For many readers, it’s hard to think of British fantasy literature without the name “Terry Pratchett” immediately coming to mind. Even if you’re not a fan of Pratchett or his ever-expansive Discworld universe, you can’t deny the man’s popularity. Before Harry Potter emerged, forever changing J.K. Rowling’s life and bank draft, Pratchett was a publishing phenomenon in the U.K., responsible for 6.5% of all book sales in England during the 1990s alone. There’s even the famous quote that alleges “no British railway train is allowed to depart unless at least one passenger is reading a Pratchett novel.”
Strangely, despite his popular charm, for a long period, it was next to impossible to find many critical studies of Pratchett’s canon that actually took the author seriously. Aside from the excellent and undersung Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature by Old Earth Books, there has been surprisingly little published critical commentary on his works. However, in recent years, Pratchett has finally begun to be recognized for his literary accomplishments, a fact made all the more bittersweet by the author’s recent diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. (Click here to read the text of his speech to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust Conference in 2008.) Such honors have included the 2001 Carnegie Medal, various Locus Awards for Best Young Adult Books, and, most recently, a knighthood for “services to literature” in the 2009 UK New Year Honours list, among many others.
To honor Pratchett’s contributions to the fantasy genre – and expand the amount of critical explorations of his works – we’re reprinting “Terry Pratchett: The Soul of Wit,” a fantastic original essay authored by novelist, critic, and editor Faren Miller, which originally appeared in the Gale reference title, Contemporary Literary Criticism, back in 2004.
“Terry Pratchett: The Soul of Wit” by Faren Miller
Since The Colour of Magic made its debut in 1983, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasies have been arriving at the rate of one or more a year. 2004 raises the count of adult volumes in the series to thirty1 with Going Postal and children’s books to three with A Hat Full of Sky. Hardly the output of a writer devoted to brevity! But Pratchett is no stereotypical epic fantasist incapable of telling a story in fewer than three volumes, or a dull artisan stamping out endless variations on the same scenario. Over the years he has honed his skills as observer and ironist – which is to say moralist – into a lean, flexible instrument that can skewer absurdities in the space of a paragraph and deal with any mode from slapstick to tragedy in the course of a largely self-contained narrative, with Discworld as his stage.
Terence David John Pratchett was born April 28, 1948 in Beaconsfield, Bucks., England. An avid science fiction fan (and convention-goer) since his early teens, he credits Beaconsfield Public Library for his real education. Though he also claims to have devoted more time to woodworking classes than to academic pursuits at High Wycombe Technical High School, he got excellent marks in Art, History, and English. By this point, he had already begun to write: “The Hades Business”, a short story that originally appeared in the school magazine when he was 13, became his first professional sale (to Science Fantasy magazine) just two years later. At 17 he left school to work as a journalist for a local newspaper. A chance remark while he was interviewing an editor associated with independent publisher Colin Smythe led to the publication of Pratchett’s first novel, humorous fantasy The Carpet People (1971), followed by humorous science fiction novels The Dark Side of the Sun (1976) and Strata (1981). In 1980, he took a job as press officer for an electricity board responsible for four nuclear power stations in southwest England, a position he held for eight years until he was able to leave and make his living as a full-time writer.”
Pratchett’s omnivorous reading, familiarity with science fiction, and journalistic blend of curiosity and skepticism about commonly held “truths” all come into play in the Discworld series. From its very beginning in The Colour of Magic, paradox and allusion sharpen the humor and add resonance. Colour chronicles the tale of Rincewind the inept wizard trying to shepherd a clueless foreign tourist and his sentient, mobile Luggage through a sequence of adventures, only to have each of them blossom into chaos.
