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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Raising Steam and the devolution of Pratchett

At his best, Terry Pratchett was much better than he was ever given credit for. His characters were deeply human, his social commentary could border on the brilliant, and if the humor occasionally fell flat at times, well, that was forgivable. That being said, for the sake of his own reputation, he probably should have ended the Discworld series with Making Money.

Raising Steam, the 40th in the Discworld series, isn't just a predictable spin on the same "new technology comes to Ankh-Morpork" that Pratchett has been increasingly relying upon since Pyramids, it's Message Fiction. Even worse, it's Multicultural Message Fiction, which reveals an author woefully out of touch with the nationalist zeitgeist now sweeping Europe.

It's all very NuLabor and Kumbaya and Surely We Can All Be Friends, which looks hopelessly outdated in George Zimmerman's America, Lee Rigby's Britain, and Vladimir Putin's Russia. And the speechifying, O sweet Rincewind, the speechifying!
His voice low, Rhys spoke. ‘For what purpose am I King? I will tell you. In a world where we formally recognize trolls, humans and, these days, all manner of species, even goblins, unreconstructed elements of dwarfdom persist in their campaign to keep the grags auditing all that is dwarfish.’
He looked sternly at Ardent as he continued, ‘Dwarfs from every area where dwarfs live in sufficient numbers have tried to modernize, but to no avail apart from those in Ankh-Morpork, and the shame of it is that often those determined to keep dwarfkind in the darkness have somehow inculcated their flocks into believing that change of any sort is a blasphemy, no specific blasphemy, just a blasphemy all by itself, spinning through the cosmos as sour as an ocean of vinegar. This cannot be!’
His voice rose and his fist crashed down on the table. ‘I am here to tell you, my friends and, indeed, my smiling enemies, that if we do not band together against the forces that wish to keep us in darkness dwarfkind will be diminished. We need to work together, talk to one another, deal properly with one another and not spend all our time in one enormous grump that the world isn’t entirely ours any more and, at the finish, ruin it for everyone. After all, who would deal with such as us in a world of new choices? In truth, we should act as sapient creatures should! If we don’t move with the future, the future will twist and roll right over us.’
Rhys paused to accommodate the inevitable outburst of Shame! and Not so! and all the other detritus of rotted debate, and then spoke again. ‘Yes, I recognize you, Albrecht Albrechtson. The floor is yours.’
The elderly dwarf, who had once been favourite to win the last election for Low King, said courteously, ‘Your majesty, you know I have no particular liking for the way that the world is going, nor some of your more modern ideas, but I have been shocked to discover that some of the more headstrong grags are still orchestrating attacks on the clacks system.’
The King said, ‘Are they mad?! We made it clear to this council and all dwarfs, after the message we received from Ankh-Morpork about their clacks being attacked, that this stupidity must cease at once. It’s even worse than the Nugganites, who were, to be sensible about this, totally and absolutely bloody insane.’
Albrecht coughed and said, ‘Your majesty, in this instance I find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with you. I am appalled to see things go this far. What are we but creatures of communication and communication accurately communicated is a benison to be cherished by all species everywhere. I never thought I would say this, but the news I am hearing lately, and am expected to delight in, makes me ashamed to call myself a dwarf. We have our differences and it’s right and proper that we should have them, and discourse and compromise are cornerstones in the proper world of politics, but here and now, your majesty, you have my full and unequivocal support. And as for those who stand in our way, I call down a murrain on them. I say, a murrain!’
There are uproars and there are uproars and this uproar stayed up for a very long time.
Eventually Albrecht Albrechtson brought his axe down on to the table, splitting the wood from top to bottom, bringing terrified silence across the gathered dwarfs, and said, ‘I support my King. That is what a King is for. A murrain, I said. A murrain. And a Ginnungagap for those that say different.’
Then, three pages later, Lord Vetinari contemplates those irritating little unthinking people who stand in the way of Progress.
Curious, the Patrician thought, as Drumknott hurried away to dispatch a clacks to the editor of the Times, that people in Ankh-Morpork professed not to like change while at the same time fixating on every new entertainment and diversion that came their way. There was nothing the mob liked better than novelty. Lord Vetinari sighed again. Did they actually think? These days everybody used the clacks, even little old ladies who used it to send him clacks messages complaining about all these new-fangled ideas, totally missing the irony....
There was nothing for it but to follow the wave. New things, new ideas arrived and strutted their stuff and were vilified by some and then lo! that which had been a monster was suddenly totally important to the world. All the time the fanglers and artificers were coming up with even more useful things that hadn’t been foreseen and suddenly became essential. And the pillars of the world remained unshaken.
Pratchett completely fails to see the irony in his presentation of a King and a Dictator as the voices of Inevitable Progress. This scene gives way, on literally the next page, to a dwarf waxing eloquent on how wonderful it is that dwarves and trolls are friends now, and twenty pages later, is followed by a FOURTH repetition of THE SAME VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE.
Bleddyn had cooked a good rat supper and was upset when she saw his face and said, ‘Those damn grags again! Why don’t you tell them to put their nonsense where the light shines too much!’fn26
Bleddyn didn’t usually swear, so that surprised him, and she continued, ‘They had a point once. They said that we were being swallowed up by the humans and the trolls, and you know it’s true, except that it’s the wrong kind of truth. The kids’ve got human friends and one or two trolls as well and nobody notices, nobody thinks about it. Everyone is just people.’
He looked at her face and said, ‘But we’re diminished, less important!’
But Bleddyn was emphatic and said, ‘You silly old dwarf. Don’t you think the trolls consider themselves diminished too? People mingle and mingling is good! You’re a dwarf, with big dwarf hobnail boots and everything else it takes to be a dwarf. And remember, it wasn’t so long ago that dwarfs were very scarce outside of Uberwald. You must know your history? Nobody can take that away, and who knows, maybe some trolls are saying right now, “Oh dear, my little pebbles is being influenced by the dwarfs! It’s a sin!” The Turtle moves for everybody all the time, and those grags schism so often that they consider everyone is a schism out there on their own. Look it up. I’ve cooked you a lovely rat – nice and tender – so why not eat it up and get out into the sunshine? I know it isn’t dwarfish, but it’s good for getting your clothes dried.’
When he laughed she smiled and said, ‘All that’s wrong in the world is that it’s spilling over us as if we’re stones in a stream, and it’ll leave us eventually. Remember your old granddad telling you about going to fight the trolls in Koom Valley, yes? And then you told your son how you went back to Koom Valley and found out the whole damn business was a misunderstanding. And because of all this, our Brynmor won’t even have to fight unless someone is extremely stupid. Say no to the grags. Really, they’re bogeymen. I’ve spoken to all the women round here and they say exactly the same thing. 
It's one tedious lecture after another and the sheer idiocy of the message is remarkable. The idea that war is based on misunderstanding, that people are all the same underneath, and that multiculturalism and multiethnic societies means our children won't have to fight is not only wrong, it is downright backward. It is this very thinking that has guaranteed that the wars of the next generation will be more vicious, more bitter, and more terrible, on a larger scale, than anything Europe has seen since the Thirty Years War.

