Terry Pratchett’s Discworld narrative universe is enormous. He’s been writing these books for years, and the 41st is coming out in March. There are multiple storylines, my favorite being the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and the Witches of Lancre, both of which have several installments. All of these stories take place on the flat, elephant-mounted, turtle-passenger planet of the Discworld. While not wildly popular in the US, Pratchett was the most successful author in the UK during the '90s before Harry Potter happened. Anyway, this is just background information. The point of this note is supposed to be what I love about Discworld.
I love how all the stories connect and overlap in a similar way to the major superhero universes. These are full-length novels of 300+ pages, and so this is a remarkably fully realized world. There are stories on each fictional continent. In each country and each region. Most major roles in society are even addressed. There’s either a book or a series about Journalism, Finance, Crime, Organized Religion, Filmmaking, Rock Music, Postal Delivery, The Anthropomorphic Representation of Death, separate series on Witches and Wizards, respectively, and so on and so forth. Yes, I’m aware I’ve included Witches and Wizards as major societal roles.
I love that it’s balls-out fantasy. Dwarves, Trolls, Banshees, Elves, you name it. I love that it’s purely satirical, except when it isn’t.
I love the cynical optimism of its best protagonists. I love how they rarely fit a typical mode. How many fantasy series have a middle-aged woman with the title of Granny as their hero? Moreover, how many writers could make her such a bada--? She and Captain Vimes of the City Watch (my two favorite characters on a long list) typify Pratchett’s anti-romantic hero. They both identify strongly with a job (cop, witch) and, by virtue of that job, they live on the fringes of society. They do their job, because somebody has to do it. The duty you choose. I love the focus on both the cost and value of pride.
These books are eminently readable and frequently funny. The absurdist bent is similar to the work of Douglas Adams and the humanism reminds me of Vonnegut. There are a fair number of jokes your dad would tell, but the better class of them, and there have been many times that I’ve startled people on a bus by cackling abruptly. I have had so much fun reading these books.
I love that.
Sincerely, cordially, winningly, oafishly respectfully, lovingly, deftly,