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The Turtle Moves!: Discworld's Story So Far by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Review by Paul Haggerty
Benbella Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781933771465
Date: 01 August 2008 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview: Terry Pratchett / Show Official Info /

Terry Pratchett's Discworld is the home of over three dozen novels, a slew of short stories, and even a science essay or three. The writing spans a quarter of a century and is still going. Some books are serious, some are slapstick. Some are aimed at a young adult audience, some at adults ... although there's nothing in them that a young adult shouldn't enjoy just as well. The setting is legendary: A flat disc, home to a myriad of civilizations, set on the backs of four elephants, all standing on the shell of a giant turtle, swimming through the void of space. Between the setting, the characters, and the stories, the author of The Turtle Moves has his hands full trying to kludge together a framework that can begin to make sense of it all.

The Turtle Moves is a book about the Discworld, a book about Terry Pratchett, a book about fantasy, and as many other things as the author could make stick. Written in an irreverent style, The Turtle Moves is still a serious piece of literary work. Considering that Pratchett started out writing the most off-the-wall fantasy parody he could muster, and then turned around and turned the entire scenario into a serious work, and without trying to deny what had come before, Watt-Evens has his work cut out for him.

The Turtle Moves starts with some general organizational details, trying to fit dozens of books into to predefined and logical categories. But Watt-Evans is the first to admit that the Discworld defies categorization, or perhaps I should say defies any single attempt at categorization. Any list of sub-series based on characters, locations, or events, could be done in a dozen different ways. But this is the author's book, so you'll have to deal with what he likes.

The majority of the book is devoted to a short commentary on all the individual stories, novel or otherwise. Not synopses, but short discussions on the themes, characters, meta-stories, and the interaction of all three. Following the stories, are the author's designated sub-series lists, explaining why the individual stories belong where he put them.

Discworld is a location where stories have more reality than in our own world. It's a place where thing happen because they're supposed to happen. The various novels of the Discworld usually resolve around the people that either don't want to play their parts and are trying to get out of them, are trying to change the stories to better fit their wants, or who watch the stories carefully to make sure they're not doing stupid things. Given a framework of philosophy like that, The Turtle Moves has a lot of very interesting philosophy to discuss.

If you've ever read novels of the Discworld, The Turtle Moves is a welcome compendium of information that underlies the whole Disc and who it put together. Of course there's a lot of stuff here that isn't going to make much sense. But that's only to be expected in world where a cosmic elephant has to lift a leg once a day to let the sun pass through.

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