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Terry Pratchett: Discworld & Beyond

(Excerpted originally from Locus magazine's December '99 issue)

"Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it. The first couple of books quite deliberately pastiched bits of other writers and things - good writers, because it's the good ones most people can spot: 'Ah, here's the Anne McCaffrey bit.' I was rapidly stitching together a kind of consensus fantasy universe, and the one trick was, 'Let's make people act.' I remember a description Mad magazine did about The Flintstones: 'dinosaurs from 65 million years ago, flung together with idiots from today.' I tried to do something like that with Discworld. Not everyone on Discworld is entirely a modern character, but they are recognizable to us. Their concerns are more like 20th-century concerns. But they also seem to me to be aware - I've invented things like 'narrative causality,' which practically says, 'the characters know that they are in a story.' What they do know is that they have roles to play."

"I make notes all the time. Writing the Discworld novels is almost a kind of journalism. It may be journalism that takes place two or three years after the fact, but the last 10 books maybe, have been subtly influenced by moderately current affairs."

"In Jingo, one of the things I wanted to explore was just how quickly apparently peaceful populations can be persuaded to go to war. A friend of mine who has a French wife asked her, on my behalf, how long it would take to get France and England to go to war, and she said, 'About 20 seconds.'"

"On the other hand, it's worth a try, because there's nowhere else to go, and the planet will be made uninhabitable no matter what we do…"

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