Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Book 8 of 2015: Strata by Terry Pratchett

Away back in January this year I decided to work through the remaining unread Terry Pratchett books that I have in my collection. I had started with The Dark Side of the Sun around a month beforehand and so tackled Strata towards the end of January.

Strata is a science fiction novel published way back in 1981 and is a kind of test run before he went all out with the concept of the Discworld. It follows the character of Kin, who helps build planets, as she is recruited to attempt to find a 'flat Earth'. So she travels across the galaxy with a motley collection of aliens in search of this mystery planet and the reason for its existence.

I do have to admit that I wouldn't class Terry Pratchett's sci-fi books among my favourites. I read The Carpet People many years ago and I really enjoyed that, but I just couldn't get on with The Dark Side of the Sun. Strata kind of bridges the gap between the two. I did prefer this one to The Dark Side of the Sun. It just felt more well-rounded and seemed easier to follow compared to the earlier novel.

That said, it did get a little trickier to keep up with during the second half. It wasn't a long read, but I felt like I was dragging my heels a little once I got past the middle. I feel like in the beginning Terry Pratchett was really good at setting up a story but then would end up with lots of tangled strands which he couldn't quite keep straight enough to give them all the same weight.

It's ironic that this is one of the things I love most of all about his later Discworld novels. He sets up all these strands and then gradually brings them all together to weave them into the end of the story. I think it's something which he took a while to perfect, but it's interesting to see that he was working on it right back in his earliest novels.

Strata is also full of little jokes and one-liners. It's just what I've come to expect from a Terry Pratchett novel. There are lots of little links to the Discworld books; the idea behind the Disc actually gets mentioned by the characters at one point! I caught a reference to a bar called The Broken Drum at one point as well.

Reading these early Pratchett books has shown me that he was playing around with the idea of Discworld for many years before it became the familiar place we've come to know and love today. I wish that I'd read these books many years before so that I could've asked him about them when I met him. I'd love to know more about when he came up with Discworld and whether he intended it to be a sci-fi story before it finally settled on the fantasy genre.


  1. I keep picking up Terry Pratchett books and putting them down again ... You're tempting me to have another go.

    1. I wouldn't recommend starting with his really early stuff. If you're wanting to try the Discworld books you should try the Witches ones, or start with the Tiffany Aching books. The great thing about them is that within the whole Discworld series, there are lots of sub-series you can read and enjoy without reading the other books.

      Non-Discworld-wise, I'd recommend The Bromeliad or The Carpet People. :-)

      You'll have to let me know what you think when you try them.


Let me know what you think. :-)