So Terry Pratchett wrote a book. It’s called “Snuff”. I read it. I read every single word of it. NaNoWriMo starts up next month so I’ll be significantly more busy than I already am now. Otherwise I’d already schedule myself in for a re reading of this book. I tried writing a review of it, but what ended up happening was me just throwing a couple of thousand words at the screen, most of which were incorrect variances on squee sounds. Not so great for reading. Instead I’ll just likely graze over a couple of things that made this book the best thing I’ve read this year.
1. Goblins. The way Terry Pratchett treated goblins in this was awesome. There are some super deep and nuanced social commentaries in there as well as some awesome culture building. The goblins are treated here like they are the low rung of the social fantasy race ladder. The idea being that they’re vermin, and have been treated so poorly for so long by absolutely everyone else on Discworld that they have developed a culture around the very idea that they deserve every bad thing that happens to them. The way this plays out is a special kind of magic.
2. The relationship between Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil. Now there are some cliché quirks about the long standing roles of husbandry and wifery, but they’re laid out skillfully enough as to be funny instead of eye rolling. What makes their relationship so good, is that they move about excellently within the cliché world of old married couples. They are contrasted against the bogus archetypes we see in media all the time of the boring stodgy barely together adversarial married couple to maximum effect. They are written as still being in love with each other, perfectly willing to work together in each other’s strengths and weaknesses, enjoying sex, being able to challenge each other when faulty thinking arises, and being sensible and reasonable parents.
3. Young Sam. I defy you to find me a better written six year old. Go. I’ll wait. . ..
Still waiting. Know why? Cause there isn’t one. It is almost impossible to describe why it’s so well written, but I’ll try. Pratchett totally nails the complete arrogance of a six year old. Not only this but he nails the complete lack of self awareness that six year olds can have at times. He also just nails six year old smarts. Young Sam is a super genius child. He’s a very smart six year old with a very particular interest. He knows a lot about this particular thing and is more than willing to talk to you about like you could give even half a damn. Without just quoting all of his lines from “Snuff” I can’t do it justice. Don’t think you’re going to be getting any of that godawful garbage from “Jerry McGuire” either. That was stilted and overwritten. Young Sam is BRILLIANT.
4. Cops. People who hang around me enough know that I have no love for the modern institution of police and they way they function in society. I also have no dream that policing was ever something great. All the problems of men with too much power and no accountability have been there. Sam Vimes knows all about this. He knows that what makes up coppers is no different from what makes up everyone else. Coppers just have badges and sticks and the legal prerogative to use them. The Ankh-Morpork city watch is an ideal police department. Not because it’s made of a bunch of perfect individuals, but because it strives to not be bad. Sam Vimes works tirelessly to have his coppers not be bad coppers. This book deals with the issues of police brutality well beyond what I ever thought, and handled it better than I’ve ever seen. It also deals with how the law operates in areas without defined organizations and how much trouble that can cause. It’s just the bee’s knees.
5. Class Struggles. This book has some extremely smart ways of discussing class issues in what is a clearly defined class society. It puts out all the archetypes for you to look at and examine. Terry goes about this with clearly skilled precision and nuance. I guess it’s one of those things where it’s just clear that Terry spent a lot of time ironing out all the pieces he wanted to use. Nothing here is shallow. One of my favorite examples is the hot headed working class man who openly speaks out against the idea of a class system. What makes him great is that, while played for laughs, he isn’t made a joke of. He voices real concerns and those concerns are addressed. It looks at what could potentially be wrong with where that righteous indignation is pointed. The more important part, for me, is that he’s never made to lose his fire. He’s righteously indignant about the lots life throws at people even when his situations change vastly. I like that message. I like that as he matures and learns he isn’t silenced. I think it’s an important lesson. Sometimes anger is justified, and even if you can see where the other people are coming from it doesn’t make all situations right.
I don’t want to spoil anything more than I have, but the ending is just handled brilliantly. The way it deals with the law and who it applies to and how social justice is enacted in just too good. Can’t say enough about it without spoiling the shit out of the ending, and I want you to read it.
The most important part of all this book was the subtlety. I’m mentioning pretty blatant stuff here, but the book really sinks into you whenever you spend time reflecting on it further.I guess what I can say about this is that I almost immediately want to read it again to see which things I didn’t pick up on the first go round. There are references to past books and other histories and such that just add a little bit of warmth to your heart. All in all, this is an awesome, awesome book. I give this book four elephants on a giant sea turtle.