I finally finished reading Terry Pratchett’s (SIR!) latest novel Nation. I’ll try to not divulge too much of the plot (it’s pretty meaty, and definitely ‘goes deeper’ than Pratchett’s other non-murder mystery books) in telling you what makes this book tick: finally, Pratchett tackles spirituality and human faith. It’s long been known that Pratchett has a somewhat satirical world view: he’s mocked/satirised just about anything and everything in his vast gamut of Discworld novels, but here he finally moves in to disect human belief.
Pratchett is obviously some kind of scientist (or a believer in the science of how and why things work), and his books often revolve around him re-working real world mechanics into some kind of ‘Discworld magic’. I never really thought about it, but he delightfully boils down complex systems like the Internet (the clacks semaphore system) and macro economics (Making Money) into concepts that kids and non-specialists alike can understand. Anyway, I digress… in Nation he tries to put a bit of a scientific spin on the human innate belief in something… greater than ourselves. Everything happens for a reason, but perhaps, as Mau (the main protagonist) finds out, things happen because people make them happen. It’s a classic case of how real stories get slowly twisted into legend, and then the myth of a society. Most seemingly-supernatural acts have some basis in fact, but humans sure like to make stories…
Anyway, Mau finds his true path, as does the cute female adolescent Daphne. They don’t even kiss properly. They hug twice. But somehow, there’s still a lot of intimacy between the two. They are obviously very close friends, but any hint of sexuality is only given by the onlooking adults, or as Daphne talks in third person about what her grandmother would think if she saw her hugging Mau.
Pratchett yet again drives home the idea that science is greater than all. But belief is OK, as long as you don’t REALLY believe… Just hang onto it a bit, if it makes you feel a little warmer and safer at night.
So, moving along from a rather esoteric topic (but damnit, you should ALL read Terry Pratchett, even if you don’t like science/fantasy!), I think the next destination will be… Norway! Perhaps with a warm-up trip to Wales, to test the new lens out (it’s closer, and prettier than Scotland, in more ways than one. I think it’s warmer too…). I have a bunch of WoW goons that live in Trondheim, which happens to be the location of one of the biggest fjords in Norge (I’m getting down with the lingo already). So I could see some friends, stay on a sofa to avoid paying retarded amounts of money (Norway is expensive), see a fjord, perhaps get a brief taste of the local talent… and then I might go up north to Tromso, to see the Northern Lights — that’ll push the price of the trip up a lot though. We’ll see.
Finally, I will start teaching you about a musician that (in my opinion) blows all others out of the water: Ben Folds. This entry is long enough, so I won’t rant, but just click this link and then ‘play’ in the top right: Ben Folds – Trusted. If you like it, you can read more about him later, when I inevitably sing his praises.