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A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

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In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world's best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job o In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world's best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job on the Bucks Free Press,; to the origins of his debut novel, The Carpet People; and on again to the dizzy mastery of the phenomenally successful Discworld series. Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas,all of it shot through with his inimitable brand of humour. With an introduction by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt, illustrations by the late Josh Kirby and drawings by the author himself, this is a book to treasure.


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In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world's best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job o In the four decades since his first book appeared in print, Terry Pratchett has become one of the world's best-selling and best-loved authors. Here for the first time are his short stories and other short form fiction collected into one volume. A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job on the Bucks Free Press,; to the origins of his debut novel, The Carpet People; and on again to the dizzy mastery of the phenomenally successful Discworld series. Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas,all of it shot through with his inimitable brand of humour. With an introduction by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt, illustrations by the late Josh Kirby and drawings by the author himself, this is a book to treasure.

30 review for A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    ". . . short stories always seem to cost me blood, and I envy people who can do them for fun." Sadly, Pratchett's own words ring true; short fiction does not seem to be an area where he shines. On the whole, this collection was disappointing. There are some cute fairy tales and a clever poem about picking up hitchhikers on the road to the Glastonbury Festival. Looking back over the titles listed in the table of contents, I have to admit that I've already forgotten what most of them were about. Th ". . . short stories always seem to cost me blood, and I envy people who can do them for fun." Sadly, Pratchett's own words ring true; short fiction does not seem to be an area where he shines. On the whole, this collection was disappointing. There are some cute fairy tales and a clever poem about picking up hitchhikers on the road to the Glastonbury Festival. Looking back over the titles listed in the table of contents, I have to admit that I've already forgotten what most of them were about. The one exception was The Sea and Little Fishes which concerned my favorites - the Discworld Witches. Here, Granny Weatherwax terrorizes the residents of Ramtops by "being nice." Many people could say things in a cutting way, Nanny knew. But Granny Weatherwax could listen in a cutting way. She could make something sound stupid just by hearing it. I also enjoyed Death and What Comes Next where Death comes for a philosopher and gets caught up in an argument. (My son is a philosophy major. I feel Death's pain.) ASTONISHING, said Death. REALLY ASTONISHING. LET ME PUT FORWARD ANOTHER SUGGESTION: THAT YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A LUCKY SPECIES OF APE THAT IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF CREATION VIA A LANGUAGE THAT EVOLVED IN ORDER TO TELL ONE ANOTHER WHERE THE RIPE FRUIT WAS. Take that, philosophers! (Maybe I should carry a scythe . . .) I would recommend this one only for true Pratchett fans and completists.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    In Memoriam, Terry Pratchett, 28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015. ______ Foreword by A. S. Byatt Non-Discworld Shorter Writings "The Hades Business" (1963) According to Pratchett's introduction, he wrote this when he was 13. He decries it as 'juvenile- but it's really not. Not many 13-years-olds write like this. Hell isn't too popular lately, and the Devil needs some good PR. Hell-arious! "Solution" (1964) An inspector badly botches a smuggling investigation. Funny, but the 'punchline' wasn't quite as st In Memoriam, Terry Pratchett, 28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015. ______ Foreword by A. S. Byatt Non-Discworld Shorter Writings "The Hades Business" (1963) According to Pratchett's introduction, he wrote this when he was 13. He decries it as 'juvenile- but it's really not. Not many 13-years-olds write like this. Hell isn't too popular lately, and the Devil needs some good PR. Hell-arious! "Solution" (1964) An inspector badly botches a smuggling investigation. Funny, but the 'punchline' wasn't quite as strong as I felt like it should've been. "The Picture" (1965) A man in an institution is obsessed with the disturbing picture on his wall. I saw the 'twist' ending coming, but still liked this piece - a bit of a Golden Age sci-fi feel to it. "The Prince and the Partridge" (1968) Ever wondered about the 'story' behind the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' song? Well, wonder no more, after reading this holiday-themed story. "Rincemangle, The Gnome of Even Moor" (1973) A Borrowers-like tale of the country gnome and the city gnomes, with an instance of vehicular theft. "Kindly Breathe in Short, Thick Pants" (1976) An unfortunately still-timely satire concerning the rights (or lack thereof) of citizens to natural resources. "The Glastonbury Tales" (1977) A poem based on Pratchett's one-time experience of picking up hippie hitchhikers on the way to Glastonbury Festival. "There's No Fool Like an Old Fool Found in an English Queue" (1978) Ever been annoyed at the people in front of you in a line? Terry Pratchett had the same feelings. But he probably vented about it in a more clever and entertaining way than you did. "Coo, They've Given Me the Bird" (1978) Strange little piece about working with pigeons. Literally. In Russia. "And Mind the Monoliths" (1978) The secret lives of employees at historical-reenactment villages. "The High Meggas" (1986) This one's a bit of a change! A straight (non-humorous) science-fiction story involving parallel Earths, and the murderous plots of agents jumping between universes. Apparently, the series Pratchett wrote with Stephen Baxter was expanded from this idea - I can't compare them, as I haven't read the Baxter novels. "Twenty Pence, with Envelope and Seasonal Greeting" (1987) Another Christmas-themed piece - this one mixing up a Dickensian style with the surprisingly horrific concept of getting stuck inside a variety of Christmas cards. "Incubust" (1988) Super-short joke piece about a magical spell... with limitations. "Final Reward" (1988) An author kills off his most popular character - and, is shocked when said character shows up at his doorstep - to 'meet his maker.' The fact that said character is a 7-foot-tall barbarian with a soul-drinking sword doesn't make things easier. But there may be a solution... "Turntables of the Night" (1989) Record collecting nerd meets Death (also a keen