A Hat Full of Sky

Thanks to Calmgrove and this post, I am currently re-reading and thoroughly enjoying Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching YA novels. Presently, I am on the second of the series (A Hat Full of Sky) and I’m re-experiencing everything that I enjoyed during my first read. That first time, I read the books out of sequence, beginning with the last (The Shepherd’s Crown) which was also (I think) Pratchett’s last published novel. This, in no way, spoiled the reading experience – TP is careful to re-introduce characters, themes and important prior events at the outset of each book.

Similar to the comment during my post about Hokusai’s paintings, I will not attempt an examination of the novel (I’ll leave such writing to those who do it best) but will say that the whole series is one of the most enjoyable I have read and very, very uplifting.

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Image of the cover to the Doubleday edition of Terry Pratchett’s novel “A Hat Full of Sky”. Copyright Paul Kidby 2004.

 

Hiatus and Witch Week

I really do need to take a break from my small kernel of internet activities. I need to find a paying job for financial and health reasons. I shall return in the near future, hopefully when I’ve been successful in finding employment.

Whatever my web presence (or absence), I will be taking part in the Diana Wynne Jones inspired  ‘Witch Week‘ reading of Ursula K Le Guin‘s Earthsea novel “The Other Wind‘.

Take care everybody!

 

Puffin "Earthsea Quartet" cover. Copyright David Borgen / Puffin books.
Puffin “Earthsea Quartet” cover. Copyright David Borgen / Puffin books.

 

iBook and job search

I’m currently juggling work on the e-book with job searching and personal computer swapping (and more general family life). Using an A3 sketch pad (my favourite work medium as I’ve mentioned before now), I’ve mapped out the general plot, making some significant decisions (alterations) as I did so. I’m currently using the excellent Worldbuilding website to make solid some of my more gaseous thoughts. I’m not sure how many contributors on the site are bona fide scientists  but the consensus of opinion on matters seem to give creedence to many answers.

My mate John has gifted me a copy of “The Seedling Stars” by James Blish and I’m currently reading “Surface Tension”. Although I won’t be using any of the ideas directly, I’ve had some ‘offshoot thoughts’ about aspects of my project. I love the way that James Blish explores the idea of existence in the narrative just as UKLG explores ideas about society in “The Dispossessed”. I read (present tense) both narratives as ‘thinking out loud’.

I’m considering producing the e-book as a Bandcamp CD and booklet before a multimedia iBook but will probably change my mind many times over the next few months.

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My friend John asked me a question about something I hadn’t considered – who is the audience for the iBook? I had to confess that I hadn’t really thought about it but that it would be suitable for all audiences. “Young adult then?” he suggested. Now I think about it, it couldn’t be anything else.

What next

I’ve retired from teaching again – this time from supply work rather than a permanent post. It was all just too “Groundhog Day” for my liking (been there, done that, have the tee-shirt). Hopefully, while job hunting, I’ll be able to begin regular posting again and reboot the music and iBook work.

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RIP UKLG

I’m currently knee deep in supply teaching work and trying to work on the Earth Balm Music material, learning much about the limitless possibilities of music software and my limited abilities on the piano keyboard on the way. I have a day’s break today and just as well because I feel compelled to post about the passing of the great Ursula K Le Guin. The news has finally made up my mind for me – she is my favourite author of all that I have read (and she is in some high calibre company with Rosemary Sutcliff, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Philippa Pearce etc.). Her characters are so well developed, her books explore ideas about social systems and politics so subtly and she handles big plot moments so delicately. I’m about to radically thin out my book collection and I’m keeping all of my UKLG books as I know I’ll only regret losing them if I pass them on. Please, let her be known as more than just a science fiction / fantasy author because she was so much more.

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Photograph of author Ursula K Le Guin. Source Wikipedia, credit Gorthian.

Here is a quote from Ursula’s Wikipedia page:

Le Guin exploits the creative flexibility of the science fiction and fantasy genres to undertake thorough explorations of dimensions of both social and psychological identity and of broader cultural and social structures. In doing so, she draws on sociology, anthropology, and psychology leading some critics to categorize her work as soft science fiction. She objected to this classification of her writing, arguing the term is divisive and implies a narrow view of what constitutes valid science fiction. Underlying ideas of anarchism and environmentalism also make repeated appearances throughout Le Guin’s work

Terry Pratchett

Crivens! It was “Wintersmith” what done it!

Wintersmith
Photograph of the cover of Terry Pratchett’s “Wintersmith”. Illustration by Paul Kidby copyright 2006.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m late to the joyous party that is the writings of Terry Pratchett. I’ve just completed reading his third Tiffany Aching novel and he has leapt into  the distinguished company that is my favourite authors. Notably, he is the first male author I have included. He sits with Rosemary Sutcliff, Philipa Pearce, Joan Aiken and Ursula K Le Guin (as I said – ‘distinguished company‘).

Like Le Guin, Pratchett is able to stage epic battles that are fought and won without bloodshed or with very little bloodshed (the way that Tiffany Aching deals with the Wintersmith is a fine example) and he writes about the finiteness of human existence with rare beauty and a certain kind of poetry (the passing of Granny Weatherwax in “The Shepherd’s Crown” is beyond simply moving). And he loves people but hates injustice, that is crystal clear.

Tiffany Aching is a heroine very much in the mould of Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite though far more introspective with her first, second and third thoughts to guide how she acts and reacts. As a Pratchett witch, she constantly puts the welfare of others before her own and strives to learn from each action she takes, often putting aside a response until she has considered alternatives . My kind of protagonist!

Of course, TP spins the narrative with many puns asides and much social commentary. I love the way has footnotes augment the main text.- my particular favourite is *’Werk’… (page 340 of my edition). He has the uncommon ability to create characters that are engaging and complex and this is true equally of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

I’m continually struck by the cinematic and visual quality of Pratchett’s storytelling. He must have imagined these novels as moving pictures, surely!

I have two more Tiffany Aching novels to read – the second and the fourth and then it’s back to the main Discworld novels for me!

But first… I shall treat myself to a reread of “Wee free Men” and “Wintersmith”… you can’t have too much of a good thing.