The nations did not come to exist in a vaccuum. Nations are born from two things, geographic isolation and the hellish cauldron of inter-group exile and extermination. Just as Hutus and Tutsis didn't care that they were both called "Rwandans" when they murdered each other, no one is going to care that they are "British" or "French" or "American" when the debt-inflated pseudo-wealth is gone and the struggle for real resources begins.

Raising Steam isn't a capstone on a distinguished career, it is a badly written caricature that is a tombstone for a dying idea.

Labels: ,

79 Comments:

Blogger Harold Carper February 27, 2014 1:27 PM  

I am here to tell you, my friends and, indeed, my smiling enemies, that if we do not band together against the forces that wish to keep us in darkness dwarfkind will be diminished.

We'd better destroy ourselves before someone beats us to it!

Anonymous Tex February 27, 2014 1:27 PM  

Maybe he was just trying to be funny?

Blogger Unknown February 27, 2014 1:27 PM  

This is for Vox: ❤❤❤ n /// n ❤❤❤

Anonymous Josh February 27, 2014 1:28 PM  

I couldn't make it through any of the sections you quoted.

The only time that sort of speechifying works is something like ATOB where it's actually a speech given by a senator in a senate debate. And when it reads like a historical speech a Roman senator would have given.

Not when it's random characters constantly going around monologuinh.

