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Response to Pretzel_Warrior (Original post)

Tue Dec 17, 2013, 05:14 AM

87. Always Coming Home, by Ursula Le Guin.The entire Earthsea series. All of Terry Pratchett's Discworld

So many books, so little time.

Ursula Le Guin and Terry Pratchett are two very different authors, yet each has a powerful take on the human condition.

Le Guin's work crosses many genres, but she gets listed under fantasy, which is much too small a category for her. She grew up as the daughter of anthropologists at UC Berkeley, and has that eye. She's written some of the best political science analysis going, among other things, and has continuously explored gender/culture roles, especially in Left Hand of Darkness.

Always Coming Home has a young woman as its central character, but embodies an entire culture in this sprawling book. Of all her brilliant books, somehow this is the one that struck me as her masterwork.

(Stay away from anything on film about Earthsea until and unless Peter Jackson decides to have a go at it: Le Guin, from what I have read, has been bitterly disappointed at the efforts so far, and after seeing Miyazaki junior's animation in which he apparently was working out some Oedipal rage of his own, I can see why.)

Pratchett is a phenomenon all his own. In his best novels, set on Discworld, I generally find at least one good belly-laugh and one spate of tears that takes me utterly by surprise. Not bad for a world that rests on the back of four gigantic elephants who stand on the back of a gigantic turtle, where witches are respected but the wizards of the Unseen University are faintly ridiculous. Where Death, who knows he's an anthropomorphic personification, speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS and can still have an identity crisis.

Want to reconsider the origins of Santa Claus and whether we really need to have him after all? That would be Hogfather. (short answer: we do, and not for the reasons you think)

How nations decide to go to war for made-up reasons: Jingo. I swear I thought he was writing about the US in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, but when I checked the pub date, I found that as usual Pratchett had simply anticipated events.

In the middle of Witches Abroad there's a send-up of Hemingway that is worth the entire price of admission as three countrified women resting their broomsticks refuse to move when the young men and bulls come charging down the street... But mostly it's about how a happy ending can't be forced to happen.

What the heck --start anywhere, but since it's almost Solstice, you could give Hogfather a go.

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LineReply Always Coming Home, by Ursula Le Guin.The entire Earthsea series. All of Terry Pratchett's Discworld
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