From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
A question that regularly pops up is: I'm enjoying Pratchett, what other books are there I could possibly enjoy?. This page is here to help you. If you like Pratchett, these books are recommended by the fans.
- 1 Piers Anthony
- 2 Kelley Armstrong
- 3 Robert Asprin
- 4 Josef Assad
- 5 Clive Barker
- 6 James Bibby
- 7 Susanna Clarke
- 8 Eoin Colfer
- 9 Jasper Fforde
- 10 George MacDonald Fraser
- 11 Neil Gaiman
- 12 Craig Shaw Gardner
- 13 Mary Gentle
- 14 Alan Gordon
- 15 Michael Green
- 16 Simon R. Green
- 17 Harry Harrison
- 18 Reginald Hill
- 19 Tom Holt
- 20 Nick Hornby
- 21 Tanya Huff
- 22 Barry Hughart
- 23 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (Honorary #23)
- 24 Diana Wynne Jones
- 25 Fritz Leiber
- 26 Stanislaw Lem
- 27 Roy Lewis
- 28 Dan McGirt
- 29 Michael Moorcock
- 30 Christopher Moore
- 31 John Moore
- 32 Kim Newman
- 33 Naomi Novik
- 34 Pat O'Shea
- 35 Mervyn Peake
- 36 Philip Pullman
- 37 Robert Rankin
- 38 Jonathan Stroud
- 39 Ronald Searle
- 40 Theodore Sturgeon
- 41 Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- 42 Douglas Adams (At last! Honorary and actual #42!)
- 43 P.G. Wodehouse
- 44 Patricia C. Wrede
Xanth series. Xanth is a very punny fantasy world. Piers Anthony also writes the "Terry Pratchett is fast, funny, and going places. Try him!" blurb found on many of Terry's books.
Xanth is probably best thought of as the Chronicles of Narnia played as a Carry On film.
I personally have found Anthony more corny than funny, with a very robotic, formulaic, writing style and a very dirty mind, even for purported "kids'" books. The humor is far sillier and more lowbrow. -Cidolfas
Piers Anthony's other series (eg, Incarnations of Immortality and Apprentice Adept) are not humorous, and are not similar to Terry's works. At best, the Incarnations series revolves around the idea that anthropomorphic personalities may "retire" from their jobs and return to the real world as they choose, and may select and train a successor. Anthony's Fate, for instance, takes it a step further and plays with the idea that this anthropomorphic personality might well run down a family dynasty, the female members of which each adopt one of the three faces of the classic Greek Fate. Death, in Anthony's world, is not so much a person as a job description. But this is only superficially similar to Death and Time each being a family business on the Discworld.
"I tried reading A Spell for Chameleon back in 1986 and threw it across the room after three chapters. I tried again in 2007 and lasted for five chapters. Just can't do it". This illustrates the idea that Xanth, while a tour-de-farce of the imagination, can in some readers evoke a reaction similar to that of Susan Sto Helit when she contemplates dancing across the rooftops with a cheeky cheery chimney sweep. Susan would see nothing wrong in a spoonful of sugar, but gallons of cloying syrup might well provoke a vomiting reflex. Xanth, with its heavy archness, is best approached when in a mood of whimsy and minimal critical function. In this frame of mind, it is not unpleasant, but too much syrup can kill tastebuds. The concept of the Adult Secret involves a perceived Adult Conspiracy to keep children in the dark about sexual matters for as long as possible.