The book opens with a Prologue that transforms fantasy’s common method of introduction – summarized myth plus an overview of scenery – into a clash between concept and perception. An ancient explanation of the cosmos totally at odds with modern science appears as an astronaut might see it: Great A’Tuin the turtle makes his slow way “through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters”, bearing four elephants upon his back. The Disc rests on that foursome’s vast shoulders. (Lacking instruments advanced enough to capture such a view, Discworld’s own scientists can only speculate about such matters as the turtle’s sex or its conformity to the Steady Gait theory advanced by some “cosmochelonians” in their ranks.) As for the Disc itself, Pratchett’s introduction to later book Equal Rites gives the best view from space. This world, lit by “a tiny orbiting sun”, has the usual array of continents, seas, mountains, etc., but the polar region consists of “a tiny central ice cap” and, with an “encircling ocean that falls forever into space in one long waterfall”, Discworld is “as round and flat as a geological pizza …”
The Colour of Magic begins in medias res with a fire racing through Ankh-Morpork, the divided, class-ridden, polyglot city that will serve as the setting for many of the books. Pratchett then backtracks to introduce his characters and gradually, slyly unravel the tangled chain of events and interactions that led to the conflagration. Its cause has nothing to do with sorcery. The title’s pun on The Color of Money (the 1961 Walter Tevis novel which became the film Hustler) offers a better clue. The true forces at work are the so-called dismal science (introduced here as “reflected-sound-of-underground-spirits”, later shortened to “echognomics”) and its bastard son “in-sewer-ants” (insurance).
Despite the punning, this is a portent of what’s to come as the series develops from a spoof of fantasy genre fiction into a wide-ranging, complex satire. Discworld allows Pratchett to deal with all kinds of human cultural and religious follies, along with such weighty matters as destiny and death – or Death in this context, a character liable to show up at any time, distinguished by his skeletal form, scythe, and habit of speaking in ALL CAPS.
Pratchett may deal in the absurd, but throughout his career he has railed against being labeled “wacky” or “zany”. Even his most wildly hilarious conceits tend to be grounded in basic human nature and elements of modern society, exposed and extrapolated to ever more ridiculous heights. Posting to the online Discworld discussion group www.alt.fan.pratchett.html, he refers to his early loathing for the Alice in Wonderland books as “creepy and horribly unfunny in a nasty, plonking Victorian way. Oh, here’s Mr. Christmas Pudding on Legs, hohohoho. …” While one of the most popular characters in The Colour of Magic, the animate Luggage with its many legs and ferocious devotion to its master, may sound like the same kind of thing, it’s less airily whimsical. In the course of the narrative, Pratchett provides an elaborate pseudoscientific background for its “sentient pearwood” (sic) material, indicates its social significance as an accessory available only to fabulously wealthy foreigners, then counters that image of the Luggage as mere status symbol by giving it a distinct personality and increasingly prominent role in the action.
Many of the weapons in Pratchett’s arsenal as humorist are already on display in the first Discworld book, but in the course of the series he will develop new skills as a social satirist and novelist. Colour‘s relatively slapstick protagonists and their peripatetic adventures in realms mocking various fantasy tropes (thieves’ guilds, dragon riders, etc.) give way to more fully realized characters and settings, in more deftly woven plots. He also brings new dimensions to themes introduced early on, such as the principles behind magic, the awkwardness of youth, women’s rights, the ripple effect from a technological advance, squabbles among scholars, and runaway ambition.
This does not make the early books any less enjoyable on repeated reading. While Pratchett claims not to have discovered “the joy of plot” or the value of “tragic relief” until five or six books into the series2, coming-of-age is no easy task for either the wizard’s daughter in Equal Rites or Death’s overly warm-hearted young apprentice in Mort (both 1987). After the affectionate parodies of the relatively modern field of pulp fantasy/adventure fiction in Colour, The Light Fantastic (1986), and Sourcery (1988), he looks back to earlier forms of the fantastic (as well as their offspring in pulp fiction). Thus the elements of “Arabian Nights” tales in Sourcery and Egyptian religion in Pyramids (1989).
Between those Middle Eastern excursions, Pratchett returned to English home ground for a comedy with allusions to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and History Plays, Wyrd Sisters (1988). Here the doings of a trio of witches, plus ghosts and assorted scheming rulers and disguised heirs, come under the ironist’s sharp eye. Lofty questions or pronouncements abruptly lose their power: “When shall we three meet again?” … “Well, I can do next Tuesday.” That last remark might provoke a rim-shot in a comic monolog, but Pratchett’s brand of comedy doesn’t rely exclusively on one-liners, in-jokes or puns. As he told an interviewer, “a lot of the humor … comes from thinking logically about those things which we don’t normally think logically about, that we just accept”3.
