July 09, 2013

From L-Space to E-Space: Pratchett-y Crossover Novels from the NADWCon

AT LAST, we get to The Panel.

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There was a little bit of a rocky start - it's never good news that the room for your panel has been moved, five minutes before your panel begins. It's less good news to be moved to a room where the panelist has run over his time by ten minutes, and you're afraid people are not only not going to be able to find your panel, but have gotten hungry/tired/thirsty and have wandered off, tired of waiting. However, aside from those sorts of worrying hiccoughs, we gathered in pretty good order for our panel Sunday evening. Charlotte Taylor of Charlotte's Library was our moderator, and together with Sheila Ruth of Wands & Worlds and Anne Hoppe, Terry Pratchett's U.S. Children's editor, we started talking about the Pratchett-esque in YA and children's lit.

Of course, that needed a disclaimer, because really? There's no such thing as a book LIKE a Pratchett book. The genius sleeting through the universe has landed in only one particular head just now. Thus, we were only able to talk about books which were "close" or had "Pratchetty-appeal." And no, Pratchetty is not a made-up word.

In my mind, I divide the books up as Something Old, Something New and Something Awesome, which can, of course, cover both old and new. I chose to stay with a lot of the old books; both Charlotte and Sheila had plenty in Something Awesome, and Anne was on tap with Something New AND Something Awesome, which was good:

Something Old

(In which "old" means the first book in the series has been five or more years in print)

  • Robert Asprin; M.Y.T.H., INC. written later with Jody Lynn Nye
  • Dame Diana Wynne Jones; The Tough Guide to Fairyland, The Dark Lord of Derkholm and The Year of the Griffin are especially Pratchetty; of course, your DWJ selections will vary;
  • John Connelly; THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, about a grieving 12-year-old who slips into fairy due to the influence of the fairytales his mother used to read him, and THE GATES, in which a Hadron Collider leads the way to the gates of ...hell.
  • Mercedes Lackey; THE FIVE HUNDRED KINGDOMS. The latest one of these was out in 2011, so not technically old-old, but they're an established series of six
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans; the Ethshar books, all twelve of them are written in their own world, with humor and quirk
  • Garth Nix; SABRIEL, LIRAEL, ABHORSEN. Classic worldbuilding, subtle characterizations
  • Jonathan Stroud; The Bartimaeus trilogy: THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, THE GOLEM'S EYE, PTOLEMY'S GATE, etc.
  • Meg Burden; NORTHLANDER, and THE KING COMMANDS - the characterization is Pratchetty.
  • Vivian Vande Velde; HEIR APPARENT, DEADLY PINK, her VR novels ARE THE BEST. Fractured fairytales and all kinds of crazy happens inside ...a game.
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  • Rachel Hartman; SERAPHINA. Dragons! In a medieval-type city! Who wear CLOTHES! Quite Pratchetty, in its subtlety.
  • Rick Yancey, THE FIFTH WAVE. So new, I haven't read this one yet, but Sheila says "Cybilsworthy." And Pratchetty.
  • Sarah A. Hoyt; DRAW ONE IN THE DARK. What if you turn out not to be the only secret wereanimal in the neighborhood? It's a panther-meets-dragon story
  • Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan; TEAM HUMAN. This book also falls under Something Awesome. Loved it.
  • Althea Kontis; ENCHANTED, and its soon-to-come sequel, HERO. Fractured fairytales FTW!
  • Caro King; SEVEN SORCERERS, SHADOW SPELL, its sequel. British MG novels from Charlotte's list of personal faves
  • Jasper Fforde, THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER, SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST. Very British, quirky, weird worlds, quite Pratchetty
  • Sarah Prineas; THE MAGIC THIEF, plus its sequels, LOST and FOUND. Sort of neo-Victorian feel, complete with magic and skin-of-the-teeth escapes
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  • Derek Landy; SKULLDUGGERY PLEASANT. There are TONS of these books with the kind of dialogue which is quick and funny and very British indeed. Nicely Pratchetty.
  • Jasper Fforde; NURSERY CRIMES. Only two but screamingly funny and with nuances and subtleties that are Pratchetty.
  • Patrick Ness; the Chaos Walking series, beginning with THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. Only Pratchetty in that there are nuances of characterization and worldbuilding; not what you normally think of when you think of Pratchett companion books, yet awesome
  • David Macinnis Gill, SOUL ENCHILADA. A new car! Some... strings... attached...
  • Garth Nix; THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. Each day of the week has its own book, each day of the week is royalty, in this world... and, each day of the week is quirky, powerful, and dangerous
  • Adam Rex; THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. Just such a weird, sideways, funny, tender, surprising book, Pratchett-folk will enjoy it, we think.
  • Frances Hardinge; FLY BY NIGHT. SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK. Fast-paced, funny dialogue, completely ridiculous situations, such fun, and very Pratchetty.
  • Martin Millar; LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL. It's not just bad hair days with Angua, now...

