Review of In Memory, A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

“Without language to give them shape, memories are just like houses with no walls. They’re merely events seeking to chain themselves together into causes and effects; survival unhindered by narrative.”

– Doris, by Sorin Suciu

Autumn is a great time to read a book about memories. This is my season and I thrive in October, the month that contains my birthday and my favorite holiday. The falling leaves, beautiful in their fiery decay and death, are an obvious trigger for nostalgia. I read my friend Sorin’s story in the early evening of the 30th of said month. My fingers were numb, my nose runny and my eyes watery from the chill wind. But my expression was a happy one, despite the faint remnants of skull face paint from my clumsy (and probably culturally insensitive) attempt at a “Day of the Dead” costume. I genuinely laughed out loud several times on the bus.

Sorin’s story, as did many others in this anthology, filled me somewhat paradoxically with both comedic and introspective thoughts about life, love and death. These tales are really clever and funny, thoughtful and uplifting. Each author is an expert at dishing out delightfully quirky metaphors and analogies. A few of the stories were absurdly appealing to me as a regular D&D nerd. I feel that this book contains jokes that every kind of geek will appreciate. There are many, many of them.

As the title suggests, In Memory is a large collection of short stories that pay tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett. The tales within ooze charm and wit. The editors are Sorin Suciu and Laura May. Sorin is a good friend of mine and is the author of the awesomely clever and funny book: The Scriptlings.

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unrelated artwork by Paul Kidby

My review is of a pre-release PDF copy. Originally I was covering each story individually but it dawned on me that I would be spoiling something of the enjoyment of this densely packed collection. Every tale is worth your time; I even appreciated the ones that were a bit too absurd and gonzo for my tastes. Some of the stories were so surreal that I wasn’t sure what genre anyone would dare classify them into.

I must mention that I am not an avid reader of Pratchett’s. I’ve read the Colour of Magic and found it to be really funny and well-written. Most of my exposure to fiction is to Lovecraft, Gaiman, King, Bradbury, Hemingway and Barker. I’ve read a handful of books by Douglas Adams, though, so that’s probably close enough to “get it”. Anyway, because most of my exposure to tales with faint undertones of science fiction, fantasy or horror, I was expecting dark outcomes to even the most mundane suburban scenes. Needless to say I was happily surprised! Nothing was predictable or boring in these pages.

The core theme of “In Memory” is, well, memory or nostalgia. As I get closer and closer to my forties and my children gradually get bigger and smarter than me, I am often overcome with thoughts of the past rather than wary anticipation of the future. So with a tender heart I dove into this book: while there are many touching moments in these stories, the comedy was a welcome antidote to my anticipated melancholy.

Sadly I must keep this review brief because a mixture of sickness, overwork and child raising have whittled down my creativity and productive free time (little as there ever is). All that I can say is that I wholeheartedly recommend this anthology to anyone with a sense of humor, and appreciation for wit and an inkling for the fantastic, the bizarre and the cleverly absurd. It goes without question that if you’re a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett, you’re in for a treat; but even if you aren’t, I swear that you’ll have a good time.

All of the proceeds of this book go to Alzheimer’s Research UK, an organization which has given their blessing to this book. They were apparently Sir Terry Pratchett’s favourite charity. So on top of rewarding yourself with an excellent and often hilarious collection of short fiction, your money will go to a good and worthy cause.

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