NESFA Members' Reviews

Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature

edited by Andrew M. Butler, Edward James, and Farah Mendlesohn

A book review by Mark L. Olson

The Science Fiction Foundation, 2000, 183 pp, $16.00

Pratchett fans seem to be bothered that he gets no respect from the prim and the proper, and I suppose they have a right to feel that way. This volume, by the SF Foundation, seems to be an attempt to remedy that. They do a moderately successful job of it, failing mainly by being too stuffy, perhaps in an attempt to be academically respectable.

The articles are mostly by subject: Witches, Unseen University, the City Watch, The Librarian, Death, and the Library and the Librarian, but there is also a difficult essay on "Coming of Age" by John Clute and one on "Theories of Humor".

Critical attention is certainly justified -- Pratchett manages to write good, rollicking stories in a light fantasy vein while also having something serious to say. His art is that he does both well with one intruding on the other. I just wish so many of the essayists in this book didn't take their subject matter quite so seriously! (They'd have done better to emulate the tone of Tom Shippey's J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century which manages to say serious and thoughtful things about its subject without being ponderous.)

See also my other Pratchett reviews: The Truth, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, Carpe Jugulum, The Science of Discworld, The Fifth Elephant, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, The Last Hero, Jingo, Night Watch, The Wee Free Men

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