The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld [NOOK Book]

Overview

For more than two decades, Terry Pratchett has been regaling readers with tales of Discworld—a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants, which are standing on the back of a giant turtle, flying through space. It is a world populated by ineffectual wizards and sharp-as-tacks witches, by tired policemen and devious dictators, by reformed thieves and vampires who have sworn to drink no blood. It is a world that is vastly different from our own . . . except when it isn't.

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The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld

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Overview

For more than two decades, Terry Pratchett has been regaling readers with tales of Discworld—a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants, which are standing on the back of a giant turtle, flying through space. It is a world populated by ineffectual wizards and sharp-as-tacks witches, by tired policemen and devious dictators, by reformed thieves and vampires who have sworn to drink no blood. It is a world that is vastly different from our own . . . except when it isn't.

Now, in The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, various nuggets of Pratchett's witty commentary and sagacious observations have been compiled by Pratchett expert Stephen Briggs, a man who, they say, knows even more about Discworld than Terry Pratchett.

Within these pages, you'll find musings on:

  • Interior decorating: "It's a fact known throughout the universes that no matter how carefully the colors are chosen, institutional decor ends up as either vomit green, unmentionable brown, nicotine yellow, or surgical appliance pink. By some little-understood process of sympathetic resonance, corridors painted in those colors always smell slightly of boiled cabbage—even if no cabbage is ever cooked in the vicinity." (Equal Rites)
  • Travel: "Any seasoned traveler soon learns to avoid anything wished on them as a 'regional speciality,' because all the term means is that the dish is so unpleasant the people living everywhere else will bite off their own legs rather than eat it. But hosts still press it upon distant guests anyway: 'Go on, have the dog's head stuffed with macerated cabbage and pork noses—it's a regional speciality.'" (The Last Continent)
  • Young men: "And then there was the young male walk. At least women swung only their hips. Young men swung everything, from the shoulders down. You have to try to occupy a lot of space. It makes you look bigger, like a tomcat fluffing his tail. The boys tried to walk big in self-defense against all those other big boys out there. I'm bad, I'm fierce, I'm cool, I'd like a pint of shandy and me mam wants me home by nine." (Monstrous Regiment)
  • Class: "'Old money' meant that it had been made so long ago that the black deeds that had originally filled the coffers were now historically irrelevant. Funny, that; a brigand for a father was something you kept quiet about, but a slave-taking pirate for a great-great-great-grandfather was something to boast of over the port. Time turned the evil bastards into rogues, and rogue was a word with a twinkle in its eye and nothing to be ashamed of." (Making Money)

. . . and more! Culled from all the Discworld novels, The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld confirms Pratchett's place in the pantheon of great satirists and proves why the Chicago Tribune has praised his Discworld as "entertaining and gloriously funny . . . an accomplishment nothing short of magical."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062193995
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Series: Discworld Series
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 370,055
  • File size: 775 KB

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is one of the world's most popular authors. His acclaimed novels are bestsellers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Pratchett a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry lives in England.

Biography

Welcome to a magical world populated by the usual fantasy fare: elves and ogres, wizards and witches, dwarves and trolls. But wait—is that witch wielding a frying pan rather than a broomstick? Has that wizard just clumsily tumbled off the edge of the world? And what is with the dwarf they call Carrot, who just so happens to stand six-foot six-inches tall? Why, this is not the usual fantasy fare at all—this is Terry Pratchett's delightfully twisted Discworld!

Beloved British writer Pratchett first jump-started his career while working as a journalist for Bucks Free Press during the '60s. As luck would have it, one of his assignments was an interview with Peter Bander van Duren, a representative of a small press called Colin Smythe Limited. Pratchett took advantage of his meeting with Bander van Duren to pitch a weird story about a battle set in the pile of a frayed carpet. Bander van Duren bit, and in 1971 Pratchett's very first novel, The Carpet People, was published, setting the tone for a career characterized by wacky flights of fancy and sly humor.

Pratchett's take on fantasy fiction is quite unlike that of anyone else working in the genre. The kinds of sword-and-dragon tales popularized by fellow Brits like J.R.R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis have traditionally been characterized by their extreme self-seriousness. However, Pratchett has retooled Middle Earth and Narnia with gleeful goofiness, using his Discworld as a means to poke fun at fantasy. As Pratchett explained to Locus Magazine, "Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it."

In 1983, Pratchett unveiled Discworld with The Color of Magic. Since then, he has added installments to the absurdly hilarious saga at the average rate of one book per year. Influenced by moderately current affairs, he has often used the series to subtly satirize aspects of the real world; the results have inspired critics to rapturous praise. ("The most breathtaking display of comic invention since PG Wodehouse," raved The Times of London.) He occasionally ventures outside the series with standalone novels like the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a sci fi adventure sequence for young readers, or Good Omens, his bestselling collaboration with graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Sadly, in 2008 fans received the devastating news that Pratchett had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. He has described his own reaction as "fairly philosophical" and says he plans to continue writing so long as he is able.

Good To Know

Pratchett's bestselling young adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind was adapted for the British stage as a critically acclaimed musical in 2004.

Discworld is not just the subject of a bestselling series of novels. It has also inspired a series of computer games in which players play the role of the hapless wizard Rincewind.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Pratchett:

"I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat…colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up."

"The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

"I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener and it's in the blood. Grew really good chilies this year.

"I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not ‘celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Terence David John Pratchett
    2. Hometown:
      Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 28, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

THE COLOUR OF MAGIC

ON a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard [Rincewind], a naive tourist [Twoflower] whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course The Edge of the planet . . .

How it all began:

In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part . . .

*

There was the theory that A’Tuin had come from nowhere and would continue at a uniform crawl, or steady gait, into nowhere, for all time. This theory was popular among academics.

