swreader wrote:I hate to quarrel with you Jan, but it's simply not true that there were no other comic writers of sci-fi/fantasy at the time. Robert Asprin, for example, began the Myth series before Terry (and died in 2008 in bed where he had been reading a Terry Pratchett book). There were others--but not many who developed in the ways that Terry did.
No quarrel Sharlene - I wasn't trying to say that Terry was the first comic fantasy writer just that there was (almost) nothing like his writing out there in the early 1980s. I don't know Robert Asprin (so thanks for the recommendation
) so he just wasn't on my radar and, as you say there aren't that many centrally and successful humourous works in the SF&F genre even now.
Thinking about this seriously for a moment - on the SF&F humour front it's actually far more realistic to cite movies and TV for bringing in comedy elements to 'imaginative unrealities' reading. How about Star Trek? Admittedly heavy-handed (it's Bill Shatner-oriented so it would hardly be that classy
) there's a fair bit of humour in there - I nearly dislocated my jaw laughing at the Trouble with Tribbles
the 1st time and there was another one with several series of beautiful female androids too, but I can't remember the name
There were some nice comic touches in Forbidden Planet too (wonderful Leslie Nielsen
) but I think Star Wars, 6 years before CoM (come on! It's fantasy space cowboys/Robin Hood/King Arthur isn't it?
) is possibly where people began to be receptive to deliberate touches of humour and comic set-pieces in their more fantastic genres. In fact humour's present in most of the SF&F genre to some degree, just not as the central element (Tolkien's hobbits are very funny in places for instance, even without the 2nd breakfast quips...
). So I think there's always been the possibility for humour, but the thing with Discworld is that it's parody and satire come through very strongly and that's where so few fantasy writers can come close to Terry and in his best books have no hope of bettering him.
To really love a book there has to be a reason behind it and I love CoM for what it was at the time - a rare and special discovery that led into a lot of pleasure and laughter. CoM literally 'called' to me - also why Josh Kirby will always be closest to my heart as THE Discworld illustrator - because it was the cover that made me pick it up in the first place and buy it with barely a glance at the 1st page, which for me is a very unusual action because I'm generally very picky about buying books, especially by authors I don't know.
Of course it's not the best of Terry by a long way, but it signifies the start of something very special and I won't criticise it simply because it can no longer compete with greater books - if he hadn't written CoM and LF they would never have been written at all perhaps.