In my bookcase, there is a copy of Raising Steam with ten pages left, which I put down three years ago and refused to continue, even though I know how the book ends. Because once those ten pages are read, then it’s done.
No more Discworld novels, aside from the Tiffany Aching finale, but I’ve no interest in reading them because, once again, there the last vestiges of the Discworld Universe, and I am not ready to let go.
Three years after complications from the “embuggerance” as Sir Terry Pratchett, eloquently put it. Mentally I’m still waiting for another Discworld novel, which is never going to come.
Strange that the Discworld, a flat world resting on the backs of four elephants which are standing on the back of an enormous turtle, called Great A’Tuin, has been a part of my life ever since I was a teenager.
The first Discworld novel I read was Witches Abroad, found at the tender age of fourteen in my school library. I think it was down to the cover art by Josh Kirby, as I started reading with no clue what was going on. Including when Gollum was hit over the head by an oar because I hadn’t read Lord of the Rings up to this point.
My original idea was to read until the end of the chapter, but a third into the book realised there weren’t any. I wonder how many others this happened too?
I was intrigued enough to find the rest and didn’t read any order for a really long time, but what I liked, even though I had no grasp of fantasy books I enjoyed it. I think it was the moment Death walked in, SPEAKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS, that I was hooked.
There was something about this deconstruction of fantasy and its tropes, of Dwarves exploring their gender, of Witches being conflicted with the maiden, mother and crone archetypes. Along with the transition from a Medieval society into the Industrial age, yet managed to play around with words and situations, and let’s be honest who didn’t smile when they read about the City of Quirm and realised how it’s pronounced?
The Discworld, was something special, even with its two prototypes, Strata and The Dark Side of the Sun. But let’s be honest, the early ones were bizarre.
For someone who had never read them in order, The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic and Equal Rights, were just weird, and I always wondered what the point of Eskarina Smith was. The first female Wizard on the Discworld, who disappears into the margins and never gets a mention for twenty-three years. A great character who never got the development she deserved.
She apparently has a son, if that was something that was going to be explored and sadly never had the chance to be, then it’s a shame. But then again the first character was Rincewind, and everyone was better than him since he was too much of life’s bitch to identify with.
It was Mort, where I think the Discworld, fell into place, Death takes a holiday to explore humanity and leaves a human in his position without explaining the details. Then shows himself to be a massive hypocrite when the titular Mort screws it up. That’s the Discworld in a nutshell, trying to find order in organised chaos.
Favourite stories, however, have to be the Ankh Morpork City Watch, I read this article years ago where Pterry intended in Guards! Guards! for Captain Carrot to be the lead. Please, he’s the decoy protagonist, the moment Samuel Vimes walked on, that was pretty much it. I love Carrot as a character, but in comparison to Vimes, Carrot stood no chance.
Prince Valiant is standing opposite an alcoholic, jaded nihilist who loved and hates the city of Ankh Morpork and everyone in equal measures. Now that’s my type of character and the real audience surrogate. The fact that he ended the series the happiest henpecked husband, married to the wealthiest woman in the city, settled and a proud and contented father to young Sam. Perfect ending right there.
However, with the City Watch, Pterry wrote himself into a corner, because after these colourful fleshed out characters, you couldn’t have a story set in Ankh Morpork without them. Hence the only reason for Moist von Lipwig, the protagonist for the final line of the books, and I liked them aside from Making Money, even on the Disc banking is never interesting no matter where you are.
The reality of the embuggerance was that beautiful original brain would fade, and sadly his later books showed this.
No disrespect to Pterry and his situation, but that’s the way I feel. But then again, you can see the cut potential with the introduction of Mr Nutt in Unseen Academicals, which was meant to go somewhere, and where that is, we will never know.
The moment he pretty much stated what Nobby Nobbs was. I knew it was over, and the rest of the series was just him saying goodbye, which is the only reason for all the cameos appearing in Raising Steam, so each and every one of them could have their curtain call, as well as the Discworld, moving forward into modernity.
Incidentally my favourite part of Snuff is Vimes telling the Discworld equivalent of the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice to get off their asses and get jobs (one of them already works in timber and is an embarrassment to the family) one of them is also Jane Austen (don’t ask), is worthy of a spin-off of its own.
I also hoped that one would be turned into a show, because translating a medium like the Discworld is difficult, but the output was a bit so-so. The Cosgrove Hall animations, excellent. The live actions on Sky, sort of miscast and not even impressive cameos by Pratchett could solve the issues.
David Jason may be a national treasure, but Albert perfect casting. Rincewind…what the hell were they thinking?
Like any fan, I met Pratchett. Waited hours in the queue in all weathers, I have several books, CD’s and video’s signed by him. And he was just marvellous, his events took hours because he spoke to every fan and treated everyone like an equal, and let’s face it. He was just phenomenal.
In its own unique way, Pratchett has been a part of my life for so long, in between and after University, I even joined The Purple Theatre Company in West London, which specialised in Pratchett Plays.
I was Perdita/Elf in Lords and Ladies, Mrs Enid/wounded soldier in Monstrous Regiment. A little bit of everything in Wyrd Sisters, including the guard that gives baby Tomjon to the Witches before dying on stage. And I loved it, something about immersing yourself in your favourite series can do wonders for your confidence.
After all of this, I’m just not ready to say goodbye to the Discworld, and even though the unfinished novels apparently nine of them were crushed by a steamroller last year. Because overkill is underrated according to the will of Terry Pratchett.
I admire the badassery, but can’t help think but “What if?”
What if Mr Nutt found the rest of his kind and what happened after that? Bloody civil war, or peaceful resolution?
What if Nobby and his girlfriend settled down and wanted to marry. But Goblins still struggle to be accepted, and a lot of people are not happy about it.
Or my two favourite stories which I always wanted to see, just to see what would happen.
Susan Sto Helit aka Susan Death, for whatever reason, joins the Assassins Guild and is very good at it. So good, that it gets the attention of Death, and due to it being against the rules, he has to stop her. But it means going up against her own grandfather and every bit of restraint, Susan has ever shown is gone. Ok, always harboured a desire for Susan to go wild.
Sybil and Young Sam get kidnapped, and (deep breath) His Grace, The Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes. Ambassador for Ankh-Morpork, as well as Blackboard Monitor, goes full-on mental. Using the Summoning Dark and everything and everyone at his disposal, he’s prepared to rip apart the foundation of the Disc and kick Death in the face if any harm comes to his family. All the while teetering on the edge of his alcoholism.
Stories that would be fantastic to see, but we never will. But Terry Pratchett, the genius he was, invited us into this beautiful, confusing, conflicting world. And I just can’t let go.
So overall, it’s hard, it’s hard to let the Discworld go and say goodbye, but those last few pages of Raising Steam.
I’ll read them one day.