Book #67: A Blink of the Screen

author: Terry Pratchett
language: English
length: 359 pages, 32 short stories
finished reading on: 25 Jul 2014

I think I’ve reached a stage of casual indifference towards Terry Pratchett, as if I’m outgrowing him a bit. That said, even in the early days when I read Discworld as a teenager, I found him a bit hit-and-miss.

By his own admission in the preface to this book, he doesn’t like writing short stories and finds them difficult, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that I found this book a bit hit-and-miss too. There is such a wide variety of stories in this collection, and the majority are only a couple of pages long, so it’s difficult to remember them two months later (curse my procrastinatory tendencies!). The ones that stand out in my memory are two stories that were the germs of the ideas that later became The Long Earth and The Bromeliad trilogy, and an extended length story about the Discworld witches that didn’t make the cut to be expanded into a novel. Otherwise, I can’t remember any except that the first one in the book is the first story Pratchett wrote and won a competition for as a teenager (maybe it was about making a deal with the devil).

The two short stories that were later expanded were the most interesting for me because, especially for The Long Earth, it allowed me an insight into the writing process, and how much had actually changed since the short story was written in the 1980s – notably, there is a main character called Joshua Valienté and a “Gap” in the chain of worlds.

Apart from that, I can’t say much more. It was mostly enjoyable but a little tedious. Recommended only if you’re a fan already.

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