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The Turtle Moves, by Lawrence WattEvans
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Benbella
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 6/7/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Turtle Moves, by Lawrence WattEvans

Book Review by David Roy

Have you read this book?

Terry Pratchett's Discworld phenomenon has been going on for 25 years now, and perhaps to celebrate that occasion (it's never really stated), noted SF author Lawrence Watt-Evans has produced a retrospective of the entire series. Called The Turtle Moves: Discworld's Story So Far, it contains chapters analyzing the various sub-series within the Pratchett's masterpiece as well as the elements that make these books such wonderful treasures. It's an awesome collection for any Discworld fan and it can be a useful reference for those just getting started as well.

Watt-Evans begins by explaining exactly why he wrote this book, as well as why both fans and non-fans should buy this book (you know, in case somebody's reading the first few chapters while sipping a latte at Borders). He then has a chapter on the make-up of the Disc, before moving into an examination of every single piece of Discworld narrative out there. This is including a couple of rather obscure short stories as well as the Science of Discworld volumes. Finally, he comments on the various sub-series and how they string together, followed by an examination of certain subjects within the Discworld that seem to deserve their own chapter (such as the Luggage). These chapters could be single web pages on a site devoted to Pratchett and the Disc, so it's neat to have them all in book form.

Watt-Evans is, first and foremost, a fan of Pratchett (as well as admitting that he's jealous of him and wishes he could come up with a legendary series of his own). I don't know if the humor is typical of a regular Watt-Evans book, but he does a good job of making the book funny as well as informative. Because footnotes are a heavy source of humor in the Discworld books, Watt-Evans uses them as well, and some of the funniest bits in the book are there.

What I found especially interesting were the chapters on the books and stories themselves. First, it was interesting to find out that short stories even *existed*. However, that wasn't the only intriguing thing about these chapters. Watt-Evans gives some good analysis for why each individual story worked (and occasionally, why he thinks it didn't, but these are not reviews). He also describes what typical Discworld elements are included in each story, and how they fit into each sub-series. He's actually divided the entire series into sub-series, something many fans haven't done. There isn't a single book out of place, though he does admit that each individual fan may have his/her own way of doing it.

Throughout the book, Watt-Evans marvels at how seemingly effortless it is for Pratchett to produce magnificence. While Discworld began as just a parody of fantasy novels, each book now is about people instead of caricatures, whether Pratchett is commenting on society or just how people get by in their day to day lives, he populates his books with people we care about, characters who are turned just 45 degrees or so from the norm. As this transition occurs throughout the early books, Watt-Evans shows us how Pratchett evolved as a writer. It's a very interesting timeline, heightened by the fact that each chapter entry for a book/story gives us the year it was written.

There's not much more to say about the book without just highlighting pieces that I liked (and since this is an Advanced Reader's Copy, I can't do that anyway). The Turtle Moves is an excellent resource for both the fan and the person just getting the feet wet on the Disc. It contains interesting commentary, does nothing really wrong (ok, a couple of the jokes fall flat, but in a book with lots of humor, isn't that always the case?) and will sit proudly on the shelf with all of your other Discworld books. You'll be glad you've picked this up.
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