29 May, 2017

Faust Eric by Terry Pratchett

1. This book returns to the format of the first two in the series: four interconnected short stories. It’s better as a novel than those early ones—Pratchett has learned a lot about telling a good story since then—but it’s still underwhelming. That’s not to say I did not like the book—some moments are extremely memorable. But it’s not one I’ll return to often.
Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It's the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.

2. My biggest problem is still with the format. These four stories explore different themes and situations.
—The first wish is to rule the world, and the story takes place in an age of exploration, South American analogy. Quetzalcoatl and Ponce de Leon are parodied. It’s about the nature of gods and belief.
—The second wish is the most beautiful woman in all of history. This story takes place during the discworld equivalent of the Trojan war. Homer is parodied—Helen as an aging mother with a mustache, a Trojan Horse when the men come out of the anus of the animal, etc. This is about believing history and artistic license.
—The third is to live forever, and the story takes place in the discworld’s pre-history. This is mostly an extended joke on the literal meaning of living forever and was a short section. The point being that new experiences are denied the immortal.
—The fourth story is in hell, which is a giant bureaucracy with some distinct, Dantean levels. This portion parodies Faust most directly by acting as a sort of behind the scenes peek at the whole story. The backstory of Faust.
—Again, we have a character on a journey with little else in the way of continuity between these four stories. Rincewind simply snaps his fingers and they teleport through time and space. That’s not much of continuity, I think. And this lack of continuity means that the story should probably be read in four sittings, rather than all at once. Maybe it would be better that way.
“But I read where she was the most beautiful—”

“Ah, well,” said the sergeant. “If you’re going to go around reading—”

“The thing is,” said Rincewind quickly, “it’s what they call dramatic necessity. No one’s going to be interested in a war fought over a, a quite pleasant lady, moderately attractive in a good light. Are they?”

Eric was nearly in tears. “But it said her face launched a thousand ships—”

“That’s what you call metaphor,” said Rincewind.

“Lying,” the sergeant explained, kindly.

3. But the real positive from this book is the theme: this parody of history and metaphysics from our world, played up by simply looking at it all from a slightly different angle. This is where the humor of this book sits. Yes, the characters and situations and descriptions and dialogue and worldbuilding are all funny. But the humor in Pratchett’s speculations about these historical and metaphysical things is really the highlight. For instance, hell isn’t a pit of fire or other people here, it’s a bureaucracy. The way this idea plays out is hilarious.
Rincewind trudged back up the beach. “The trouble is,” he said, “is that things never get better, they just stay the same, only more so.”

4. So that’s Faust Eric, a parody of Faust that’s not actually about Faust. It’s disjointed but it shows an emphasis on parodying our own world that is endearing. This was my first time reading it and I’m not sure I’ll go back to it again. I might, as I study the periods and topics discussed, re-read portions of it, but the structure really lets it down.

The consensus seemed to be that if really large numbers of men were sent to storm the mountain, then enough might survive the rocks to take the citadel. This is essentially the basis of all military thinking.
No enemies had ever taken Ankh-Morpork. Well technically they had, quite often; the city welcomed free-spending barbarian invaders, but somehow the puzzled raiders found, after a few days, that they didn't own their horses any more, and within a couple of months they were just another minority group with its own graffiti and food shops.

No comments:

Post a Comment