back to article Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller

A hard drive containing the unfinished books of Terry Pratchett has been destroyed by a steamroller, in fulfilment of the late author's last wishes. The works were crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co steamroller at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, ahead of the opening of a new exhibition about the author’s life and work. It is …

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  1. The_H

    The man goes up more in my estimation every day.

    1. Rafael #872397
      Pint

      I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

      ... but never had the chance to read his work*. Is there a suggested reading order?

      *Before any of you scream "Burn the heathen!!!1!": I am not a native speaker, and the selection of translated fiction books available when I was young was meager. Now I can read those in English, and my teen kids already enjoy books from Gaiman, we would like to see what we've missed all those years.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        With Discworld, I would recommend starting with Mort, which is where he starts to hit his stride. Other than that, publication is order is good.

        Also, we won't burn you, we'll just hand you over to Vorbis and the Quisition.

        1. Amblyopius

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          Google the L-space and you will find the Discworld Reading Order guide. There are multiple story lines and you are advised to read them in order within the story lines but can pick which one you want to do first. There will be a bit of overlap but that's fine.

        2. cream wobbly

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          Agreed. Mort is where to start. The first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, make better sense after you've read three or four subsequent ones.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        I'd suggest starting with Guards! Guards! The earliest books tend too much towards pastiche which might not make much sense if you don't understand the references.

      3. Simon Ward

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        This is one of the better charts I've seen ...

        Opinions will vary wildly depending on who you ask, but I'd start with either the 'Witches' or 'Watch' stories and then return to the early stuff (TCoM, LF) when you've got a few under your belt.

        If you only read *one*, make it 'Mort' - not only is it hilariously funny, but I think it's when PTerry really hit his stride. "Pyramids" is still one of my personal favourites, though.

        EDIT: Don't be put off by the Tiffany Aching books being branded as 'young adult', either - they're very good novels in their own right.

      4. Scotthva5

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Most of the Discworld novels are standalone and can be read in any order, however it is *suggested* by the author to read from the beginning (The Colour of Magic) and the witch books (Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Masquerade and Carpe Jugulum really do need to be read in order. Enjoy, Pratchett's work is brilliant.

      5. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        I would recommend "Good Omens" (an unrelated collaboration with Neil Gaiman).

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          Bad form, I know, replying to my own post, but while we are discussing gifted authors departing us far too early, I would recommend "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and possibly "The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul" (not as good) by Douglas Adams

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            My personal favourite is Pyramids. The trainee assassin dressing for his "finals" is pure comedy gold. And camels rock.

            1. m0rt Silver badge

              Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

              +1 for Mort.

              Also - the Tiffany Aching novels. There is something about those books that *feels* different. He vested more in those emotionally than the others, I reckon. Even more than the Vimes books.

              1. jrd

                Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                +1 for the Tiffany Aching series. I think they're among Pratchett's most enjoyable books. Don't be put off by the 'Young Adult' label.

            2. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

              And camels rock.

              And spit, and do maths in their heads!

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            "I would recommend "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and possibly "The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul" (not as good) by Douglas Adams"

            And I would thoroughly recommend _avoiding_ the TV serialisations of Dirk Gently. DNA was a brilliant TV scriptwriter but whoever turned these into TV programs wasn't (HHGTTG TV and movies were both brilliant because DNA had his hand on the directors' throats.)

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

              Alan Brown,

              I think Dirk Gently was the best book Adams wrote. And I'd agree about avoiding the telly-box version. However Radio 4 did a brilliant dramatisation, so enjoy that instead.

              1. HandleAlreadyTaken

                Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                >I think Dirk Gently was the best book Adams wrote.

                I agree - and I believe it shows Adams' evolution as a writer paralleled Pratchett's in some ways. They both started with gag-driven works, with little or no characterization, and with no plot to speak of beyond a flimsy framework to hang gags to - that's particularly the case for Adams' Hitchhiker books, but also for the first few Discworld books (especially the Rincewind the Wizzard series). As they both matured as writers, their later books become less dependent on gags, the plots become interesting in themselves, and the characters grow deeper and better fleshed.

                Pratchett grew immeasurably as a writer - amazingly, without losing his humor; his later books are still laugh out loud funny. I think the Dirk Gently books show Adams was following a similar path. It's a tragedy Adams died so young; I think his best work was still ahead of him.

          3. Toni the terrible

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            I always liked Strata

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          I would recommend "Good Omens" (an unrelated collaboration with Neil Gaiman).

          I noticed earlier this month that Good Omens is being filmed by BBC / Amazon, with Michael Sheen as Aziraphale and David Tennant as Crowley.

          No news yet as to who will play Adam, Newt or Anathema, but Tennant as Crowley is an inspired choice in my view.

          I would also like to put forward David Jason as Shadwell, I reckon he's made for the part...

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            Never liked the TV adaptations. No-one has found a good way of doing footnotes* on TV really, nor of the linguistic punning that Pratchett excelled at.

