This is one of my favourite contemporary authors. How to describe him to someone who has not read any of his books? That’s hard.
Well, he writes fiction, most of it you could label “fantasy”, but also in a way “satire”. He is most famous for his “Discworld”-series, having created a flat world resting on the back of four elephants, that are carried through space by a gigantic turtle. Yeah, I know, sounds bizarre. But if you start reading it, you will get the feeling that Discworld is actually not so different from Earth in many respects (ok, we do not have magic, but still).
His stories are funny and dark and sometimes touching and always give a good glimpse of the human soul (sometimes it is pretty dark down there too). If you want to give it a try, resist the temptation to start with the first one. Take one of the later books. It is of course personal taste (as is everything), but I think the later ones from the series are best.
I also liked “Nation” – we stay on 19th century Earth here, but history has gone slightly different. It is a story about tragedies and survival, of learning and accepting each other in all our difference, of tradition and science connected to each others.
Then there is “Long Earth”, written together with Stephen Baxter, where he develops the idea of parallel Earths, some a lot like ours, some very different. Mankind learns how to ‘step’ from one Earth to another, further and further away, resulting in a new age of pioneers – in good and in bad ways. It is the first book of a trilogy: “Long War” has been published this year, but I have not read it yet. I did like “Long Earth”, especially some of the characters (there are a couple which could have jumped directly out of Discworld in Long Earth), but for some reasons I am hesitating to order the second one. Maybe I will wait until the last book of the series is published and then read them both.
Finally I want to mention “Dodger” – a story running its course in London at the time of Charles Dickens (and with Mr. Dickens playing an active role). The sewers of London did remind me a lot of Ankh-Morpork though (for those who have not read the series: largest city on Discworld). It has the darkness and humour of some Discworld novels, put in a less strange environment (or so it seems). For those who do not care about fantasy novels at all, this could be a good starting point.
For those of you who know and love his books as much as I do: My favourite characters (at the moment) are Vimes, Tiffany Aching (and the Feegles), Granny Weatherwax, Moist von Lipwig – and of course Vetinari and DEATH.
What are yours?