collector): - "OH, I'VE GOT THEM ALL. ELVIS PRESLEY, BUDDY HOLLY, JIM MORRISON, JIMI HENDRIX, JOHN LENNON..." - Have you got the complete Beatles? - NOT YET. "#ifdefDEBUG + `world/enough' + `time'" (1990) Not what I'd expect from Pratchett, but an excellent cyberpunk story concerning virtual reality, viruses, and possibly, a murder. The ideas aren't going to feel totally groundbreaking to any well-read cyberpunk fan - but the story and its presentation were wholly enjoyable. Inspired by: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_His_C... "Hollywood Chickens" (1990) Maybe the question isn't 'WHY did the chicken cross the road' - but HOW. "The Secret Book of the Dead" (1991) A poem about the disturbing trauma of childhood pet ownership. "Once and Future" (1995) Arthurian legend meets something oddly reminiscent of Connie Willis' time travel novels? Yep, I think that sums it up. "FTB" (1996) Yet another Christmas piece. A computer writes a letter to Santa. Kids these days might be too savvy to believe, but perhaps a computer has no choice. Rather sweet. "Sir Joshua Easement: A Biographical Note" (2010) Written to accompany a 'Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman,' this brief bio certainly doesn't flatter the anonymous sitter - but it might have given him a good laugh. Discworld Shorter Writings "Troll Bridge" (1992) Written for an anthology which was an homage to Tolkien. I probably would not have appreciated it in that context, as it really isn't Tolkien-esque in any way. However, on its own, I appreciated its take on fairy tales of trolls under bridges, and its sly commentary on nostalgia. "Theatre of Cruelty" (1993) The humor of Punch and Judy shows isn't always 'nice.' But have you ever considered how the 'puppets' might feel, forced to act out such nasty and dehumanizing roles? (This one takes place in Ankh-Morpork). "The Sea and Little Fishes" (1998) By far, the longest piece in the book. A Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax tale. Asked not to compete in an annual witchery contest [which she always wins], Granny Weatherwax decides to 'be nice about' the hurtful slight. The problem is, her neighbors aren't used to her being nice. "The Ankh-Morpork National Anthem" (1999) As the title states. Apparently, a recorded version exists, somewhere. "Medical Notes" (2002) A few satirical entries on medical ailments commonly found in Ankh-Morpork. "Thud: A Historical Perspective" (2002) The 'history' of a popular game in Discworld, played between dwarves and trolls. (Written to accompany such a game, of course.) "A Few Words from Lord Havelock Vetinari" (2002) A speech written upon an occasion naming a British town a 'sister-city' to Ankh-Morpork. "Death and What Comes Next" (2004) Philosophers apparently frequently think they can argue with Death. However, Death can apply some philosophical logic, too. "A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices" (2005) Brilliantly skewers academic bureaucracy. "Minutes of the Meeting to Form the Proposed Ankh-Morpork Federation of Scouts" (2007) As the title indicates... the is, exactly, the minutes from a meeting where an Ankh-Morpork committee decides to form Boy and Girl Scout troops. "The Ankh-Morpork Football Association Hall of Fame playing cards" (2009) Baseball-card-style bios of a variety of Pratchett's Discworld characters. Honestly, I found myself kind of skimming through this one. Appendix Deleted extract from "The Sea and Little Fishes" (1998) This excised chapter has Granny Weather wax being rather introspective, thinking of the past, and philosophizing on the topic of 'being nice.' ______ Weirdly, as I was finishing this book on the subway, I noticed that I was sitting directly across from a man that strangely resembled the recently-deceased Mr. Pratchett... fedora, beard, and all.... Many thanks to Doubleday and NetGalley for the opportunity for me to read this book. As always, my opinions are my own...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    “ASTONISHING", said Death. "REALLY ASTONISHING. LET ME PUT FORWARD ANOTHER SUGGESTION: THAT YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A LUCKY SPECIES OF APE THAT IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF CREATION VIA A LANGUAGE THAT EVOLVED IN ORDER TO TELL ONE ANOTHER WHERE THE RIPE FRUIT WAS.” What kind of a fan am I that I hadn't bothered searching out all of the assorted publications that this collection of stories had previously been published in? I should probably had in my membership card. Only I made i “ASTONISHING", said Death. "REALLY ASTONISHING. LET ME PUT FORWARD ANOTHER SUGGESTION: THAT YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A LUCKY SPECIES OF APE THAT IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF CREATION VIA A LANGUAGE THAT EVOLVED IN ORDER TO TELL ONE ANOTHER WHERE THE RIPE FRUIT WAS.” What kind of a fan am I that I hadn't bothered searching out all of the assorted publications that this collection of stories had previously been published in? I should probably had in my membership card. Only I made it out of Weet-bix and anyway my hamster ate it. Short stories cost Terry Pratchett blood, so he occasionally says in the autobiographical introductions to each story in this book of collected short stories, squibs and juvenilia, which would account for the remarkably small number of said stories over his long and successful writing career. And yet for the most part they demonstrate all of the trademark wit and intelligence, not to mention story craft, that has made him the much loved man of words he is today. His Discworld writings are mostly whimsy, the kind of things that us fans take great pleasure from (The Sea and Little Fishes most notable for being a more complete work of great depth and subtlety.) His non-Disc stories however are a fascinating look at his writing career from age 13 and up. I admit to feeling quite envious that he was writing work of such a (comparatively) high standard at 13. The short story that would go on to become The Long Earth is quite something, perhaps even better than the full novel, especially in the way he manages to capture so many ideas so succinctly and fire the imagination of the reader. But who are we kidding? You've already made up your mind to read this at some point. That or you've never read any Pratchett and have somehow stumbled upon this review from another universe.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    For me, A Blink of the Screen was a venture into nostalgia. It starts at the very beginning of Pratchett’s published writing career, which, as it turns out, was when he was 13 years old. "The Hades Business," which involves the Devil hiring an image consultant, demonstrates that while Thirteen-Year-Old Pratchett may have loved exclamation points not wisely but too well, he was an absolutely brilliant, terrifyingly precocious kid. To tell the truth, I think I enjoyed the early stories the most. " For me, A Blink of the Screen was a venture into nostalgia. It starts at the very beginning of Pratchett’s published writing career, which, as it turns out, was when he was 13 years old. "The Hades Business," which involves the Devil hiring an image consultant, demonstrates that while Thirteen-Year-Old Pratchett may have loved exclamation points not wisely but too well, he was an absolutely brilliant, terrifyingly precocious kid. To tell the truth, I think I enjoyed the early stories the most. "The Picture," written when Pratchett was 14 or 15, was another of my favourites, mostly for the kick at the end.   