Anonymous Big Bill February 27, 2014 1:29 PM  

That is so sad. He was getting a bit messagy with his novel about fiat currency. I stopped reading his new stuff after that. He also ran out of new (and interesting) characters. The early books were more like a Midsummer Nights Dream or Dickens: many subplots with a wide variety of distinct and lively characters. The newer stuff is much more linear and single plotted.

Blogger George February 27, 2014 1:43 PM  

Makes me think of Peter Sellers. His second to last movie was the wonderful "Being There". The final move was the dreadful "Dr. Fu Manchu".

Anonymous Daniel February 27, 2014 1:43 PM  

Worst of all? Not a single funny line out of a hundred. That is not a drop off, it is an implosion. Too bad, Going Postal was an insightful laugh riot in spite of some of its mandatory messaging. Even as late as Thud! there were some worthwhile hoots. I'm glad I saw the trajectory and gave up after that one.

Sounds like ever since he started having to die, he stopped living on the page. A decade ago, I would have mistaken him for fantasy's Douglas Adams, but at least Adams didn't live long enough to lose his funny bone.

Blogger slarrow February 27, 2014 1:43 PM  

That doesn't even sound like Pratchett. I wonder if his particular brand of Alzheimer's and the physical limitations it's produced have meant that his work is getting "interpreted" by his assistant.

Anonymous VD February 27, 2014 1:48 PM  

I wonder if his particular brand of Alzheimer's and the physical limitations it's produced have meant that his work is getting "interpreted" by his assistant.

The same thought crossed my mind. I have no doubt there are plans to "continue" Discworld after he is gone.

Anonymous ZhukovG February 27, 2014 1:50 PM  

That crap doesn't even sound like Pratchett's writing style. Maybe his dementia is more advanced than I thought.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey February 27, 2014 1:51 PM  

Sounds awful. Multiculti tripe for the masses.

and that multiculturalism and multiethnic societies means our children won't have to fight is not only wrong, it is downright backward.

I think multiculturalism and multiracialism are also symptoms of fear, of cowardice.

Blogger slarrow February 27, 2014 1:51 PM  

Just noticed in the Wikipedia entry on Discworld (yes, I know, but I was startled by the observation that this was the 40th one) that Pratchett has stated that he'd be willing for his daughter Rhianna to write the world after his death. Maybe she's getting a head start?

Anonymous Krul February 27, 2014 1:52 PM  

... and then Greenbread the Klag of Smoldoon stood before the Council of Unterwelt. His voice rose to a righteous thunder as he slammed his frying pan on the table, "War! Good God, yaul! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"
"Why can't we all just get along?" Pleaded his erstwhile enemy, Heelfaceturn the Reactionary, "Trolls is just the same as us, you know, 'cept for all the things that is different. 'tis for the children, 'tisn't it? I say glublegone and blastenog! And flogmog on the smogles that migged the miggmog!"

Anonymous Helmet February 27, 2014 1:53 PM  

I had the same thoughts while reading Thud! I finished the book. But, just knew I wouldn't be reading any more of his newer work . Then I saw this release and was tempted. I thoroughly enjoyed the other Lipwig books. This review saves me some time.

Blogger Breckmac February 27, 2014 1:59 PM  

A. Pratchett has always been a devotee of Karl Popper

B. Someone has been ghost-writing the last four-five books. The man has Alzheimers. It's obviously a different voice with the same occasional riffs.

Anonymous Concerned Rabbit Hunter February 27, 2014 2:01 PM  

"It is this very thinking that has guaranteed that the wars of the next generation will be more vicious, more bitter, and more terrible, on a larger scale, than anything Europe has seen since the Thirty Years War."

It is almost as if that is the desired effect.

Anonymous Don February 27, 2014 2:10 PM  

Prachett has Alzheimers? That is terrible. I hope God is as kind to him as he can be. It is an awful thing to have.

Anonymous RedJack February 27, 2014 2:12 PM  

Did have it on preorder for the Kindle, and honestly forgot about it. Thanks for the post. I went through the reviews, and decided to cancel the order.

