Review: MORT by Terry Pratchett

Mort by Terry Pratchett, Harper edition 2013.

Death takes a holiday. Sort of.

It’s no secret that Death (an anthropomorphic personification, as he refers to himself) was one of Terry Pratchett’s favorite Discworld characters. Playing with Death for fun is, well, fun, but with a very serious subtext that’s never very far from the open and flat-out surface text. Where Death is concerned for each and every one of us, the last laugh is always on you. Regardless, Death as personified in Discworld is, in a sense, a human projection who is not human and can never quite get a handle on what being human is all about. He is curious about mortals. Or to paraphrase Sir Terry himself, “He doesn’t quite know where we’re coming from, though he does know where we’re going.” Continue reading

What’s He On About Now?

YamadaEmperor-600One drawback of working on a longer project like a novel is you don’t have a lot left in you for anything else. Say, blogging, for example. Normally I try to post these every Monday like clockwork, but here it is Wednesday (thank you, Captain Obvious) and I am late. I don’t like being late. Normally I show up for appointments fifteen minutes early or more and everyone ELSE is late. Usually doctors and dentists, whose time as they will willingly tell you is much more valuable than yours.

Well, to them or anyone else this is literally true, since all any of us has is time. Everything else—money, cars, clothes, your ipod–is a temporary construct relating to how we live in the world, but time is what matters and no one as a general rule knows how much they have. There is much unnecessary fretting over this. I’m prone to it myself, especially when I’m under a deadline, either contractual or self-imposed, makes no difference. It reminds me of a scene from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel series where his sister Death has just collected the soul of a baby who passes in SIDS, and the baby is not happy about it, to paraphrase, “That was it? That was all I got?” To which the reply was, again paraphrasing, “You had a life. That is all anyone has.”

So all we have is time, but the only time we really have is now. So what we decide to do with it? Yeah. It kind of matters. I don’t always make the best choices about that, but then I don’t know anyone who always does. We act like we have forever even when we know it is not true. Sometimes that illusion is all that gets you through a day, but best not to forget that it is an illusion. If there is anything at all which is not an illusion, it is now, the only point in time where action is possible. Like writing a late blog post, because there were things I believed to be more important at the time.

For instance, finishing the first draft of The Emperor in Shadow, complete at 94k words. It’ll probably be close to that after the rewrite. I usually put in as much as I take out. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but usually within close tolerances. I won’t call the book done, since that doesn’t happen until it has gone through rewrite then editing and come back from the printers. Then, for better or worse, it is done, and likely on time for a September release.

Then it is time to move on to something else because, you know, that whole “now” thing keeps happening. Until it doesn’t.