While many of the other stories show Pratchett’s wit, I think he’s a stronger novelist than short-story writer. Several of the stories are overtly and caustically political, often mocking the public-school politicos. Others are actually proto-novels that later developed into fruition. For example, "Ricemangle, The Gnome of Even Moor" can be found more fully fleshed out as The Truckers. "Turntables of the Night" doesn’t take place in Discworld, but it seemed to me to have more than a few glimmers of Soul Music in its core. "FTB" , which starts with a computer writing to Santa Claus, has several elements that made it into "Hogfather." "The High Meggas," one of the longer (and to my mind, more gripping) stories in the collection, was eventually transformed into The Long Earth , written in collaboration with Stephen Baxter. I’ve so far avoided this collaborative work, but the short story put it back on my to-read list.   There were several stories that left me wishing for their novel offspring. "Final Reward" opens with an author killing off his barbarian protagonist in his long-running epic fantasy series, only to have the character turn up on his door to meet his Maker and receive his Final Reward. I’d love to have seen it as a novel. "#IFDEFDEBUG + ‘WORLD/ENOUGH’ + ‘TIME’" was another of my favourites, the sort of semi-dystopian cyberpunky short story that I tend to fall in love with. "Once and Future" is another story that I wish had become a novel. When his time-machine malfunctions, a nerd named Mervin finds himself in a place called Avalon where everyone keeps mispronouncing his name…   The final section in the book is composed of Discworld shorts. While most are simply little gags written for conventions or similar, there are three genuine stories in the collection, all of which can also be found online. In "Theatre of Cruelty," Captain Carrot has to solve the murder of a Punch and Judy presenter. In "Troll Bridge," an aged Conan the Barbarian returns home to fight a troll, "Mano a… troll." It’s silly and fun-- to start with, t involves a talking horse and industrialized trolls--yet still manages a moment of Pratchetty insight: "Things change, things pass. You fight a war to change the world, and it changes into a world with no place in it for you, the fighter. Those who fight for the bright future are not always, by nature, well fitted to live in it." Out of all the stories, the one that stayed with me the longest was "The Sea and Little Fishes." It’s basically an exploration of "Granny" Esme Weatherwax, who I find one of the more compelling Discworld characters, mostly because while she’s good, she’s certainly not nice. "The villagers had said justice had been done, and she'd lost patience and told them to go home, then, and pray to whatever gods they believed in that it was never done to them. Because the smug face of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as wickedness revealed. [...] Supposing there was justice for all, after all? For every unheeded beggar, every harsh word, every neglected duty, every slight… Who’d come to her funeral when she died?" I think the story is meant to be as light and funny as the rest, but I found it unalterably sad. There’s a terrible pathos in knowing that the world you work for would prefer for you not to be in it.(view spoiler)[ I found the happy ending terribly, terribly sad. Present or absent, she makes everyone uncomfortable and unhappy until she gets her way, and all of it would just leave everyone wishing that she had never existed. Knowing that people wish your nonexistence...that is the ultimate tragedy. (hide spoiler)] I haven’t read a Discworld book in a while, partly because there are so many new books to devour, but mostly because the Discworld was an anchor of my early teenage years, and I want to remember the books for what they meant to me then. This book made me realize that even if I do go back to the series with new eyes, Pratchett will always shine.   ~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Doubleday Books, in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!~~   *Although they are far less fun in kindle form.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley, but I received the approval notice the same day that my brought physical copy arrived in the mail. One of the greatest literary sins in today’s world, as far as I’m concerned, is that Terry Pratchett never won the Booker or the Nobel . He should have simply because he shows the reader, any reader, that literature is just heavy going, but is fun and light. Writers like Pratchett are important because they allow and encourage people to love reading literature. In her Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley, but I received the approval notice the same day that my brought physical copy arrived in the mail. One of the greatest literary sins in today’s world, as far as I’m concerned, is that Terry Pratchett never won the Booker or the Nobel . He should have simply because he shows the reader, any reader, that literature is just heavy going, but is fun and light. Writers like Pratchett are important because they allow and encourage people to love reading literature. In her beautiful introduction to this collection, A.S. Byatt hits on this point. This is a collection of Pratchett’s short fiction, divided into non-Discworld and Discworld, and the earliest story is his first published story, written when he was a teen. The tales are a showcase of Pratchett’s talent, and provide in some ways a way to trace the development of the talent, or in other words the progression of Pratchett as a writer. Some of the non-Discworld stories are bit a darker than one normal sees from Pratchett. These stories aren’t just stories. Some, in particular the Discworld work, are bits and pieces, such as the backs of football player cards that were used as promotional material, or the Ankh-Moorpark Anthem (that is, in regards to the second verse, every anthem) for radio programs. This is a boon for an American reader of Pratchett. The non-Discworld stories (and a few of the Discworld stories) poke fun and criticize certain government programs, institutions, and governmental ways of life. Even though some of these more critical stories were written well before 2000, they are still relevant today. The great thing about Pratchett is that when he uses humor to mock or criticize, it is never mean-spirited or cruel. When Pratchett is gently mocking a government official by using an official who wants to do a governmental study on queues, there is also a degree of sympathy. This is because Pratchett writes about all kinds of human conditions. Some of the stories are fairy tales , in particular the revelation about a princess and a bird. Some are heart-breaking and funny true poems, like the one about what parents teach children about death. Some of the non-Discworld stories point forward to the Disc or to Long Mars. Reading this collection so soon after Pratchett’s death is a reminder of what the world as a whole as lost – a great humanist.

