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Cliffjumper
2013-09-15, 09:57 PM
I'm about a hundred pages in... is this going to get good at any point? Was hoping the Watch books might escape the 'understandable but not making crap books any better' brain dribble, but so far this is shite and incredibly predictable.

Have I missed something about Young Sam being mentally challenged? Why has Willikins had a complete personality change from being a butler with weapons skils to a roving Victorian thug (or is this just the standard Flanderisation of everyone in the Watch books who isn't Vimes but just more in the spotlight)? Isn't this sort of thing above spoofing Jane Austen? Is there any sign of a ****ing plot beyond "things are a bit different in the country and I've chosen goblins as the latest species to turn out to not be anywhere near as bad as their reputation because here's a couple of human characters who really are turds"?

Denyer
2013-09-15, 10:26 PM
Particularly towards the end, it's as different from what might be termed the classic era (Witches Abroad, Reaper Man, Men at Arms, etc) as those were from the first few. It's more historical pastiche than Discworld.

It's not one that felt affected by his illness (I Shall Wear Midnight, whilst I like, really loses shape in parts and then throws in a cameo anyone other than long-time readers would be a bit baffled by) -- but there were a certain number of stories to tell with the Watch characters, or with the Wizards, and by Jingo I think it'd been reached, and it was time for a fresher angle such as the Tiffany Aching or Von Lipwig books.

Haven't read it all, but recent-ish interview:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/terry-pratchett-on-latest-novel-medical-diagnosis,88808/

inflatable dalek
2013-09-16, 07:28 AM
So what you're saying is, it's not up to SNUFF?

I haven't read Snuff (or Dodger) yet despite both sitting on my shelf for the last year. My insane play to reread all the Bond novels has taken up most of my 2013. Still, I'm soooooooooo close to the end now, just the "Lets get a proper celebrity author to do one... oh, it's a bit shit" era to go.

It's mildly surprising the deeply stupid idea of "Young Bond" gave by far and away the best of all the non-Fleming books, as in genuinely good rather than "OK by the standards of Raymond Benson". I'm certainly looking forward to Higson's Who short story now.


Is there any sign of a ****ing plot beyond "things are a bit different in the country and I've chosen goblins as the latest species to turn out to not be anywhere near as bad as their reputation because here's a couple of human characters who really are turds"?

Now that was my big bugbear with the last one I didn't like, the footy one (interesting that in the interview Denyer links to Pratchett mentions that one took a long time to make work). In fact, wasn't the wildly believed to be an evil monster that turns out to be a person just like us a goblin in that?

Now, it's great the books promote diversity and are against prejudice, but as a plot twist it just doesn't work any more and it really stretches credulity when the same characters are surprised in the same way over and over.



Haven't read it all, but recent-ish interview:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/terry-pratchett-on-latest-novel-medical-diagnosis,88808/

I think he comes over well there, little sign of the jaded hack past his best. There's always been the occasionally poor book here and there (Pyramids and so on), so unless Raising Steam continues the trend it might just be that infrequent dip. Hopefully anyway.

I guess that interview was from before the announcement his daughter was going to take over the books after he dies? I can't see that working even if there'd been a more rigorous selection process. The authorial voice is so strong in the novels it's not just something anyone else can come in and take over even if they get the characters and basic plot right. At best it'll be a poor pastiche.

Cliffjumper
2013-09-17, 11:06 PM
I'm about 200 pages in and it does seem to be getting a bit better... or I've become numb; still the weakest Watch book yet (all the others are pretty good the whole way through) and still also looking very predictable. Still feels like the Castafiore Emerald of Discworld books, though.

It's more historical pastiche than Discworld.

That's been true of a lot of the more recent ones I've read... rather than fantasy novels they're more Victorian history with a few fantastical species (who always seem to be a jolly apposite metaphor for slaves and/or immigrants) chucked in - Night Watch, while IMO a great read, is probably the most guilty, being basically straightforward science fantasy with a rough plotline that could work in another fictional universe.

It's not one that felt affected by his illness

I dunno... I am fairly selective about which ones I do and don't read or re-read (no power on this earth could get me to read something as dire looking as Unseen Academicals) but I've yet to come across one that's so meandering and unfocused to start off with as this one. Among Pratchett's strengths are smart dialogue, clever observations, old school excitement and interesting characters. There's none of that in Snuff thus far, and Sam's really sliding into Marty Stu territory (which is a lot more obvious as everyone else fades into the background).

but there were a certain number of stories to tell with the Watch characters, or with the Wizards, and by Jingo I think it'd been reached, and it was time for a fresher angle such as the Tiffany Aching or Von Lipwig books.

I think the Watch books suffer from a certain lack of forward planning, especially re: Carrot. He's too big and too good early and Pratchett realises this soon after Jingo - hence Fifth Elephant suddenly makes Carrot into a bit of a twat and then he's all but written out of the rest in a clumsy way (Thud!'s most obvious problem is the elephant in the room of the charismatic hardcore part-dwarf Captain who doesn't do anything). Other characters have regressed badly too - Fred's a good sergeant who spends Guards, Guards holding the watch together and firing at a dragon from a rooftop; within 2-3 books he's a fat joke.

While obviously the characters have a limited life I think Pratchett's partly responsible for their lack of interest by seemingly shaving a couple of individual characteristics off each one every book in favour of emphasising broad comedy.


Now, it's great the books promote diversity and are against prejudice, but as a plot twist it just doesn't work any more and it really stretches credulity when the same characters are surprised in the same way over and over.

