Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Raising Steam

I received the latest of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books a few days ago. It was interesting to read his take on railways given the way that he generally tackles the different subjects that his books deal with. It was nice to see that he actually researched railways before writing the book so that the railway related content could be reasonably realistic (given that it is after all a fantasy novel).

Perhaps the thing that stood out most to me that is railway related was where he has train spotters in their anoraks standing alongside the original test track waiting to write “1” in their notebooks when they spot the very first locomotive as it goes past. The slightly longer section that was also interesting was dealing with various landowners trying to get permission to run the railway through their land. Unfortunately most of the book seemed to be dealing with topics other than railways with the railway relegated to the background.

A lot of the character from prior books put in an unnecessary cameo in this book. In every case the mention of those characters does nothing to progress the story, it just makes the book slightly bigger and reminds you of some of the other characters.

The main part of the story appears to be about terrorism and the railway is simply another target for attack alongside the clacks. In fact with all the attacks on the railway you start to wonder why this relatively slow form of transport is being used in a situation where speed is important – why didn’t they use the magic coach from earlier stories that is much faster and wouldn’t have had the unrealistic requirement of having to lay so much track to get the railway to where they needed to go (it might have been different had the railway already reached that point in the railway book before the start of the terrorism book but not with both topics jumbled together in the one book).

It seems that sir Terry has decided that he will not have time to write separate books on all the topics he’d like to cover and so instead of covering some of them properly he is covering each in a lot less detail by combining several together in the one story – resulting in non of them being covered properly.

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