An alternative, favoured by those of a religious persuasion, was that A’Tuin was crawling from the Birthplace to the Time of Mating, as were all the stars in the sky which were, obviously, also carried by giant turtles. When they arrived they would briefly and passionately mate, for the first and only time, and from that fiery union new turtles would be born to carry a new pattern of worlds. This was known as the Big Bang hypothesis.

*

The twin city of Ankh-Morpork, foremost of all the cities bounding the Circle Sea, was as a matter of course the home of a large number of gangs, thieves’ guilds, syndicates and similar organizations. This was one of the reasons for its wealth.

*

The stranger smiled widely and fumbled yet again in the pouch. This time his hand came out holding a large gold coin. It was in fact slightly larger than an 8,000-dollar Ankhian crown and the design on it was unfamiliar, but it spoke inside Hugh’s mind in a language he understood perfectly. My current owner, it said, is in need of succour and assistance; why not give it to him, so you and me can go off somewhere and enjoy ourselves?

*

If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards’.

Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant ‘idiot’.

At about this time a hitherto unsuccessful fortune-teller living on the other side of the block chanced to glance into her scrying bowl, gave a small scream and, within the hour, had sold her jewellery, various magical accoutrements, most of her clothes and almost all her other possessions that could not be conveniently carried on the fastest horse she could buy. The fact that later on, when her house collapsed in flames, she herself died in a freak landslide in the Morpork Mountains, proves that Death, too, has a sense of humour.

*

The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork smiled, but with his mouth only.

*

‘I’m sure you won’t dream of trying to escape from your obligations by fleeing the city . . .’

‘I assure you the thought never even crossed my mind, lord.’

‘Indeed? Then if I were you I’d sue my face for slander.’

*

‘Ah, Gorphal,’ said the Patrician pleasantly. ‘Come in. Sit down. Can I press you to a candied starfish?’

‘I am yours to command, master,’ said the old man calmly. ‘Save, perhaps, in the matter of preserved echinoderms.’

*

There are said to be some mystic rivers – one drop of which can steal a man’s life away. After its turbid passage through the twin cities the Ankh could have been one of them.

*

That’s what’s so stupid about the whole magic thing . . . You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you’re so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half-blind from reading old grimoires that you can’t remember what happens next.

*

Death, on Discworld, is a character in his own right, and throughout the series is recognizable by always speaking IN BLOCK CAPITALS.

Death, insofar as it was possible in a face with no movable features, looked surprised. RINCEWIND? . . .WHY ARE YOU HERE?

‘Um, why not?’ said Rincewind.

I WAS SURPRISED THAT YOU JOSTLED ME, RINCEWIND. FOR I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THEE THIS VERY NIGHT.

‘Oh no, not—’

OF COURSE, WHAT’S SO BLOODY VEXING ABOUT THE WHOLE BUSINESS IS THAT I WAS EXPECTING TO MEET THEE IN PSEUDOPOLIS.

‘But that’s five hundred miles away!’

YOU DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME, THE WHOLE SYSTEM’S GOT SCREWED UP AGAIN. I CAN SEE THAT.

*

I’LL GET YOU YET, CULLY, said Death, in a voice like the slamming of leaden coffin lids.

*

Death sat in His garden, running a whetstone along the edge of His scythe. It was already so sharp that any passing breeze that blew across it was sliced smoothly into two puzzled zephyrs.

*

‘Run away and leave Hrun with that thing?’ Twoflower said.

Rincewind looked blank. ‘Why not?’ he said. ‘It’s his job.’

‘But it’ll kill him!’

‘It could be worse,’ said Rincewind.

‘What?’

‘It could be us,’ Rincewind pointed out logically.

*

‘We’ve strayed into a zone with a high magical index,’ Rincewind said. ‘Don’t ask me how. Once upon a time a really powerful magic field must have been generated here, and we’re feeling the after-effects.’

‘Precisely,’ said a passing bush.

*

‘You don’t understand!’ screamed the tourist, above the terrible noise of the wingbeats. ‘All my life I’ve wanted to see dragons!’

‘From the inside?’ shouted Rincewind.

*

‘You’re your own worst enemy, Rincewind,’ said the sword.

Rincewind looked up at grinning men.

‘Bet?’ he said wearily.

*

‘Well,’ said the voice. ‘You see, one of the disadvantages of being dead is that one is released as it were from the bonds of time and therefore I can see everything that has happened or will happen, all at the same time except that of course I now know that Time does not, for all practical purposes, exist.’

‘That doesn’t sound like a disadvantage,’ said Twoflower.

‘You don’t think so? Imagine every moment being at one and the same time a distant memory and a nasty surprise and you’ll see what I mean.’

I’d rather be a slave than a corpse.

Plants on the Disc, while including the categories known commonly as annuals, . . . and perennials, . . . also included a few rare reannuals which, because of an unusual four-dimensional twist in their genes, could be planted this year to come up last year. The vul nut vine was particularly exceptional in that it could flourish as many as eight years prior to its seed actually being sown. Vul nut wine was reputed to give certain drinkers an insight into the future which was, from the nut’s point of view, the past. Strange but true.

*

‘We know all about you, Rincewind the magician. You are a man of great cunning and artifice. You laugh in the face of Death. Your affected air of craven cowardice does not fool me.’ It fooled Rincewind.

*

‘What is your name?’ he said.

‘My name is immaterial,’ she said.

‘That’s a pretty name,’ said Rincewind.

*

‘I hope you’re not proposing to enslave us,’ said Twoflower.

Marchesa looked genuinely shocked. ‘Certainly not! Whatever could have given you that idea? Your lives in Krull will be rich, full and comfortable—’

‘Oh, good,’ said Rincewind.

‘—just not very long.’

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