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Discworld Books Meet Terry News Msg Boards Linx

The Discworld Books:
It's a series, not a serial. Even so...

...well, it's like this. If you started watching Star Trek halfway through the series you probably wondered why one guy had pointy ears. But since you liked what you saw, you probably let the question ride for now and just got on with enjoying the show.

Discworld is like that. There are mini-series within the series (the "witches" books, the "City Watch" books, the "Death" books --) and there are one or two big story arcs, but generally the books are written to be accessible at any point to anyone with a nodding acquaintanceship with the fantasy genre. Or even with real life. Admittedly, real life does not contain many librarians who are a full-grown male orangutan, and Death in real life does not ride a white horse called Binky, but Discworld readers now consider that this is real life's loss.

The world travels through space on the backs of four elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle. Don't worry about it. People don't talk about it, any more than we say, "wow, we're standing a few thousand miles above a ball of molten iron!" Besides, it seldom has anything to do with the plots, which mostly concern real people trying to get by in a fantasy world. There are wizards, witches, trolls, dwarfs, zombies, werewolves, vampires . . . but Discworld starts where classic heroic fantasy stops, and none of those people is doing business as usual. A lot of them have moved into the big city and are trying to turn an honest dollar, just like everyone else.

The biggest city is Ankh-Morpork. It's a real melting pot -- that is, it bubbles all the time and strange things float to the surface. This is a big city reminiscent of planet Earth, where we think we've locked all the monsters outside, and then turned around and found they're right in here, with us.

Discworld stories aren't parodies, according to Pratchett. They're "resonances." The people of Ankh-Morpork go to war with those towel-headed villains in neighbouring Klatch, and pretty soon characters are acting so pigheadedly that you might think they were real. Vampires who wish to be accepted in human society join the League of Temperance (you can suck, but you mustn't impale.) Witches tend to be good (they'll give you what you need) and fairy godmothers tend to be bad (they'll give you what they think you ought to want). A continent-wide system of semaphore towers is changing society...

Everything you see reminds you of home, but it's turned around and back to front so that you see it in a different light.

Oh...and it's funnier.

Terry Pratchett himself sums it up best:

"The world rides through space on the back of a turtle. This is one of the great ancient world myths, found wherever men and turtles are gathered together; the four elephants were an indo-European sophistication. The idea has been lying in the lumber room of legend for centuries. All I had to do was grab it and run away before the alarms went off."

"There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs."


He's also been known to describe it in The Discworld Companion as "like a geological pizza but without the anchovies."

< Discworld Travel Guide

Lost? Confused? Need some help navigating the morass? Dip into this handy travel guide and discover the world of Terry Pratchett (It's a lot like our own...but different) - find thrilling adventure (well sort of), wondrous magic (when it works properly), & a flat planet (of course).