Yup - Men at Arms did dwarves, trolls and werewolves; Feet of Clay did Golems; Jingo did forreners; Fifth Elephant did vampires; Thud did dwarves and trolls again; you've got gnomes, zombies, dragons and probably more (gargoyles) chucked in there too with the same "people are people, some of them are bastards but most are alright" life lesson. I'm at the stage where it'd be nice if the goblins do turn out to be a bunch of pricks but it's not looking likely. There's a certain self-awareness early on when Vimes or Pratchet (same thing) muses on how all these species are acceptable except goblins but it's not so clever when this sort of autopilot plot ensues.


It's a disappointment to hear about his daughter taking over. It'd be nice for Pratchett to put a capstone on it all, otherwise you can see "the series" juddering on for years in the hands of others, probably of dimishing talent. Like you say, for good or bad they're all very much the clear work of one author.

inflatable dalek
2013-09-18, 07:08 AM
Around the time of the TV cartoons he was very against anyone taking over (even going as far as to say anything that wasn't 100% finished when he died would be destroyed).

Now obviously, he's more than entitled to change his mind over the course of two decades, and presumably he didn't even know his daughter would wind up a full time writer (well, at least not for sure) creating an avenue for continuation. But it can't help but feel terribly corporate. A lot of these continuation things (Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Hitchhikers) are as much about keep the original books at a high profile and/or maintaining copyright as they are about actually being any good.

True, them keeping it in the family at least stops it being totally cynical, but all it does is open the door for any Tom Dick and Harry down the line to have a go.

I can't see what would be in it for her either beyond the monies, I wikipediad her when the announcement was made and, IIRC, she's forging a decent enough career for herself as a computer game writer with reasonable success for someone who hasn't been doing it for relatively long. Becoming known as the second best Discworld writer is just going to be a poisoned challis.

I do think Pratchett himself has managed a pretty good hit rate over the 50 odd books he's written and the bad ones are fairly spaced out (and boy were you right to avoid the footy one. I think the problem came from his admitted lack of interest in football, creating the impression it was just one on a checklist of "Things in popular culture to spoof I haven't done yet" rather than having anything- beyond the slightly odd nostalgia for the days of hooliganism- to say about it. TBH, a lot of the ones I find weakest feel like that, "And today... Opera!").

MikeB
2013-09-18, 10:42 AM
Rhianna Pratchett interview featuring some discworld bits (http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/surviving-in-games-writing-and-carving-out-a-new-lara-croft-in-tomb-raider-with-rhianna-pratchett/)

It's close to the bottom but she basically says that she doesn't intend writing discworld novels but wants to do spin off cartoons/games etc.

I can't find the link right now but I'm certain that TP also clarified his comments on Discworld being in safe hands as more passing on the franchise within the family than there being a continuation of novels.

Obviously you can't rule out the whole celebrity author deal like with Bond, Hitchhikers guide and so on, but it doesn't look like that's an immediate aim, possibly even quite the opposite, depending on what spin you put on the various comments.

Tetsuro
2013-09-18, 03:19 PM
...I thought this was a thread about the 70's exploitation film. >_>

Denyer
2013-09-18, 06:15 PM
I'd be open to someone else writing Discworld-set novels, irrespective of her or if she's just caretaking the property -- Pratchett's writing style has changed a great deal over the years anyway and the batting average has been patchy.

Not as bad as Douglas Adams for me, though -- I prefer DNA's non-fiction for the most part, and as far as HHGTTG goes would pick the radio shows and the "new" movie.

inflatable dalek
2013-09-18, 08:03 PM
Rhianna Pratchett interview featuring some discworld bits (http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/surviving-in-games-writing-and-carving-out-a-new-lara-croft-in-tomb-raider-with-rhianna-pratchett/)

It's close to the bottom but she basically says that she doesn't intend writing discworld novels but wants to do spin off cartoons/games etc.



your google-fu beats mine Sir. I'm glad of the clarification of the original announcement, and she seems to have her head pretty screwed on about the best way forward as well (at least in terms of maintaining it as a family business whilst not completely pissing any remaining good will up the wall).

The thing that generally annoys me about continuations of an authors work is when there's some pretence the original creator would have been happy/and or done something similar themselves had they lived.

The treatment of Douglas Adams being the worst, the guy couldn't come up with either a sixth Hitchhikrs book or film script that he thought was good enough despite trying for years. Both done after his death could have been amazingly brilliant-and they weren't- and they'd still not have met his own standards.

The film people blaming stuff audiences didn't like on the dead man who isn't here to defend or explain himself after the fact was pretty disgusting as well (especially considering he never got to come close to doing a final draft, and they were more than happy enough to alter his script quite drastically in other ways so suddenly going "That wasn't us!" was just pathetic BS).

One thing I quite liked about Charlie Higson's introduction to the Young Bond dossier is the way he cheerfully admits his books are nothing at all like what Fleming would have envisioned for the character's youth.

MikeB
2013-09-19, 12:19 PM
your google-fu beats mine Sir.


I would have taken your word for it but I had a niggling memory of reading that (or a similar) interview, as well as some kind of message from TP (possibly on Twitter actually). Whether this was always the intention or a hasty backtrack I don't know, but he seems curmudgeonly enough (in the nicest possible way) that he wouldn't bow to pressure on it...

I have no objections to authors writing stories in a franchise (star wars/trek being an obvious example) but the increase in authors adding to someone else's body of work does feel slightly odd, with people being brought in to write "Agatha Christie" novels and even franchising the likes of Jane Austen (not the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, genuine "Austen style" novels). I understand the financial reasoning, established IPs generally sell better etc etc, but it's reaching the point where it's starting to feel slightly silly.

inflatable dalek
2013-09-20, 12:20 PM
It is odd how it works with some characters (Sherlock Holmes) but just feels wrong with others (Poirot just seems odd).

The Jane Austin stuff is completely daft considering those novels weren't even part of a series but self contained beginning middle end stuff. It'd be like doing prequels to Watchmen!


Oh.