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Discworld [series]

Entry updated 15 August 2015. Tagged: Community.

Bestselling comic Fantasy Series which is central to the popularity of Terry Pratchett (see his entry for further discussion). The Discworld setting is a flat world (see Flat Earth) supported by four elephants standing atop a giant spacegoing turtle, this whole ensemble complicatedly orbited by the local sun and moon. Beginning with broad Parody of fantasy authors and tropes in The Colour of Magic (1983), the sequence has developed an sf-like sensibility with its introduction of successive Novums to the world's great, sleazy, London-like City of Ankh-Morpork. Initially mirroring our real world to pun-strewn humorous effect, as with the rise and fall of Cinema in Moving Pictures (1990) and the rock-Music craze of Soul Music (1994), Ankh-Morpork's developing industrial revolution continued with upheavals caused by a high-velocity rifle – invented by the local Leonardo da Vinci figure, Leonard of Quirm – in Men at Arms (1993); Robot-like Golems seeking emancipation from slave status in Feet of Clay (1996) (see Slavery); the printing press and thus newspapers and journalism in The Truth (2000); the Internet-like system of "clacks" semaphore towers that revolutionizes Discworld Communications, as featured in various stories such as The Fifth Elephant (1999) before coming to centre stage in Going Postal (2004); and steam-powered rail Transportation in Raising Steam (2013). Less transformatively, younger wizards at Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University create a semi-magical Computer called Hex in Soul Music, an AI which grows in power and intelligence through subsequent volumes. Further Inventions by Leonard of Quirm include the submarine used for a long journey Under the Sea in Jingo (1997), and a wooden Spaceship developed to avert world Disaster in The Last Hero (2001) – the resulting Fantastic Voyage yielding not only high comedy but genuine Sense of Wonder. Discworld has become a universal setting for tales whose relative proportions of fantasy and sf can vary widely.

The numerous nonfiction spinoff works include The Discworld Companion (1994; rev 1997; rev vt The New Discworld Companion 2003; rev vt Turtle Recall 2012) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, a concordance of characters, places, institutions, and miscellaneous Discworld trivia. [DRL]

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