Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:17 am

Tiffany wrote:I enjoyed the book. I do like TP's witch books best though.

So you won't want to know about the new Tiffany book that Terry is writing then. :lol:
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Tiffany » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:45 am

Who's Wee Dug wrote:
Tiffany wrote:I enjoyed the book. I do like TP's witch books best though.

So you won't want to know about the new Tiffany book that Terry is writing then. :lol:


Wow! Yes, I do, very muchly. :lol: When will that be out, do you know?
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:49 pm

It's what he told me when I was down for Hogwatch in Wincanton, so it will be a year at the very least! I should think. :D
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:27 pm

Who's Wee Dug wrote:It's what he told me when I was down for Hogwatch in Wincanton, so it will be a year at the very least! I should think. :D

Allowing 6 months to a year to write it and 6 months to edit it, adding the usual delays, I'd guess two years to see print in the USA.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:46 pm

[Spoilers ahead]


Okay, thanks to Bouncy's generosity, I've finished the book.

I could write pages on this, but I think what I conclude is that this is what we're going to have to expect the future of Pterry's books to be like. Guess what: his writing style IS influenced by his Alzheimer's; it has been at least since Unseen Academicals. I've said this both here and in reviews of UA, Snuff and Dodger and I say it here. What this reflects is a dictated style that often leads of rambling long paragraphs and the replacement of quick dialogue with long-winded speeches. As someone who has known many people with Alzheimer's, some of whom were writers, this is a completely consistent was for a writer who can longer write economically (or even write themselves on paper or a computer) to write.

Overall, I liked Raising Steam much more than Snuff. Perhaps because I came into with far-lowered expectations after the huge disappointment of Snuff. A lot of this I think in its guilty pleasures: Seeing Pterry 'flesh out' favorite (and not favorite) characters like Harry King, the Low King, Albert Albrechtson, even Drumknott. Having Pterry add new geography, towns, and peoples to the Discworld, particularly to the cities of the Sto Plains and the mountains, is also a pleasure. Showing more of the married relationship between Moist and Adorabelle (with implied sex, even, although why don't they have children after probably five or more years of marriage?) and his turning of Effie King into something more than a aristocrat wanna-be are also admirable. The plot itself, while not highly dramatically gripping (let's face it; the train battles were simply the riverboat ride of Snuff on rails), was, particularly near the end, compelling.

But, in spite of all this, it's very hard to read this and see the gigantic decline in Pterry's ability to write in the spare, economic, and funny style of his greatest books. At this best, Pterry made every word count. Like the best works of P.G. Wodehouse, nearly every non-dialogue phrase was a pearl of wit. Dialogue, rather than narration, moved scenes forward. Footnotes were mostly funny. And few things were rarely spelled out--you often had to infer what was going on by all the dialogue clues.

That era is gone. Pterry now overwrites nearly everything. I almost gave up after the first 20 pages or so, because of this endless exposition where he was trying to explain everything and provide unneeded backstory. The occasional dialogue that occurred wasn't even dialogue--it was one long speech, followed by more long speeches, followed by more exposition.

And--most regrettably--there is no longer humor. Instead of the crackling dialogue that not only made you laugh but helped to "flesh out" character types, the speeches and rare dialogues changes are overburdened with slang, idioms and puns, as it much of the narration. Over and over Pterry repeats phrases in sentences, trying to wrench a laugh where it doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, not only is this not funny, but it also reduces most of the characters to a level of sameness. At one time, Moist's use of words was his greatest strength--here, he's a straight man most of the time. His dialogue is barely different than Vimes, which differs not at all from his long-winded dialogue of Snuff. Again and again, characters have to remind Moist that he is Moist von Lipvig, and what that means. It's a terrible narrative weakness--forced memes--and there's very little that Moist actually says that reminds us of the classic Moist of Going Postal (or the best parts of Making Money).

The other characters fair little better. Dick Simnell(sp.) just seems like a tinkerer version of Dodger. Pterry doesn't seem to know what to do with him--he sings with one note. While it's great to see Harry King have a prominent role, the tough pragmatist of The Truth and Making Money becomes a soppy, sentimental creampuff here.