Re-reading Piers Anthony lately - not just Xanth but more mainline novels - I also felt v. uneasy about Piers A's occassional lapses into fascination with the physical development of pubescent girls. In one of the Incarnations books, for instance, he has an eleven year old girl strip naked while an older relative has a private inner reverie about the attractive shape of her body. It isn't pornographic, and the plot that calls for it isn't too contrived, but it's written in enough loving detail to make me feel uneasy and voyeuristic about reading it. And this isn't exactly an isolated occurence in his books, ref. an interest in pre-teen girls...--AgProv 11:39, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
As a forensic psychologist, I'm writing further to what AgProv has written on the Piers Anthony sexual storyline with the 11 year old child. Frankly, Anthony's writing verges on unlawful pedophilia writings and I am amazed that a mainstream publisher would actually give credence to Anthony's perverted and sick fantasies involving children that are truly DISTURBING. He is like a dirty old man leering over a legal minor in the kind of graphic and sick sexual detail that makes my hair stand on end. Let's be clear - this kind of pedophilia-type "prose" would be condemned almost anywhere, if it wasn't dressed up as 'literature'. Piers Anthony is way out of the league of Terry Pratchett, and shouldn't even be compared. He is not even a poor imitation. I would welcome what others have to say, but for me, Xanth far from being a Chronicles of Narnia, is a poorly-written tripe. What bothers me most is how Piers Anthony writes such plainly disturbing pedophilia sexual accounts involving a minor, which is typical pedophile behavior both pre- and post-action. This should be wholeheartedly condemned by all responsible adults... --Jongerman 09:11, 29 January 2011 (EST)
Further details about PA's approach to sexual content here. No editorialising, judge for yourself.
And while the purpose of this entry isn't to try the man, but to point out he HAS written some eminiently readable sci-fi and fantasy (Prosthro Plus. about an Earth dentist abducted into Space and having to get up to speed with alien oral hygiene very quickly, is hilarious and recommended), it is perhaps germane to consider a "quest" book Anthony wrote in the Xanth series. It becomes of extreme importance for the questing party to get a true answer to a mystery which gives the novel its name - The Color of Her Panties. In which female knickers pertaining to younger ladies are discussed and described at length. - --AgProv 19:59, 12 May 2011 (CEST)
- Piers Anthony on Wikipedia
Author of a series of books concerning how members of magical and Undead races have had to "go underground" to survive in the modern USA. "Men of the Otherworld" is about a young Werewolf growing up in his Pack and learning how to behave so as to fit into human society. He is taught who he can eat, when he can eat them, about Pack dynamics and politics, and how not to stand out at school (eating the class guinea pig is a great big no-no).
In "No Humans Involved", the location is a Haunted House TV show. In the UK these are shot in green light in an allegedly haunted house while it is cooling from the day in the wee small hours of the morning. Therefore there are a lot of creaks and drips for an ex-childrens' TV presenter and a camp scouse "psychic" to get excited about. In Kelley Armstrong's USA, what happens when a real psychic, in fact a trained and hereditary Necromancer, joins the presenting team on such a show...
Horror done with wicked humour.
Reccomendation by --AgProv 17:15, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
- Kelley Armstrong on Wikipedia
Author of the hilarious Mythadventures series of novels, featuring a young magician, his pet dragon, a tough-but-lovable demon friend, a sexy trollop assassin, her hairy troll brother, a couple of mafia hitmen, a moll, and more.
- Robert Asprin on Wikipedia
Released his first novel The Banjo Players Must Die under a free Creative Commons license. Reading like a misanthropic Terry Pratchett, it is a dystopian and self-referential history of how Judgment Day came about, for very small values of 'came about'.
- Josef Assad on Wikipedia
Clive Barker is a fantasy writer known for painting amazing watercolors to accompany his writing. Some of his works include the award winning series Abarat, Imajica and The Damnation Game. The book Abarat and its sequels tell the story of Candy Quakenbush, a teenage girl who gets pulled into a strange archipelago called The Abarat. The Abarat consists of twenty five islands, each one a different hour of the day, and one island that is time out of time. The series centers around the conflict between the islands of day and the islands of night. While Abarat and other books by Clive Barker are not a funny as Pratchett's they more then make up for it in oddness and the insanity of the worlds and characters.
