Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

British writer Terry Pratchett is a marvel and Snuff is his most recent and may be his last novel. He has Alzheimer's disease. He has, however, written 41 Diskworld novels, 14 young adult novels, and four other novels. The man has been prolific.

He is also has a way with words: "Lady Sybil knew her husband in the way people living next door to a volcano get to know the moods of their neighbor. The important thing is to avoid the bang."

"Young Sam [the hero's six-year-old son] did not need very much in the way of entertainment, manufacturing it in large quantities out of observations of the landscape, the stories that had lulled him to sleep at bedtime last night, some butterfly thought that had just sped across his mind and, increasingly, he'd talk about Mr. Whistle, who lived in a house in a tree but was sometimes a dragon...."

Adding to the fun is the occasional footnote. To a discussion why the housemaids in the grand country home turn their backs on the gentry as they pass, Pratchett appends the following: "Willikins was an excellent butler and/or gentleman's gentleman when the occasion required it, but in a long career he had also been an enthusiastic street fighter, and knew enough never to turn his back on anybody who could possibly have a weapon on them."

The Diskworld stories take place in an alternate universe, one that resembles Victorian England, but populated with dwarfs, trolls, werewolves, goblins, humans (and more), but without guns, phones, automobiles, airplanes, steam engines, or modern plumbing. There are carriages, crossbows, and clacks (which permit communication over distances). Many of the stories take place in Ankh-Morpork and involve members of the City Watch. Snuff features the Commander of the Watch, Samuel Vimes, who we've watched grow, change, and get married in past books. Lady Sybil has imposed on him to take a vacation (vacation? ha!) on her country estate where, as is the policeman's lot, Sam finds crime.

While I don't think Snuff is the best Terry Pratchett novel I've read, it is still laugh-out-loud funny, that is if you think "Monty Python" or "Fawlty Towers" are funny. If you've never read Terry Pratchett and you do think "Monty Python" is funny, you have a feast of enjoyment ahead of you. (And if you've never seen Fawlty Towers, get off the damned computer and go rent, borrow, or steal the disks.)

1 comment:

  1. Snuff is Terry's 40th Discworld Novel and he is currently working on two other books. One a sci-fi story with Steven Baxter and the other called Dodger set in Victorian England. His last three books were written while he had Alzheimers. He's not showing a lot of signs of slowing down.