Re: Self-reference: Death and syntax
Posted by: Jazz_Sue
Date: May 27, 2008 05:01PM
It's the author's dilemma, isn't it? Terry Pratchett had the same problem. What do you do when you're running short on ideas for the limited space and creations you have so far? Either a) 'Kill' the existing series off with a big full stop and restart with new leads, but in the same environment. This would upset a lot of people who love the existing characters and want to see more, but would also introduce a whole load of new ffans. Or b) Keep your leads, but introduce a whole load of new characters/side-plots that could then be developed in future books. For the author, this would be like starting from scratch again, but without sacrificing any old friends.
Or c) Do both. This is what both Pterry and Jasp have done - and both at the book 5 mark. Originally, 'Jingo' was considered a poor follow-up to the rest of the Guards books but, on a reread, after several more had been added to the Guards list, I realised it was a brilliant novel - the writing style was darker, less openly comical, and it introduced both completely new characters who have since become 'stars' in their own right, as well as the concept of Vimes et al moving outside of the sphere (excuse the pun) of Ankh Morpork. Later, of course, we got books like Going Postal - same world, but a whole new set of characters. I chatted to Pterry himself once, at a convention, and he admitted that, much as he loved Vimes, he was starting to feel the need to 'expand' into new, uncharted Discworld territory.
Look at TN5 again - we now have an extended Hades family, with at least 2 new 'baddies' still in existence, plus the real TN now has a handy self-made 'mole' in the bookworld, which could lead to all sorts of exciting new plotlines. We still, thank the GSD, have the concept of time travel (previously unknown events in Thursday's past are mentioned in passing here, which to my mind means they will have an integral part in future books.) As to the Spike 111 plotline etc - could this not be a way of giving these characters their own future novels, ones in which Thursday has just a passing role, the same way Terry gives Vimes a 'walk-on' part in Making Money and various other books? I'd love to see a Spike series, and what's the betting Mycroft would turn up again, albeit in a different guise, if that was the case?! Lastly, we now have a young male hero in the form of Friday, who has all sorts of adventures we have yet to hear about in detail, even if Grandpa has hung up his spurs (at least for now). Thursday is 50 now, so perhaps this book signalled the start of her retirement into the background, whilst others take the lead?
Perhaps all this does make the book look a bit more 'messy' than the previous 4, but it still reads better than anything Tom Holt has written (yes, I admit I was wrong on that score) and has opened up all sorts of fresh and exciting possibilities in my mind - after all, Thursday winning the croquet World Tornament was a total 'wrap' on its own. JF must have been wracking his brains to follow it up.
My hope is that J.K Rowling will see sense, bring Sirius back from the dead, and give him - and his flying motor bike - their very own, adult series (possibly aided by a younger wizard sidekick who is now safely into drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll)