Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Terry Pratchett at the Sydney Opera House, Sunday April 17th 2011

 There was a definite sense of community amongst the Terry Pratchett fans on Sunday night, from those who dressed up to the children and grandparents clutching their copies of Pratchett's 40+ books (not all at once, of course). The event, held at the Sydney Opera House (The inspiration for the Bugarup Opera House in the Discworld novel The Last Continent, a hilarious parody of Australia), meant to be a discussion between Pratchett and Australian author Garth Nix, was very relaxed and the conversational style created a kind of like-mindedness amongst the audience, as though we were all in on the joke- the satirical look at the world and conventions that we know. 

Although the event was supposed to be an hour long it went almost half an hour over time, prolonged by Pratchett's desire to hand deliver some plastic hog's teeth to the audience (a little in joke for those who've read or seen the television adaptation of his novel Hogfather). For a man of humour it was interesting to note how much of the hour and half was spent discussing serious topics such as death, assisted dying, and other forms of suicide, as well as religion. Pratchett also had a few questions for Julia Gillard which were published in the Sydney Morning Herald asking why assisted suicide is illegal in Australia. With suicide no longer illegal why should assisted suicide be so?

The idea of fantasy as a re-emerging and increasingly popular genre was touched upon, which links to Pratchett's idea that Booker Prize nominations create a genre themselves. He said fantasy was now "allowed to come in the house so long as it wiped its feet. But we'd still prefer it take its meals in the kitchen." This comes as an interesting addition to the International Booker Prize shortlist announced last month, specifically the inclusion of Philip Pullman. Is fantasy (and science fiction) really over-coming literary prejudices? And if so, is anything being gained (or lost) as a result?

There was also a reading of Snuff, Terry Pratchett's latest book, which comes out in October, and went over very well with the crowd. It demonstrated Pratchett's trade mark humour and looks to be a great addition to the Discworld. Let's hope it isn't the last.

Written by Emma & Elissa

For Terry Pratchett's work try The Colour of Magic, the very first Discworld novel, Small Gods, Monstrous Regiment, or Good Omens, a novel written with Neil Gaiman of Stardust, Coraline and Sandman fame. For the article from the SMH go here. 

For Garth Nix's work try (Elissa's favourite) The Ragwitch, (Emma’s favourite) Shade’s Children or his Keys to the Kingdom series, starting with Mister Monday.

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