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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

You Can't Just Pass Inspiration from One Generation to the Next

Posted by on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM

The New Statesman reveals this bit of unfortunate news from an interview with fantasy author Terry Pratchett:

Terry Pratchett plans to hand over the Discworld series to his daughter Rhianna, he reveals in this week's New Statesman.

I don't care how invested in a work an author's child is, I just don't think there's any way to prevent the passage of a series from one generation to the next from becoming a transition from a literary work to intellectual property. (The most obvious example, of course, is the Dune series, which Frank Herbert's son has now made comically bad.) The Discworld series is an impressive shelf's worth of books, packed with wit and interesting characters that will almost definitely hold up for as long as there are nerdy kids looking for comedic fantasy fiction. Pratchett has entertained a couple generations of readers with his series, and I think it should end with him. This is disappointing.


Comments (25) RSS

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theophrastus 1
That's an understandable point of view from a sense of outside appreciation of the art. But Mr Pratchett is undoubtedly viewing it as a behest toward improving the life of his beloved offspring. and surely since it is his creation he may attempt this.

But have no fear, we'll get our revenge for this perfidy! we'll just not buy any of his child's derivative efforts. That'll show him.
Posted by theophrastus on November 14, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Dougsf 2
I don't know, Family Circus has seamlessly maintained it's spot as the world's most horrifying comic for its entire 50-year run.
Posted by Dougsf on November 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 3
Says the man who was a complete tool and douche on stage when Sir Terry visited us last.

If Terry feels his daughter can handle the reigns of the Disc, then by all means she should. I will be fist in line to buy her first book.
Posted by Akbar Fazil on November 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Personally I think Sir Terry can do what he pleases; he is a very sharp fellow. What's it to you? If you don't like her out-put, then don't read it !
Posted by Jenniferlayne53 on November 14, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
So it's not just politics that sees you make sweeping generalities.

for one - and there are many
Posted by mt on November 14, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
He was going to hand it over to somebody more qualified, but he forgot who it was.
Posted by GermanSausage on November 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Taking a step back from whether Rhianna (who has also been a writer for some time) is able to continue Terry's fine work, I see this as merely part of writing his will.

Discworld is Terry's property, and staring down the barrel of Death's scythe as he is, why wouldn't he pass on this thing that he legally has ownership of, to his children?
Posted by Jonman on November 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Fuck you, I want more of the von Lipwig books.
Posted by JBB on November 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
psbirch 9
If Death can have Susan sub in, there's no reason why Terry can't have Rhianna take the reins.

Besides, it can't be any more of a disappointment than _Making Money_ was.
Posted by psbirch on November 14, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
I trust Wolfgang Van Halen to carry his family torch with dignity, why should I not trust Mz. Pratchett?
Posted by Nezz on November 14, 2012 at 4:10 PM · Report this
Christopher Tolkien should never have published The Silmarillion. I'm with the New York Review of Books, it was an empty and pompous bore.
Posted by originalcinner on November 14, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Report this
JensR 12
I'm sorry Paul... BS. Like @8 said I wan't more. I don't care if the books are written by the family cat or something I will keep reading (future classics like "Cpt Carrot and the great tuna can mysteries" or "Rincewind punches a dog in the face").

Posted by JensR on November 14, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
It wasn't a family relationship, but one of the only times I felt this has been pulled off well is in Robert Heinlein's, "For Us, the Living" (finished by Spider Robinson, published in 2003, 15 years after Heinlein's death).
Posted by Swearengen on November 14, 2012 at 4:51 PM · Report this
eclexia 14
@11, it was the bulk of the work that Tolkien wrote during his life. LoTR was a very late project undertaken when he realized that his notes and stories could not be published in their current form.

It appeals to very few people. That doesn't mean it's not art worthy of distribution.
Posted by eclexia on November 14, 2012 at 5:55 PM · Report this
venomlash 15
I'll look on this with optimism. Hopefully she won't do to her father's work what Jane Lindskold did to "Lord Demon" and "Donnerjack". CURSE YOU JANE LINDSKOLD!
Posted by venomlash on November 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Er, Paul, do the name "Joe Hill" ring a bell? (Frankly, I think he's as good as, and now approaching better than, Mr. King.)

