Well, I can hardly wait – I’m biting my fingernails, waiting on tenterhooks, with bated breath – all those great expressions. For what am I waiting so anxiously? For the 36th Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, even now being processed at the local library. If my name isn’t first on the hold list, I don’t know what I’ll do!
For those of you who are uninitiated into the wonders of Discworld, I am taking this opportunity to attempt a conversion/introduction. The more people who read Terry Pratchett, the better this world will be.
The Discworld is, appropriately, a flat, round disc-shaped planet, resting on the back of four elephants which stand on the shell of a giant turtle as it swims through space. Among the many mysteries of Discworld science is how exactly the world can turn on the elephants’ shoulders without causing the mother of all friction burns. The most likely answer? Magic. Of course a world as illogical as this can’t exist without a substantial magical field in place. The answer to any question of technology or history is magic. Much to the dismay of Rincewind, the Disc’s most incompetent wizzard (note spelling), there is no such thing as special light sensitive paper for taking pictures of things. When you point a little black box at something and push the button, a tiny imp inside the box paints the scene for you. And when lightning strikes, it is because the gods are having a particularly bad day, not due to the build up of some unknown force in the air.
Naturally, for a world so steeped in magic, the presence of magic workers is essential. Discworld’s Wizards and Witches make life easier for the average citizen, mostly by doing nothing in the case of the wizards (they don’t use magic but they do it in a dynamic way, not like people who don’t use magic because they can’t, but because they can, they don’t. It makes sense to them, and lets them eat huge meals and lounge around on tenure doing nothing and feeling very accomplished.) Of course, no mention of the wizards is complete without introducing their librarian, who loves bananas and says ‘Oook’, due to his unusually ape-like physiology. Just don’t call him a monkey.
The witches, on the other hand, do quite a lot for everyone, but they also avoid using magic whenever possible. In their case, they figure why waste magic when good old headology (psychology) works so well? No need to curse someone when you can mutter under your breath and have them jinx themselves out of fear. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg hold local farmers in thrall – Granny by her cussedness, and Nanny by her atrociously bad jokes.
All of the Discworld is, of course, carefully watched by Death, a seven foot tall skeleton who SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS and tries very hard to understand the humans in his care. A surprisingly personable fellow who even has a granddaughter (she fills in for him on his occasional disappearances) and a pet, of sorts. Death of Rats SQUEAKS IN CAPITALS, but at least he’s some company.
The Discworld is a wonderfully comfortable, familiar place, with the kinds of people you could pull off of any street here. So, go out to your local library, or bookstore (yes, we do carry them!) and start reading! First, read The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Then, go wild! And when you’ve worked your way through the wonders of Terry Pratchett’s fabulous imagination, you can get in line behind me to read Making Money. I promise you, it will be well worth the effort!