The author of Ronan the Barbarian and its two sequels, all of which fit perfectly in the genre of comic fantasy. Much like Pratchett's earlier novels (although admittedly, much more adult-oriented), the novel plays on the clichéd fantasy genre, but also includes genuinely interesting and likable characters. The book may be hard to find -- as it was only published in 1995, and once more in 1996 -- but definitely worth the trouble, being close-to the funniest author I've had the pleasure of reading. - Quoth
- James Bibby on Wikipedia
The author(ess?) of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. This is an enormous book, written as an alternate history set in 19th-century England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars. It is based on the premise that magic once existed in England and has returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Centering on the relationship between these two men, the novel investigates the nature of "Englishness" and the boundary between reason and madness. It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternate history, and an historical novel. The narrative draws on various Romantic literary traditions, such as the comedy of manners, the Gothic tale, and the Byronic hero. The novel's language is a pastiche of 19th-century writing styles, such as those of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Clarke describes the supernatural with mundane details. Neil Gaiman, no less, described it as "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last 70 years". Look it up on Wikipedia - the way Bloomsbury pushed its publication is jaw-dropping - and even more so when you know it was her first novel! Recommended by --Knmatt 18:23, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
- Susanna Clarke on Wikipedia
Eoin (pronounced "Owen") Colfer has come up with another world not too dissimilar to ours, but this time it's our world as we know it interfacing with the world of the Lower Elements: fairies, trolls (even thicker than TP's!), goblins, dwarves and the like. It even has a reason why the word Leprechaun exists: it comes from LEP Recon – the reconnaissance and recovery side of the Lower Elements Police. They are nominally childrens' books, but none the worse for that. So, essentially, is The Hobbit (see also comments for Diana Wynne Jones). The books centre around one "Artemis Fowl" - a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Swallow that, and the books are delightful. There is a large dollop of Pratchett-esque humour: witness why dwarves are such good diggers!!!! --Knmatt 18:57, 25 July 2007 (CEST)
Breaking News: Eoin Colfer has been selected to complete a largely unstarted sixth volume of Douglas Adams' h2g2 series:-  The resultant book has now been released under the title of And Another Thing.... I'm reading it. It's good! --AgProv 09:04, 16 October 2009 (UTC).
- Eoin Colfer on Wikipedia
Author of the Thursday Next books which started with The Eyre Affair.
Perhaps the closest thing to the Pratchett theme of story-driven reality, but start with The Eyre Affair; we were pretty disappointed with Something Rotten at our house.--Old Dickens
- I'll go with that - Something Rotten was pretty rotten, but the four Thursday Next books are excellent. --Knmatt 18:57, 25 July 2007 (CEST)
Fforde is very apt at twisting the narrative conventions, and his humour is very Pratchett-like indeed. I also recommend the Nursery Rhyme series, starting with The Big Over Easy, starring Marlowe-like detective Jack Spratt. --Abie, 25 May 2010.
Indeed, the Creator himself said of The Eyre Affair: "Ingenious. I shall watch Jasper Fforde nervously."
- Jasper Fforde on Wikipedia
Fraser was cited by Terry Pratchett as one of five authors whose books he would buy immediately on publication. His best-known works are the Flashman series (the cowardly but lucky Harry Flashman has many points of similarity with Rincewind) and the McAuslan series (whose Gordon Highlanders are Roundworld Nac Mac Feegle.) Fraser's books are usually scrupulously accurate history with a few fictitious characters inserted, and include copious footnotes and endnotes.
While the accepted Discworld referent for Flashman is usually taken to be Rincewind, Flashman is also a bluff, genial, con-man whose whole life is predicated on persuading people to accept he is something he is not. He pulls some almightily audacious bluffs in his career, and on one occasion, his wholly reasonable tendency towards self-preservation (which could uncharitably be described as cowardice) is subverted by a chemical substance which his lover of the moment assures him is a nice relaxing tonic. This enables him to fight and lead a battle without any fear at all and in fact to avert a Russian invasion of India whilst British attention is focused on the Crimea. A similar thing happens to Moist von Lipwig in Raising Steam...
