Saving one unread Discworld novel until..... when?

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Sully

New Member
May 26, 2024
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#1
Hi all, i am curious if others are like me in having one remaining book i'm stubbornly refusing to read?
Until some day.
This has probably been discussed somewhere on the forum in the past. Apologies if i am treading over old ground.

I know for some discworld fans they can't bring themselves to read the Shepherd's Crown.
I like and get great enjoyment knowing there is a final discworld novel waiting. Crisp, uncracked, full of delights i can only imagine!
For me, this is Raising Steam.
I felt more drawn to finishing the Tiffany series at the time, having loved the first four, but still hadn't made my way through the last of the others. So logically for me at least, the last great unread tome was to be Raising Steam.
I am setting retirement for when i treat myself to this.*

Joanna & Francine, on the excellent "Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" podcast, feel there are a lot of fans out there for whom the Shepherd's Crown is theirs. They hope these folk will join them on the Journey (not long now) toward this final book.


*either that or in the meantime, if unexpectedly waking on a hospital bed with an orchestra of beeping and blirping going on, i'll croak at the nearest nurse (waving away the little water sponge on a stick) "fetch me.... Raising..... Steam" :)
 
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RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
16,351
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Melbourne, Victoria
#3
I haven't read all the Long Earth books either. Like Dug, I read the first two ... but unlike Dug, I wasn't impressed or interested enough to read more.

So, I'm kind of stuck! I don't have any more Discworld books to read. :(

Maybe I should read the Bromeliad now =P
 
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Tonyblack

Super Moderator
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Jul 25, 2008
30,886
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Cardiff, Wales
#4
Nope - reading Pratchett is a guilty pleasure of mine. I would buy the books and devour them as soon as possible . . . and then read them all again.
 
#5
I have not saved anything. I read and re-read and re-read over and over again. On March 12, 2015, the evening we heard the news, my partner and I started a new tradition - I read a Discworld (or other Pratchett) book aloud to her - and we've been doing that every night (minus a few due to getting home too late, or holidays or whatever) for more than 9 years now. We've got through the entire Discworld series at least once, and most of the rest of Pratchett's work too (... except The Long Earth series, that one we haven't done - it's not as good to read aloud). Mostly it was just "pick a book and read it", but last year we decided to do the Discworld series in order, and we're just about to finish up The Fifth Elephant.

Sully - you can of course feel free to save "Raising Steam" for your retirement, but to be honest - when we *first* read that (just after it came out, before Terry's passing), I was not all that fond of it, and felt it lacked a good story or pacing. However, on the various re-reads, it definitely has some absolutely amazing *scenes* which are funny, poignant and insightful. (It's just the overall feel isn't quite as balanced or well-edited as some of the best books). Definitely still a good one, though :)
 

RathDarkblade

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Mar 24, 2015
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#6
...when we *first* read that (just after it came out, before Terry's passing), I was not all that fond of it, and felt it lacked a good story or pacing. However, on the various re-reads, it definitely has some absolutely amazing *scenes* which are funny, poignant and insightful. (It's just the overall feel isn't quite as balanced or well-edited as some of the best books). Definitely still a good one, though :)
I think that's common to many of Terry's books. Terry was amazingly well-read and well-informed about lots of things, and liked to put in little references to things in scenes here and there.

If you "got it", well done, and you got a laugh. If not, someone else would "get it". :)

The first time I read one of Terry's books is never as fun as later readings, because of that. After I read one of his books for the first time, I would head over to L-Space and find out all the things I missed. Then, when I read it again, I was aware of the things I missed, and could laugh at them then, and feel very knowledgeable. :)

For instance, there was Reaper Man. I never understood all those references to
shopping trolleys
until afterwards. Or Hogfather -- I didn't grow up with
Christmas
, so I didn't understand all those
Christmas
references until later.

I'm not sure why so many people think Raising Steam didn't have a good story. I thought it was a cracking story. :) Then again, having read L-Space, I'm now familiar with *some* of the history of trains, and know what Terry is getting at. To me, it's a tiny little bit like blending the early history of trains with the Discworld, and finding ways that A-M can do things that people on Roundworld did, because they had [abc] or [xyz].