Some websites to start you off on finding books which are like Pratchett books in the SFF realm include NoveList, BookLamp, home of the Book Genome project, YALSA's Hub, Kirkus' blog, author-run The Enchanted Inkspot, SFF round-up site, Grasping for the Wind, the UK site, An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, and of course, The Cybils lists every year.

What was fun for me was to find that I'd read 99% of the books chosen by my fellow panelists. But, we didn't stop with that. We polled our audience, because we all wanted to know what THEY thought were good books, and where to find the funny, some poignant, fractured fairytale, philosophy and social satire types of books that Pratchett does so well. The fans didn't disappoint; they mentioned books and places to find them that I was scrawling down, hoping to find later. We were grateful indeed for Tech Boy's quick fingers on the keyboard as he typed down our audience suggestions. They may not seem Pratchetty to you, but had particular appeal for the readers who suggested them:

Something Crowdsourced
  • Anita Silvey, CHILDREN'S BOOK A DAY ALMANAC, 500 GREAT BOOKS FOR TEENS
  • Diana Peterfreund; RAMPANT and ASCENDANT: killer unicorns FTW!
  • Artemis Fowl series, in graphic or otherwise
  • Sarah Beth Durst's INTO THE WILD
  • Anything Neil Gaiman
  • Phillip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS
  • Patricia C. Wrede ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES
  • Kaja and Phil Folio, GIRL GENIUS
  • China MiĆ©ville, RAILSEA
  • Tom Holt, THE FLYING DUTCH
  • Julie Halpern, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER
  • Douglas Adams, THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE, of course
  • Cornelia Funke, RESTLESS & INKHEART
  • Catherynne M. Valente, THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING
  • Diane Duane, YOUNG WIZARDS series; the tenth is coming!
  • Lloyd Alexander, THE BLACK CAULDRON, THE BOOK OF THREE
  • Stephanie Burgis, KAT, INCORRIGIBLE, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, and sequels
  • Libba Bray, GOING BOVINE
  • Piers Anthony, Xanth books*
  • Jim C. Hines, THE LEGEND OF JIG DRAGONSLAYER
  • Morgan Keyes, THE DARKBEAST, DARKBEAST REBELLION
  • The Book Bag, a UK site
  • And, finally, We Love This Book, not a blog, per se, but it does cover YA and children's SFF.

We want to thank everyone for coming out and talking to us, for asking questions and sharing their own reads. The conversation in literature is richer for having everyone speaking up and speaking out! Here's to more talk, more sharing, more reading and more writing.

*A word about Xanth: we had a brief exchange with the reader who suggested the Piers Anthony books, about the sexism we've discovered in a lot of them, - we loved the puns when we were small, but female-as-butt-of-joke got old. As with all books, read at your own risk.

3 comments:

LinWash said...

This is awesome! Such great titles! I need to bookmark this page.

tanita♥davis said...

@LinWash: Do come back - I plan to refer back to this one myself.

aquafortis said...

Fantastic lists! Clearly I have some catching up to do--there are a lot of "meant-to-reads" on here.

You should read THE FIFTH WAVE. It was REALLY good. I'm anxious for a sequel. Impressive SF.

I haven't gone near a Xanth book since I was about 15, so I don't remember the sexism per se...I do remember the SEX, which was of course fascinating at the time.