Mort Q6. Misc

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(In other discussions I've sometimes found I've had something else to say that doesn't fit exactly in any of the other categories. If this is the case here, post below - what else is worthy of discussion about the book)

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    I've been meaning to read a Terry Pratchett book for years and never actually got round to it before ow (so many thanks for choosing this one). I devoured Douglas Adams a while back, so the omission is odd. Anyway, I was thinking how rare it is for authors to be able to carry off in a sustained way this kind of offbeat humour. I can think of Pratchett, Adams, then Jerome K Jerome (Three Men in a Boat in particular), maybe P G Wodehouse (I have never read him but he seems to fit the bill). No doubt others. It made me wonder what there is about these authors that facilitates such writing. Are there particular personality traits that are shared by them?

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    Also in the miscellaneous section, it struck me that the Discworld adopts a view that history has inertia and tends to revert to the inevitable, rather than diverging. So Mort's accidental intervention which in other books might be described as splitting off a new timeline does not result in a world which exponentially diverges from the original, but one where the change is quenched over time. The unaffected part of the universe absorbs the change and then squashes the ripples rather than amplifying them.

    Asimov took a similar view in The End of Eternity - a book I haven't read for years but used to really like, and it's an interesting stance against the butterfly effect position in which the world endlessly branches and diverges.

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Also in the miscellaneous section, it struck me that the Discworld adopts a view that history has inertia and tends to revert to the inevitable, rather than diverging. So Mort's accidental intervention which in other books might be described as splitting off a new timeline does not result in a world which exponentially diverges from the original, but one where the change is quenched over time. The unaffected part of the universe absorbs the change and then squashes the ripples rather than amplifying them.

    Is this based on the "systems" view of history, as opposed to the "great man" view. Pratchett's saying that individual actions can make a difference at the level of individuals, but individuals are generally powerless at the level of systems and countries. Whether it's Mort or the original who is the Duke of Sto Helit makes a big difference to those people, but the overall history is identical: Sto Helit unifies the area and brings peace.

    There's also an assumption of pre-destination. The "history" of Sto Helit has already been written; the world just needs bodies to fill the gaps and make it happen.

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    One thing that did jump out at me was how the wordplay / jokes / clever bits were presented in a very understated way. The author never writes with any pomposity about his clever ideas - it's all delivered with a straight bat, a clear explanation, and moved on from - you don't have to think to understand it, or consider implications, and there's another one on the next page. The whole language of the book I found really well crafted - very tight.

    I read somewhere that Pratchett's writing routine was to try and do 400 words a day. Which isn't very many, relative to what some others have admitted.

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    @BurnAfterRunning said:
    The whole language of the book I found really well crafted - very tight.

    "Deft" is the word that springs to mind. As others have mentioned, I think Pratchett is closer stylistically to Wodehouse than Douglas Adams. Adams can be rather pointedly clever; Pratchett and Wodehouse rarely rub our noses in it.

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