Stripped of their grandiose theatricality or aura of supernatural mystery, Discworld’s aristocrats, witches, wizards, and multitude of uncanny creatures can become all too human. After working with the boy apprentice in Mort, even Death grows uncomfortable with impersonal omnipresence, and this rebellious streak grows stronger in Reaper Man (1991). Here Death goes on holiday in human guise after the bureaucratic “auditors of reality” decide his Discworld manifestation has developed too much of a personality and should be replaced if he can’t shape up. Pratchett chronicles the mishaps that ensue, threatening the very fabric of reality, with a journalist’s eye for detail: literalized, the cosmos that metaphysicians regards with awe becomes a matter of simple cause and effect, governed by absurd yet tidy logic.
Over the years Pratchett has developed an ensemble cast of characters whose role and prominence varies according to the requirements of each book. Death (reconciled to his old guise and duties) continues to appear in cameos long after his featured adventures. Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and other witches turn up most often around the rustic villages and heaths near the stormy Ramtop Mountains – however, only an ignorant young apprentice witch would lump these women together as simple, good-hearted crones. Granny Weatherwax in particular has as much experience and guile as Lord Vetinari (or more), and her combination of a prickly temper with great occult powers can terrify even the grandest of Unseen University’s scholarly wizards.
The trope of a school for wizards was part of the fantasy genre long before the first Harry Potter book came on the scene. Pratchett does not use his Unseen University as a setting for tales of quirky teachers with promising young students like J. K. Rowling’s Harry; one-on-one relationships between tutor and student are more likely to appear in works featuring the witches or Death. The University serves more as a comic chorus: these scholars are a contentious group with little interest in teaching, and whenever they show up (quarreling over minor points of rhetoric or dismissing each other’s sweeping theories of the cosmos), the extremes of academic/scientific behavior get a drubbing. Though he wasn’t a college man, Pratchett knows the ways of scientists from his background as a journalist and press officer for nuclear plants. At times he may have been even more accurate about academic behavior than he intended.4
As Ankh-Morpork emerged from parodic fantasy and took on a life of its own, it became the venue for novels featuring wily old ruler Lord Vetinari and the City Guard’s lowly Night Watch. The Watch made its debut in Guards! Guards! (1989) as a band of misfits headed by drunken Captain Samuel Vimes, classic exemplars of the early Discworld inhabitants’ tendency toward ineptitude. Even here, though, there is ground for hope. When a true Hero, Carrot the absurdly proper and idealistic young swordsman, comes to the city and enlists in its Guard, they begin their slow ascent toward competence – maybe even greatness.
Four years (and seven novels) later in Men at Arms, a kind of civic Affirmative Action program has introduced a dwarf, a troll, and a female werewolf to their ranks. Meanwhile, the gradual rise of sorcerous technology – gismos, as opposed to outright spells – indicates a culture shift in the making. (After all, the old days are over: this is the new Century of the Fruitbat.) The theft of an unusual weapon from the Assassins’ Guild leads to a simultaneously funny and dramatic police procedural as Vimes probes into an apparently random sequence of crimes. All this takes place during a long, hot summer where the racial animosity of dwarf vs. troll comes to the brink of warfare, some of the gentry dabble in fascism, and Vimes himself may marry into the upper class and retire – if he can tear himself away from his old profession and his long-running inner debate about the nature and responsibilities of a Good Cop.
A few Discworld novels don’t center around figures from the regular cast. Moving Pictures (1990) compresses the history, technological developments, and promotional gimmicks of the movie industry into a few months of manic progress set off by a discovery by the Alchemists’ Guild. Going deeper, to examine the human need for religion, Small Gods (1992) introduces largely new settings and viewpoint characters. These include an obscure turtle god – not the great Disc-Bearer, but a blunderer who botched his physical manifestation and can only speak to one novice in the smug monotheist bureaucracy ruled by his ostensible worshippers. (The rest of them are too busy with internal conspiracies and plans to overrun a land of free-thinking philosophers.) In the course of a lively narrative, serious questions arise: Should faith be a tool for political tyranny, a harshly enforced guarantor of good behavior, or a consolation for the meek? Can atheism render it obsolete? Everyone exhibits some degree of pretentiousness and folly, behavior that invites laughter along with a touch of pity.
Until the late 1990s, Men at Arms and Small Gods represented Pratchett at his best, with their sophisticated mixture of intelligent, humane, and howlingly funny narrative. Other works from that prolific decade are equally amusing but less ambitious, trying on various literary modes and choosing subjects for satire seemingly at random. From 1994, Soul Music plays on the mania of rock’n'roll, while Interesting Times chronicles the adventures of several elderly warriors who aim to cut a swathe through Discworld’s version of the Far East. Maskerade (1995) involves the witches in a murder mystery/takeoff on Phantom of the Opera. 1996 brought two more books: another mystery, Feet of Clay (this time with the Guard), and Hogfather (which tackles everything from children’s literature to the computer age, holidays, and unrest in Academe).
