Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Archaeologist » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:57 am

It's not a literary double-standard, it's an actual real-life double standard. Just because it's wrong to you it doesn't mean it doesn't happen all the time. Also, the other example we see is of a control freak who bullies her husband, which we can compare to how Sybil looks after Vimes (and allows him the holiday off).


Yes, I know it happens in real life and I know that just because it's wrong to me it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I wasn't denying anything. Real life influences fiction, but fiction influences real life - so just because it happens in real life, it doesn't mean it has to happen in fiction, and it doesn't mean it's always justified as being portrayed as a good thing in fiction (pretending for the moment that we all agree about a double standard and that it's bad). I was just trying to keep my point confined to the novel, however unsuccessful I was. The repeated references to Silly Husband and All-Knowing Wife just really irked me. It's such a tired stereotype - fictionally.

The colonel's wife - yes, I understand a little more, I agree. I do still think however there is a fine line between looking-after and too much interference, even if the former is done with the best intentions. But now I am over-thinking it.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:42 pm

I think the difference is that Sybill makes sure (or at least tries to) that Sam eats properly, but Makepeace's wife just told him he didn't like whatever was on offer, whether or not he did or didn't .

I'm sure Sybill is aware that Sam sneaks the odd BLT when her back is turned.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:59 pm

Archaeologist wrote:
I know lots of women who control their husbands diets (for their own good of course)
.

That sort of thing just doesn't sit comfortably with me, I'm afraid. I didn't find it amusing in the novel when I started to really think about it (although I chuckled at first, in the opening scenes with the BACON, lettuce and tomato sandwich)and I don't find it amusing in real life. Like I said, a man controlling what a woman ate for her own good to such an extent as Sybil does? Flying on the edge there.....

I was also confused with what Sybil does compared to what the colonel's wife did in controlling how he ate. When Sybil does it, it's her being a loving and astute wife and so Vimes doesn't do much about it, but when Makepeace's (that was his name, right?) wife did it, she was being a domestic tyrant, as elitist and racist in other matters as she is tyrannical in her marriage.


I've always the whole bacon sandwich thing is Sybil's way of trying to figure out one thing she can do to keep him from dying prematurely. After all, she has absolutely no control over the dangers he faces on the job, and can never stop him from going out all hours of the night to deal with crime scenes or going all over the DW to solve diplomatic crises. Also, when you think of how much control she has put in his hands: she has deeded all of the Ramkin family properties to him, putting herself at his mercy should he ever divorce her (which of course would never happen). Theoretically, he could sell off all of her properties and she might not have any legal recourse. Her complete devotion to and trust in him (which he never seems to be able to fully understand) justifies her small efforts to control his eating and fashion habits.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Archaeologist » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:17 am

That does make sense, I'm inclined to agree now. Context, context, context... :oops:
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Danny B » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:29 pm

I always receive the new novel as a Christmas present, so I'm a bit late to the party with this thread. I'll trawl through the previous 25 pages in a minute, but I'm bullet pointing my thoughts before talking more deeply, first; to get them in order if nothing else.

* This is the worst written Discworld since, let's see, probably Equal Rites. I'm speaking primarily in terms of the prose. I'm not sure if this a function of the enforced change in Sir Terry's working methods or not; dictating a novel simply can't be the same as fingers on keyboard and, for better or worse, this was the most 'talky' Discworld novel I've read, if that's the right word.

* Willikins just got on my wick. Hard men don't yack on about it; they stay quiet and if they decide to do you, they do it with the minimum of fuss. This is the first time a hard case in a Pratchett novel has felt wrong to me.

* At no point in this novel was there any sense of danger. Vimes steamrollered everyone and everything in his path with minimal effort.

* Who, or what, the heck was Stinky supposed to be? Maybe I'm thick, maybe it'll become more apparent on rereading, but Stinky felt like a plot thread left unexplained, and not in a 'Life's a mystery and not every question has an answer' kind of way.

* The fact that the principle characters were portrayed as sexual beings pleased me greatly. Not in a prurient sense, goodness knows the scenes were tame enough so as to give offence to no one, but in the sense that a happily married and deeply in love couple feel more real for it being there.

* The scenes in AM with the rest of the Watch felt shoehorned in and, whisper it, completely superfluous.

* I very much doubt that slavery was the intended targets of the anger in Snuff, instead I suspect the new snobbery creeping into British society (For 'Goblin' read 'Chav' or 'Pikey') was the target. However, it wasn't as clear as it could be (assuming I'm right of course, which I'm often not) and at times felt, I hesitate to say this, outdated, because of that.

* Sir Terry Pratchett on his worst day is better than a hell of a lot of writers at their peak, so despite the gripes above I still enjoyed it immensely; just not to the normal extent of staying up until 4am on Boxing Day to finish it.

