Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fiction Review: A Blink of the Screen

A collection of short fiction from Terry Pratchett, spanning the whole of his writing career from schooldays to Discworld and the present day. Here are characters both familiar and yet to be discovered; abandoned worlds and others still expanding; adventure, chickens, death, disco and, actually, some quite disturbing ideas about Christmas

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

Pratchett, Terry. 2012

[Genre: Short story]


I still haven't made my way through the whole of the Discworld, but have been picking up Terry Pratchett's work on and off as the mood strikes me for nearly 7 years now and am still constantly astounded (and overjoyed) by the combination of wit and intelligence in his writing. A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction offers real die-hard Discworld fans a chance to see some of the more obscure odds-and-bobs he's produced, while the rest of us can soak in some really quite good non-Discworld short fiction. A Blink of the Screen shows that Pratchett's flair for the written word doesn't end with the Discworld. The short pieces come in a variety of forms - from poetry to board game write ups. Although I think some of the included pieces, especially in the Discworld section, were really just fluff (such as a 1 and a half page speech written from the perspective of Lord Vetinari on the twinning of Ankh-Morpork and Wincanton) it's not necessarily bad fluff and the gems make the whole book worth it. Some of my favourites:

The Prince and the Partridge: A fairy tale style origin story for the Christmas carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.' Short and sweet

The Glastonbury Tales: A side-splitting poem about the perils of picking up hitchhikers near Glastonbury

The Ankh-Morpork National Anthem: Plays on what we all know to be true about national anthems and their second verse

Death and What Comes Next: Probably my favourite piece in the book. A conversation between DEATH and a dying philosopher, which rolls the crucial elements of scientific, religious and philosophical theory on life into one and a half pages.

If you're not familiar with Terry Pratchett's work A Blink of the Screen probably isn't the place to start, as the second half will likely confound anyone who isn't at least vaguely familiar with the major Discworld characters. Then again, you could just read the first half. I'm sure you'd like it just as much. How could you not, if you have half a brain in your head and like to laugh?  If you are already familiar, A Blink of the Screen is certainly worth picking up.

5 Stars

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