I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's latest book, Raising Steam. Like, 10 minutes ago. I'm writing this post on my phone, so it's going to be a little short on fancy stuff like links and bold-face text and paragraphs longer than a single large sentence. So, er, sorry.
I really enjoyed this book. I want to be clear about that -- it's a great book and I liked it. Because I'm about to say all sorts of stuff about not being that into it, and I want everyone to know that doesnt mean I hated it.
I've been a big fan of Terry Pratchett for a while now, and I still list Going Postal as my favorite book. And I think it might be partly because that one's so hard to beat that I was a little bit let down by Raising Steam. Or, maybe it's because I haven't read all of Pratchett's other work -- this one is more entangled with his other narratives than the previous two Von Lipwig stories were. But the biggest reason I think I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as some of his other books is because I didn't pick itime. at a time when what the book was saying was something I needed to hear.
Going Postal speaks to me, I think, because (a.) It's about identifying with a sense of person-ness that's deeply connected to what you do, like, or are good at, without being defined by itit, and (b.) It's about the real, tangible, vital significance of narratives, true or not, in people's lives. And it doesn't hurt that I first read it when I was in the middle of a depressive episode and it directly aontradicted a lot of the core assumptions of my self-loathing at the time.
Raising Steam has a little of that, but (apart from the fact that I'm not in the crisis I was in then right now) mainly it's about the difference that real, material changes in technology makes. That's also really important, and has also at times brought me to tears thinking about. But it isn't answering any core existential questions for me, the way Going Postal does. (Or, honorable mention, The Truth, which falls sort of in the middle, being about the invention of the printing press and also tensions in difficult family relationships.)
Next up, I'm starting Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. I'm very excited, having read it a while back when it was just a short story. If there's anything you'd like to hear about my experience with Raising Steam, please ask. I have lots and lots more thoughts than this, just too tired to make them cohere for scrutiny and clarity at the moment.