“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.”

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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39 Responses

  1. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I wonder if Sir Pratchett will ever be required reading in American High Schools?

    He should. The kids would probably truly enjoy reading his works, and they’d actually learn something in the process.Report

  2. Kim says:

    “sometimes in life things get all mixed up, and for a while you mistakenly think that laundry and shopping and earning a living are the true Important things in life, which are far more important than the mailing of a book about a teenage witch to a young girl who lives thousands of miles away.”

    No one’s dead, the package can still be sent.
    Learn from this, but I think you got away scot free.

    Some messages misplaced and lain unsent
    no longer have people to be delivered to.Report

  3. Chris says:

    I have never read any of his books, but it’s clear to me that a lot of people loved his work. Been a bad month for sci fi folks.Report

  4. North says:

    I’d advise caution on his later books. The threads were showing terribly in his later Moist von Limpvig books and his later Sam Vimes books. There was good in with the bad but you could feel it struggling painfully in parts.

    And Raising Steam was agonizing; occasional nuggets of gold but so much that was just… not. When I closed Raising Steam I finally acknowledged that he was going to die.

    And then he went and died and it’s terrible bad. With him and Nimoy both gone I feel distinctly adult at my whopping 35 years… hell I think I could manage to even feel a little old.

    Pratchett could make you howl with laughter then turn a phrase and bring real tears. I got some real ones from Night Watch.

    RIP Sir Pratchett ~ How do they rise up…Report

    • morat20 in reply to North says:

      Did you read Dodger? It would lay to rest any worries that his illness had affected his writing.

      Raising Steam had the feel of a transitional book, for lack of a better term. That weird bridging book that is neither fish nor fowl and suffers because it doesn’t fit in with what came before or after. Read in that light, I found many of my concerns with it went away. Of course, no book will follow after now. 🙁Report

      • James K in reply to morat20 says:


        Apparently he completed one more book before his death.Report

      • North in reply to morat20 says:

        I don’t think I’ve caught Dodger, I’ll check it out.
        That said there’s no excuse for a lot of the ways the characters talked in Raising Steam. There were a lot of sections that read like a bloody fan-fic with Moist filling in the role of Gary Stu. It may not have been his illness, maybe he was simply trying to shove too much into it but I thought RS suffered grievously. He had a smaller, similar problem with Making Money.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to morat20 says:

        I’ve always felt that Making Money’s biggest flaw was that it was a book on how bankers were evil without the hindsight of the big banking crisis. Reading it reminded me of watching those pre-2001 movies where middle eastern terrorists hit NYC with a devastating attack that kills 15 people.Report

  5. North says:

    I’d be very interested to know what the respective commentariate’s favorite Pratchett novels and characters were (they don’t have to be linked).Report

    • morat20 in reply to North says:

      Hmm. Night Watch or Hat Full of Sky.

      Tiffany Aching and Vimes were my favorites, with Susan close behind. (Her comments about the never ending battle to keep Jason out of the stationary cupboard were hilarious, and according to me wife Pratchett summed up the entirety of the struggle of teaching children in a handful of scenes).

      I think Tiffany Aching, more than anyone. Because she had Second Thoughts and occasionally Third Thoughts and the way she thought, when everything was on and she focused was just…I lack the words for it.

      It captured the way people think, and what that really means, in a way I’ve never really seen before.Report

      • North in reply to morat20 says:

        I dearly loved the first Tiffany book. Her relationship with her Grandmother really struck a note with me.
        My favorite book was probably Night Watch with Lords and Ladies close up behind.

        Despite that my favorite character was Granny. She was, just, everything.Report

    • James K in reply to North says:


      Definitely Night Watch for me, though I’m also fond of Thud.Report

      • North in reply to James K says:

        Did you ever read The Science of Discworld? The Wizards irritably supervising macro-evolution on round world over the eons had me rolling in the aisle. Especially when they talked about seals where Ridicully was flipping out because the seals were going back to the sea. Backsliding! Ingrates! I’m laughing now.

        I can’t believe there won’t be more. I just… I don’t know it just doesn’t seem real.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to North says:

      Thud was the first one I read and remains my favourite. And Vimes is one of my favourite characters (probably second-favourite, after Death).Report

      • North in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Death always felt so… large… that he didn’t compute as a character for me exactly- more like the sky or the land or the wind on Discworld. It may be because I read most of Sir Terry’s work backwards (starting around the Opera house one then going backwards then reading forwards).Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Masquerade! I kind of liked that one, but I think I missed a lot from reading it before I’d read The Phantom of the Opera.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      My favorite Discworld novel was Hogfather. I liked how it deconstructed but reaffirmed the various aspects of Christmas, childhood and more at the same time. The live action adaption that was produced for British TV was awesome. Death, once Pratchett worked out his personality, was an awesome character.

      The auditors of reality: There are rules.

      Death: And you broke them.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Hmm, yes. The lines about believing in the little lies before you can believe in the big ones like truth and justice.

        And also the bit about it being the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Fantastic book, Hogfather.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

      The Watch books, by far, especially Vimes, Carrot, and Vetinari. Granny and Nanny Ogg are great characters, but they never change, so six books about them seems excessive,Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Vimes evolves a great deal, as does the Watch in general. (He’s obviously built on Robert Peel. Very obviously, up to and including the ones he trains being called “Sammies”).

        One thing I liked about Vimes is that a lot of the later books had an element of ‘Master training their successor’. The Patrician had chosen Moist, Granny had Tiffany Aching, and even the Archchancellor was slowly training Ponder.

        Vimes, on the other hand, didn’t train just one person to replace him. He trained everyone, as best he could. A network of people who could do his job, spread across the Discworld. He didn’t want to be the indispensable man. He wanted, from the very beginning, to fix the odd tendency of humans to bend at the knees.Report

  6. Mike Schilling says:

    From a column Neil Gaiman wrote about Pterry a few months ago:

    There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing: it’s the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld. It’s also the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus.

    That makes perfect sense to me. I’ve never seen an interview with Python Eric Idle where he failed to mention that the headmaster at his primary school used to call him “Idle by name, Idle by nature”, and hasn’t he proven the old so-and-so wrong.Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    Seriously, though, just don’t bother reading the Rincewind books. Discworld isn’t like the Big Fat Fantasy series we’ve all been conditioned to enjoy, the ones where if you didn’t start reading at Page 1 Book 1 then you have no idea who anyone is.Report

    • I like Rincewind. Not my favorite, but I like most of his stories more than I like most of the witch ones.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I don’t like the Rincewind stories either. Discworld books are accessible enough that you can start at any point and still have a good grasp on what’s going on, and the middle-to-later books are the best ones, so a person’s more likely to like Discworld if they start in the middle than if they try to start at the beginning.Report

  8. Boegiboe says:

    Thanks for this, Tod, very well done. We’re reading Harry Potter with the little one now; last night she said she’s Hermione Granger, and I couldn’t be happier.

    It’s been 20 years since I started reading Discworld books as well. I believe Mort was my first, and I recently reread it. Have you had a chance to read The Last Hero? It’s wonderful to have those illustrations going along with the story. And it strikes me that Cohen at the end of that book is probably how Sir Terry would want us to imagine him right now.

    Looking forward to your mail!Report