When Terry Pratchett passed he decreed that all his unfinished and unpublished work be destroyed, emphatically achieved by symbolically running over his computer’s hard drive with a steamroller! However, if you can’t go forward then go back – and hence we have a collection of twenty recently unearthed short stories from the very beginnings of his writing career, written under pseudonyms, which have been excavated from the archives of the newspapers they originally appeared in during the 1970s and 80s. These are by their nature short pieces, constrained presumably by the word count imposed by the editors, so each story is by neccesity compact and makes its point without prevarication. They are very much the writings of a young author still cutting his teeth and seeking a direction, but they are none the worse for that. There’s nothing of Discworld here of course, although there are a few hints here and there of that epic comic universe that was to come further down the line. Nevertheless, there are some really good humorous stories here that will raise a smile – the discovery of fire by a caveman, defiant evicted ghosts haunting the local council, a clay golem developing intelligence (an early form of AI perhaps!), odd weather patterns appearing in a small market town and a journey back a million years or so to an ancient pub. The best of the stories is also the longest here, The Quest for the Keys, the search for which led to the unexpected bonus of the rediscovery of the earlier tales. There’s also an illuminating postscript as to how this search unfolded in the depths of the British Newspaper Archive, as well as a touching heartfelt introduction by author and friend Neil Gaiman.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Pratchett fans old and new.
One thing you’ve learned
This collection represents the final ‘new’ writing from Sir Terry – if you’re a devotee of his work then this has to be on your reading list.