            *Well, apart from maybe the 80s version of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but that lent itself to the concept of "Guide Entries". I don't know how Disc World would take to having some sort of narrator character.

            1. Alister Silver badge

              Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

              @TRT

              Never liked the TV adaptations. No-one has found a good way of doing footnotes on TV really, nor of the linguistic punning that Pratchett excelled at.

              I agree, to some extent, and I was particularly unhappy with Sky's adaptation of TCOM, but that was as much about the casting, David Jason was all wrong as Rincewind.

              However, I reckon that in some ways Good Omens lends itself more to TV adaptation than perhaps Terry's mainstream works do.

              Added to that, of course, is that Neil Gaiman is writing the screenplay, so is unlikely to stuff it up as much as they did with some of the others.

              1. illuminatus

                Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                That said, I thought they nailed Richard Coyle as Moist von Lipwig in Going Postal, which was actually rather good. And a great lost Doctor too, but that was never going to happen...

                1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                  Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                  Richard Coyle was an epic Albert Spangler/Moist von Lipwig, however the absolute standout from Going Postal was the inimitable Charles Dance as Vetinari.

                  I'd always fancied Rincewind as a younger Rhys Ifans; tall, thin, scraggly beard, early 30s in age, slight look of failed academia and desperation, not some bumbling old man who looked like he could barely run 5 metres before collapsing. A Rincewind that cannot run, oh my days...

                  1. JimboSmith Silver badge

                    Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                    Richard Coyle was an epic Albert Spangler/Moist von Lipwig, however the absolute standout from Going Postal was the inimitable Charles Dance as Vetinari.

                    I agree Charles Dance was inspired and brilliant casting as was David Suchet as Reacher Gilt.

              2. scrubber

                Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

                Footnotes! The best commentary on the insanity of life I've read. Unfortunately that requires a narrator and I don't like Stephen Fry right now, but he'd be perfect.

            2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

              Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

              "Never liked the TV adaptations."

              We'll get a good video (TV/Film) of Discworld when we get a good video of Dune - probably never.

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            I would also like to put forward David Jason as Shadwell, I reckon he's made for the part

            I would like to put forward David Jason for the Actor Who Most Destroyed Their Character award for his atrocious portrayal/betrayal of Rincewind.

          3. Sherrie Ludwig

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            @Alister, first I've heard about the Good Omens film, cannot wait to see it! Tennant is a great choice for Crowley.

        3. Hyper72

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          "Sister Mary headed through the night-time hospital with the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan and Lord of Darkness safely in her arms. She found a bassinet and laid him down in it. He gurgled. She gave him a tickle."

          -- The antichrist is born (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, Good Omens)

      6. Joe Werner

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Even for adults I would suggest the "young readers" novels set on "the chalk" - they are incredibly well written - and the Wee Free Men (fairies... sorts of - and also the name of the first book) are really fun to read out loud (as a non-native speaker I sort of have to do that to understand them, Crivens!)

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          @Joe Werner

          "...the Wee Free Men (fairies... sorts of - and also the name of the first book)"

          Ahem, "Pictsies" I think you'll find. Unless you're looking to commit suicide?

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            Ahem, "Pictsies" I think you'll find.

            And (mostly) the reasons why our senior two cats are called Feegle and Kelda.

            And yes - they both live up to their names..

        2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: Crivens

          When it comes to the Wee Free Men, thankfully no one is a native speaker.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Is there a suggested reading order?

        Absolutely. Come up to a shelf (or two, or, in my case four) of Pratchett's books. Close your eyes. Pull a book at random. Read it. You probably won't be disappointed.

        If I had to pick a personal favorite, it would probably be "Witches Abroad" or "Feet of Clay".

        P.S. I really miss "Diskworld Noir". May be I should try to spin it again, in Sir Terry's honour.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          +1 For Discworld Noir - Hell of a lot better entertainment vs frustration compared to the other Discworld games.

          1. Ben Bonsall

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            +1 For Discworld Noir - Hell of a lot better entertainment vs frustration compared to the other Discworld games.

            Never! unless there is a point in a point and click where you literally have to try everything with everything else until some ridiculous pun emerges, it's not a point and click.

            Also, the 3d interface was annoying. Ask me about how Grim Fandango was the beginning of the end.

      8. Patrician

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        I second Mort as a good starting point; that or maybe Wyrd Sisters.

      9. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Rafael,

        Burn him! In a wicker steamroller perhaps...

        I don't think there's any reading order. There are a few books which work better in sequence, but even there it really doesn't matter. It's just that some have the same characters in them, so it's nicer to come in at the beginning of their story-arc, rather than half-way through.

        The one thing I would say is that you shouldn't read in chronological order. The Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic (the only one that is a direct sequel) aren't the same as the rest of them. They're parodies of fantasy, and I'd argue they aren't as good.

        He then started developing his style where he was no longer parodying fantasy. He was using fantasy to parody reality. So the next two, Equal Rites and Mort were completely different. But I don't think they're as good, because he was still developing his craft.