Anonymous trev006 February 27, 2014 2:16 PM  

Jingo was a paean to an Arabian civilization that had been dead for centuries, Monstrous Regiment was a literally monstrous mess, The Truth was the lionizing of a decrepit media, and that's without getting into the Witches series- which remains the only Discworld perspective I've never even been tempted to pick up. Pratchett's always been sympathetic to the consensus, lads, and no matter how well he turns a phrase that's never actually changed. You can't put it all on his assistant, though I'm certain Discworld is far too valuable a property to be abandoned.

The grags and Albrecht falling in line behind a king that spits on everything dwarfs stand for? Hah, how's that principle working out for Muslims in Afghanistan? How's it working out in Britain itself? And from Albrecht, who apparently forgot that dwarfs are creatures of tradition and law, instead of creatures of communication (laff, laff, laff). It's only a mild balm to know that Albrecht's splitting of a table is a pale shadow of Vimes- the Commander who would have split ALBRECHT open for a line like "that's what a king is for."

The worst part? I thought after Making Money that we were going to see Raising Taxes, a Sisyphean task where von Lipwig would make taxes cool. I was ready to take notes about how he'd pull it off. But no, Technology Advances and Racism Is Bad. Ugh. As a brown person, I pass.

Anonymous the abe February 27, 2014 2:42 PM  

I've seen his "assistant" in a documentary on Pratchett's Alzheimer's diagnosis and in person at a Q&A Pratchett gave here last year. The guy definitely gives off the "Wormtongue" vibe. I doubt he'd be solely to blame in any creative tailspin Pratchett may have succumbed too, but I certainly imagine he's help to accelerate it.

I've never read Pratchett, but it's a shame to hear he's slurping down the secular humanism flavored kool-aid and regurgitating it in his books. He had a great retort to a young lady that asked an idiotic question about rather or not he struggled to write female characters when he replied.

"No, actually. My mother was a woman. My wife and daughter are women."

Anonymous Matt Wennerlund February 27, 2014 2:53 PM  

I've read all of his books through Snuff, but when I read Snuff, if felt like it was written by a different writer completely. Character names are the same, but the thoughts and speech and actions of the characters are completely different than all of the previous books. The amount of conversation, the relationships between certain characters, any number of things like that changed heavily. I wondered if this was written solely by his daughter. I am hesitant to read Raising Steam if it is going to be written like Snuff.

Anonymous VD February 27, 2014 2:54 PM  

I am hesitant to read Raising Steam if it is going to be written like Snuff.

It is written like Snuff. Only even worse.

Anonymous Tim February 27, 2014 2:57 PM  

Haven't read Raising Steam yet (for some reason the US publishing is months after the UK pub, which used not to be the case with Pterry), but the last book, Snuff, was terrible.

Not so much for the "message fiction" part which Vox correctly decries here, but simply because it was terribly written. You can tell that his editors don't want to be mean to the dying man, but they are helping produce a vastly inferior project. In terms of technical ability it reads like bad fanfiction of Ankh Morpork

Anonymous daa February 27, 2014 2:59 PM  

Does anyone watch Survivor here?

Last night was the opening episode of the new season, where the humans are sorted into three tribes: Brawn, Beauty, and Brains.

The Brains group had 3 white males, 2 black females, and 1 white female.

When they first got to camp, one of the black females announced she was a nuclear engineer and said she had a plan for the shelter. She then ordered everyone else around and her "structure" couldn't even hold the weight of one woman.

Then in a challenge where they unlock puzzle pieces and swim them to shore, she was the member of the tribe responsible for putting the puzzle together. Despite being the first to shore by several minutes, she lost.

Despite her failures, in two tribal councils her tribe voted off two white males: The first was the president of the Miami Marlins, and the second was a professional poker player who was also the most athletic, by far.

DIVERSITY!!!!

Anonymous Noah B. February 27, 2014 3:07 PM  

I, for one, am shocked to discover that Survivor or any other network program is a means of delivery for progressive propaganda.

Anonymous Spoos in August February 27, 2014 3:18 PM  

I'd started reading Snuff, but had to put it down within about 50 pages or so. It's quite sad how the writing has deteriorated, and the characters don't seem quite the same. I genuinely enjoyed Pratchett; even when Men-At-Arms played the gun-as-murder-talisman trope straight, it was still funny. I think this drives home the point Vox made a while back that, while artful prose can hide the underlying, unappealing vacuity of lib-prog message fiction, when you strip the well-turned phrases away, there's not much there.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2014 3:22 PM  

Jingo was the first one of the series that I couldn't finish, though I went on to enjoy several of the books after it. It just came on so strong with the anti-nationalism anvils, without even trying to disguise it as much as usual, starting right there in the title. Small Gods came on pretty strong with his anti-religion views, but it was funnier, so it gets away with it better.

