Widget and the New Discworld

FYI Weird Al offered his Twitter community a widget, so I plugged it in to see what it did. It’s on the right side of the page. Feel free to play with it, I’m not sure how long it’ll be there.

I gave in and bought the new Terry Pratchett book, Unseen Academicals, today. I was nervous because as I understand it, this is the first book he will have written through an assistant (I believe his name is Rob) after announcing that he has Alzheimer’s (Pratchett, not Rob). The warm and twinkling spirit I am accustomed to in Discworld books is a very important part of the writing, and I have been concerned about whether it will be maintained with an intermediary involved. I’m 25 pages in and it’s hard to tell so far. All the major elements seem to be intact but I feel a distance I’m not accustomed to. Is it in the text or in my head? Impossible to tell at this point. I’ll have a better opinion when I’m done. I’ll keep you posted.

This is a fear I feel more justified in having about And Another Thing by whatshisname, the new Hitchhiker’s book. I’ve leafed through several pages in the bookstore and I really don’t feel the vibe in the new guy’s writing. Partly I suppose it’s that I thought Mostly Harmless was an acceptable resolution to the series, and a sixth book seems to me like digging up an intellectual property in repose and forcing it to dance for money. Douglas Adams defined English writing for me for a long time, and probably influenced my own writing more than anyone. I identify so closely with that voice that when I first heard the audiobooks read by Adams himself, which were based on the British text, I was relieved to hear the original version of passages that had bothered me for ages in the American editions. To put a story I felt was finished, by a writer with a hugely distinctive style, into someone else’s hands for a new book, just seems like a doomed experiment. I will, of course, read it eventually, because I like to have my own opinions, even if they’re negative, but I need more time to get used to the idea of the book before I can accept reading it.

On a totally different note, I spoke to someone on Facebook chat tonight that I’ve had trouble emailing for a while, which was a great relief. I really do appreciate Facebook for being a bridge between me and my correspondents. As silly as many of its features are, and as annoyed as I get sometimes with the….oops. Dog throwing up. Be right back.

So anyway, Facebook makes me a more conscientious friend, which I appreciate because I am notorious for losing touch with people once they exit my daily life. Plus, much of the social science research I’ve heard lately suggests that it reinforces the way people maintain connections naturally, so I feel less weird about friending people I know I won’t talk to every day.

3 thoughts on “Widget and the New Discworld

  1. I enjoyed Unseen Academicals immensely, but the distance you speak of was certainly a factor. It was in a sense, MORE of the Pratchett intellectual shine with a bit less of the Pratchett twinkle. It is heartbreaking. But his courage in carrying on inspires. I'm not ready for the Adams book yet myself. It does seem somehow existentially wrong.

  2. I read Unseen Academicals without being aware that he had an assistant work on it. I did not notice any lack of sparkle. I am not excited at all about another “Hitchhiker book though. Meanwile, Marvin

  3. A friend gave me the Eoin Colfer book for Christmas, to help me (as he put it) “rip off the Band-Aid.”

    I'm sorry to say that it was pretty much what I expected – an enthusiastic product of someone who clearly LIKES the Hitchhiker books, but is utterly incapable of reproducing the FEEL of a Hitchhiker book. His interstitial Guide entries are often just painfully tortured excuses for a pun rather than social commentary, and for all the long-winded internal narration, he still manages to miss the essence of the characters.

    I intended to make the review a separate post, but I just can't give it that kind of prominence.

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