Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Terry Pratchett: Color of Magic

You have to love Terry Pratchett. His skewed, slanted and twisted view on the lives of the people in his book easily makes him one of the most hilarious authors I have ever read (and for me, that's saying a lot!)

I'm frequently struck by the wonderful way he describes the plight of his characters. Take Rincewind for example, the most inept wizard in the history of the highly magical Discworld and yet…the most capable survivor in the history of that world as well. So capable that one of the eight great spells of creation lodged itself in his mind in order to protect itself from those who would misuse it. So that’s really saying a lot…assuming of course that the eight great spells of creation are truly wise enough to find the very best candidate for the job. And assuming that fortune continues to favor the foolish, (to which Rincewind definitely qualifies). Alright so we’re basically making a lot of assumptions with this one. However, a far better character witness to Rincewind’s ability to survive would be in the form of Death himself. One of the most disturbing things a man could ever learn is that he has become Death's hobby! Which is exactly what Rincewind becomes in this book. He is so adept at surviving everything that happens to him that Death begins to look at him as a hobby. Trying to make sure he meets his eventual end, but never quite managing it. And for Death…that’s saying a lot!

By far the best character in the book however, isn’t even human. Luggage, as its character description in the back of the book states: Know it, Love it, Fear it. Seriously though, who wouldn’t want a completely homicidal piece of luggage following them around on 100 tiny little legs? I know I would! Not to mention the ability to put your dirty clothes in and be able to pull out freshly pressed clean clothes in the morning. Its absolute homicidal hatred of all life except for its owner has elevated it to the status of one of the greatest characters in the history of fantasy literature…at least in my opinion.

If you have read any of my other book reviews, you will know that quantum physics is a favorite hobby of mine. Because of that the concept of a universe unraveling its own space-time continuum in order to prevent a paradox is a source of endless amusement to me. When faced with the prospect of several quintillion atoms (the precise number of atoms per fictional character being shifted across the barriers between quantum spaces being unknown) importing in from another reality, the universe unraveled its own space-time continuum merged the characters atoms with existing pre-matter then fast forwarded time to the "present" where they (of course) ended up merged with two other individuals from that reality of a remarkably similar nature, only to have those atoms leave again (in mid-flight) and return to their home reality. Which I think is a fantastic way to avoid the inevitable annihilation that a quantum level paradox would cause. Unravel space-time; merge the atoms with pre-matter when it was not so volatile, then fast forward time until those atoms can leave again. Fantastic!!!

Overall, another incredible success by Terry. I laughed so hard I cried…which is of course another paradox…COOL!!!

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