Raising Steam doesn't have wizards doing magic, like TLF or Sourcery. It has quite ordinary people doing magic with quite humdrum items in their everyday lives. :)

I also thought the
human-dwarf marriage scene
was excellent and very moving, and the book had quite a lot to say about
terrorism
and evil people generally, and why helping them, even to save yourself, is NOT a good thing. :(

A lot of people seem to think that
the fight scenes in and on the trains
were lacking, but I disagree. Terry here was paying homage to a lot of films set on trains, but I think he was especially paying homage to
the start of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", where we see Indy as a teenager, having exciting fights and escapes on top of a moving train.
:)

There are lots of other good things about Raising Steam, but I won't go into everything, and I marked spoilers, so Sully won't be spoiled by reading my post :)
 
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raisindot

Sergeant-at-Arms
Oct 1, 2009
5,161
2,450
Boston, MA USA
#7
Hi all, i am curious if others are like me in having one remaining book i'm stubbornly refusing to read?
Until some day.
This has probably been discussed somewhere on the forum in the past. Apologies if i am treading over old ground.
I see this same thought expressed often on the Facebook Pterry forums. And I always ask myself, "Why treat Pterry like he was some kind of literary god?" He was an author, and a fantastic one at that. But, like all authors, he had his great books and he had his not so great books. And the last books (especially The Shepherd's Crown) were difficult to read because by that time the embuggerance had completely changed his writing style, and not for the better. But why not read Raising Steam now? You might get hit by a bus tomorow and never have a chance to read it. And what it you wait years to read it and find (like many do) that's it's far from his best work? Read it now. And if you need more Pterry, go read his other non DW books. Or start re-reading the DW books you liked. Life is too short.
 

=Tamar

Lieutenant
May 20, 2012
12,201
2,900
#8
I read them all, eventually, though I didn't manage to get all the reprinted newspaper stories. I just finished the hardback of A Stroke of the Pen, but I will have to get the paperback since I read that a story was accidentally left out and it is in the paperback.
 
Jul 27, 2008
19,566
3,400
Stirlingshire, Scotland
#9
I read them all, eventually, though I didn't manage to get all the reprinted newspaper stories. I just finished the hardback of A Stroke of the Pen, but I will have to get the paperback since I read that a story was accidentally left out and it is in the paperback.
Twas a cunning ploy methinks.;):mrgreen: I weakened and bought the Hardback but won't bother with the paperback.
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
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Mar 24, 2015
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#10
"Why treat Pterry like he was some kind of literary god?"
It's a Cunning Plan that Cannot Fail(TM). </Baldrick> ;)

Seriously, though: when the HP books first came out, why did just about the entire world go librarian-poo and treat J. K. Rowling like a literary goddess?

Different people, different tastes. The HP books are fine, but the DW books are much better ... IMNSHAIBO, of course. (IMNSHAIBO == In My Not So Humble And Incredibly Biased Opinion) ;)

Having said that, of course I realise that not everything that Pterry wrote was solid gold. The Shepherd's Crown, for instance, is underdeveloped. No doubt Pterry would've made it better, if he had more time. :cry:

A lot of people don't like Rincewind, and he is often criticised a one-note character: get in trouble, scream for mercy, get out of trouble, get into the next trouble, until he finally saves the world (despite not wishing to). And I admit, that criticism is legitimate.

But then again, Rincewind is -- and should be read as -- a parody of the all-powerful "classic" wizards that were so prevalent in the 1970s and before, the most famous example being Gandalf and Saruman. (Of course, this trope -- an all-powerful and all-wise wizard -- is incredibly old, dating back to at least Viking times and Woden/Odin). By comparison, Rincewind (at least during TCOM, TLF, and Sourcery) was a refreshing novelty. :) When we see him again (in Eric), his shtick of scream-and-run-away is fairly well-established, but the trick is seeing how he will get away, which keeps things interesting. Eric is also relatively short, which keeps Rincewind from wearing out his welcome.

Rincewind's next two books, Interesting Times and The Last Continent, are notable for not featuring Rincewind as the protagonist -- at least, not the sole protagonist. In the crunch, he shares the limelight with Genghiz Cohen and the UU Faculty, respectively. However, if we read IT and TLC in the same way that TCOM and TLF are meant to be read -- i.e. as a rollicking-70s-style-adventure-slash-tourist-guide to Discworld -- they become lots of fun. :)

I have one final observation to make about Rincewind: the poor "Wizzard" has suffered a lot of criticism over the years, some of it justified, most of it being that he's too two-dimensional, and doesn't change. To this I make reply: sure, Rincewind doesn't change much over the years. But does that make his books any the less fun? Take, say, Conan the Barbarian, or Bilbo Baggins, or Hercule Poirot. None of them are fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters. But does that make their adventures less fun, or make them any less beloved? Any reasonably-minded critic would reply: not really. So, why is Rincewind singled out?
 
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=Tamar

Lieutenant
May 20, 2012
12,201
2,900
#11
People tend to miss the point where Rincewind _does_ change: In The Last Continent, he becomes resigned to the fact he will always be involved no matter how hard he tries to get out of it. That change is permanent - it shows up specifically when he presents his objections while accepting that he will be on the Potent Voyager in The Last Hero.
 
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RathDarkblade

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Mar 24, 2015
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#12
I forgot about that, but =Tamar is right. IIRC, Rincewind on top of the not-very-large tower with the Librarian, staring out across the Continent. I forget what he says, exactly, but while he says it,
the Librarian is "playing" with the "toy" that flies across the Continent and brings the Big Wet.

