The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I finished Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett last week. This is the first time I read Color of Magic. I understand there is a movie; I have not seen it.

Blurb from GoodReads:

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

 

Okay, I have to admit the idea of a world transported on the back giant turtle strikes me slightly ridiculous. In fact, large parts of the book strike me as ridiculous. But it works. It all holds together and not in a ridiculous way. That’s amazing.

The idea of the naïve tourist is a good way to explore this world. He’s an insurance analyst. The very idea of insurance seems a foreign concept to other character, the inept wizard. The inept wizard is a cynical type, one who is forced by his leader and circumstance to actually keep his promise to be a good tour good for the tourist.

In the tourist’s travels, while explaining the idea of insurance to people, one person commits insurance fraud. The book never said so, but I suspect the person never gets his money.

I loved the idea of the invisible dragons, dragons that are only real if you are in the dragon area and if the dragon’s owner believes in them. It’s like riding an invisible airplane, while carrying an invisible gun. Sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, it sounds wonderful to me.

The Luggage is pretty damn interesting, too. I mean, the idea of Luggage, with a capital L, that bites and is infinitely large – well, it would never be lost, never be stolen, and you could carry whatever you liked!

Also, the net around the edge of the world that catches anyone who falls over. Good idea. Too bad it is not fool-proof.

I love it. I love it a lot more than I thought I would, considering how utterly silly the idea sounds.

The book ends when the inept wizard falls over the edge of the world. This is a cliffhanger, and I don’t think I approve. But, luckily, the second book is already out.

Pilfering Youth

Tell me what you think about this story? Is it confusing?

Eyebrows arched high, blue eyes wide and carefully made up to hide the first signs of wrinkles, Ashara posed in front of the crowd. Colorful fabric streamed behind her, a parody of the flags ringing the stadium. Cameras flashed, but the applause was polite.

She turned on her six-inch heels and stalked back across the stage. Her hair swept down her back in long, loose waves; it excited more comment than the flower-print folds of her dress.

Her heels left faint gold marks on the wooden boards, but no one noticed.

The next model was a slim, dark figure in white wedges, a shimmering black crop top and ivory pants. She strode over her predecessor’s footsteps.

The crowd roared and cameras flashed enough to blind anyone unfortunate enough to get caught in the glare. The model kept turning, kept moving. She was rumored to take Ashara’s place as the next top model.

A hush came over the crowd when she stumbled and went down hard. One of the stage crew helped her off.

Ashara came back in a number designed to show off a svelte body, all smooth lines and shining fabric. Whispers flowed like water at her appearance. She looked as if she had lost a decade in the ten minutes she had been off stage.

Friday Flash: Master Piece

This isn’t the flash I intended to write, but this is what came out of my keyboard.

He stood back and inspected the work. His legs trembled and his arms were weak, exhausted from holding a brush for a so long.

It was perfect for this, the world of his birth, and epitome of all that was decadent and thoughtless. They took pleasure in the suffering their thoughtlessness inflicted on others, saying, this was the way of the world. This was what one sacrificed in order to move forward.

Thousands of pages of bleached white paper layered one over another like angular clouds. It was the perfect base, all sharp points and an inviting texture. He’d laced two women on top, blond, bare skin bleached white, and carefully applied his special red lipstick to their lips. The procurer was well worth the price. He’d tied a hundred thousand of his carefully prepared rose buds on top of the paper, a silent exclamation mark.
People would touch, stroke the bodies, brush their fingers over the paper, marvel over the contrast between the deep red roses and pure white paper.

And they would die. The red poison in the lips and roses would infect the world like a firestorm. Here and gone before anyone quite realized what was happening.

He wouldn’t survive it, of course. But he was glad to pay the price and call it cheap. This, the place where he was born, the place that had nurtured him, deserved nothing less than to drown in its own vomit like a cheap drunk. 

Teaser Tuesday: The Way of Kings

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

“Bashin?” Dalinar said, his voice suddenly alarmed. “Shouldn’t there be bait on the end of that beast’s rope?”

- The Way of Kings by Brandson Sanderson.

I am rereading this because the next book comes out next month and this is a loooong book. I hadn’t realized how long until I picked it up again.

There are whole chapters up on Tor’s site.

Teaser Tuesday: Imager’s Challenge

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“The scar?”

“The second one will be across his throat . . . not that anyone would find his body.” Seliora’s words were absolutely matter-of-fact.

- Imager’s Challenge by L.E. Modesitt

Teaser Tuesday: Moon’s Artifice

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Aren’t you a good puppy, Narin? he thought darkly. You get a treat for impressing master.

- Moon’s Artifice by Tom Lloyd

Friday Flash: Snake Woman

This is my first Friday flash of the year – and my first in many, many months. I meant to post this last week, but I forgot. :( This is an experiment, using a different POV from a story I posted earlier.

She peeked in the window. Her old yellow scarf moved in the breeze and she yanked it back. The room was dusty, and littered with pencil stubs and torn paper. The man was inside. He bent over a pad of paper, fingers smudged with graphite. This looked promising.