- George MacDonald Fraser on Wikipedia
Co-author of Good Omens, so an easy choice. Pratchett fans seem to prefer Neverwhere and American Gods. One of the latest novels is Anansi Boys. Gaiman is known for his ability to create fascinating pantheons - if you're at all interested in comics, the Sandman series (which rightfully catapulted Gaiman to the fame he enjoys today) is one of the best ever written. His perky-goth Death is the best anyone's ever done with the character after Pratchett. Terry himself says that his novel, Coraline, "...has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and is a masterpiece."
Recommended by Sanity.
- Neil Gaiman on Wikipedia
Ebenezum and Wuntvor series are quite humorous, though the latter tends to drag a bit.
- Craig Shaw Gardner on Wikipedia
Mary Gentle's masterwork Ash: A Secret History must be recommended here as one of those books that lingers in the mind and fires neurons into new and different arrangements. There is certainly humour here: most obviously in the Rabelaisian adventures of a mediaeval mercenary company, hiring itself out to the highest bidder and finding laughter where it can in, a mediaeval landscape straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is also a deeper, rather black, humour of a more satirical kind, as the book deals with deeper and more profound issues of time and history and the way we perceive the passage of both. There are two interleaved stories here: one deals with the adventures of the mercenary company of the Lion, commanded by the warrior-woman Ash. The second story takes place in our own time, and deals with a historian trying to make sense of the legend of Ash, who starts to discover that the historical certainties of the past are slipping and changing around him wherever he looks. There can only be one past, right? Dead wrong. His suspicions are confirmed when archaeologist colleagues start to unearth artefacts relating to a past that by all rights should never have happened, and which start to prove the established history books are utterly dead wrong.
History is changing. All the indications point to the trigger point being somewhere in the late 1400's and somehow, Ash the warrior captain is intimately involved. Something happened in or around the year 1476 to completely alter the course of history - and belatedly, the late 1990's are changing to conform to that time-rift. The sequence of events in the late 1400's very nearly destroyed the world and something moved to correct it, to rewrite history into the form in which we knew it. Until the history professor started looking into the life of Ash and pulling together the random shreds that remained, out of place and time, of that secret history...
As well as being a thrilling fantasy/sci-fi adventure, Ash is also a satire on the practice and teaching of history, which (as Vetinari and the History Monks know) is neither fixed nor objective. Indeed, it offers insight into how the History Monks might operate, were they to exist on Roundworld, to restitch time and history after, say, a Sourcerer or a Glass Clock nearly blew it into smithereens. It vividly describes what people might notice, what would be observed, during a time-slip of this nature, and what loose ends would be left flapping afterwards that not even a Lu-Tze could tidy away. It even suggests a mechanism, which has to do with pyramids, and suggests that some VERY strange things happened in the latter 1400's in known history that are strange and anomalous...
Did TP read this book before, say, writing Thief of Time? Ash was published in 1999, ten years after TP wrote Sourcery, but definitely released before Thief of Time (published 2001). It's a very tempting thought... oh, and there are golems in this book. Like and unlike to those of the Discworld.
In a far lighter vein, Mary Gentle has also written Grunts!, an account of the Eternal War between Good and Evil, as seen through the jaundiced eyes of those expendable foot-soldiers of the dark and sword-fodder for Heroes, the Orcs. Both repulsive and oddly sympathetic at the same time, the Orcs discover a trans-dimensional dragon whose hoard includes an entire United States Marine Corps armoury.
Equipped with high-tech weapons, the Orcs then see about carving out a corner of the fantasy world they can call theirs.
As Mary Gentle, along with Neil Gaiman, is a founder-member of the H.P. Lovecraft Holiday Fun Club to whom an early Discworld novel is dedicated (the HPLHFC consists of members of the new wave of British sci-fi/fantasy authors), then it would appear reasonably certain that TP is aware of her books. There are fairly unmistakeable references to Grunts in the pages of Unseen Academicals, which given the subject matter would be even more remarkable by their absence.
Both books recommended by AgProv.