Jingo (1997) shows the series maturing. When Ankh-Morpork and the Watch are drawn into war over a disputed piece of land, Pratchett sidesteps the merely topical to produce a mordant satire of nationalistic fervor and its dangerous ideals of glory for Us and doom for Them, making it the most politically aware Discworld novel up to that point. In hindsight, 1998′s The Last Continent seems like a hail-and-farewell to the old Discworld: one last lighthearted fling, as members of the Unseen University explore a kind of parodic Australia. (The creator of Death takes his own vacation?)
In a 1999 interview5, Pratchett comments on war, scientific progress, and the possible fate of civilization in a universe that seems too vast and unknowable to afford mankind much of a place. He calls his outlook “pessimistic in the Arthurian sense, that things will die and something goes on … Nothing is ever final.” Turning to the subject of individual moral choice, he describes a passage from the opening section of his 1998 novel Carpe Jugulum as “the somewhat tortured musings of, effectively, a village midwife with no medical backup, who must choose between allowing a newborn baby or its mother to die, because she cannot save both of them”.
Fans of the original, more uproarious Discworld may have read that interview with dismay, wondering if the weight of our own sad world had finally come down to smother all the fun out of it. But Carpe Jugulum (a phrase later translated as “Go for the throat”) proves to be less grim than the interview suggested. Moral issues mingle with gloriously ridiculous behavior when Granny Weatherwax and other witches encounter vampires and aristocrats driven by equally dangerous urges: the thirst for blood, a high-minded fascination with progress, and messy teenage rebelliousness. Though Pratchett parodies elements of vampire fiction, he weaves them into a plot more layered and far less predictable than a simple pastiche.
The series has always dealt with the illogical materials of fantasy and horror as a journalist might, in terms of cause and effect (however absurd they may seem from our vantage), as well as the inner logic that makes Discworld’s inhabitants see their world as perfectly natural. What we consider ridiculous “may make perfect sense within the story”, Pratchett says in an interview from 20006; then he emphasizes, “You’ve got to remember … that the stories aren’t funny to the characters involved.” His satires became more complex mixtures of irony and moral questioning when he learned how to convey both perspectives with equal conviction.
The Fifth Elephant (1999) demonstrates just how well he mastered that art. An ancient myth involving the whereabouts of an extra elephant that fell from the Great Turtle’s back eons ago may be more than legend. If it exists, the geologically transformed substance of the beast could lead to practical applications for a new form of technology. Naturally, Lord Vetinari is interested. He chooses Samuel Vimes – now a Lord in his own right, happily married into the aristocracy but still doggedly hanging onto his job as leader of the Night Watch – to go to the land of Uberwald as a combination diplomat and spy. Uberwald happens to be the original home of Discworld’s most dark-fantastic creatures: the feudal vampires, their servants “the Igors”, and werewolves. It also has a particularly large population of feuding dwarves and trolls. The potential for comedy is obvious and Pratchett doesn’t neglect it. But among the series’ rotating ensemble cast, he has devoted special attention to characters from the Guard, and in this book it pays off brilliantly. When his female werewolf, troll, dwarf, and humans Lord Vimes and Carrot the policeman/predestined Hero, make their various ways into Uberwald, they already appear complex and believable enough to figure in a scenario where politics, sexual rights, race, mortality, and the impact of progress on a once-static culture, all play a role.
Technological developments lead to Ankh-Morpork establishing its first newspaper in The Truth (2000), and cultural repercussions follow. William de Worde, publisher and scribe, had no plans to become an investigative journalist until he encounters a crime scene that might have political implications. While he approaches it quite differently from the lurid tabloid that sprang up as his paper’s rival, he also doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Samuel Vimes. Their disagreements provide an intriguingly unsympathetic outside view of Vimes that makes him seem all the more human. A greater crisis looms in Thief of Time (2001), as Death (and his granddaughter Susan) get involved in a complex plot where alien forces target Discworld’s History Monks, keepers of Time itself. What might once have been an entirely farcical take on metaphysics, quantum physics and monks with a flair for the martial arts is now both ridiculous and sublime, as Pratchett explores the links between perception, mortality, time, and the cosmos as a whole.
