Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Truth by Terry Pratchett


(Book Review)

Yet another novel in the Discworld series. After reading “The Color of Magic” this fall, I had announced that I was going to read the remaining books in this series in order. However going to Japan has somewhat buggered that plan. It is obviously possible to get a hold of English books in Japan, but it’s hard to get a hold of specific English books here. You kind of just take what’s in front of you. So instead of proceeding onto the second book, I jump to the 25th book in the series, “The Truth”. (If nothing else, I think we can all agree Terry Pratchett is at least a prolific author.)

While it may be hard to track down the Pratchett books in order over here, fortunately it is never hard to find Pratchett books in general. Terry Pratchett may have a cult following in the US, but he’s practically a household name in England. And since there are a lot of British English teachers here in Japan, Pratchett books tend to pop up a lot in the ex-patriot community (which is how I first discovered him about this time last year in Japan). And so, a couple weeks ago a British co-worker brought this book into the office and said to me, “You mentioned you were a Pratchett fan, right? I’ve got this just laying around my apartment and I thought you might be interested.”

As I said before, I do feel like I’m running out of complimentary things to say about Pratchett without repeating myself. This book was very funny, and as usual when I read a Pratchett book, I find myself laughing aloud as I read it.

This particular book is about the creation of the newspaper industry in the fictional Discworld. It reminded me a lot of “Going Postal” (the first book in this series I read) which traced the beginning of the Postal service in Discworld.

Also thrown in is a parody of the Watergate/ Deep Throat story, and some light parodies of Nixon era conservatism and conservative values:
“Apparently he says he’s looking forward to a new era in our history and will put Ankh-Morpork back on the path of responsible citizenship, sir….Apparently he wants a return to the values and traditions that made this city great.”
“Does he know what those values and traditions were?” said Vimes, aghast.

The photographer for the newspaper is a vampire with a fascination for flash photography. And if you think a vampire is the last person who should be playing with bright lights, perhaps you can see where some of the humor is going.

Also like the other books in the discworld series, Pratchett does a clever job of explaining away potential anachronisms in his sword and sorcery era fantasy world. For example, there are cameras and tape recorders in this novel, but they are all powered by magical imps. (It is kind of similar to the old Flinstones gag of having all the modern appliances performed by dinosaurs.) Some of it boarders on corny, but mostly its good fun.

Useless Wikipedia Fact
White Day is a growing tradition that was created through a concentrated marketing effort in Japan. White Day is celebrated in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and some other East Asian countries on March 14, one month after Valentine's Day. On Valentine's Day, women give gifts to men; on White Day, men who received chocolate on Valentine's Day return the favor and give gifts to women

ed. note: Guess who's in trouble for forgetting...

Link of the Day
West Michigan Remembers the Fourth Anniversary of Iraq War
March 14, 2007
While antiwar protests and organizing take place around the year in West Michigan and in particular in Grand Rapids, the next week surrounding the fourth anniversary of the war will see an increase in local activity. Each year since 2004 (see 2005 and 2006 coverage), antiwar protests in Grand Rapids and beyond have marked the annual anniversary. Instead of having the usual one-day march, there are a wide variety of events planned in West Michigan:

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