Three authors that remind me of Terry Pratchett
In an attempt to cheer myself up and make myself feel a little better since my literary hero Sir Terry Pratchett passed away, I thought I’d list a few authors whose work Terry has influenced, or who simply remind me of him in their work.
The first Frances Hardinge book I read was A Face Like Glass and the day after I finished it, I ordered every other book she’s ever written. The Pratchett influence shows in her razor-sharp wit, in her inability to write anything other than strong, kick-ass girls and in her intricate world-building.
The world of the story is set deep inside a mountain, in a place called Caverna. This world is as well-realised as Discworld ever was! My favourite and probably the most Pratchett-like invention are the Cartographers who are tasked with mapping Caverna – a place that goes up and down and twists around and meets itself going the other way. The only way these mapmakers can fully comprehend their landscape so as to do their job is to be mad, and so they are. Even better than that, their madness is contagious. When out in public they are locked in boxed-up sedan chairs and only allowed to talk with a 5-minute hourglass marking the time. Any longer than that and their passionate, insane ramblings start to make sense, and then you’re in trouble!
Michael Logan was one of the co-winners of Terry Pratchett’s Anywhere but Here and Anywhen but Now First Novel Prize (the other winner was the equally excellent but slightly more serious David Logan – no relation). The titles of his books (Apocalypse Cow, World War Moo) may give away the fact that Logan is not averse to using the odd pun, though he’s fairly restrained within the novels.
Like Pratchett’s, Logan’s books will have you laughing on one page, then nodding thoughtfully, then recoiling in horror at the human race. Terry Pratchett once said that when making fantasy worlds and alternate realities, ‘you can have flying pigs, but you have to be aware that people are going to need really stout umbrellas’. Meaning… it’s all very well and good to make the impossible possible but without ramifications, it’s meaningless. Well Logan’s world does not have flying pigs, it does have rabid, horny, zombie pigs and the consequences are just as evident (if, by necessity, a little more dramatic) as stout umbrellas.
Really… I shouldn’t have to say anything about this author apart from the following: Michael Logan made Terry Pratchett himself ‘snort with laughter’.
Terry Pratchett once described bookshops as ‘genteel black holes that know how to read’ using the equation: ‘Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass’. He described books as dangerous, even the ordinary, non magical ones: ‘A man sits in some museum somewhere and writes a harmless book about political economy and suddenly thousands of people who haven’t even read it are dying because the ones who did haven’t got the joke.’ In short, Terry Pratchett knew there was more to books than dead trees and ink. Walter Moers knows this too.
The City of Dreaming Books and its sequel The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books are insane love songs to books and their authors, both the successful kind and the not-so-successful kind. (As a fun fact, all the authors listed in these books are anagrams of real-world authors.) A word of warning though – if four elephants carrying a flat world while standing on a giant turtle which is swimming through space sounds too much for you, stay away from Moers! The protagonist of these two books, Optimus Yarnspinner is a dinosaur and his mortal nemesis the Al Capone-esque Volzotan Smyke, is a shark grub. (A highly intelligent creature with 14 arms and shark-like features, just in case you didn’t already know.) I know – Madness! Utter madness!
Dani Solomon works in the Children’s & YA section at Carlton.
The City of Dreaming Books
The author of 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear transports readers to a magical world. Optimus Yarnspinner finds himself marooned in the subterranean world of Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, where reading can be...
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