She moved around the house, past the scraggy grass in the front lawn. There was a kitchen garden in the back. A basil plant grew by the side of the house, its leaves a bright, verdant green, in direct contrast to the faded whitewash of the house.

She squatted in front of it, and cringing, reached inside. But her fingers passed through the soil painlessly, like air through a flute. The bones were buried among the basil roots. Perfect. She cradled them in her hand and lifted them out. The skeleton was no larger than her hand, dead so recently that bits of flesh still clung to its skull. The burial must have been rushed, she thought, the ceremonies not properly observed. Otherwise the basil would have protected the small baby from such as her far better.

A dead baby and a grieving widower – this was perfect. She picked several delicate finger bones and chewed. It would tell the babies in her belly how they should appear to the man.

She left the bones on the ground and rose, turning to the window. The bells on her anklets tinkled in the air, as loud as they had been silent before.  

The man walked came outside from a second door. She smiled at him and pulled on the magic of her people. It covered her like a new silk dress, soft, pliable yet strong. The man gazed her, entranced. She embraced him; his arms wrapped tightly around her. He breathed on her neck, long, slow breaths, and she led him inside.

She made him man food, but left the dust in the room alone. Night fell and she took him in the bed. Finally, finally, she let the magic go. He saw her as she was. His eyes widened above her; he gasped and moaned as though overcome with fear – or desire. His sounds were a wonderful music. She grinned – and drank down his energy. Afterward, he lay on the bad, watching her with wide, staring eyes.

She gave birth on top of him. Blood soaked the bedding. Her babies slipped from her, tiny, writhing, hungry creatures. They bit his lips, sipped his blood. The man would care well for them for a few years. She would be back then.

She knew the villagers would leave him be. They knew her people’s reputation.

Teaser Tuesday: Legacies

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their  TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

Alucius turned the gray . . . when an enormous fist struck him in the back of the shoulder. For an instant, he could feel himself toppling forward before silver-tinged blackness – and a green radiance – swept up over him and swallowed everything.

- Legacies (Corean Chronicles. book 01) by L. E. Modesitt.

This is from the book I blogged about yesterday.

On Understanding Why I Stop Reading

I am reading Legacies (Corean Chronicles #1) by L.E. Modesitt Jr right now. I have tried reading it about four times now. I am maybe a hundred pages in. I feel like this time I will finish successfully. It could still take a while.

I have finally figured out one of the reasons why I keep stopping. I don’t believe in the romance between the main character and the girl. Maybe it will change as the book moves forward (though I got doubts!) but the love interest character is not convincing. She’s so minor she hardly counts as a character! That, for the love interest, is not right.

The character I like most right now is not the main character, but his grandfather. That’s not right, either. Something is wrong with these characters; I just don’t know what.

I love the world. The world is why I am keep going back to it.  All the creatures, the magic, the odd sheep. I just wish the characters were better. :(

Dare I call myself an Indian Speculative Fiction writer?

This article in Strange Horizons talks about Indian SF. It asks what Indian spec-fic is and what elements define it.

It strikes home, because I am Indian and I write fantasy. Yet I don’t know if that makes me an Indian speculative fiction writer.

Nine Indian writers try to answer this question. Some of them say Indian spec-fic is spec-fic that’s written by an Indian.

A lot of them talk about what it means. Do you have to be Indian? Do you have to live in India? Does it have to be published in India? Does it have to be set in India or inspired by India in some fashion? What if you are non-Indian living in India?

A lot of them couldn’t really say what elements make a particular work Indian spec-fic. Probably because there is so little of it, you can’t point to any single element and say: this makes it Indian spec-fic.

As for me, I am Indian. But I left India so young I remember hardly anything. Visits are infrequent. So I will likely never be published there. A few of my stories are inspired by Indian things -  folktales, music, movies – but no one has ever recognized the influence (too diluted, I suppose). But people invariably comment on the creativity of those stories, a lot more than my other stories.

I doubt that’s enough to call myself an Indian spec-fic writer. That’s odd. I’ve puzzled over the oddness for years, ever since I realized I want to write fantasy and there are hardly any Indian fantasy writers on the library shelves. I suspect there might be more SF set in India than there are Indian spec-fic writers. I’ve no words for how weird that makes me feel.

Then there’s the third question posed by the article. How does the audience (western/eastern) affect the style/content of a story? I tend to think of this as part of that are the usual world-building issues – what and how and when to describe something. The other part is using things like existing rituals or clothes or dance and things like that. I usually don’t use stuff like that, because I don’t want to devote the word-count to describe in the detail required to see the thing and doing less would be confusing. Also, because it isn’t important enough to the story to require lots and lots of description.

This last is probably the reason why even the Indian inspired stories don’t come off as Indian. The details that would make people think “Oh, Indian” are not present.

The thing is, if I knew my readers were Indian, I probably would put them in. Just a line or two, probably, as opposed to a paragraph or two.

So . . . I am editing details out. I have mixed feelings about that. It’s why the Strange Horizons article hit me so hard.

I am still not sure if I am right to do so. It finally depends on the needs of the story, yeah. But still. I don’t want to confuse anyone. I don’t want to use a hundred words to describe a minor, almost non-existent event. Especially when the story is less than thousand words long.