Disc World. A science fiction publishing institution for over thirty years…an institution that I have somehow managed to miss.
Pratchett’s lovely, often hilarious, frequently telling and hugely popular series kicked off in 1983/1984, just as I was leaving the world of science fiction for the more physical pastures of professional paintball play. It is one of many franchises that I have missed out on as a result of a quarter-century’s long GAFIATION.
The other day I received a Pratchett Parcel in the mail from the fine folks at Doubleday. The parcel contained not one but two books – A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD, the collected nonfiction of Terry Pratchett, with a foreward by Neil Gaiman and THE COMPLEAT ANKH-MORPORK CITY GUIDE, by TERRY PRATCHETT Aided and Abetted by THE DISCWORLD EMPORIUM…Comprising The New Street Map, Trade Directory & Gazetteer Along With A Glorius Artist’s Impression Of This Great City In Its Entirety.
Boy have I missed a LOT!
I’ll dispense with the nonfiction collection first.
The collection contains virtually ALL of the “essays, letters, speeches and articles” written by Sir Terry from 1963 onwards to the recent past. The ’63 offering can be found in the section titled A Twit and a Dreamer and is a letter written to Vector, the journal of the British Science Fiction Association. It amply demonstrates the wit and playfulness that Terry would foist upon us all a few short years later.
Gaiman’s foreward unfortunately reminds us of Sir Terry Pratchett’s affliction with Alzheimers – we’re losing this scion of the field all too soon. The forward also reminds of how influential Terry is and manages to be both poigniant and uplifting at the same time.
I’ve not had a chance to wade through all of the offerings, but the collection starts off with a bang by introducing us to the writer’s mind and work habits. Anyone who writes for a living will immediately recognize themselves. Sir Pratchett delivers in style.
If you are the kind of reader/writer who finds entertainment and insight through reading about where others have gone before, this collection is worthy of attention.
And now, that other compendium, the City Guide.
Wow. Just. Plain. Wow.
I initially thought it an odd contraption; its a coffee-table sized hard cover with an odd dust jacket (quite nicely illustrated in a faux gold-inlay style). Odd because the dust jacket’s dimensions are considerably larger than the book itself.
It took me a few minutes to realize that that the jacket wasn’t just a jacket, it was also a sleeved repository for an over-sized map of the Twin Cities of Ankh-Morpork.
Over-sized is an under-sized adjective to use for this offering. It’s huge! And double-sided, with one side featuring a detailed map of the entire city complex (in plan and elevation, nicely done), while the obverse contains a finer scale map of the “Main Routes”. The entire thing is almost large enough to cover my queen-sized bed, and represents a bonus not usually found in books these days.
Fans of Discworld will no doubt frame it (but if you are going to use it to chart out the adventures in the novels, get a second copy to stick pins in!)
The book itself is lavishly illustrated and purports to be an artifact of the merchants of the city, presumably helping people find the market will have a positive effect on sales.
The different sections are clever and amusing and replicates the same kind of booklet you’d get for free at a city’s Visitor’s Bureau; where to eat and sleep, where to buy stuff, things to see, all-important laws & regulations and more.
And every bit is humorous.
This is the kind of book every Discworld fan wants to have. And now they can!