Yes, Brian Herbert isn't the writer his father was. Nor is Christopher Tolkien. But I'm fairly certain that neither of them consulted with their parent (death being a problem in that regard) about continuing the work.

I'm perfectly willing to give Pratchett the Younger a fair shake; her father went from reasonably good/funny with the first Discworld books, to brilliant/fall-down-laughing with the later ones, to a brief trough of not-quite-as-good when the Alzheimer's kicked in, and has now clawed his way back up almost to the peak. (Not always with Discworld, either; Nation and Dodger are two of his best lately.)

And ultimately, though we're the audience, it's his universe and stories. I have no more problem with him passing the torch to his daughter than I do with Harlan Ellison's stated wish (publicly confirmed by his wife) that any unfinished pieces be taken out of his files and burned when he dies.
Posted by DonServo on November 14, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Report this
McJulie 17
I have absolutely no problem with this. Either they will suck, in which case I won't have to buy them, or they will not suck, and that will make me happy.

Unless she's planning to re-release the original Pratchett works in some edited form (possibly with ridiculous CGI added), and also make it impossible to acquire them in their original form. That would make me very unhappy.
Posted by McJulie on November 14, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
Hyzenthlayk9 18
@9 It also struck me that this echoes Susan stepping in for Death.

It is likely that they have discussed her taking the reigns at length, and that should make for a better transition than if Discworld were taken over by a disinterested publishing concern and given to someone who had no relation or love for the works that have gone before.

As @17 said, if they're good then fine; if they're bad or worse she tries to control or modify the original works (Disney-fication) then it will be a much sadder situation.
Posted by Hyzenthlayk9 on November 14, 2012 at 8:39 PM · Report this
I'm sure none of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.'s children ever played any of his tunes.
Posted by madcap on November 14, 2012 at 9:18 PM · Report this
Jessica 20
Hopefully she does better than Todd McCaffrey, who managed to finally scare me off of the Pern books after 20 years.
Posted by Jessica on November 14, 2012 at 9:27 PM · Report this
@ 3 & 18: For the love of small gods, people, it's take the REINS, the things that control a horse, not the reigns, or times of a monarch's rule.

Anyway, I agree--if Rhianna's books are good, yay, if not, then that's over.
Posted by fruitbat on November 14, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this
@17 Exactly.

Either she will write books I enjoy, in which case, more power to her and it will be a joy to continue the series and watch it move in new directions, or they will suck, in which case, I don't have to buy new ones and can happily keep rereading the ones I already have.

Posted by Lymis on November 15, 2012 at 6:42 AM · Report this
Says the man who was a complete tool and douche on stage when Sir Terry visited us last.
? Care to elaborate on that?
Posted by seeker6079 on November 15, 2012 at 6:44 AM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 24
@23 I found Paul's interview style to be rather heavy handed and full of himself. Nor did he take the time to realize that Sir Terry should have had a mic stand. Half the show we could not hear a thing he said before they got him a stand for the mic. Plus those atrocious red boots Paul was wearing were a distraction to the eyes and an affront to fashion.

@21, I blame Paul. His ass-hattery often makes me misspell words. Although in internet misspellings, 'Reign' is not as bad as 'here, here'
Posted by Akbar Fazil on November 15, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Christopher Tolkien doesn't claim to be a writer. He's publishing his father's Nachlass and trying to sort out which version of a given story is most likely to be the one that fits JRR's mythic world. This is rather different from Pratchett's daughter taking over the writing franchise and producing original works. Personally, I thought Pratchett became rather predictable after the first four or five books, likable chap though he seems to be. Maybe his daughter can take the Discworld to new and interesting places?
Posted by NickT on November 18, 2012 at 6:15 AM · Report this

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