Showing posts with label Terry Prachett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terry Prachett. Show all posts

15 January 2013

The Long Earth - Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The Blurb1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man's Land gone? 

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there's no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget - a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a 'stepper'. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that's an understatement if ever there was one... 

...because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths...this is the Long Earth. It's not our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It's an infinite chain, offering 'steppers' an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger - and sometimes more dangerous - the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently. 

But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind...or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural 'steppers', who don't need his invention and now the great migration has begun..

So, a new Pratchett collaboration. I'm a self confessed Discworld nut, so of course I wanted to read it. I've never read Mr. Baxter's work, but I've heard good things about his work.

First off the bat. This isn't Discworld. Nor was it aiming to be. The multiverse suddenly opens up and we have infinte worlds to play with. The possibilities are almost endless. Humans can step sideways, onto new, virgin copies of earth. I say almost, seeing as you need a stepper box that you constructed yourself, a potato, you can't take any metal across worlds and you throw up violently after each step. So there are some real boundaries attached to the stepping. To most people. 

Joshua Valiente isn't most people. He can step without a box and without getting sick, so he can explore further and deeper than normal. He's an interesting guy. Josjua attracts the wrong kind of attention and then he meets Lobsang, a brilliant AI computer who swears to help Joshua if he agrees to accompany Lobsang into the Long earth.

Up to here the book was pretty good. An interesting premise has been created, there are main characters that's been introduced and who have grown, the AI is a cool touch. Then nothing much of anything happens.

They explore the earth. Slowly, disjointedly, confusingly. The book really starts to splutter along from here.There are too many improbabilities and weird decisions made to really make sense other than to drive the plot. I understand that the book was written as a collaboration over quite a long time, but it should have been polished better. I know this isn't Discworld, but Pratchett's touch seemed mostly absent from the book. The sharp wit and pregnant pause that made his work amazing is sadly missing from The Long Earth. 

It was a real promising premise that failed to engage me, and that makes me quite depressed.


07 January 2013

Happy 2013

Well, it seems I've survived 2012, but only by the skin of my teeth. My wife and I had a wonderful holiday with great friends, then Christmas with the family was fun. I got some nice presents and drank some awesome wines.

My car got stolen from inside my yard on Boxing day, and that put quite a damper on the festivities. Bastards.  New Years was a blast as always.

So, I'm not going to do a best books of 2012 or most awaited books of 2013, seeing as I'm lazy at the moment. I will share some of my plans for 2013. I do not call them resolutions, seeing as resolutions gets broken in no time flat.

1. Buy a new car as soon as the insurance people sort their stuff out. Bastard thieves.
2. Lose 15kg. Needs to be done
3. Only read good books. Nothing depresses me more than a bad story. Not sure how I'm going to pull this one off, but here's to hoping!
4. Blog more
5. Write more. That is the big one for this year.
6. Take my little motorcycle on a weekend trip.

I'm not going to say drink less and exersize more, seeing as lying to ones self seems stupid.

I managed to finish three books on holiday. The Whitefire Crossing by Courtney Schafer, The Long Earth by Pratchett & Baxter and Redshirts by John Scalzi. Reviews are in the pipeline.

Here is to hoping that 2013 is better than 2012.

28 December 2011

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

The Blurb: At long last, Lady Sybil has lured her husband, Sam Vimes, on a well-deserved holiday away from the crime and grime of Ankh-Morpork. But for the commander of the City Watch, a vacation in the country is anything but relaxing. The balls, the teas, the muck—not to mention all that fresh air and birdsong—are more than a bit taxing on a cynical city-born and -bred copper.
Yet a policeman will find a crime anywhere if he decides to look hard enough, and it’s not long before a body is discovered, and Sam—out of his jurisdiction, out of his element, and out of bacon sandwiches (thanks to his well-meaning wife)—must rely on his instincts, guile, and street smarts to see justice done. As he sets off on the chase, though, he must remember to watch where he steps. . . . This is the countryside, after all, and the streets most definitely are not paved with gold.

I must confess that I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan. I have been one for years, and I'll defend his world and works  to any who dares to belittle his works or who is insane enough to try to discuss it with me after a few drinks. Ask my wife, I do not stop, go in circles and basically bash you over the head with my argument until you agree with me, if only to make me stop. That's how big of a fan I am. I'll try to be impartial in my review, but that's probably a lost cause.

This time most of the action happens at Ramkin Hall, Lady Sybil's childhood country home, and now belonging to Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh and Commander of the City Watch. The all round hero, policeman and mainly city rat. He is out of his element and he knows it. His first real holiday since for ever.

A lot of people arguethat Sir Pratchett's earlier works are better. That he has lost his edge. I won't say better, but they are more satirical and laugh-a-minute without question. That is understandable, with old age and that bastard Altzheimer's looming over a person, I'm sure that satire seems a bit difficult to achieve. The guy has sold over 70 million books. And his books are the most stolen on earth. True story. The guy is a legend.

Willikins emerges as a bodyguard in this book, and that transformation that started in Thud! is complete. Vimes has someone from his own background that he can trust with his and his family's life, and I feel that it was needed to help keep Sam Vimes sane. Good touch that. And it made him bloody good fun to read.

Sam Vimes Jr is six in this book, talking, running and collecting poop. It will be interesting to follow the development of Vimes II, and I'm sure that all the fans will love him.

Oh yes, and there are Goblins. The theme of introducing new races are continuing, and that helps to keep the stories fresh. The Dwarves, Fey, Trolls and Undead has been done, and done brilliantly. The Orcs and Goblins should shake up The Discworld and shake out some new tales.

All in all, Snuff was an enjoyable read. Not as funny as his earlier works, but I've covered that. A bit darker for Pratchett, but it is done well and the darkness matches the Vimes books. It was an honour as a fan to read. I'm pretty sure anyone will enjoy it.