SCI-Fl FANTASY Terry Pratchett
The Truth (Doubleday £16.99)/ Guards! Guards! (Gollancz £9.99)
Twenty-five books in and that improbable planet, Discworld, is still sailing serenely through space on the back of a giant turtle. It’s improbable for existing in the first place; even more so for surviving so long, and doing so with such a consistent humour that The Truth, the 25th book, is as memorable and cunning as the first.
Terry Pratchett, Discworld’s creator and hero to his legions of fans, says that he ‘deals logically with an illogical world’. And it is a world that mirrors our own, particularly in its illogical aspects, rather more than it does those created in Science Fantasy.
In The Truth, it is the newspaper world that gets the back-handed slap around the face of Pratchett's scathing word processor. As an ex-journalist and one-time press officer for four nuclear power stations, he certainly knows his background. And the plot of William de Worde's fight for the 'public’s right to know' against the powers of the establishment and the upstart tabloids, echoes the happenings in Fleet Street towards the end of the last century.
'If you want to write a funny book, it's not enough to strap a load of one-liners, gags and puns together,’ says Pratchett. ’What you have to have is a plot which gives rise to the humour, so it will actually hold together and stuff like that. What l’m against is getting too pretentious about it. The important thing is to produce a book that people are going to enjoy, they are going to be happy with having bought, which may open their minds in one or two directions.
’But the last thing you want to do is go on The Late Review and talk about the messages and the iconography. The thing is to do the book in the best way you can and then let some clever buggers tell you what you actually meant.’
While the novels continue to keep Pratchett as number one shoplifted author at Waterstone’s, the spin-offs keep, well, spinning off. Stephen Briggs’ adaptation of Guards! Guards! will hit the shelves in graphic form. Not that Pratchett, in his punctilious attention to detail, likes the term Graphic Novel.
‘What "Graphic Novel” has come to mean is
i ERRY PRr-iTCi-i TT
A Big Comic not a Graphic Novel
impenetrable plot, very moody drawings and no big balloons going "Kapow! Zappo!”,’ he says. ’l’d call them Big Comics, because it's honest.’
And, to be equally as honest, entertaining though they are, the Discworld Big Comics are not a patch on the originals. The humour seems forced by comparison, and the various trolls, dwarves and denizens in the World of the Undead, simply don’t look as good on the page as they do in your head. And if that hurts, well, there's always The Truth. (Thom Dibdin)
l The Truth is out now, Guards! Guards! is published on Thu 74 Dec.
Debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Julia Llewellyn Smith
Who she? Newspapers are where Ms Smith has prevrously plied her trade, namely writing for the Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph and The Times. SUTpTISlngly, the author hadn't done a huge amount of travelling before embarking alone on this journey to some of the world's most dangerous cities. Her debut In Travels Without My Aunt, she tours the world stopping off at the distant locations used as settings in Graham Greene’s novels. Despite the hotbeds of unrest upon which Llewellyn Smith spends most of the book, it begins humbly in Brighton, and ends drearily, in Berkhamstead.
Basically Havrng been much inspired by the ViVidness of Mr Greene's description of Haiti in The Comedians, Llewellyn Smith investigates his novels and
. characters, while exploring the people and Cities as they stand today. Visiting
mostly locations in political and economic turmorl, this journey throws up voodoo ceremonies and gunshots in
Haiti, conversations with child killers in
Sierra Leone and dinner with a Rockefeller socialite in Buenos Aires.
, First line tests Opening lines include 'On ; a cold December night, in 1926, Graham Greene, a 22-year-old Englishman, was in
Brighton convalescing from appendicitis'; ’To reach the centre of Mexico's troubles
, you need only take a short drive from the 2 backpacker mecca of Palenque.’ And
’When you check in to the brutalist concrete monolith that is the Cape Sierra Hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the first thing they do is ask you for a $2000 depost’
Incidentally Greene’s central character in Brighton Rock was inspired by a chance meeting With old Moore of astrology
almanac fame, whom Greene happened
upon sitting in the dark, on a bench, in the midst of a cold December night in Brighton. (Louisa Pearson)
l Travels Without My Aunt is published
by Michael Joseph On Thu 7 Dec priced
STELLA DUF F Y
Stylish hilarity undercut by blackness
Immaculate Conceit (Sceptre £l0) Stella Duffy’s CV is as entertaining and involved as any work of fiction. Born in London and brought up in New Zealand, Duffy is an actress and improviser and continues to perform internationally. As a writer she has avoided pigeon-holing by refusing to confine her talents to a single genre. Having made a striking debut with the crime novel Calendar Girl, Duffy is equally comfortable in the realms of relationship satire.
Appropriately, her last novel Eating Cake dealt with a woman who also wanted to lick the crumbs and devour the plate. 'I get bored domg just one thing,’ she agrees. 'I just write whatever story comes to me next and I don’t really have a career plan. I like to take work, good work, in whatever form it's offered.’
Immaculate Concert is the stylish, hilarious tale of lap dancer Sofia, ' forced to reassess her lifestyle when she unwillineg becomes pregnant with the new MeSSIah. The darkly 7 comic tone may reflect the fact that Duffy was editing the book while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. ’To realise I’d written a book about Sofia growing something in her body she didn’t want was very shocking. When I was re-writing, l was much more body-aware than ever before.’
Despite her illness, she continues to : work like a Tr0jan, driven by the mantra that governs her twin careers: ’“say yes”, “be brave"; the two main maxrms for improvising are also perfect ways to write — say yes ‘ to your idea, be brave and just go with it.’ (Allan Radcliffe) i I Immaculate Concert is published on Thu 74 Dec.
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