Anonymous Jimmy February 27, 2014 3:24 PM  

Multiculturism may suggest one side will let their guard down. Then it is more likely that there will be war with better matched opponents, which will cause the war to be more vicious. Correct?

I can't relate for this call for modernity in the story. Why would dwarfs want to be something they are not? It is insulting. An allegory for Christians?

Anonymous Porky February 27, 2014 3:33 PM  

...dwarfkind will be diminished.

Lol!



Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2014 3:41 PM  

that's without getting into the Witches series- which remains the only Discworld perspective I've never even been tempted to pick up.

The first couple are really pretty good. There's some obligatory go-girl stuff, of course, but the hero and best character is Granny Weatherwax, who's a total reactionary. She doesn't even think women should be allowed to wear pants.

I agree, those selections above don't sound like Discworld at all, aside from the unfunny preaching. The sentences are too long, the word selection seems different; I never would have guessed it came from the series.

Blogger tweell February 27, 2014 3:52 PM  

I'd have to agree that Snuff didn't read like Pratchett. It read like someone wrote it with occasional input from him. That's the attitude I had when I looked over the last few Andre Norton and then Anne McCaffrey books - someone else wrote them.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian February 27, 2014 4:00 PM  

Someone somewhere actually reads that shite?

Blogger K February 27, 2014 4:02 PM  

Pratchett has been dancing around multiculti for a long time now. Witch's abroad was comfortably anti-ism but after that the books seemed to be aimed at female social workers and featured bows to affirmative action and anti-war messaging with a little free market bashing on the side.

=Speciism.

Anonymous jack February 27, 2014 4:06 PM  

George February 27, 2014 1:43 PM

Makes me think of Peter Sellers. His second to last movie was the wonderful "Being There". The final move was the dreadful "Dr. Fu Manchu".

Say it again! I had exactly the same thought after his death. Being There was wonderful and brilliant. So ashamed he did that last thing.
Sellers at his best: Strangelove and Being There. IMO.

Anonymous Dr. Doom February 27, 2014 4:12 PM  

You must realize that writers don't ACTUALLY WRITE books anymore. Tom Clancy wrote the One Novel-Hunt for Red October, and then sold the right to use his name on a dozen ghostwritten books by the usual hacks from the saltmines of sad publishing house DREK.
Most writers are merely BRAND NAMES now, and tedious, tiresome wordpeckers make the books that dead tree pulp groans under. Hardly any REAL AUTHORS exist anymore, and even then they share the byline with the wordpecker that typed out the DREK from some idea they had, but never bothered with.
Many FOUND Novels of Dead Writers are merely unfinished manuscripts and outlines found in the effects of the Departed Writers dredged up by the Vultures of Vulgar Modern Brain-Vomit and written poorly by wordpeckers by the word or the line.
Fortunately this and the next generation are Functionally Illiterate so the damage these poorly written manuscripts might have done will be minimized at least until this unpleasant Dark Enlightenment Period is OVER...

Anonymous DrTorch February 27, 2014 4:15 PM  

Speaking of French and British, did this get discussed some time back and I missed/forgot it?

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18234930

Blogger RobertT February 27, 2014 4:19 PM  

" ... it is a badly written caricature that is a tombstone for a dying idea. "

Good. It's becoming tiresome. When will Congress get wind of this?

Anonymous pseudo-nate February 27, 2014 4:19 PM  

Can the gov go ahead and speed along his assisted suicide petition. ...

Anonymous dh February 27, 2014 4:40 PM  

Tom Clancy wrote the One Novel-Hunt for Red October, and then sold the right to use his name on a dozen ghostwritten books by the usual hacks from the saltmines of sad publishing house DREK.

I don't think this is 100% true. He wrote all the original Jack Ryan books, I think. Then all the other stuff was ghostwritten but sort of co-branded. Didn't some of them get published under both authors names?