  6. 4 out of 5

    JD Newick

    Covers the whole of his career, some Discworld related, some not. The earliest stories date back to Pterry's teenage years, and are amateurish if promising- The Picture was probably my favourite of his juvenilia. Another favourite was Glastonbury Tales, a Chaucerian poem about picking up hitchhikers on the way to Glastonbury Festival in 1977. Of the later non-Discworld stories, Turntables Of The Night is a great piece featuring Death (apparently the Death of Good Omens, rather than the Death of t Covers the whole of his career, some Discworld related, some not. The earliest stories date back to Pterry's teenage years, and are amateurish if promising- The Picture was probably my favourite of his juvenilia. Another favourite was Glastonbury Tales, a Chaucerian poem about picking up hitchhikers on the way to Glastonbury Festival in 1977. Of the later non-Discworld stories, Turntables Of The Night is a great piece featuring Death (apparently the Death of Good Omens, rather than the Death of the Discworld), Hollywood Chickens is hilarious and ends up being an extended "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke, and includes a nod to Good Omens (A Queen's Greatest Hits tape), and #ifdefDEBUG + `world/enough' + `time' is a serious sci-fi piece, written in 1990 and highly prophetic in its speculations about computers and the internet. As for the Discworld stories, most of them are incidental pieces. All of them are thoroughly enjoyable- it's always great to read about Cohen, the City Watch, Death, and the Unseen University's faculty. The real highlight though, is The Sea And The Little Fishes, a Witches story from 1998 which is by far the longest story in the book. As always, the interactions between the stern and incrutable Granny Weatherwax and the jolly, boisterous Nanny Ogg are absolutely hilarious and perfectly written. I've always found the Witches novels to be the funniest of the Discworld series, and this is a very welcome addition to their arc. It also introduced the Witch Trials, which are expanded upon in A Hat Full Of Sky. In sum, this collection is crucial for any fan of Terry Pratchett. The earlier stories are hit and miss, but as a curiousity they're great at seeing how Terry's writing began. It's also wonderful to see that even at such an early age, his imagination and talents were already beginning to develop. As for the later stories, many of them are absolute gems, and it's simply wonderful to have all this stuff collected in one place at last. If you've not read any Pratchett, this is not the best place to start- I'd suggest either Small Gods or The Colour Of Magic, then reading the other Discworld novels chronologically, stopping off to read Good Omens at some point along the way. If you're already a Terry Pratchett fan, then you probably own a copy of this collection already, and if not, why not?!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Terry Pratchett has written an awful lot of books, for adults and for children. He started with short stories, back when he was still a journalist. He wrote a few more for various publications, as a full-time author, but admits this wasn't his comfort zone. And it shows, you can't deny that. This compilation consists of many non-Discworld stories and a bunch of Discworld stories. Each part contains stories which are funnier than the other (and Terry managed again to make me laugh now and then :-) Terry Pratchett has written an awful lot of books, for adults and for children. He started with short stories, back when he was still a journalist. He wrote a few more for various publications, as a full-time author, but admits this wasn't his comfort zone. And it shows, you can't deny that. This compilation consists of many non-Discworld stories and a bunch of Discworld stories. Each part contains stories which are funnier than the other (and Terry managed again to make me laugh now and then :-)), worth the reading more than the other. And a few are outright boring, I'm sorry to say/write. But that's a classic problem with compilations. Then again, its purpose is to show how Sir Terry Pratchett became such a successful author, how he got started, how he improved over the years. Some stories show the beginnings of future books, like the The Long Earth series, which he wrote with Stephen Baxter, or certain Discworld novels. The whole is enriched with an introduction by Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt, illustrations by the late Josh Kirby and drawings by the author himself. Terry also introduced each short story: how each came to be, why they were written, etc. Since it's Terry Pratchett and you get a nice overview of his skills of the past 4 decades: 4 stars, why not. Definitely food for the fans. But, as my namesake wrote (see here), on its own, it's fairly good, not outstanding (= 3-3.5 stars).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Edmund

