A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction of Terry Pratchett

Summer continues, I’m actually starting my vacation tomorrow afternoon, and it’s going to be 2,5 weeks! But blogging requires some regularity, and so I decided to write a few words about a very special book. Terry Pratchett is a very special author, one I’ve been reading for over 20 years. I’m now in the middle (at book 16, to be precise) of the systematic re-read of the entire Discworld and I appreciate him even more.

I prefer to learn about writers’ ideas through their novels, but Pratchett is important enough to me, and his untimely demise started my slow – and now accelerating – re-read of his books, and motivated me to learn more about the man himself. There is a very moving documentary from BBC, Terry Pratchett: Back in Black, the story of his life featuring Pratchett just before Alzheimer took him, a master of language struggling with simple words, but still a powerful, wise figure. He says, at the beginning:

They say your life flashes in front of your eyes before you die.

This is true. It’s called living. But nobody’s really dead until all the ripples they have created on Earth have completely died away, so as long as my words and my stories are still sploshing around the planet, there’s life in the old dog yet.

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Other Men’s Flowers

Or women’s, as it happens to be the case, but I simply love the phrase. One of the most distinguished British military commanders of the Second World War, Lord Wavell, published a popular selection of poems by no means limited to martial tropes. A very good and wide selection that I like to browse every now and then.

Here I’m referring to two very interesting posts, not poems, but worth a while nonetheless.

a) 10 Discworld Quotes You’ll Desperately Need for the Next Four Years

This is, of course, political. And not even that innovative, a selection of quotes recognizable to every Pratchett fan. Including some of my personal favourites.

A few look as if they were written especially to honour Mr Trump’s ascension:

Commander Vimes didn’t like the phrase “The innocent have nothing to fear,” believing the innocent had everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like “The innocent have nothing to fear.” – Snuff

She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you. – Equal Rites

And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions. – Feet of Clay

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things. – Jingo

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Eric Frank Russell, Wasp (1957)

wasp

Long time, no entry. Warszawa takes more of my attention than I would’ve liked, what with constant travels and over-hours I’m already packing into my “teaching abroad” 😉 I have no time to write, but a lot of time to read on the 2,5 hrs train ride to and from Kraków… And so today a short review of an equally short book, a sweetly sour oldie proudly wearing its badge of acclaim (at least my copy does!) from the late Sir Terry Pratchett:

I’d have given anything to have written Wasp. I can’t imagine a funnier terrorists’ handbook

Well, those two short sentences sum it up pretty neatly. I wouldn’t have to add another word ;).

But for those who didn’t have the pleasure of reading this book yet… a bit longer review.

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Book & A Cover

Niektóre okładki po prostu spełniają swoją funkcję. Oddają charakter książki i w zasadzie nie mogą być wybitniejsze niż ona – wpisują się w określoną konwencję i przekazują jasny komunikat co do zawartości. Gorzej, jeśli okładka jest z innej bajki niż dzieło, które zapowiada:

1346428683089Stare wydania Conana można przynajmniej lubić ironicznie. Współczesne paranormal romance… wstyd wyciągnąć przy ludziach z plecaka, a niektóre urban fantasy nie wiedzieć czemu się z nimi ścigają, zamiast poprzestać na czymś takim:

Sixty-OneNails-rev-144dpi

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Don’t judge a book by its cover…

… czyli pozory mogą mylić. Mogą, ale nie muszą. Myślę, że nie wywołam wielkich kontrowersji stwierdzeniem, że okładka książki jest jej niezwykle istotnym elementem dla każdego czytelnika (papierowej wersji). W idealnym świecie okładka powinna choćby w minimalnym stopniu odzwierciedlać zawartość – informować odbiorcę o tym, czego może się spodziewać, sięgając po daną publikację. I bynajmniej nie mówię tu o precyzyjnym rysowaniu zawartości na okładce każdej książki, a raczej o kreowaniu pewnego nastroju, klimatu odpowiadającego treści. Sztandarowym przykładem błędu twórcy sztuki okładkowej jest czworo oczu Dwukwiata na okładce „Koloru magii” autorstwa Jacka Kirby’ego, dobrze znanego wszystkim fanom komiksów [1].

the-colour-of-magic-1

A zarazem jego okładki, pełne nasyconych barw, humoru i drobiazgowo nakreślonych, szalonych postaci, dla wielu stanowią idealne odzwierciedlenie charakteru Świata Dysku. Po śmierci Kirby’ego zaszczyt projektowania okładek dla Terry’ego Pratchetta przypadł Paulowi Kidby’emu (podobieństwo nazwisk raczej przypadkowe, choć z Pratchettem nigdy nie wiadomo ;)). Kidby zachował większość palety Kirby’ego, podziela też jego zamiłowanie do szczegółu – a zarazem tworzy zupełnie odmienne, autorskie dzieła.

librarian-Kidby

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