In a time where we are very much interested in positive solutions to some of the more pressing problems of this modern day world, creativity and imagination are important tools to access these solutions. Here is a master of creativity and ingenuity at work:
Imagine a world that is shaped like a planet size disk. This disk rests on four huge elephants, which again rest on an even huger turtle. This contraption is called Diskworld and hurtles through space. It is a great playing field to let Terry Prachett’s wildly creative imagination combined with a Renaissance man’s breadth of knowledge loose to comment on anything and everything.
He makes fun of about everything in witty oneliners. He slaughters any holy cow possible and turns the carcass into creative and delicious entrees. And he quotes anything and everything from Shakespeare to Churchill to popular songs to James Bond: you name it – he quotes it (and you can read about every quote and its origin on a website created by dedicated fans – see L-Space references at the end).
Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred and everything is game in a sea of creativity, wit, and a deep understanding of the human psyche and way beyond. In his close to 40 novels the native British author just won’t quit coming up with unique perspectives on our modern day society, even though his Diskworld technologically has only reached the use of horse drawn coaches.
That does not hold Pratchett back from transposing modern day technologies into pre-electricity gadgets. The Hex (the one and only computer based on an ant farm kit), the klacks (a fax-like transmitting system using line of sight towers and paddles), and a movie camera (a box with 3 miniature demons inside painting pictures and turning the handle whips all three of them into continuous action) are just a few examples of his ingenuity.
On the Diskworld it’s the Century of the Fruitbat and the complex multi-ethnic society in the city of Ankh-Morpork includes the following species: silica based trolls (whose brains work faster in colder climates), dwarves (who escaped from the gold mines in Uberwald), werewolves (as a uniquely gifted police officer), zombies (very important man in the undead community), vampires (who hold AA meetings for vampires sobering up on tomato juice and serve the city as lawyers), and many more characters. Any idea or mythological concept is taken all the way to its logical conclusion and way beyond like Jewish Golems in “Feet of Clay” or aging heroes called the silver horde in “Interesting Times”.
This “modern” city of Ankh-Morpork is based on a self regulating system of guilds. Among them the Guild of Thieves (you pay a yearly fee for a plaque on your house which exempts you from robberies), the Guild of Seamstresses (in the process of renaming themselves the Guild of Negotiable Affection), the Guild of Fools (always so serious in their pratfalls, red noses, and water spraying flowers), and the Guild of Assassins (everyone’s head has a price).
Every book has a major theme like opera (Masquerade), the music industry (Soul Music), Hollywood movies (Moving Pictures), Australia (The Last Continent), China (Interesting Times), fairies (Lord and Ladies), diplomacy (The Fifth Elephant), religions (Small Gods), time (Thief of Time), death (Mort and Reaper Man), and Christmas (Hogswatch), to name just a few. Remember, there are close to fourty novels, and therefore close to fourty themes, and he is not done writing yet (luckily), even though last year he was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Pratchett’s books have sold over 55 million copies worldwide, but strangely enough, I found only one person in my circle of friends who knows of his novels. I myself had stumbled across them by chance when looking for a new book on tapes, and could not believe my ears when I started listening. I kept laughing so hard that I was hooked. That was 5 years ago and since then I managed to listen to all his books either on tape or as mp3. His humor, his insights and his both simple and complex concepts have kept me sane in a dark winter a few years back, when his outlandish Diskworld held a place for me to reassemble my personal world.
Thank you, Terry Pratchett, for the gift of your writing in my life.
Many of his books can be found in public libraries, both as books or in various audio formats.
The L-Space (Library Space where all libraries on the Diskworld are interconnected) http://www.ie.lspace.org A very informative website concerning anything you would like to know about Terry Pratchett and the Diskworld. Also, check out Terry Pratchett on Wikipedia.