"The Last Continent"
Terry PratchettThe most famous author within humourous fantasy is without a doubt Terry Pratchett (1948-). This Englishman worked as a journalist to 1980, and from 1980-87 as a publicity officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board. In 1987 he decided to be a fulltime writer.
During 1996, one percent of all books that was sold in Britain was written by him. An outstanding accomplishment for a single writer.
His first published story was "The Hades Business", a short story which were published in the English sf-magazine "Science Fantasy" (1963). His first novel was a childrens book by the name of "Carpet People" (1971), he had written that book at the age of seventeen. A few years later his next two novels were published; "The Dark Side of the Sun" (1976) and "Strata" (1981), both humourous sf-novels. "Strata" can partly be seen as a parody on Larry Niven's "Ringworld".
In 1983 the first book within fantasy were published.
The name of the novel was "The Colour of Magic" and the setting is the Discworld, a world that shows some similarities with the circular world in "Strata". In this book one will meet the cowardly magician Rincewind, which get stuck with the worlds first tourist, a rather naive and gullible person. The reader will follow their weird adventures in the world.
The Discworld-series is Terry Pratchetts famous series. So far 24 books have been published, and they are all very funny and show no signs of becoming stagnant.
The novels about the Discworld are freestanding, but can roughly be divided in four categories:
The Rincewind-series consists of "The Colour of Magic", "The Light Fantastic" (1986), "Sourcery" (1988), "Eric" (1990), "Interesting Times" (1994) and "The Last Continent" (1998).
The series about the witch Granny Weatherwax starts out with "Equal Rites" (1987) in which she fights to get a talanted girl into the Unseen University where magic is studied.
The stories about DEATH starts with "Mort" (1987) in which DEATH decides to take a vacation and let's his apprentice do the job.
Not that good idea since the apprentice is to kind-hearted for the job.
City Guards or the Night Watch-series begins with "Guards! Guards!" (1989) where the city Ankh-Morpork fears their first murderer.
Other books are "Men at Arms" (1993) and "Feet of Clay" (1996).
In the encylcopedia "Twentieth-Century Science Fiction Writers 2ed edition" (1986), by Curtis Smith, Don D'Ammassa writes:
"Humorous science fiction does not in general sell well and, as of this writing, only Strata has seen a mass market paperback edition in the United States. His [Pratchett's] style is certainly unique enough to attract a following, but it is unclear just how influential his work might ultimately be."
Looking at the genre fantasy now, Terry Pratchett is probably one of the reasons why fantasy have becomed so popular in the 90s. Many that have read Pratchett, but otherwise havn't been interested in fantasy, has started to read other tales of fantasy which are not humourous.
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