Vetinari is nearly completely unrecognizable. The coolest man on the DW now gets furious over little things like crosswords? And all of his understated menace has been replaced by obvious menace. How many times does he have to repeat that he's a tyrant or that he can torture people? The old Vetinari never had to do this--one arched eyebrow was all you needed to know.

And the talking golem horse? Weren't we led to understand in Making Money that these golems had no chems and therefore no intelligence or free will? Yet, now the golem horse can not only talk, but it it can sarcastic as well. Then doesn't that make keeping the 5,000 golems underground (except when they're need as bridge supports) a crime against sentient beings?

And that he just brings in characters for the hell of it--none of the wizards have any useful role here, and bringing in Lu Tze for a cameo--is just plain pandering. I'm surprised Granny Weatherwax and Susan didn't have a cameo (although I'm betting that the woman applying for a job as an interpreter who spoke every single languange might have been her).

The only characters who seem to be believable are the dwarfs, perhaps because we haven't see much of them in recent books. But now all the trolls seem to have ice packs on their foreheads--how come Bluejohn doesn't use the "dems and deres" like Detritus?

I think what's most annoying, in spite of the bloodshed in the book, is the general polyannish nature of most of it. Except for the attacks and the occasional boiler blowout, everything bounces merrily along. Pterry is trying to hard to create--dare I say it--a politically correct world that says that every species is smart and has its own virtues and Nutt-like "worth"--makes the book incredibly cloying, reading more like a young adult book teaching a lesson on tolerance than an adult Discworld book.

Pterry is trying. Trying very hard to continue to writing when his illness is clearly affecting his ability to write with the economy and sharpness of his best work. But, as I've said in the reviews of his last few novels, he's not getting edited properly. The huge number of typos, the prevelance of sloppy writing, and the lack of a firm hand at the editor's control is taking its toll on his last works. Obviously, one can't expect an author to keep the perfection after 40 books, and many of the greatest writers went into a tailspin in their latter years (just look at all 1950s work of WIlliam Faulker, or contemporary authors like America's Tony Hillerman for examples). Maybe even if he wasn't afflicted by Alzheimer's Pterry's work would have declined in quality. Who knows?

It's fair to game to criticize the work of any author, even those we love. Pterry chooses to publish still, and he knows that he's going to be lambasted by readers and critics, even those who have are his most ardent (pun) admirers. He's still going to sell millions of copies of Raising Steam, and what any of us here or any Amazon critics say isn't going to affect sales. If you're a Pterry fan, you'll read it.

But, after reading Raising Steam, especially so soon after re-reading some of the classic DW books, it's sad to see that this is what we have to look forward to. Again, it's not a terrible book, but compared to his greatest works, it's a pale shadow.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Antiq » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:48 pm

I have just finished reading Raising Steam. I loved it.

I have read a lot of the reviews and criticisms, and I understand some of the consternation many people feel. Initially, my reaction to Vetenari in particular was...woah, wait, what the heck? Vetenari was never that voluble, or expressive except in the most subtle way, and indeed there was some rambling and perhaps dilution of the usual sharpness of satire.

But...there is something very special about this book. It's gentler, sweeter, and, taken as a whole, sadder in that it feels like a "wrapping up" of Discworld, a last hurrah. All the cameos, which to some might seem scrappy or even irrelevant, felt like a cast gathering to take a bow. I don't want this to be the case, I really really don't, but that's what it seemed like to me.

Raising Steam did what every other discworld novel did for me, it made me laugh out loud more than once. From The Colour of Magic to this, Sir Terry has never once failed me in that respect. He has made my life better, and sometimes even bearable, and if he scratched the alphabet on the wall with crayons, I don't think I could love him any less as an author. Not an objective or critically discerning view, I know, but the heck that :lol: I treasure every drop of ink from his metaphorical pen, and if all that is left eventually are blots and splatters, I don't really care, it's good as diamonds to me.