Another strange twist in time casts the current Samuel Vimes, Duke and respected Commander of the Watch, back into the world of his own past in Night Watch (2002). The Commander’s crew has always been known by that name, but this time the allusion to Rembrandt’s painting is more deliberate and telling. (Paul Kidby’s cover for the British edition loosely parodies that work without descending into cartoonishness.) This is also a tale of two cities: the rough, dirty, politically unstable burg where young Sam is growing up, and the comparatively well-governed place where his older self lives. Pratchett invokes the spirit of Charles Dickens in the depth of his portrayals (as well as a brief glimpse of an old lady in a shop full of wool skeins). The antic Ankh-Morpork of the early books has grown into a city where thousands could starve if the revolutionaries of young Sam’s time succeed in holding a barricade that cuts off its warehouses from their suppliers, and the older Vimes is astute enough to see the implications.7 While a young man might thrill to see a city in turmoil, elder wisdom has this to say: “Don’t put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That’s why they’re called revolutions. People die, and nothing changes.” It takes a kind of genius to find room for humor in a book this dark and complex, but Pratchett pulls that off as well.
The militaristic impulses explored in Jingo crop up again in Monstrous Regiment (2003), though the focus is more intimate as another of Pratchett’s youthful protagonists wrestles with the question “Who am I?”, amid chaos. There’s an extra wrinkle to the question for Polly: determined to join the Borogravian army in quest of her missing brother, she must learn to pose convincingly as a young man. The regiment she joins turns out to be as motley as Vimes’s Guard, including a vampire, an Igor, and a troll, each with their own secrets and obsessions. However, they are all innocents compared to the warmongers who drive them to battle, and far more sympathetic. Pratchett’s politicians and generals are portrayed (or tarred) with a broader brush; like their counterparts in our own world, they inspire both ridicule and fear. But Monstrous Regiment isn’t strictly topical satire. The psychology at work here is as timeless as young Polly’s moments of hope, despair, and determination.
Pratchett has also been a successful writer of humorous children’s and young-adult novels for over a decade, beginning with the Bromeliad Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers, and Wings) from 1988-1990, followed by the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, and Johnny and the Bomb) from 1992-1996. But he only began to garner awards with more recent books The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001) and The Wee Free Men (2003).
The Amazing Maurice plays on elements from “The Pied Piper” and features talking animals, but its wry variations on familiar motifs from fairy tales and children’s literature include a surprising amount of violence, horror, and examples of courage in the face of adversity – in this case, a kind of living hell that descends upon the rats in the city of Bad Blintz after humans and uncannier forces target them. Amid the highly entertaining adventures of a streetwise cat, trained rodents, and a boy piper, Pratchett reminds us just how grim the old fairy tales could be, rooted as they were in dark times.
The judges of Britain’s prestigious Carnegie Award for best children’s book unanimously chose Maurice as the winner for 2002, with chief judge Karen Usher calling it “an outstanding work of literary excellence – a brilliant twist on the tale of the Pied Piper that is funny and irreverent, but also dark and subversive.”8 Previous Carnegie winners include C. S. Lewis, Richard Adams, Peter Dickinson, and Philip Pullman, and Pratchett said he was “genuinely shocked” to join their ranks. In his acceptance speech9, he declared, “You can tell that Maurice is a fantasy because it looks like one. It has rats that are intelligent. But it seems to me even more fantastic that in the book there are humans that are intelligent as well.” The speech also took aim at Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy: “Far more beguiling to me than the idea that evil can be destroyed by throwing a piece of expensive costume jewelry into a volcano is the possibility that peace between nations can be maintained by careful diplomacy.”