* Final note. The Truth didn't immediately chime with me and it wasn't until rereading that I really got into it and it's since become one of my very favourites, so the status of Snuff as my designated 'Least Favourite Terry Pratchett Novel' is provisional for now. I'll bet Big 'Tel (What? I can't coin a new nickname?) will be waiting for the next 12 months or so with baited breath to find out my final verdict. :roll:
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:33 pm

I liked Equal Rites. ;)
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:12 pm

Wow, Danny. I agree with everything you said about Snuff, except for your ranking.

For me, Snuff may be the weakest of the "later period" DW books, but for me it's still leagues better than nearly all of the early books and some of the later ones. I even prefer it to....PYRAMIDS. :D
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Danny B » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:00 pm

I liked Equal Rites myself, Tony, but I don't think I'm being unfair when I say that it suffers slightly for being the first DW novel to move beyond outright lampoonery. Sir Terry still hadn't found his own narrative voice, so despite it being a unique story instead of a mixture of homage, pastiche, and spoof, it still read like Fritz Leiber would if he'd been an English, southern, and working/lower middle class grammar school boy. The cadence is wrong for the style. Still a fine novel, though. For reference, I consider Mort to be the first true Discworld novel (the others being practice runs, if you like) and Wyrd Sisters to be where the series truly comes into its own.

Also, in reply to Jeff, I'm usually considered a bit weird amongst Pratchett fans in this, but I love Pyramids. It's by far the most experimental DW novel, easily the cleverest in terms of narrative structure and has some bloomin' hilarious jokes to boot.

Meanwhile, back on topic...

I've had a day to think about it and Snuff is definitely my least favourite DW novel. Prior to that, it was Moving Pictures, but with MP I'm not able to pin down why I dislike it (It's not badly written, or anything), I just don't. With Snuff, I can reel off a list of things that bother me and prevent me from getting fully immersed in the novel. It's the only DW novel I've intellectually, rather than emotionally, reacted to as I read it, rather than reading it in complete absorption and thinking about it afterwards. It's a rare Pratchett novel which leaves me the space to make mental notes as I read it for the first time.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Archaeologist » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:37 pm

Danny B: agree, agree, agree!!! But what's this about Pratchett having to dictate now? I didn't know it'd got to that stage. :shock: And yet I don't feel as though it should present such difficulty. I do quite a lot of writing myself (academically and just for fun) and I feel that, while having to dictate a story would be tremendously difficult to get used to, surely the hiccups that come from the new way of doing things can be smoothed out with some re-reading? Don't "they" say that if you're not sure whether something you've written sounds good, read it out to yourself to find out?

raisindot wrote:Wow, Danny. I agree with everything you said about Snuff, except for your ranking.

For me, Snuff may be the weakest of the "later period" DW books, but for me it's still leagues better than nearly all of the early books and some of the later ones. I even prefer it to....PYRAMIDS. :D


As much as I am never one to pass up an opportunity to comdemn Pyramids with metaphorical pitchforks :twisted: I fear that I may look upon even that novel in a better light than I do Snuff...which may be the greatest tragedy of all. :lol:

And since you (all) mention it, I haven't read Equal Rites yet, but I can say that I warmed to The Truth about half way, once I got the gist of the point of the story, but I don't think I'll ever read it again. Sacharissa got on my nerves (however I adore Otto).

Currently re-reading Night Watch, due to start on Thud! and have finally got my hands on The Last Continent... As a patriotic treat. Eh, mate? The former two to mostly remind myself that Vimes (and Willikins, for that matter) has actually been a well-written character.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:07 pm

Archaeologist wrote:Danny B: agree, agree, agree!!! But what's this about Pratchett having to dictate now? I didn't know it'd got to that stage. :shock: And yet I don't feel as though it should present such difficulty. I do quite a lot of writing myself (academically and just for fun) and I feel that, while having to dictate a story would be tremendously difficult to get used to, surely the hiccups that come from the new way of doing things can be smoothed out with some re-reading? Don't "they" say that if you're not sure whether something you've written sounds good, read it out to yourself to find out?


There is a problem with dictating a story, rather than actually writing. Dictating is closer to conversation, where you have more 'freedom' to express yourself in streams of consciousness. (Of course, many writers do write in a stream of consciousness style, but very few can get away with it). Writing things (on paper or on screen) is a disciplined process that allows you instant feedback. You can see what you've written instantly, and retool and make revisions.

For a dictated story to work, the writer needs need an extremely strong and vigilant editor to tone down the excesses and bring the story to a manageable shape. Given Pterry's reputation, I personally believe that no one is seriously trying to strongly edit his recent works, either for sympathy for his condition or out of respect. Thus, I can only assume that his newer works are essentially being published nearly unedited. I believe that had a strong, objective hand worked with Pterry to curb some of the excesses and poor narrative decisions of UA and Snuff, they might have been better books.

