Book Meme: Mel’s Day Three

 Book Meme Challenge:

Your Favorite Series

This one was difficult. Not necessarily because I have read many series, but because I could not decide between the only two series that came to mind. Both are charming, refreshing, funny, and smart. And oh, soooo different.

For a while I was leaning towards the Chronicles of Prydain, Lloyd Alexander’s Welsh-myth-inspired adventure tales. These are the books that I recommended to friends who could not stomach the length and verbosity of Tolkien. In fact, I think I used to refer to them as “Lord of the Rings for Dummies”. But in the end, I had to play the “which series would you bring to a desert island” game, and came to the conclusion Prydain would not give me enough witty word play, expanding and mature world views, or a large enough collection of books. (Is it sad that part of my criteria is how many book there are in the series? Five is just too few!)

So here I present you with the best, the most fascinating, the most delightful series of books in the entire world:

The Discworld Series

By Terry Pratchett

These are only a part of my personal collection of Discworld, which are only a part of the series as a whole.

Life without Discworld would be a sad and morose existence. I would not know the joy of a world balanced on the backs of four elephants standing on a giant turtle floating around the universe. My reading skills would still disclude reading foot notes. I would not understand how currency works. My heart would not know the marvel of kingliness that is Carrot. I would not count Sergeant Angua as one of my girl friends.

Over 20 years ago Terry Pratchett first created a strange and (literally) magical new world, replete with diverse characters, reasonable new laws of physics, (based on the “thaumos,” magical particles,) and amazing situations, juxtapositions, races, and adventures. Now there are over forty Discworld books. This world is peopled with so many characters that it is amazing  how distinct and memorable each one is. Even if the role is usually only a part of the scenery – like the street vendor Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler – and has little influence over actual plot, each persona presented is witty and sharp.

The style and approach is very British, in the Monty Python type way, so it can be a tad difficult to grasp the dry, casual, ironic humor. But once you do, these books are worth every moment!

The language is brilliant, filled with smart-alecky puns and deliberate subversions of popular, cultural, or academic tropes. My favorite pun: “she was more highly bred than a hill-top bakery”. And Pratchett’s use of foot-notes make me actually want to read them! For instance, at one point he casually mentions “L-space” that is found in libraries, and then proceeds to explain in the foot note;

“Even big collections of ordinary books distort space and time, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned second-hand bookshop, one of those that has more staircases than storeys and those rows of shelves that end in little doors that are surely too small for a full sized human to enter.

The relevant equation is Knowledge = Power = Energy = Matter = Mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read. Mass distorts space into polyfractal L-space, in which Everywhere is also Everywhere Else.

All libraries are connected in L-space by the bookwormholes created by the strong space-time distortions found in any large collection of books. Only a very few librarians learn the secret, and there are inflexible rules about making use of the fact – because it amounts to time travel.

The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: (1) Silence; (2) Books must be returned no later than the last date shown, and (3) the nature of causality must not be interfered with.”

And suddenly life makes absolutely perfect sense! I now know why I am constantly getting lost in libraries, no matter how small they are. The world according to the rules of philosophic essence rather than pure science.

I love it!

The books deal with a wide range of people and subjects, and rarely miss a chance to mock and provoke thought about cultural phenomena: Hollywood, (Moving Pictures,) Fairy Tales, (Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies,) racial prejudices, (Thud!,) vampires, (Carpe Jugulum,) education, (Unseen Academicals,) war, (Jingo, Men at Arms,) popular music, (Soul Music,) journalism, (The Truth,) economy, (Making Money, which is also the only explanation of currency and economy that ever made sense to me,) and many many others.  All cleverly explored and exposed, for good and bad, and each book goes beyond its set up to offer some practical wisdom on the nature of men. Also the nature of dwarves, trolls, wizards, Wee Small Free Men, talking dogs, werewolves, “organized” crime, vampires, witches, and Death.

The cast of citizens of Discworld is numerous and delightful, from the tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, to country Witches who prefer common sense to magic,  from clever con-man Moist Von Lipwig, to Death’s granddaughter Susan. Not to mention the entire police force of Ankh-Morpork, who are funky and spunky and odd and crazy beyond words. And Angua, who was first hired under the new metropolitan attempt at Equal Opportunity Employment because she is a w  . . . . . well, you should go read the books.


3 thoughts on “Book Meme: Mel’s Day Three

  1. It was The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales that thoroughly familiarized me with footnotes (and endnotes). However, I’m still not sure I understand currency.

    Discworld over Prydain, eh? Somewhat surprising, although you have a good point about quantity. I could also say that about The Lord of the Rings, actually; I’d be happy even with just those three books on a desert island, because the magic and mystery in Tolkien’s writing is just endless. Anyway, I need to reread LOTR and Prydain, since it has been far too many years apart for both of them. And one of these days I will have to start reading the Discworld books, because it’s really not fair to just snicker at the puns I hear about from the likes of TVTropes and various fans without getting them straight from the author himself.

    • Do read Discworld! I could might live quite happily on these books. They are perhaps not the most all-round healthy fare – like LOTR would be a three course balanced meal with dessert – but they are like a nice sandwich and a cookie.

      And as much as I love Prydain, they are more of the coming-of-age books, which are beginning to feel dated to me. I grow old. But I will always hold them in affection!

  2. Pingback: Mel’s Meme: The Bookshelf Overfloweth « Egotist's Club

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