Blogger JartStar February 27, 2014 5:06 PM  

dh,

I believe you are correct. Clancy most likely wrote all of his earlier novels, but Tom Clancy's Op-Center, Power Plays, and Net Force was openly co-written. His non-fiction books were co-written as well. As he got older I wouldn't be surprised if he had help with some of his later, large novels. I would guess that between 84-94 he did most if not all of his own work.

Dr. Doom.

For all of your cynicism about writers I assure you that there are real writers out there, who write their own work, and make money doing it. I have personally communicated with some of them and had the privilege to evaluate drafts.

Blogger slarrow February 27, 2014 5:08 PM  

I haven't read Raising Steam yet, but I think already that I prefer the approach in Carpe Jugulum that points out that one shouldn't be fooled by trivial civility and overlook the true nature of a group. In one of the climactic scenes, Granny Weatherwax says something like, "don't invite the cannibal to dinner just because he uses a knife and fork." She also mentions that vampires are useful because they remind us "what stakes and garlic are for." Seems to me there's far more truth in that mindset than the pablum Vox cites.

Shame, really--although he gets classified as parody, Pratchett had some really useful satirical insights that gored oxes in all directions. Perhaps some of the insights from reviews are correct--he's trying to tie things up with a nice wish-it-were bow before he seeks death as he's stated he plans to. Brilliant guy, but at the end, emptiness.

Anonymous Salt February 27, 2014 5:22 PM  

Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" was cowritten by Larry Bond. That was back in '84 or '85 I think.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2014 5:38 PM  

Shame, really--although he gets classified as parody, Pratchett had some really useful satirical insights that gored oxes in all directions.

Yep. Douglas Adams was the same way. I have no problem seeing my sacred cows gored, if it's done with wit. But as we discussed in that other thread about humorless liberals, they're funnier when they're taking shots in all directions, including at their own side. When a particular message becomes more important than the humor, it doesn't work anymore.

Anonymous Androsynth February 27, 2014 5:44 PM  

So, wait - You're saying Lodi -won't- be giving these speeches about the trolls and orcs in the next AoDaL novel?

Blogger JartStar February 27, 2014 5:53 PM  

I'm sure Lodi gives a rather eloquent speech by Dwarf standards about trolls and orcs in regards to how deep his axe will travel into their thick skulls.

Anonymous VD February 27, 2014 6:14 PM  

So, wait - You're saying Lodi -won't- be giving these speeches about the trolls and orcs in the next AoDaL novel?

Don't tempt me....

Anonymous pseudotsuga February 27, 2014 6:16 PM  

I'm sorry to have read those passages. They certainly don't read at all like the Pratchett Satirist which was my main draw to the books. Now it's Pratchett the Preacher, and the corrective nature of satire (as the ancient Greeks classified it) is replaced with thinly disguised allegory. The Discworld slides over the edge at last, apparently...

Blogger Duke of Earl February 27, 2014 6:21 PM  

Sounds like Pratchett has Terry Goodkind disease.

That's the condition where your characters stand around making barely coherant speeches at each other in between breaking little girl's jaws and ripping out spines with their bare hands.

Anonymous Red Comet February 27, 2014 6:29 PM  

Better bail out now if Prachett's daughter is taking over his work. She wrote the most recent Tomb Raider game, which was all about a strong independent 90 lbs girl single-handedly killing an island full of kill crazed large male cultists/pirates.

Blogger Cataline Sergius February 27, 2014 6:36 PM  

I'd thought it was a little strange for a man with Alzheimer's to get the ten book deal he did back in September. Publishers aren't that sentimental. I also remember thinking the details of the deal were a little odd as well.

Anonymous Feh February 27, 2014 6:41 PM  

Tom Clancy's Op-Center, Power Plays, and Net Force was openly co-written.

They were openly shitty, too.

The books that he actually wrote got progressively worse as he suffered from the "I love my protagonist way too much" disease.

Blogger Duke of Earl February 27, 2014 7:35 PM  

For the record, what I described is far less awesome than it sounds.

Anonymous Pseudo-Nate February 27, 2014 7:46 PM  

Yea feh.. I believe he wrote Hunt, Clear and Present, Debt of Honor and executive decision then after that got a case of the fuck its and was OK co writing or just adding his name. Roughly the time they finally stopped making Jack the lead Mary Sue I think he'd taken his hands totally off the wheel. I loved Feast, but he fell into the same thing with Pugas a xcharacter. It got to where I was actively rooting for him to die after a while.