    In this revealing work Pratchett himself reveals that short stories 'require blood' referring to his own difficulty in producing them. Nonetheless in his huge career he has pumped out enough works to put together a compilation and A Blink of the Screen is it. Pratchett's works range from funny, to barely understandable bizarre and quirky, to surprisingly dark and violent. Each story has a short intro and history from the author, providing what I found to be the most enjoyable parts of the book. W In this revealing work Pratchett himself reveals that short stories 'require blood' referring to his own difficulty in producing them. Nonetheless in his huge career he has pumped out enough works to put together a compilation and A Blink of the Screen is it. Pratchett's works range from funny, to barely understandable bizarre and quirky, to surprisingly dark and violent. Each story has a short intro and history from the author, providing what I found to be the most enjoyable parts of the book. Which I guess in saying reveals that this piece is for Pratchett fans, for those novice to the Discworld I wouldn't recommend this as a first read. For fans of the man of course this is a must read, it's split about 50/50 Discworld and 'real' world novels although many of Pratchett's stand-alone work still smells of his most famous universe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    I am not normally a fan of short stories but for Terry Pratchett I am prepared to make an exception. I really enjoyed reading these and at several times laughed out loud (as a teacher the medical disorder of the attention seeking pupil was spot on and very funny). What was most fascinating about these was to see the early germs of an idea which were later developed into full length books (Truckers and The Long Earth). I really enjoyed the non disc world writings particularly the author who kille I am not normally a fan of short stories but for Terry Pratchett I am prepared to make an exception. I really enjoyed reading these and at several times laughed out loud (as a teacher the medical disorder of the attention seeking pupil was spot on and very funny). What was most fascinating about these was to see the early germs of an idea which were later developed into full length books (Truckers and The Long Earth). I really enjoyed the non disc world writings particularly the author who killed off his hero to only find him stood on his front door.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Richard Due