A similar spirit of pragmatism and restrained idealism (or “Arthurian” pessimism) guides his witches. In The Wee Free Men (2003) they only play a cameo role, but it’s clear that nine-year-old Tiffany Aching, shepherd’s daughter and aspiring witch, could learn a lot from them. (She gets her chance at age 11 in 2004′s A Hat Full of Sky). Tiffany might not have survived her adventures in a malevolent Fairyland if she hadn’t encountered the “wee free men” known here as Pictsies, ornery, woad-painted pixies who are hard-headed, good in a brawl, and anything but well-behaved. Wee Free Men received a host of honors as Best or Notable children’s book of 2003 from American librarians’ and parents’ associations. The author’s later comment about them is typically irreverent: “Oh dear. I don’t know whether to be worried or pleased that a book containing words like ‘susurration’, treating witches with respect and featuring a mob of drunken, thieving, swearing Scottish pixies is considered wonderful by the great and good of the US YA Book world, but I nurse a sneaking desire for someone to ban it. …”10
The honors from American librarians, editors and teachers aren’t as unlikely as he maintains, for Pratchett’s books written for children and young adults have always smuggled instruction into their comic mayhem. Life lessons abound even in the “Bromeliad” books, where tiny alien “nomes” shipwrecked on Earth and living in a department store (later a shopping mall) begin to learn about their new planet, its science and technology, as they emerge from years of blinkered “nomocentrism”. His view of magic is equally down-to-earth: When Tiffany undergoes further training in A Hat Full of Sky, Granny Weatherwax shows up to dismiss some gaudily dressed, snooty rivals as fools. In Granny’s view, the discipline should be clear, unpretentious and devoted to the common good on the most basic level (things like midwifery and home nursing of the elderly), rather than a flamboyant tradition of waving wands to summon demons or lightning and lay waste to one’s enemies.
Many Discworld books include introductions or chapter headings taken from invented writings. (A Hat Full of Sky cites “Fairies and How to Avoid Them” by Miss Perspicacia Tick.) Though academic prose offers a tempting target for Pratchett’s wit, he likes “how-to” books and accords them considerable respect as the next best thing to hands-on experience. He has ventured into something like this territory himself in two collaborations with science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (1999) and The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (2001). Here novelette- or novella-length tales of his magical scholars of Unseen University lead into discussions of the rules that govern our own “Roundworld”, from its cosmic genesis to human history and culture. (A third volume, Darwin’s Watch, is scheduled for 2005.) To University members, a “pocket universe” where planets are globular and magic simply doesn’t work is a curious phenomenon, almost absurdly counterintuitive, that demands further exploration. Earthlings will enjoy coming along for the ride.
Though the Discworld works have been translated into several languages and have gained fans throughout the world, Pratchett is still best known in Great Britain, where sales of the books and related items have made him a millionaire. Entrepreneurs – usually small businesses – offer an extraordinary range of products associated with Discworld books and their artwork, including games, mugs, T-shirts, jigsaw puzzles, figurines, hand painted glassware, posters, cross-stitch patterns … and several varieties of beer!
Aside from the Carnegie Award, he has received a 1989 British Fantasy Award for Pyramids (as best novel), an O.B.E. in the Queen’s Honours of 1998, and an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Warwick in 1999. He has no plans to retire and simply bask in wealth and recognition, however. In 2000 he told an interviewer, “I can’t imagine not being a writer; it’d be like imagining not being me. It wasn’t any Muse, by the way, unless it was the Muse of journalism – and you wouldn’t want to meet that old vampire on a dark night.”11
2. From “A Conversation with Terry Pratchett”, interviewer Claire E. White, in Writers Write – The IWJ, April 2000 [www.writerswrite.com].
4. Ibid, where he mentions receiving a letter from a noted mathematician “who said that the way the wizards solve problems is exactly the way mathematicians solve problems. You’ll find half a dozen mathematicians clustered around the blackboard, all arguing with one another, all fighting for the chalk. Some of them will be rubbing out part of the equation that another one of them has just written. And out of this kind of creative hubbub comes a solution.”
5. Locus: The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Fields, December 1999.
6. “Isis Publishing”, April-June 2000.
7. In another interview, to appear in Locus magazine, Pratchett calls that sudden insight into the city’s plight “a kind of epiphany” and “the big science fiction moment” (science-fictional in the sense of a broader vision: extrapolation spurred by an attention to mundane details).
8. Cited by reporter John Ezard in The Guardian, July 13, 2002.
10. Ansible #200, March 2004.
11. “Isis Publishing”, April-June 2000.
SOURCE CITATION: Miller, Faren. “Terry Pratchett: The Soul of Wit.” In Contemporary Literary Criticism 197, edited by Tom Burns and Jeffrey W. Hunter. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2004.
For more on fantasy fiction, try the fantasy browse genre page at Books & Authors!
Want to know more about us? Check out “What is Books & Authors and Why Should You Care?”