March 19, 2005

On the composition of the military

I started and finished Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment this week on the ski trip. Pratchett makes quite the foray into political allegory here; I suppose it could be said he's done a lot of political allegory, but I'd say that most of it is really more social commentary than specific allegory. (Except, of course, for when he's doing a pastiche of a well-known literary work.)

This one, though... the book starts off with a girl of perhaps 15 decides to go off and join the Borogravian army, which has a metaphorical "No Girls Aloud" sign pinned to the door, and continues in merry Pratchettian fashion through mild absurdity. Who belongs in the army? Why should we select for anything other than merit?

I'm not going to talk about that, though. I am going to talk about the style shift I'm seeing. It was interesting to realise how very different this book was from the older Pratchett stuff; much more serious-feeling. Less footnotes. More explicit thinking.

Not that that's bad, of course. And it's not like he's abandoned his roots completely; characters like Sergeant Jack Jackrum have the usual larger-than-life quality we've come to expect, caricatures of people we don't actually know but now feel as if we did. And it's nice to see Vimes and the rest of the Watch make an appearance. But still, not at all like, say, Reaper Man or Guards! Guards! or the like.

It may be a permanent shift. I'm a few chapters into Going Postal, and I think I see where it's going; different subject, but the same sort of aura of being About Something. Quite good in any case, and if this sort of stylistic shift is what he needs to do to keep fresh (he's written, what, thirty books now?), well, carry on.

"The overwhelming majority of people who feel strongly about consent laws are the teenagers themselves, and they (a) don't vote, and (b) quickly fall into the conservative camp once they have kids of their own. A close runner-up is the powerful NAMBLA lobby, but politicians are curiously unwilling to publicly align themselves---or appear to publicly align themselves---with the pedophilia bloc." --Mike Peil

Posted by blahedo at 11:25pm on 19 Mar 2005
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