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A Blink Of The Screen by Terry Pratchett

A Blink Of The Screen by Terry Pratchett
4.5
Book Name: A Blink Of The Screen
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher(s): Doubleday (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy / Short Stories
Release Date: October 11, 2012 (UK)

If you’d asked me a couple of years ago if I was a fan of Terry Pratchett, I’d have answered a resounding no. I’d read his first three books back in the late 1980s, but quickly became tired of them; I ‘grew up’ and moved onto ‘better’ reads. Within my circle of friends, though, are some massive Pratchett fans, complete with statues in their living rooms, Terry’s books taking pride of place on their bookshelves. They’d tell me how good his latest book was, but there was something in their telling that reduced it to a bundle of gags, the same old spoof on the genre that his books had always been. I dipped my toe in the water a couple of times over the years, but nothing made me want to dive in.

This all changed when I reviewed Snuff for Fantasy-Faction, and found myself impressed by the book. Considering almost forty other Discworld novels had preceded it, Snuff was an accessible read, one that made me begin to re-think my opinion of its author. A few books later – including those early ones I dismissed all those years ago – and I’ve begun to realise I’ve been missing out on something quite special. Yes, the stories are funny, but they have a depth to them that can be taken or left by the reader, allowing the books to be enjoyed on all levels.

So, when I saw A Blink of the Screen at my local library, I couldn’t resist. My hopes were high that this short-story journey through Pratchett’s career would be both amusing and enlightening, that each tale would be a gem. No pressure, Sir Terry…

Once again, I’ve been hooked. My attention was held from the first page to the last, several chuckles and wry smiles were raised, all while I marvelled at the skill of a man who, as the foreword says, is a ‘born writer’. A huge statement, but after reading the first story, which Pratchett wrote when he was 13-years-old, any reader will know it is true.

Each story is introduced by the author, and it’s refreshing to know that although he’d love to edit some further, he’s open enough to share them with us as they are. There is, however, one spoiler, a footnote that gives away the final twist of Once And Future, a fascinating spin on Arthurian myth.

Of the stories contained in this book, roughly a third of them are Discworld tales, the highlights of which are “Troll Bridge” and “The Sea and Little Fishes”. The appendix contains a deleted scene from the latter, one which didn’t fit within the context of the story, despite being a moving piece of writing.

Don’t be put off by this, Discworld fans, the other two-thirds of the book are just as good as what you’d expect, if not more so. There really isn’t a bad piece of work here. Reading one after the other, it’s possible to see how Pratchett’s writing has evolved – just like his most famous creation; he’s never been static, always developing and growing, striving for improvement even when it would appear there’s none to be made. The seeds of ideas that will bear fruit in Pratchett’s novels are also here; he cites 1986’s “The High Meggas” as the story that evolved into The Long Earth over two decades later, while the name Rincemangle will sound partly familiar to Discworld readers.

Flicking through the contents page, it’s difficult to point out a favourite; one will come to mind, only for another to jump in and jostle for that esteemed position. I can’t think of a single story I didn’t enjoy or wasn’t impressed by. Pratchett’s a true craftsman – one who plays with words brilliantly – his talent matched by the charm with which he writes. Like the classic genre writers, he uses the form to comment on real life, making him an observer and satirist as good as any literary mainstream chin-rubber, one worthy of the bestseller lists he regularly graces.

There, I’ve gushed enough. While it’s a given that Pratchett fans will adore this book, casual readers will also find it enjoyable, and perhaps even inspirational. Fantasy isn’t just about huge sprawling epics that take a decade to read; sometimes there’s magic held within a twenty page tale, enjoyed on a hot summer’s afternoon.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
A Blink Of The Screen by Terry Pratchett, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
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One Comment

  1. Tom Lloyd says:

    Curious, I thought Snuff was his weakest novel in years.

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