cover image A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction

Terry Pratchett. Doubleday, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-53832-9

Diehard Pratchett fans will celebrate this first-ever collection of short fiction from the world-famous author of the Discworld novels. These 32 pieces, which show Pratchett “playing with words to see what happens,” include his student writing and stories that anticipate his later novels. The author’s wry wit shines early on with the publicity-minded devil of “The Hades Business,” written at age 13. “Kindly Breathe in Short, Thick Pants,” “And Mind the Monoliths,” and “There’s No Fool like an Old Fool Found in an English Queue” celebrate “half-baked politicians” and bureaucrats. In “The Glastonbury Tale,” “Twenty Pence, with Envelope and Seasonal Greetings,” and “Once and Future,” Pratchett twists classic tales from Chaucer, Dickens, and T.H. White. Discworld characters Cohen the Barbarian, Granny Weatherwax and her fellow witches, the wizards of Unseen University, and Lord Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork, make appearances in a special section of Discworld-related works. “Short stories cost me blood,” Pratchett reminds readers, citing his much greater comfort with novels. Though the stories here aren’t his absolute best writing, there is plenty to entertain curious fans. Longtime Pratchett illustrators Josh Kirby and Paul Kidby provide entertaining artwork. (Mar.)