Of course, I have no idea of the relationship between Pterry and his editors, so this theory may be balderdash. On the other hand, as I've said before, I Shall Wear Midnight and Nation were else written during this same period, and each is a far superior book to UA and Snuff. It's my belief--that I can't prove--that because these books are aimed at YA audiences, that Pterry's 'dictations' are subject to a far more intensive editorial process--to make sure the stories, words, and concepts are appropriate for the audience--and this stronger editorial hand resulted in the relatively superior quality of these works.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Archaeologist » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:39 am

raisindot wrote:
Archaeologist wrote:Danny B: agree, agree, agree!!! But what's this about Pratchett having to dictate now? I didn't know it'd got to that stage. :shock: And yet I don't feel as though it should present such difficulty. I do quite a lot of writing myself (academically and just for fun) and I feel that, while having to dictate a story would be tremendously difficult to get used to, surely the hiccups that come from the new way of doing things can be smoothed out with some re-reading? Don't "they" say that if you're not sure whether something you've written sounds good, read it out to yourself to find out?


There is a problem with dictating a story, rather than actually writing. Dictating is closer to conversation, where you have more 'freedom' to express yourself in streams of consciousness. (Of course, many writers do write in a stream of consciousness style, but very few can get away with it). Writing things (on paper or on screen) is a disciplined process that allows you instant feedback. You can see what you've written instantly, and retool and make revisions.

For a dictated story to work, the writer needs need an extremely strong and vigilant editor to tone down the excesses and bring the story to a manageable shape. Given Pterry's reputation, I personally believe that no one is seriously trying to strongly edit his recent works, either for sympathy for his condition or out of respect. Thus, I can only assume that his newer works are essentially being published nearly unedited. I believe that had a strong, objective hand worked with Pterry to curb some of the excesses and poor narrative decisions of UA and Snuff, they might have been better books.

Of course, I have no idea of the relationship between Pterry and his editors, so this theory may be balderdash. On the other hand, as I've said before, I Shall Wear Midnight and Nation were else written during this same period, and each is a far superior book to UA and Snuff. It's my belief--that I can't prove--that because these books are aimed at YA audiences, that Pterry's 'dictations' are subject to a far more intensive editorial process--to make sure the stories, words, and concepts are appropriate for the audience--and this stronger editorial hand resulted in the relatively superior quality of these works.


I just realised I made an assumption, so I'll ask: does he sit with someone who writes down what he says as he speaks, or does he send something recorded which gets transcribed at a later stage? I think that could make a huge difference. And now I'm entirely uncomfortable about the whole dictation thing because I really have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'll just say that even though there are big problems with it compared to writing it yourself, the result shouldn't be so poor (?). I tend to agree with you when you say that there may be a lazy editor at fault here. I don't feel that the change in writing, er, mode should have such a catastrophic effect by itself... Which is the last adult Discworld written physically by him, with no dictation?

BTW, this discussion really excludes the people who actually loved Snuff, doesn't it? :?
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Penfold » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:19 pm

I believe that Sir Terry uses a voice recognition program and dictates straight onto computer which writes it for him. His condition also makes it difficult for him to read as well, so that might be an additional factor into the way the finished article comes out.

Incidentally, I quite enjoyed Snuff but have it on my book pile for a second re-read before making any final stance on it (after all, Unseen Accademicals took me a good three readings before I began to really enjoy it and to see beyond the football story). :D
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Archaeologist » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:29 am

Penfold wrote:I believe that Sir Terry uses a voice recognition program and dictates straight onto computer which writes it for him. His condition also makes it difficult for him to read as well, so that might be an additional factor into the way the finished article comes out.

Incidentally, I quite enjoyed Snuff but have it on my book pile for a second re-read before making any final stance on it (after all, Unseen Accademicals took me a good three readings before I began to really enjoy it and to see beyond the football story). :D


Voice recognition programme? Whoa.

And perhaps a re-read of Snuff at a later stage with absolutely no expectations might be a surprising experience...
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby gribeaux » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:31 pm

How can I add to a thread that has said it all? I suppose I could just say that, having finished my second read of Snuff, I agree with a lot of the very eruditely expressed criticisms. On the other paw, I agree with many of the positive things said about the book too. I have recently re-read ISWM and a number of the older Night Watch books and can see a massive similarity in narrative style between ISWM and Snuff, particularly in the small continuity errors and 'dark' elements. The older Watch books have a more 'in depth' feel about them, and (as others have said) less dialogue.
I agree that UA wasn't much cop, so much so that I probably need to give it a second chance.

I believe that Sir Pterry has a secretary to whom he dictates; he has joked that the man is smart enough to laugh in the right places.
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Re: Snuff *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:08 am

He uses a software called Dragon Dictate.
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