- Mary Gentle on Wikipedia
Alan Gordon (born 1959) is the author of several mysteries, the first of which is based on the characters from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. He writes about jesters as advisers to the king, who actually make up a super-secret spy ring that try to keep peace and control the leaders of different countries. The Fool's Guild of these novels is portrayed as a mockery to the church, and they refer to Jesus Christ as "Their Saviour, the First Fool".
Alan Gordon began writing his novels about fools and jesters as a supra-national spy ring in 1999. This is exactly the same idea TP came up with a year or two earlier to explain the survival of the otherwise increasingly irrelevant Fools' and Clowns' Guild into the modern era - that the Guild's graduates go everywhere, end up in some very high places, and periodically report back to Doctor Whiteface. Making him both very rich and very powerful.
Is it possible AG got the basic idea for his seven Fools' Guild novels from Pratchett? I hope to track down at least one Alan Gordon novel today, read it, and report back here, as the similarities to Pratchett's Fools' Guild are just so obvious...
Just finished reading A Death in the Venetian Quarter, about Byzantine plots in old Constantinople. The jokes are funnier - although in some places have a desperate Prachettian cod-mediaeval ring to them - the jesters, Fools and troubadours (ref (The Last Hero) are happier and enjoy their vocation, and there is a Guild HQ which assigns both surface tasks ("you are to proceed to Constantinople where you will be resident Fool to the Empress and the Princesses of the royal house of Byzantium") and hidden, clandestine, ones ("while you are there you will assist and take a leading role in deposing the current Emperor, who is a drooling inbred dolt and not the man we need to keep out the Pope's crusaders on one side and the Turks on the other").
Fools serve both leaders in a war and can cross the lines freely to interchange information and updates, as well as acting as informal diplomats and heralds. This was apparently so in mediaeval times, as most people didn't take them seriously. (In Gordon's world, they also have useful Assassin skills, although outside the world of sloshi, Lord Downey might have a demarcation issue with Doctor Whiteface.)
- Alan Gordon on Wikipedia
While perhaps a little bit dated now, Mike Green's series of comic "how-not-to-do-it" guides, dating from the 1950's and 1960's, are masterpieces of a certain sort of British humour. The Art of Coarse... books are based on the premise that only a precious few, a stellar minority, of us can ever be genuinely good and gifted at any given sporting or leisure pursuit. The rest of us... well, we are fated to be only Coarse practitioners, spear-carriers and extras in the theatre of life. Green illustrates this fact of essential glorious mediocrity over a series of books, dealing with topics as wide and varied as rugby football, sailing, golf, sex, and amateur dramatics. A Coarse Sailor is defined as one who, in extremis, forgets all nautical language, and shouts "For God's sake, turn left!" The Art of Coarse Acting develops the theme of am-dram in a manner that Vittoler's strolling players would recognise, and indeed there is a lengthy discourse on why Shakespeare's clowns and fools are so abjectly unfunny, however you say the lines. This may be familar to readers of Pratchett, although there is no certainty that he has read these books. I would not be surprised, though! A cast of recurring characters, including Green's totally loathsome friend Askew, help carry the stories, all drawn from his real-life experience. (Although Green was better at rugby than he claims - he turned out, if only once, for the Leicester first fifteen, which is akin to playing for a premiership soccer side.) The series was continued by Spike Jones, although his books are nowhere near as good as Green's.
- Michael Green on Wikipedia
For something a little darker, try the Nightside series by Simon R. Green. Imagine Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere tossed in a blender with the noir detective template and every bit of myth, fantasy and sci-fi you 've ever seen or read and you'll get the delicious smoothie that is Nightside. Set in a secret city-within-a-city at the heart of London, follow John Taylor, a hard-nose private-eye as he sorts out cases both horrifying and fantastic.
Green's definitely a name-dropper, and references tons of stories and myths, but his own characters and plots are original and fascinating, and utterly steeped in darkness. (Seriously... This guy's darker than Neil gets sometimes...) But it's all tied together with subtle English wit in the (almost obligatory to the noir genre) first-person narrative. (I've even heard a review with a favorable comparison to Terry, so there! Proof!) It's at least an M rating, but a heartily recommended read.