Having said all that, I really did love Raising Steam, warts and all.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Penfold » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:13 pm

I've a feeling that he will be paving the way for 'The Watch' tv series with this and the next few books and once that starts it will be the end of writing DW for him. :think:
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:26 pm

Penners there is still the new Tiffany one to come out this year. :D
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Penfold » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:57 pm

I know and the tv series won't be out for a few years yet. :D
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:54 pm

Later this year or early next year or so I'm led to believe. :mrgreen:
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Catch-up » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:07 am

Finished it! :D Thought it was a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. Got a huge kick out of all the cameos/special mentions. It seems the only characters not mentioned were the witches! I am still having a hard time with a chattier Vetinari. Not saying it's bad, just not used to it. Knowing about the double makes me wonder if that's the reason for the chattiness? Charlie is trying too hard? And I have to say that the arrival of the King felt very anti-climatic. All that drama, all those murders, attempted murders, and the vandalism, then when it comes down to it there's only a little scuffling followed immediately by hand shaking and quaffing? That didn't quite seem right. But, still had a lot of fun reading it! :D I absolutely loved Mr. Simnel!
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Slantaholic » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:26 pm

Catch-up wrote:
I am still having a hard time with a chattier Vetinari. Not saying it's bad, just not used to it. Knowing about the double makes me wonder if that's the reason for the chattiness? Charlie is trying too hard?


I think Vetinari's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He's showing signs of madness, especially staring at the wall and raging over a crossword. His dialogue has always been weird - it's really hard to mimic him in fanfiction. I recall Terry Pratchett mentioning that he's hard to write as he's more intelligent than the author!

He, judging by his attitude towards Vimes, is an irate introvert who loves paperwork yet talks 'high up' about everything really. Some intelligent people mention talking 'high up' inside their heads. Vetinari also has multiple thinking/pausing noises - namely "Ah", "Oh", "Er" and infrequently "Um", as well as shuffling bits of paperwork.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby pip » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:40 pm

I think the element of confusion surrounding Vetinari was introduced in the book. Its hard to make a judgement on his character as only on a few occasions can you be sure it is or isn't actually him.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby Catch-up » Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:34 am

Slantaholic wrote:
Catch-up wrote:
I am still having a hard time with a chattier Vetinari. Not saying it's bad, just not used to it. Knowing about the double makes me wonder if that's the reason for the chattiness? Charlie is trying too hard?


I think Vetinari's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He's showing signs of madness, especially staring at the wall and raging over a crossword. His dialogue has always been weird - it's really hard to mimic him in fanfiction. I recall Terry Pratchett mentioning that he's hard to write as he's more intelligent than the author!

He, judging by his attitude towards Vimes, is an irate introvert who loves paperwork yet talks 'high up' about everything really. Some intelligent people mention talking 'high up' inside their heads. Vetinari also has multiple thinking/pausing noises - namely "Ah", "Oh", "Er" and infrequently "Um", as well as shuffling bits of paperwork.


Actually, reading this, all of those things make sense if it IS a double doing them.
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Re: Raising Steam *Warning Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:18 am

Catch-up wrote:Actually, reading this, all of those things make sense if it IS a double doing them.

I am now convinced that it is Charlie most of the time. The team of Drumknott-and-Charlie are doing rather well except for Charlie's tendency to overact. (I've been sent over here from the other RS thread because of spoilers.) The impressive stoker that other stokers tell about is, I am certain, Vetinari, who has been training as a stoker. Nobody can lay a blow on him in a fight - that's Vetinari, keeping tabs on things in person, and not so incidentally, literally stoking the fires that keep the whole enterprise going.

Hmm. Looking at it again, I am struck by the brief scene in which an unnamed stoker fries eggs on the back of his shovel for himself and the engineer. Eating eggs, especially in company, can in some circumstances have resonances with myths both ancient and modern. Sharing an egg is a Sumerian funeral scene. In some modern fiction, villains will eat hardboiled eggs in a scene in which they are trapping someone and gloating; but this is just a friendly fry-up, isn't it?
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