Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures
by Sir Terry Pratchett
Harper, 2008 (originally published by Victor Gollancz, 1990)
337 pages

It rose up in his memory like the suddenly-discovered bit of suspicious tentacle just when you thought it was safe to eat the paella.

At this stage, I shouldn't be amazed at how a Discworld book can envelop me, even when I'm at my busiest or in my worst moods. Right now, it seems to me that they're nearly unique in that way; there is nothing else out there, in my experience so far, that can do for me what Discworld does. It's not a must-read-to-end-right-now book, in the same panicked or imperious way of some of my favourites, which is lots of fun but hard on the emotions and energy and very hard on the notion of picking a book up for fifteen minutes on my lunch break. It's not a slog, rewarding or otherwise -- these are not books that glare at me from the bookshelf or bedside table because I'm only three chapters in and not terribly enthused about picking them up. These are not even books I have to be in the right mood for. These are patient books, friendly books, supremely enjoyable books with no expectations or manipulations. I can pick a Discworld book up and know I'm going to like it, I'm going to have fun, I'm going to be moved, and I can read it at a comfortable pace whenever I feel like reading anything.

The plot of Moving Pictures is driven by a wild idea: the idea of running pictures, all the same except with infinitesimally small changes between them, very quickly past a light source and projecting them on to a screen. This may sound familiar. It is not an idea that's new to Discworld, either, but it hasn't been around for a very long time, and with good reason, which the reader will understand nearly immediately but the characters will take much longer to figure out. You see, the problem with this idea is that it creates a reality leak, and there's really not enough reality to go around. And a hole that lets something like reality leak out of the Discworld is bound to let something else, something very unpleasant, leak in. But no one is paying attention, because Holy Wood madness and magic is taking over the Disc.

This book is extremely enjoyable, the pacing is quite good, the book is very clever and the characters are thoroughly excellent, vintage Pratchett. There are laugh-out-loud moments and moments to think about. I am getting to the point with this series that I recognize characters now, and am familiar with the world and the people; I could probably start reading out of order, if I wanted, but I'm happy to keep going in order too. Every time I read another Discworld book I am deeper in awe of what Terry Pratchett has created. It's astounding.

For this book specifically, I don't think it is my favourite; there were a few parts at the end especially that seemed a little... loose? forced? I'm not exactly sure. The climax didn't work particularly well for me, but as I've said before and will say again (I'm sure) a Discworld book that didn't work particularly well for me is kind of like suggesting that lemon meringue pie doesn't work particularly well for me: it works better than pretty much any other food except for other pies. And I appreciated the climax intellectually; I just wonder if it was too much of a good thing, perhaps; too much happening all at once in a small space.

At any rate, I will read it again someday, and almost certainly enjoy it as much if not more. Next up will be Reaper Man, which I have a suspicion I may be getting for Christmas. Woot!


Aarti said...

I don't remember this being my favorite Discworld book, either, but it was quite enjoyable :-) I love the Death books, though! Enjoy Reaper Man :-)

Unknown said...

I am, thus far, not as wild about the Death books as I think I could be. I always like seeing him as a peripheral... but I'm looking forward to Reaper Man very much. (And I did indeed get it for Christmas!)

Jill said...

Oh, no! I'm behind again! :-)
Actually, I like that you remind me to get back on track with my Discworld reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this, and yes, of course every one can't be your very favorite, but they are all pretty darn good, aren't they?!

Unknown said...

Darla, they are all trying really hard to be my favourite! Other books don't seem to stand a chance.

Jill said...

I was just checking to see how far behind you I am (two books) and realized I never wrote my review of Eric! Argh! And here I thought I was finally all caught up. Oh, well. :p