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Please Explain: The Color of Magic

30 Oct

Welcome to the first of what may well become a series here on STK: Can Somebody Please Explain…?, in which I appeal to the collective wisdom of the interwebs in order to gain a greater understanding of things which, to me, just do not make sense.

Tonight’s topic: The Color of Magic, the first book in the wildly popular Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

Now, I have nothing against Discworld. I’ve read a few of the books, some of which were fantastically clever and funny, and I adored the TV adaptation of Hogfather. All of the DEATH books and the Tiffany Aching books are in my to-read list. Pratchett certainly has ideas and wit coming out his ears, and I applaud his creativity.

However.

The Color of Magic. The book that started it all. The book that was popular enough to launch a series of 39 (as of now…) books.

Or, as I like to call it, THE BOOK OF DEATHLY DULL BORINGNESS OH DEAR WALLABIES I CAN’T EVEN CONCENTRATE MY MIND JUST WANDERS OFF ON ITS OWN TO THINK ABOUT THAT FUNNY NOISE MY CAR’S BEEN MAKING AND HOW FAR CAN I GET IN THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE AND I SHOULD START DOING MY LAUNDRY BECAUSE NONE OF THIS IS INTERESTING IT’S JUST STUPID AND WEIRD.

I tried to read it. I really did. I wanted to love the series that so many others have loved, and since I’m more compulsive than is entirely healthy, I wanted to start at the beginning.

I made it through the first 20% before giving up. And it was like pulling teeth the whole way. SO MUCH STUPID BORING WEIRD. I don’t mind weird, if it’s done well. In a way that’s coherent and clever and fun. Not in the “random stuff happens and appears and nobody knows why and it’s not even funny” kind of way.

So, yeah. TCM and I did not get on very well. I did go on to read a couple of the other books, mostly when forced to by friends, and enjoyed them more, though never enough to engage in the undertaking of reading the whole series (or at least a few of the sub-series).

Then the TV adaptation of Hogfather showed up on Netflix, I was bored…and it was pretty darn brilliant. It was clever and fun and I liked the characters (Susan is teh awesomesauce) and cared what happened to them. So, all of the DEATH books ended up on my to-read list.

And I figured, hey, there’s a TV adaptation of The Color of Magic; maybe it will be better than the book? Or at least easier to get through. I’m not above taking the easy way out with certain books (A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m looking at you. Sweet Mother of the Eternal Flaming Hedgehog, I am never putting myself through the misery of reading one of those books EVER AGAIN. HBO can do my reading for me.)

So, being exceedingly bored tonight (I’ve been sick; I am SO TIRED of watching TV and reading I just don’t know what to do with myself), I decided to give the film TCM a chance. I got out a puzzle to do to keep my hands busy, and settled in to watch.

DEATHLY DULL BORINGNESS OF STUPID BORING WEIRDNESS.

Okay, it was marginally better than reading the book, if only for the amusement provided by seeing Tim Curry and Sean Astin. BUT STILL. By the last half-hour of Part 1 I was surfing the internet and barely paying enough attention to notice what stupid predicament Rincewind and Twoflower were in. And Part 1 basically covers all of the book TCM; Part 2 is based off of The Light Fantastic, book two of the series.

Readers (Hi, FBI!), help me out here. I DON’T GET IT. Yes, the Discworld series had lead to some truly fantastic things. But given that TCM is so incredibly deathly dull that even a film version with TIM FREAKING CURRY in it can’t keep my attention, how in the name of the Eternal Flaming Hedgehog did it:

  • receive enough attention/garner enough sales to convince a publisher to continue publishing the series
  • GET PUBLISHED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Seriously, my lords and ladies and readers of all genders, I DON’T GET IT.

Pratchett fans, descend! Help a girl out, will you? What am I missing?

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6 Comments

Posted by on 30.10.2012 in Books, Geekery

 

Tags: , , ,

6 responses to “Please Explain: The Color of Magic

  1. =Tamar

    1.11.2012 at 10:51 pm

    It was 1983, for one thing. That was 29 years ago. A child born then could have a grandchild going into middle school this year. The previous book to get people’s attention was Doug Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the big TV series to get people’s attention was Monty Python. Randomness was the big new thing then. Also, it was Pratchett’s fourth book. During the next five or six, he got a lot better at coherent plotting. For what it’s worth, I hated The Colour of Magic when it came out. I ignored the second book and didn’t try again until book 3, Equal Rites and I am an avid Pratchett fan.

     
    • Mrs Peculiar

      20.11.2012 at 1:57 am

      Hang on…a 29-year-old ‘could have a grandchild going into middle school this year’?! I know girls are maturing younger and younger but that sounds like a TARDIS would have to be involved to make it happen πŸ˜›

       
  2. Mrs Peculiar

    19.11.2012 at 4:02 pm

    Er…um…the wonder of it was that the bear danced at all?

    No, seriously. No-one had ever spent an entire book comedically skewering the fantasy genre before, not to mention turning assorted literary tropes upside-down and inside-out. tCoM had a fair number of genuinely funny bits scattered through it, but overall it was simply a collection of sketches strung together, a sort of Benny Hill Show with wizards and dragons in it. Readers who didn’t start on Pratchett in the early days tend to expect the same stunning quality of writing *and* storytelling that informs his more recent work, and so are often disappointed. OTOH there are some who feel that tCoM and tLF were his greatest work and everything since has been a downhill slide; these people are, of course, to be avoided if possible and poked with large sticks if they come too close πŸ˜›

    For my own part, I tend to regard The Colour of Magic in the same way I regard the work of other pioneers in the arts, e.g. Chuck Berry or Ray Harryhausen: pretty clumsy and unimpressive, but oh, the wonders that descended from them!

     
  3. Myriad

    19.11.2012 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you both for the insight! I think I’m so used to geeky parodies these days (tCoM is older than I am…) that I didn’t consider the novelty of the first major lampooning of swords-and-sorcery. I’ll stick with the later books and appreciate what the series grew to become πŸ™‚

     
    • Mrs Peculiar

      20.11.2012 at 2:02 am

      Glad to help! FWIW I know I snarfled quite a lot at the beginning of tCoM when Bravd and the Weasel showed up, but that’s because as an old-school Fritz Leiber enthusiast I recognised Leiber’s characters (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) and city (Lanhkmar) as parody. I agree with you and Tamar that Pratchett’s later Discworld novels were hugely better. So yes, sticking with the later books sounds like a good plan. Or even a good PLN, as Rob Anybody Mac Feegle would say πŸ˜€

       
      • Myriad

        20.11.2012 at 11:13 am

        My plans are always PLNs now…it tends to confuse people…

         

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