series inevitably wanders into that sand trap and loses its credibility somewhat thereby. Do they ever work? I would scarcely know. I'm in it for the yarn. Smoke and mirrors don't bother me much, unless the failure is so obvious, so lame, so hastily contrived by Hollywood committee, that even a metaphysical dumbhead like me can spot it plain as the zit on your nose. Oh, but I'm dithering off topic. The thesis of this post is that Terry Pratchett makes me swoon, and snort out loud with glee, and those are two things I like a man to make me do. I mean, a book. If there are any time wrinkles in Thief of Time, Pratchett greases his machinery so well with yak butter-whimsy that it doesn't matter anyway. All roads lead to Ankh-Morpork, The Death of Rats and Quoth the Raven are never far away, Nanny Ogg has a cameo and Igor gets featured billing, the Schoolteacher from Hell finds a soulmate, War finds relief from intermittent flatulence, much weight is attached to a bottle of strawberry yogurt, the murderous properties of chocolate creams are laid bare, and proper stress is laid upon Rule One: "Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man!"

Good rule, Rule One. But if you've never read a Discworld novel, Rule One for you is, Do So.


  1. YES!!!!! I'm so happy that you like his books.

    Read Guards, Guards next okay? Or maybe Soul Music or Hogfather (since they are the other books with Susan). And Nation is about as good as it gets.

  2. I've tried to read Terry Pratchett. Really I have - maybe I need to try again. And yes, I like the idea of your writing an essay. Some day you will have many essays.


    I'm on a steady diet of his books. They is brilliant. Thief of Time is awesome (I love the way the lady auditor dies in the end). Going Postal is my favorite. Ever.

  4. HI terry - I just accepted representation by Alyssa Eisner Henkin and wanted to say hello :)

  5. I'm here because I read about you in an article months ago and became so inspired, I copied down your quote, word for word. It was about motherhood and writing and God.

    I plan to delve into Pratchett as other friends have suggested his books, too. That and I'm a Children's Librarian and to not read his stuff, I fear, is craziness! :)