Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday extracts. Terry Pratchett on books and libraries

Where to begin with Terry Pratchett? Practically any sentence he wrote could be given as a fantastic example of great writing, amazing humour, wonderful imagination, or just the vast range of knowledge the man has to apply from Roundworld to his creation.  Six-foot dwarves, gargoyles on stake-outs, dragons as pets, an orang-utan librarian, almost everything he writes is a fresh view of a potentially tired topic.

I figured the best thing would be to use part of his view on books, and more particularly, his concept of L-space, the mysterious effect that large collections of books can have on the world around them.

The following extract comes shortly after a discussion of the dangers to be found in the magical library at Unseen University, but demonstrates perfectly how Pratchett's Discworld relates to our own round planet.


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.

Guards! Guards!
First published 1989
Terry Pratchett


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anne .. I could never get into Terry Pratchett - but that was long ago .. perhaps I need to reacquaint myself ..

This description of the Unseen University is great isn't it .. with his equation .. little doors into the human mind.

Thanks - Hilary

MorningAJ said...

I'm always surprised when people say they can't get on with Terry Pratchett. I think a lot depends on exactly which book you start with. For example, I actually began with Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. The premise (the chief angels of hell and heaven have been living on Earth for a while but have been recalled because Armageddon is coming and neither of them wants to give up what they see as a cushy number) grabbed me from the start. It would probably offend anyone who was strictly religious.

I could write loads more about why I love them. Might make a full post out of it actually!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anne .. perhaps you should .. and when I've finished all the blogger books I've got here to read .. I think I'll give him another try ..

Cheers - Hilary

Brian Miller said...

love it...terry pratchett is a wonderful story teller...used to read them all the time...perhaps i need to give them a whirl again...

snafu said...

Just catching up on posts that arrived whilst I was away.
A friend introduced me to his books and I have religiously bought each new one as it was released. His slant on everything is brilliant, a terrible shame he is coming to the end of his career through illness.