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Five (Non-Discworld) Works by Terry Pratchett You Should Read

Terry Pratchett is dead and the world is a poorer place for it. But before he left the world, he graced it with many, many, many novels, most of them set in the world (and mirror of worlds) of Discworld. And while Discworld is wonderful (it provokes wonder), that's not the only work he has written. Here are five you should definitely read:

The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy

The Johnny Maxwell trilogy consists of the books Only You Can Save Mankind (1992), Johnny and the Dead (1993), and Johnny and the Bomb (1996). It's main character is, of course, Johnny Maxwell, a twelve-year-old who lives in the English town of Blackbury. Aside from a difficult home life, Johnny is basically a normal kid...until weird stuff starts happening to him. The first, in Only You Can Save Mankind, is when the fictional aliens (the ScreeWee Empire) in a video game surrender to him. In Johnny and the Dead, he starts seeing dead people and in Johnny and the Bomb, he discovers the local bag lady is a time traveler. Each book places strange situations around Johnny and his friends Wobbler and Bigmac and Yo-less (called because he doesn't say "Yo"), which they handle with unusual aplomb. Although the first book is somewhat dated now, it still is incredibly well written and funny, with the usual Pratchettian satirical humor embedded deep.


The Bromeliad Trilogy

This trilogy consists of Truckers (1989), Diggers (1990), and Wings (1990). I don't think you can get any of them individual anymore, but that doesn't matter, because you should really read them all together. They are about a race of tiny Nomes - some Nomes live outside, trying to get a truck to escape an overpass, and some Nomes live inside what they call 'The Store.' The Nomes in the store have developed an entire religion about it and don't believe the Nomes from outside exist, because the Store states it contains 'All Things Under One Roof.'

Pratchett satirizes religion and capitalist culture, with the Store as the Nomes religion, even as he deftly handles writing an entire miniscule culture.


Nation (2009)

Oh god, Nation is one of my absolutely favorite books ever. Mau comes from the island, where his people are the Nation. But the Nation is dead — a giant tsunami came and wiped most of them out, including a nearby ship. The only survivor of the ship, a girl named Ermintrude (she quickly renames herself Daphne) teams up with Mau to survive.


Nation is not as funny as some other Pratchett works (although it has funny moments). It's dark — it begins with lots of people dying — but it quickly becomes about one boy's attempt not just to survive, but to rebuild his Nation and to prove that he doesn't need any gods, that he can help others, that he can even stand against Death itself.

Again: I love this freaking book.


Dodger (2012)

Hey, did you ever want to read Terry Pratchett writing a Charles Dickens story? Well, this is it: Dodger is a street urchin (more specifically, a tosher, someone who scavengers in the sewers) who comes across a beaten young woman and decides to protect her. It also stars Charles Dickens himself, along with Henry Mayhew, Angela Burden-Coutts, Benjamin Disraeli, and other real characters from the late Victorian era.


It's a bit different from the normal Pratchett novel (it eschews satirizing modern culture too much, instead satirizing Victorian culture), but it's also just a really good adventure story.

Also, just try to find all the different references to the Victorian Era.


Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990), co-written with Neil Gaiman

And, finally, I cannot leave off without recommending this book, even if Pratchett was only the co-writer. This is my comfort book — well, this or Witches Abroad or Maskerade. One of those.


If you don't know the plot, here it is: Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon who is did not Fall as much as Saunter Vaguely Downwards) are friends. The End Times are coming and everything is happening, except Crowley and Aziraphale kind of like Earth and people and don't really want the world to end. So they try to find the Antichrist...except somehow, he's been switched at birth.

Also, there's a Witchfinder named Newton Pulsifer and a witch named Anathema Device (they named it after a member of her family) and a Hellhound named Dog and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (well, they don't ride horses and one of them's a woman and also Pestilence quit after penicillin was invented and he was replaced by Pollution, but still) and if I haven't convinced you by now to read this, let me just say: read this book.

Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.


So there you go. Five works (two of them trilogies, so a total of nine books) by Terry Pratchett you should read. There are more than even I haven't read — I need to get my hands on Strata and The Carpet People one of these days, early works of his that I don't think have been reprinted. And there's the Long Earth series, books Pratchett co-wrote with Stephen Baxter — The Long Earth, The Long War, and The Long Mars have come out so far.

Today has been a sad day, but when I think of these books and their impact on me, it gets a tiny bit brighter.

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