    Blood well spent.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Otherwyrld

    As the title says, this book collects all of Terry Pratchett's short stories, both Discworld and otherwise. The first story in the book is also the oldest, first published when the author was just 13 years old. You can tell immediately that it's Terry Pratchett, and despite his own misgivings about the story, a Pratchett at age 13 still writes a better story than I ever could. Bastard. Ahem... jealously aside, this first story has more than a hint of Good Omens in it, and has all the wit that you As the title says, this book collects all of Terry Pratchett's short stories, both Discworld and otherwise. The first story in the book is also the oldest, first published when the author was just 13 years old. You can tell immediately that it's Terry Pratchett, and despite his own misgivings about the story, a Pratchett at age 13 still writes a better story than I ever could. Bastard. Ahem... jealously aside, this first story has more than a hint of Good Omens in it, and has all the wit that you would expect in the author. Of the other stories in the first section, the other stand out story is The High Meggas, written in 1986 but only now turned into the novel The Long Earth with Stephen Baxter. Reading this, you have to wonder what Baxter's contribution to the novel actually was, because this short story has pretty much all the elements that made up the novel. Most of the Discworld stories were not new to me, but it is always a pleasure to revisit them. I actually got hold of a copy of The W.H.Smith magazine containing Theatre of Cruelty when it came out. If I still have it, it might even be worth something (not that I would sell it, just in case you wondered). All in all a great addition to the Pratchett collection.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    A collection of short stories, not-so-short stories, poems, speeches (by fictional characters, of course), rants articles and squibs from the master himself. Some are set within the Discworld, others set... well, all over the place... and varying in style from serious to seriously tongue-in-cheek, they are presented in rough chronological order, each introduced by and very distinctly Pratchett - even the very first short story he ever wrote. You'll also see precursors to certain Discworld elemen A collection of short stories, not-so-short stories, poems, speeches (by fictional characters, of course), rants articles and squibs from the master himself. Some are set within the Discworld, others set... well, all over the place... and varying in style from serious to seriously tongue-in-cheek, they are presented in rough chronological order, each introduced by and very distinctly Pratchett - even the very first short story he ever wrote. You'll also see precursors to certain Discworld elements, and be reminded of all your favourite Discworld characters from Corporal Carrot (bless his heart) to Granny Weatherwax. Prepare to smirk as you read thoughts you've always had, be dragged symbolically over the literal, chuckle, be thoughtfully surprised, get "aha!" moments for characters you've missed, wonder how he saw life so differently from everyone else, and then laugh in delight. (Note: if you want to be surprised by the variety in the collection, and the specific content, read the Foreword afterwards. Same for any footnotes in the introductions.) Please excuse me, I have to go reread my Discworld books now... Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is the kind of niche publication that hardcore Pratchett fans (yup, I'm one of those) would be foolish to skip, and folks unfamiliar with Pratchett likely wouldn't appreciate, should probably skip, and definitely should start reading Pratchett elsewhere. As disclosed, the book is a collection, but more accurately, a mish-mash, if not a potpourri - all of which adds up to a mixed bag full of some gems, some polished rocks, and some coal briquettes. For me, there were enough familiar character This is the kind of niche publication that hardcore Pratchett fans (yup, I'm one of those) would be foolish to skip, and folks unfamiliar with Pratchett likely wouldn't appreciate, should probably skip, and definitely should start reading Pratchett elsewhere. As disclosed, the book is a collection, but more accurately, a mish-mash, if not a potpourri - all of which adds up to a mixed bag full of some gems, some polished rocks, and some coal briquettes. For me, there were enough familiar characters and themes, nice flourishes, and transcendent moments to balance out the filler that could/should have been left in someone's filing cabinet (or hard drive). One of the best features of the book is Pratchett's preface (or mini-history) before each piece. A nice touch.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Terry Pratchett is one of the great fantasy novelists of the 20th and 21st century. The Discworld books are hilarious, inventive, humanistic, and remarkably good for such an extended series. The worst you can say about the weaker of the 40 odd novels is they're just okay. This collection of short fiction is worse than just okay. We have two decent stories. The quite good Discworld short "The Sea and the Little Fishes", which features a witching competition, and why Granny Weatherwax always wins. Terry Pratchett is one of the great fantasy novelists of the 20th and 21st century. The Discworld books are hilarious, inventive, humanistic, and remarkably good for such an extended series. The worst you can say about the weaker of the 40 odd novels is they're just okay. This collection of short fiction is worse than just okay. We have two decent stories. The quite good Discworld short "The Sea and the Little Fishes", which features a witching competition, and why Granny Weatherwax always wins. "The High Meggas" is the genesis of the Pratchett/Baxter Long Earth books, about parallel dimensional travel. "The High Meggas" was written at the same time as The Colour of Magic and Discworld proved such a runaway success that the idea never really went anywhere. It's okay, a little punchier on action compared to character. But the rest of this collection is junk of interest only to the Pratchett completionist. We have his first published story, written when he was 13, jobbing fiction from the 70s, and a bunch of Discworld sketches, of which you've probably seen the jokes in print in the actual books. My overwhelming sense is on of annoyance at the editors and publishers who took the crumbs of stories from Pratchett's disk drives and figured that they'd make a complete book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard Wright

