An excerpt from "Theif of Time" (Terry Pratchett)

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An excerpt from "Theif of Time" (Terry Pratchett)

Postby StVandal » Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:52 pm

I just can't read enough Terry Pratchett. A friend let me borrow their copy of Theif of Time. Here's part of the intro, pp 6-7.


For something to exist, it has to be observed.
For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.
And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.
Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivelent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.*
Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.
And if you want the story, then remember that a story does not unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space-time, which is the perfect moment.

Supposing an emperor was pursuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose materials were so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren't there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud, clear voice...
Then you have The Story of the Emperor Who Had No Clothes.
But if you knew a bit more, it would be The Story of the Boy Who Got A Well-Deserved Thrashing from His Dad for Being Rude to Royalty, and Was Locked Up.
Or The Story of the Whole Crowd Who Were Rounded Up by the Guards and Told 'This Didn't Happen, Okay? Does Anyone Want to Argue?'
Or it could be a story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefits of the 'new clothes', and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports** in a lively and refreshing atmosphere which got many more adherents every year, and led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.
It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.
It depends on how much you know.

Supposing you'd watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham! Tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack...
...you'd want to know the whole story.
And this one starts with desks.


*Except in very small universes.
**Mostly involving big, big beachballs.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
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Postby pilvikki » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:42 pm

my pratchetts have been in boxes in the basement for 6 months now and i'm starting to suffer withdrawal. mind you, the latest THUD! was a good one, too.

but someone lifted it....
Somebody's boring me. I think it's me.

Dylan Thomas (1914-53)
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