Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, ISBN9780857522276, RRP $49.99
It is by turns amazing and fortunate (for us readers) that Discworld is now 40; Raising Steam is the 40th novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Look, you all know how I feel about Pratchett, and if this is your first time visiting (Aloha!) then look around! It won’t take long for you to find out.
But back to Raising Steam. We’re back in Ankh-Morpork and back with Moist von Lipwig, raconteur extraordinaire and puppet on a string to Lord Vetinari (aren’t we all, in a way?). After saving the Ankh-Morpork postal service, the Ankh-Morpork bank and the Ankh-Morpork mint, Moist is now charged with taking control of the new steam train service. We’ve got goblins again (they are great characters, incidentally), we’ve got Harry King, we’ve got Moist and Spike, we’ve got dwarves… all the elements are there for a great book.
And it is a great book. I’m damning with strong praise but that’s the Pratchett’s problem: his best books are AMAZING. His not-best books are great.
For new and well-read Pratchett fans Raising Steam will be a good read. The one quibble is it needs a firmer editorial hand, the story is slower than Pratchett’s usual and would have benefited from the odd slash through the longer deflections.
But the good news is Pratchett’s deflections cover the best and most thoughtful parts of the whole Discworld series. He considers racism, how technology changes social interactions, politics, terrorism, religion, gender and identity politics.
Discworld is a mirror to our world, a mirror that shows us as we truly are, shows us our history, and doesn’t let us turn away from the worst and the best parts of ourselves. I should learn not to quibble.
That’s the trouble, you see. When you’ve had hatred on your tongue for such a long time, you don’t know how to spit it out.