    I felt an overwhelming sense of crushing disappointment as I started working through the first few stories and articles in this book. I love Pratchett, and had high hopes. However, the pedestrian comic tales I found, with nothing to distinguish them from any decent (but not great) humourist, let me down in a way Pratchett never had before. They weren't stories that really deserved to be collected together - this was obviously a vanity project, riding off his name rather than the worth of the con I felt an overwhelming sense of crushing disappointment as I started working through the first few stories and articles in this book. I love Pratchett, and had high hopes. However, the pedestrian comic tales I found, with nothing to distinguish them from any decent (but not great) humourist, let me down in a way Pratchett never had before. They weren't stories that really deserved to be collected together - this was obviously a vanity project, riding off his name rather than the worth of the content. Then, about a 100 pages in, I reached 'The High Meggas', a tale of infinite parallel earths that would later develop further into the novel The Long Earth. It's brilliant. Smart, incisive, funny, exciting, and best of all - it matters. The characters matter. Their struggles matter. It grips. From out of nowhere, the book suddenly stands alongside the best of Pratchett, and it doesn't look back. With the book arranged to chart Pratchett's career from early, formative stuff that isn't quite 'there yet', to what we recognise instantly as the humanist humourist who gave us the Discworld, a law of expanding returns kicks in. If you're a fan of his novels, you have to wait for that writer to turn up in this book, but when he does he's on top form. I don't recommend that anybody wanting to know why Pratchett is brilliant starts here (they might lose patience, and never find out), but everyone who already knows will enjoy this (eventually).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I have been a fan of Pratchett for a long while now, and have read almost all of the Discworld books and some, but not all, of his collaborations with other authors. I have read very little of his short stories, but thankfully with this collection this has now been resolved. The best way to think of this collection is as a box of rocks. But as you read these, it dawns on you that even though they are a little rough looking, they are actually uncut gems and carry the potential thoughts and ideas I have been a fan of Pratchett for a long while now, and have read almost all of the Discworld books and some, but not all, of his collaborations with other authors. I have read very little of his short stories, but thankfully with this collection this has now been resolved. The best way to think of this collection is as a box of rocks. But as you read these, it dawns on you that even though they are a little rough looking, they are actually uncut gems and carry the potential thoughts and ideas that came to make him a household name later on. As these have been drawn from his very earliest writings, some are rough at the edges, and do not have the finesse of more recent novels. There are some really good stories in here, Theatre of Cruelty was particular favourite. Some sprung into full length novels later on, and when reading them you can see the inspirations and germs of ideas. These are not all fantasy stories, Once and Future and #IFDEFDEBUG + World/Enough + Time are science fiction stories, which whilst short are good. There are a couple of things that really stand out for me though. The humour, which is very funny, sometimes rude and most importantly clever. And secondly that with his decline because of Alzheimer’s then these brilliant stories and observations will cease sooner that they could have done, and that is a tragedy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    Pratchett is much better at long form fiction, but I still enjoyed this collection. Pratchett's dry, gentle wit comes through strongly, especially in the Discworld stories, which were correctly gathered in the second half of the book. Nothing in here was as great as the best of his Discworld novels, but it was fun seeing what he could do with smaller bite-sized pieces.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shadowdenizen

    4 Stars. A fine collection of the late Sir Terry Pratchetts shorter works. While entirely readable and enjoyable for Pratchetts unique voice, I think most people will likely gravitate towards the "DiscWorld" material; the other material just (IMO) doesn't measure up to some of his other iconic works.

  19. 4 out of 5

    PookyGurl

    It's Terry Pratchett. Nuff said 🥰

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phil Leader

    For someone who was as prolific at writing novels as Terry Pratchett he didn't write much in the way of short stories. As he himself comments in this collection of his work this is because 'they cost blood' to write and he wondered how others such as Neil Gaiman could write so many short stories. This is all the more surprising given his grounding in journalism, something that demands producing a story withing a set number of words. The basis for this seems to be that the nugget of an idea behind For someone who was as prolific at writing novels as Terry Pratchett he didn't write much in the way of short stories. As he himself comments in this collection of his work this is because 'they cost blood' to write and he wondered how others such as Neil Gaiman could write so many short stories. This is all the more surprising given his grounding in journalism, something that demands producing a story withing a set number of words. The basis for this seems to be that the nugget of an idea behind a Pratchett book was rarely simple enough to be encapsulated neatly in the short story form; his characters and ideas took time to develop and that's before the addition of the amusing footnotes and his skill at producing pastiche, parody and satire of many different things without the narrative stumbling or swerving. This collection shows that although relatively few in number, the Pratchett short story was just as fine as could be expected. Sometimes they could be a little rushed to get to the point before the end (best seen in his tale of a gnome from the country that finds other gnomes in a department store - the story that was later rewritten fully as Truckers) This is also a somewhat eclectic mix. There is the first story that he was paid for about the devil wanting to promote hell, which he wrote at school but it is clear that he already had the flair for writing even then. A few science fiction stories including the prescient and dark #ifdefDEBUG "world/enough" "time" about someone retreating to a virtual reality world. There is the story that formed the first ideas that would eventually become The Long Earth and of course some Diskworld shorts and related notes. Taken together they show that over a long span of time Pratchett was coming up with great ideas. There is a little uneveness but part of this is due to his writing style being different between Diskworld and his more science fiction based stories (something that confused a lot of Diskworld readers when they read The Long Earth, but goes back even to The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata both of which are very different to Diskworld in tone. To this end the editors have been wise to have the Diskworld stories as the second half with the 'other' stories at the beginning. This avoids the tone changing too much between stories. This sounds like it might be for the Pratchett 'completist', like one of those greatest hits albums that comes out with just one or two rare tracks, but really this is a great collection of short stories by any measure. A couple of these are fairly well known - Troll Bridge and Theatre of Cruelty - but there is nothing gratuitous here. And of course there are plenty of laughs and subtle takes on society and humanity.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, author of one of the most successful book series of all time in Discworld is pretty bloody terrible at the shorter format, actually. This is collection of some shorts: some Discworld, some non-Discworld. It's unlikely anyone would read this without having read at least one Discworld book, but if you are thinking of picking it up as a little taste of what he can do, skip them all and head straight for The Sea and Little Fishes, which is the longest, the best and the most e Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, author of one of the most successful book series of all time in Discworld is pretty bloody terrible at the shorter format, actually. This is collection of some shorts: some Discworld, some non-Discworld. It's unlikely anyone would read this without having read at least one Discworld book, but if you are thinking of picking it up as a little taste of what he can do, skip them all and head straight for The Sea and Little Fishes, which is the longest, the best and the most emotional, wonderful piece of short writing I think I've ever read. Though I don't read short too much, so who cares what I say. I'll be honest, the four stars are mostly for the Discworld short stories, especially The Sea and Little Fishes (5 stars on its own) which features the Witches of Discworld, Granny and Nanny, and very nearly made me cry which is unheard of with reading. The loss of a star was caused by the lack of humour that was found in some stories, and the quite frankly rubbish nature of a few others. He was not born to write short, or poetry, and that's fine, but I am glad of this collection. The anecdotes at the beginning are fun. I thought for someone who has been written for around four decades would have a few more and better short stories to add to a collection like this, but apparently not. They "cost him blood" which would but anyone off. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Shop | Etsy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cenk Gokce