Anonymous ChicagoRefugee February 27, 2014 8:04 PM  

Pratchett is my all time favorite author but the last book of his I got the whole way through was, I believe, Unseen Academicals. When Snuff came out I bought it ... and put it down for good after a chapter or two.

Sad, but obviously his Alzheimer's has had an effect. As far as I'm concerned, Discworld ends with Unseen Academicals - and even that was far too pc preachy and was far from being one of his best.

Anonymous Anonymous February 27, 2014 8:15 PM  

Tom Clancy's Op-Center, Power Plays, and Net Force was openly co-written.

They were openly shitty, too.


I'm trying to remember a book that was openly co-written that I liked, and I'm drawing a blank. (I haven't read Vox's new ones yet.) Not that I have any way to know, not being an author myself, but it always seemed like writing a book with another person would be very hard to do well.

The Eddingses said after the fact that the Belgariad (and all his books, I guess) were co-written, but there was still a drop-off in quality when they started putting that on the covers for the prequels.

Anonymous ChicagoRefugee February 27, 2014 8:20 PM  

Openly co-written? I'm rather fond of Good Omens.

Alas, poor Pratchett. I read him well ....

Anonymous zen0 February 27, 2014 8:43 PM  

Dying with dignity becomes very problematic when there is money on the table.

Blogger James Dixon February 27, 2014 8:50 PM  

I'm trying to remember a book that was openly co-written that I liked,

"The Mote in God''s Eye".

Blogger JartStar February 27, 2014 8:59 PM  

I'm trying to remember a book that was openly co-written that I liked, and I'm drawing a blank. (I haven't read Vox's new ones yet.)

For fantasy The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman is great. They are young adult fantasy but arguably the finest in that genre.

I think QM: A Man Disrupted is Vox's most entertaining work to date. He and Steve make a good team.

Blogger John Cunningham February 27, 2014 9:06 PM  

Pournelle and Niven have co-written some great SF works. also, Red Storm Rising by Clancy is superior, I think.

Anonymous TimP February 27, 2014 10:34 PM  

On co-written novels Dead Six by Correia and Kupari isn't bad; though the forum thread is still better: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-207390.html&s=857e2bdd0b3cddd057e6669c7ae33ed2&

Also I second the vote for Pournelle and Niven's The Mote in God's Eye.

On Weis & Hickman: I've read one of their novels and thought it was decent, and started another, and the fact that I only _started_ should tell you what I thought of it.

Anonymous The other skeptic February 27, 2014 10:52 PM  

But then the SEC is all above board

Anonymous Harsh February 27, 2014 11:21 PM  

I'm trying to remember a book that was openly co-written that I liked,

"The Mote in God''s Eye".


You beat me to it.

Anonymous RP February 28, 2014 12:29 AM  

Pratchett has written some failures before - Jingo and Lost Continent were bad, and Monstrous Regiment was such a steaming pile of sh*t I am sure it was ghostwritten, but they were one-offs, and normal service resumed thereafter. However, from Going Postal onwards, each novel has been worse than the last. I don't know whether it's the Alzheimers - In the non SF realm I have noticed the same progressive deterioration in the novels of Clive Hiaasen and Nick Hornby and stopped reading them for the same reason - but it's still time for him to hang up his typewriter.

Anonymous Androsynth February 28, 2014 1:11 AM  

I'm trying to remember a book that was openly co-written that I liked, and I'm drawing a blank.

I was fond of David Drake and SM Stirling's The General/Raj Whitehall series.

Anonymous CX February 28, 2014 2:00 AM  

I had forgotten all about Lee Rigby...

A refresher image search caused burning red tears of rage to well up in my eyes.

Anonymous A. Nonymous February 28, 2014 2:17 AM  

The first (and only) Pratchet book I attempted was The Monstrous Regiment. Didn't even bother to read through the damn thing before swearing "never again"...

Anonymous kfg February 28, 2014 2:28 AM  

" . . . a strong independent 90 lbs girl single-handedly killing an island full of kill crazed large male cultists/pirates."

I'm afraid it's going to be rather messy for girls raised on this shit when the real war hits. I expect we'll loose a lot of them in a hurry.

