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An excerpt from "Reaper Man" (Terry Pratchett)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:46 am
by StVandal
I've talked about Terry Pratchett before. I know there's at least one other fan of Terry Pratchett here. I've always wanted to write about something I'm reading in one of his books, so here I go. This book is about Death. Death (the Grim Reaper) gets fired by the Powers That Be and he decides to go on a much needed vacation. Just before this information is divulged to Death, Terry Pratchett reveals the conversations in the Disc World (the fantasy setting his books take place in) between humans, trees, and even mayflies on their take on mortality. Here's his story on the mayfly conversation:

Reaper Man, pp 6-9.

"The sun was near the horizon. The shortest lived creatures on the disk were mayflies, which barely made it through twenty-four hours. Two of the oldest zigzagged aimlessly over the waters of a trout stream, discussing history with some of the younger members of the evening hatching.
"You don't get the kind of sun that you used to get." said one of them.
"You're right there. We had proper sun in the good old hours. It were all yellow. None of this red stuff."
"It were higher, too."
"It was. You're right."
"And nymphs and larvea showed you a bit of respect."
"They did. They did." said the other mayfly vehemently.
"I reckon, if mayflies these hours behaved a bit better, we'd still be having a proper sun."
The younger mayflies listened politely.
"I remember," said one of the oldest mayflies, "when all this was fields, as far as you could see."
The younger mayflies looked around.
"It's still fields," one of them ventured, after a polite interval.
"I remember when it was better fields," said the old mayfly sharply.
"Yeah," said his colleague. "And there was a cow."
"That's right! You're right! I remember that cow! Stood right over there for, oh, forty, fifty minutes. It was brown, as I recall."
"You don't get cows like that these hours."
"You don't get cows at all."
"What's a cow?" said one of the hatchlings.
"See?" said the oldest mayfly triumphantly. "That's modern Ephemeroptera for you."
It paused.
"What were we doing before we were talking about the sun?"
"Zigzagging aimlessly over the water." said one of the younger flies. It was a fair bet in any case.
"No, before that."
"Er... you were telling us about the Great Trout."
"Ah, yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you've been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly-"
"-taking heed of your elders and betters-"
"-yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout-"
Clop
Clop

"Yes?" said one of the younger mayflies.
There was no reply.
"The Great Trout what?" said another mayfly, nervously.
They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water.
"The holy sign!" said a mayfly. "I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!"
The oldest of the young mayflies watched the water thoughtfully. It was beginning to realize that, as the most senior fly present, it now had the privilege of hovering closest to the surface.
"They say," said the mayfly at the top of the zigzagging crowd, "that when the Great Trout comes for you, you go to a land flowing with..." Mayflies don't eat. It was at a loss.
"Flowing with water," it finished lamely.
"I wonder," said the oldest mayfly.
"It must be really good there," said the youngest.
"Oh? Why?"
"'Cos no one ever wants to come back."

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:54 am
by Makinamess
:lmao1: Nice excerpt StVandal - that was enough to make me want to read the book ! Thanks.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:21 pm
by StVandal
You'd think after 30-some-odd books, he'd run out of ideas and humor, but he's like a train.. it just keeps going. He's my favorite author.
And he's from jolly old Engleburg. :D

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:33 pm
by Makinamess
StVandal wrote:And he's from jolly old Engleburg. :D


Awww, that's not his fault !

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:36 pm
by bermbits
I have his going postal book, which I couldn't get into. Perhaps I should try again.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:58 pm
by StVandal
I haven't read that one. The first one i every read was "Men at Arms", which was pretty hilarious. They all kind of follow a timeline, but you can read any of them out of order. Here's the order list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:02 pm
by bea
Death is one of my all time favourite book characters. i love reaper man but Mort is my favourite. i recommend it to everyone

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:10 pm
by StVandal
Death is pretty great, though I think Commander Vimes is my favorite character. I want to read Mort, as soon as I can find it.

I loved the part about Death's horse:

In the warm, horsey gloom of the stable, Death's pale horse looked up from its oats and gave a little whinny of greeting. The horse's name was Binky. He was a real horse. Death had tried fiery steeds and skeletal horses in the past, and found them impractical, especially the fiery ones, which tended to set light to their own bedding and stand in the middle of it looking embarassed.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:56 pm
by pilvikki
OMG! this is just too funny! i've lost my reaperman to some kind soul who did not return it and i haven't found it in the stores. and this is THE quote i've wanted to find; it's my favourite.

i have quite the few of his books, but going postal was not a favourite; i did read it but was sorely disappointed.

however, the lates one i read THUD! is back on track.

phew, got me worried for a bit there.

messy, you'll love his books, they're completely nuts, but in an intelligent way, and the more edumacated you are, the more fun they are.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:22 pm
by AJRC_CS
Oh man i love Terry Pratchet and have read everyone of his books, even the ones meant for kids. His latest children's book was called 'Wintersmith' i couldn't wait for my son to finish it so i could read it. :D

I wish he would bring back Rincewind from 'The Colour of Magic.' I loved that character, but Pratchet seems to be concentrating on the Vimes character at the moment.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:48 pm
by pilvikki
the witches were very cool, too.

but i can't actually say who my favourite is...

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:21 am
by StVandal
Well, Nanny Ogg is a woman after my own heart. :wink:

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:17 am
by pilvikki
rofl!

and that CAT! oy!