    A few good tales, but not as enjoyable as the Pratchett of longer works--in fact, the best stories for me were the Discworld ones, and the earlier sketch of DEATH. I did get a favourite quotable passage from the book, however: "It was the same in just about any trade. Sooner or later someone decided it needed organizing, and the one thing you could be sure of was that the organizers weren't going to be the people who, by general acknowledgement, were at the top of their craft. They were working to A few good tales, but not as enjoyable as the Pratchett of longer works--in fact, the best stories for me were the Discworld ones, and the earlier sketch of DEATH. I did get a favourite quotable passage from the book, however: "It was the same in just about any trade. Sooner or later someone decided it needed organizing, and the one thing you could be sure of was that the organizers weren't going to be the people who, by general acknowledgement, were at the top of their craft. They were working too hard. To be fair, it generally wasn't done by the worst, neither. They were working hard, too. They had to. No, it was done by the ones who had just enough time and inclination to scurry and bustle. And, to be fair again, the world needed people who scurried and bustled. You just didn't have to like them very much." Classic Pratchett, right there :)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Even at 13, Pratchett was a humanist, trying to make the world a better place through stories that weave the old myths into our new world. That bubbles through the oldest story in the book about a devious advertiser who tries to trick the devil into reconciling with heaven through Gytha Ogg retrieving Granny Weatherwax after the fire. It was a hard book to read, knowing this will be the last time I will see anything new of most of these characters from Sir Terry’s own hand, and maybe the last ti Even at 13, Pratchett was a humanist, trying to make the world a better place through stories that weave the old myths into our new world. That bubbles through the oldest story in the book about a devious advertiser who tries to trick the devil into reconciling with heaven through Gytha Ogg retrieving Granny Weatherwax after the fire. It was a hard book to read, knowing this will be the last time I will see anything new of most of these characters from Sir Terry’s own hand, and maybe the last time, as his daughter says she does not intend to open this universe to other players. I have read the best story in this collection, The Sea and Little Fishes, many times and I do not think I have yet plumbed its depths.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    Arranged in chronological order, this collection is a great way to see how Pratchett's style has evolved over the years. It even includes a short story written when he was a teenager and published in a local paper (and of course it's far better than anything I could write now, let alone when I was that age). I'd read some of the Discworld stories before, including The Sea and Little Fishes, which is available free online, but the collection also includes a deleted scene from that story so it was Arranged in chronological order, this collection is a great way to see how Pratchett's style has evolved over the years. It even includes a short story written when he was a teenager and published in a local paper (and of course it's far better than anything I could write now, let alone when I was that age). I'd read some of the Discworld stories before, including The Sea and Little Fishes, which is available free online, but the collection also includes a deleted scene from that story so it was worth reading again. (Plus you can never have too much Granny Weatherwax).

  25. 5 out of 5

    James

    This collection gathers Terry Pratchett's shorter fiction, both from and outside the Discworld, into one book. Obviously the Discworld stuff will draw fans (the Granny Weatherwax story is a standout), but the book also includes the first story he published at age 13, a later story that would evolve into his novel The Long World (co-written with Stephen Baxter), and some shorter pieces and squibs written for various events and publications. Essential reading for Pratchett fans.

  26. 5 out of 5

    K.V. Johansen

    Outstanding! Every Pratchett reader needs this in their collection. There are some familiar short pieces in here, like Troll Bridge, and other things very few will ever have seen, including some juvenilia that leaves no doubt he's a genius, a short story that shows what The Long Earth should have been, and a great revisiting of Chaucer on picking up hippie hitchhikers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Doubleday Books

    Terry Pratchett can create an entire world in a single sentence, so it's no surprise that his short fiction is as fulfilling as his epic series. Reading this will give you a new sense of the shape of Pratchett's once-in-a-generation brilliance, and show you a few crazy corners of his mind you haven't imagined. A must for fans of Discworld!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate Millin

    An interesting range of stories - including some with old favourites. Makes me want to go back and start reading them all from the first in the series again - will do that some time in the future. It was great to see how Terry started writing too

  29. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    A nice collection of short stories by the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    A great collection of short stories, especially if you're a disc world lover.

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