Anonymous Nathan February 28, 2014 2:55 AM  

Let the series end. Discworld's had a hell of a run. Don't let it linger, regardless of who the next writer might be. (Although the cheers from the warren regarding his daughter concern me.) Not every writer's kid out there is a Jeff Shaara.

Blogger Markku February 28, 2014 8:35 AM  

So, Discworld is Metallica.

Anonymous Dr. Doom February 28, 2014 11:52 AM  

Co-writer is a misnomer. Actually the co-writer IS THE WRITER that takes an idea or theme from the more popular writer and actually writes the book, which is fairly legitimate. However, does it seem possible for someone like Stephen King to write over a dozen novels a year? Seriously?

Anonymous Feh February 28, 2014 1:03 PM  

Pournelle and Niven have co-written some great SF works.

Well, it is a world of difference between

1. two excellent, well-known authors teaming up

versus

2. Big name author brought in to sell the book plus no-name author brought in to do the work

The latter results in all the dreck that Clancy plus various no-names have produced.

Anonymous Anonymous February 28, 2014 1:34 PM  

I think I got burned by some Piers Anthony-plus-no-name books back in the day, and started avoiding all books with two names on the cover. I'll have to check out those recommended ones.

Anonymous will February 28, 2014 2:27 PM  

What about when two no-names collaborate on something?

Blogger GK Chesterton February 28, 2014 2:45 PM  

So Cail I'm going to object to "Small Gods" being atheist. It is much more disillusioned. Pratchet is noted as having said, "I'm angry at God not existing". He was an atheist who really wanted God but didn't feel that there was a case for him. The argument can be made that given his cultural background he was "invincibly ignorant". I found "Small Gods" charming and useful as a sort of meditative piece. The world minus believing is really crappy. The philosophers in the book aren't happy people and live in fear that they are wrong. It is one of his least funny books true, but I found it well worth reading.

My guess is he is being more than partially ghosted and has been for sometime. His plots are usually fairly complicated especially for comedy and not being able to remember new things is going to make that excruciatingly hard. Vox is being a little pointed with a man whose mind is dying.

Blogger CarpeOro February 28, 2014 3:03 PM  

"Does anyone watch Survivor here?"

The issue is more the high Asperger's levels there. For all their intelligence and it being for however many seasons, most of the "brains" people that are on the show season after season miss out on the fact that the most important part of the game is frankly, Game. Social interaction is at the heart of it. Skills, brains, and brawn get you so far, but no one can win the game going up against everyone all the time.

Regarding Terry, I read one of the Discworld books a few years ago (may have been Jingo). Thought it was mildly amusing didn't bother looking for more. Interestingly enough, he is credited as a creator of a highly regarded companion mod for Oblivion. Makes me wonder if he created it, someone else, or a collaboration.

Anonymous jack February 28, 2014 7:58 PM  

@ JartStar

I'm about 7 chapters into the revamp titled The Programmed Mind. This I think you would like. Technically it was Vox and Sutton, with, if I'm correct Vox modernized Sutton's The Programmed Man. If this is what we can expect I hope Vox will 'modernize' some more of Sutton's works.

Blogger Markku March 01, 2014 11:51 PM  

This I think you would like.

Check out the credits page of the book...

Blogger Vree May 06, 2014 7:31 PM  

@RP: I wish people would stop calling out their PERSONAL non-faves as sh*t and try to pretend it's an argument. Newsflash, a lot of people thought Jingo and Last Continent were quite good, and I PERSONALLY know at least hard three PT fans who say that Going Postal was their favorite book of the whole series.

The real point is that none of them had the sort of editorial and basic writing issues that Snuff (and now Raising Steam, I assume) did. Characters saying out loud what they should be thinking, instead; side characters agreeing with the main characters all the time without apparent effort from the former; too much text about minute details; all kinds of elementary issues unlike such an experienced author. Pratchett may need to stop (regrettably) not because a bunch of guys don't personally fancy one or two of his plots; but because his mind can no longer keep up with the task of conveying his thoughts coherently and convincingly. I am pained while saying this and wish I could turn back the clock, because he was/is my favorite author; but at this rate, every subsequent book is likely to feel more OOC than the last.
I wouldn't be against a co-author, who writes the prose with Terry's input, mind. DW is too good to go out quietly. A mere assistant clearly does not cut it, though.

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