        I would personally start with Wyrd Sisters. It's sort of a Shakespeare parody, but there are jokes within jokes. And it has the witches, who are some of the fans' favourite characters. Although they first turn up in Equal Rites (about a witch going to an all-male wizard university). But I wouldn't start there.

        Or for a different theme start with the City Watch in Guards! Guards! And meet another group of favourite characters. If you like them you can then read along with their books, then start picking up others. Or just accept you like him, and go back and read from the beginning.

        As a final point, you could also start with his later stuff. When he was at his peak. In which case, start with a new character with Wee Free Men - which was marketed as a childrens book in the sequence, but I really enjoyed as a 40-year-old.

        Or maybe The Truth. He worked for a local paper, and so has some fun satirising it. It's more standalone, but at a period when he was turning out lots of his best books.

        I found this list of his Discworld books by theme and in order, which may help.

        I wish you many hours of happy reading. And hopefully laughing.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          His finest work is, for me, a toss up between Night Watch and Thud!

          That! Is!! Not!!! My!!!! COW!!!!!

          There's a very fine wiki dedicated to his works.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            Whatever you decide to start with don't be afraid to take "Miss Felicity Beedle The World Of Poo" on holiday with you. The nice person who was searching my bag at security at Heathrow looked at me with surprise when they found that.

          2. Darren Sandford

            Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

            Thud! is amazing!

            Where he shines in his later works is with a funny exterior masking a very dark sub-topic. Masterpieces.

      10. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        > Is there a suggested reading order?

        I really would start with the first two with the proviso that if you don't enjoy them all that much you don't stop at that point.

        There are one or two characters an concepts introduced for the first time (they do get introduced again) but the main reason is to see how much he improved.

        He started well but I don't think he would be remembered anything like as fondly if he'd just pumped out a few dozen more of those books (which I am sure is what publishers would have been happy with).

        It would be really interesting to know how you get on with TP as a non native speaker - I doubt there will be any problem understanding the words but it is possible that quite a lot of the meaning will be harder to grasp (and not just because there are some cultural references that may not be universal).

        He's the polar opposite of Stephen Donaldson who is also a hilarious fantasy writer but much less deliberately so.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          I really would start with the first two with the proviso that if you don't enjoy them all that much you don't stop at that point.

          Mr Anon,

          I don't like that suggestion. I don't think it's fair to make people do the less fun stuff first, in order to pay for the good later. And I think you also need to have read a bit of fantasy first, to see what 'the Colour of Magic' is laughing at.

          Much better to read the other stuff first, then come back if you're enjoying it. Whereas I think the first few books can be a bit off-putting. Lots of people have said to start with Mort, but I personally feel that's one of his weaker ones - while he was still learning to be an author, and developing a style.

          I've never even been motivated to go back and re-read 'Stata' and 'Dark Side of the Sun', and I suspect if those had been the first of his books I'd tried, I'd never have read any more. Colour of Magic is good, but less good and of a much narrower appeal.

        2. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          He's the polar opposite of Stephen Donaldson who is also a hilarious fantasy writer but much less deliberately so

          Two words: "Clench Racing"

      11. Obitim

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        There are a number of recommendations, depending on taste I guess...

        The article below may give some good suggestions?

        http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/books-comics/discworld/51044/terry-pratchett-s-discworld-a-roadmap

      12. Steve Knox Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Is there a suggested reading order?

        Yes. Don't skip over the footnotes.

        1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          ah yes the footnotes, quite possibly the best bits of any books I have ever read :o)

          in one chapter where the heroes were in a bar 'quaffing' ale

          "quaffing - a bit like drinking, but you spill more"

      13. macjules Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

        Pick any book at random: you will not be disappointed.

        If you must have a recommendation, my tuppence worth would be:

        Moving Pictures, for a very funny and irreverent parallel of early Hollywood

        Small Gods, for the same about religion and philosophy.

        Nightwatch The venality of politicians and the total idiocy of politics and knee-jerk reaction laws summed up in one book (actually in just one page) and an absolute joy to read.

        Going Postal As above, but for capitalism and marketing departments ... and not forgetting the National Lottery.

        1. Terje

          Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

          I for one would recommend Pyramids for a "try before you buy" introduction to the discworld books, as it's probably the most stand alone book, and he's well into his stride. As a close second I would recommend The lost continent, here the recurring characters are limited to the faculty of unseen university.

      14. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

        I'll second those who say skip the first two (very much lesser) works.

        After those, they fall into different periods. The earlier ones (the Witches, and the Rincewind ones) are the most directly funny, tending to thoughtful slapstick. My own startingpoint was the witches. Later he gets more humanistic and a bit darker: the peak of that would be Night Watch. And he did go downhill towards the end as the alzheimers set in.

        Note that there are *lot* of literary and cultural references: if you're not English, you may get less out of them (but don't let that put you off). And allusions: the Pork Futures Warehouse described the financial crisis before it happened, while "Interesting Times" (published 1994) could have been about "9/11" in almost the same sense as Arthur Miller's Crucible was about McCarthyism.

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