I live in Melbourne, on Australia's south-eastern coast. I haven't been out to the Bush (i.e. the interior, full of small towns), but I've seen news of how droughts have affected farmers inland. It's not pretty. No wonder the rainy season is so looked forward to. :)
 

Sully

New Member
May 26, 2024
9
50
52
Ireland
#13
Very much enjoyed reading the responses and views.
Thanks RathDarkBlade for kindly hiding any spoilers.

I see this same thought expressed often on the Facebook Pterry forums. And I always ask myself, "Why treat Pterry like he was some kind of literary god?" He was an author, and a fantastic one at that. But, like all authors, he had his great books and he had his not so great books. And the last books (especially The Shepherd's Crown) were difficult to read because by that time the embuggerance had completely changed his writing style, and not for the better. But why not read Raising Steam now? You might get hit by a bus tomorow and never have a chance to read it. And what it you wait years to read it and find (like many do) that's it's far from his best work? Read it now. And if you need more Pterry, go read his other non DW books. Or start re-reading the DW books you liked. Life is too short.
I should be clear it's not because I need new Terry. I have no particular desire to get into Long Earth for instance. I enjoyed whizzing through A Stroke of the Pen but I won't be awaiting publication of the missing story, or actively searching for it in the future - if I happen across it, fine.
I don't think there is a poor Discworld book. Only varying degrees of goodness to greatness. And during my many read-throughs of them all, even one that I simply enjoyed as being good before can go up quite a few notches. I don't attach any expectations for the quality of Raising Steam, only that I am certain I will enjoy the experience, regardless.
My desire to leave aside one final Discworld novel is not a sensible position I can argue- you're absolutely right. I am a flawed human! I can tell you it's not attaching godlike status to Terry though. It's all to do with what i get out of Discworld, for me, and how I want to make one last unique visit there.
I don't subscribe to the proverbial hit by a bus theory of living life. If i did I wouldn't be paying into a work pension. Living for the now has its place, of course, as well as the simple pleasure of looking forward to something.
 
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RathDarkblade

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Mar 24, 2015
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#14
I don't attach any expectations for the quality of Raising Steam, only that I am certain I will enjoy the experience, regardless.
I'll try to avoid spoilers, Sully, so I'll just say this: if you know a thing or two about trains or rail history, you'll definitely enjoy Raising Steam. :) I read a lot of history, and from time to time I've dipped into rail history (although I'm not any kind of expert on it). So I enjoyed catching a few things and thinking "Aha! Terry, you sly devil." ;)

I've heard it said that the Discworld is a world and a mirror of worlds, and Raising Steam -- if you take away the mythological creatures and the magic -- could easily be set in early-to-mid-19th-century London, or Paris, or anywhere in the USA that was being connected by rail. There is much to enjoy here, and I especially enjoyed reading the L-Space comments afterwards and learning new things about the rail. :)

Also, about 10 years ago, I realised that I knew quite a bit about America's history but not so much about Canada's. So, I sourced and read two books by Pierre Berton -- War of 1812 (obviously, about the US-Canada war) and The Last Spike (about the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, laying 2,000 miles of steel, coast-to-coast, in just 5 years -- 1881 to 1885). I highly recommend them to anyone who either wants to understand a little about Canada, or gain an insight into how incredible Moist's achievement is in this book. :)

*studiously avoids mentioning what the achievement actually is* ;)
 
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Sully

New Member
May 26, 2024
9
50
52
Ireland
#15
I'll try to avoid spoilers, Sully, so I'll just say this: if you know a thing or two about trains or rail history, you'll definitely enjoy Raising Steam. :) I read a lot of history, and from time to time I've dipped into rail history (although I'm not any kind of expert on it). So I enjoyed catching a few things and thinking "Aha! Terry, you sly devil." ;)

I've heard it said that the Discworld is a world and a mirror of worlds, and Raising Steam -- if you take away the mythological creatures and the magic -- could easily be set in early-to-mid-19th-century London, or Paris, or anywhere in the USA that was being connected by rail. There is much to enjoy here, and I especially enjoyed reading the L-Space comments afterwards and learning new things about the rail. :)

Also, about 10 years ago, I realised that I knew quite a bit about America's history but not so much about Canada's. So, I sourced and read two books by Pierre Berton -- War of 1812 (obviously, about the US-Canada war) and The Last Spike (about the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, laying 2,000 miles of steel, coast-to-coast, in just 5 years -- 1881 to 1885). I highly recommend them to anyone who either wants to understand a little about Canada, or gain an insight into how incredible Moist's achievement is in this book. :)

*studiously avoids mentioning what the achievement actually is* ;)
Very cool, :) just on the hints of the outline plot I think I will enjoy it.
I have seen every series of Michael Portillo's great railway journeys, including his Canadian one, always fascinating and educational. So maybe I will have picked up a bit of background knowledge!
 

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