- Simon R. Green on Wikipedia
Prodigious author of science-fiction, ranging from potboilers through more "serious" exploratory sci-fi works and counterfactual histories, to out-and-out science-fiction humour. Anyone who perceived the slightly tongue-in-cheek aspect of Strata and Dark Side of the Sun will appreciate the parodic quality of Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero series of comic sci-fi novels. These send up every aspect of the classic gung-ho shoot 'em up space operas, in which, generally, American domestic paranoia about those goddamn Commies was projected out into space and time, and gave all-American heroes the chance to stand and fight for those good ol' fashioned values and Mom's apple pie. (Is it a matter of time before the space enemy starts to manifest recognisable aspects of Middle Eastern culture?)
Harrison's funniest sci-fi comedies by far, though, are the nine or ten books of the Stainless Steel Rat series. In a future that has largely eliminated crime, Jim diGriz is one of the last crooks left in the galaxy. While he is not averse to the occasional bank robbery, he prefers other, largely non-confrontational and consensual, methods of separating people from their money. He is principled and ethical enough to absolutely refuse to kill in the line of business, and has a ball as he travels the galaxy, bilking, bunco-ing, cheating and generally con-man-ning in a thousand inventive ways. But one day he comes a cropper and is offered the choice of (i) having his mind re-programmed to remove all criminal tendencies; or (ii) working on the side of the angels, as a member of the Galactic "Special Corps", an elite unit of part-detectives, part-policemen, part special agents. Choosing to accept his Angel, in the form of the Machiavellian Special corps Director Inskipp, diGriz bites the bullet and reluctantly becomes poacher-turned-gamekeeper. His first assignment is to track down and arrest the beautiful and deadly Angelina, a woman with serious anger management issues and strong criminal tendencies. He does this so well they end up married, and adopt the nicknames of "Slippery Jim" and "Spike" for each other. (Do the descriptions remind you of anyone in the Pratchett character list?) Later books chart a marriage made in larcenous heaven, and the birth of twin sons who take after Mum and Dad...
The Stainless Steel Rat For President relates a tale of DiGriz and his family collaborating to fix the elections on a repressive planet ruled by a tyrant and dictator. The most rigged, bent and skewed election in the Universe then ensues, with both parties doing what they can to gerrymander, fix and fiddle the vote. A real lesson, as these things have all apparently been done in Roundworld elections... this was especially prescient of Harrison, as the electronic vote-counting machinery is rigged to the point of falling over. And this was written a long time before a certain business in Florida... Recommended by AgProv.
- Harry Harrison on Wikipedia
Author of some very funny police procedurals, the Dalziel and Pascoe series (these have been adapted for TV), and the more humour-based adventures of Luton PI Joe Sixsmith. In an internet interview, Hill has identified Terry as one of his favourite authors. His novels are set in the real world, although there are occasional touches of the supernatural in the Dalziel and Pascoe books. Hill's stories can be odd (Jane Austen's Emma rewritten as a murder thriller, anyone?), but are always satisfying. A good place to start is probably the Dalziel and Pascoe book Dialogues of the Dead and its direct sequel Death's Jest-Book, or the Joe Sixsmith novel The Roar of the Butterflies, which pays tribute to P.G Wodehouse.
- Reginald Hill on Wikipedia
Author of various parodies and stories based on mythology or other tales (sound familiar). First novel based on Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen is called Expecting Someone Taller. Although most books are standalone, there is a series of sorts starting with The Portable Door, which can arguably be termed a more adult and crankier Harry Potter in a cubicle farm.
Holt's books combine what might otherwise be called chick-lit from the male point of view - there is invariably a romance between a man and a woman who almost completely fail to communicate nor see the subleties of the other gender's form of world-view - made even more complex by the intrusion of magic and the supernatural. The paradoxes of using magic are dealt with at great length, as are the staples of fantasy fiction and folklore. Old pantheons of Gods who nobody seriously believes in any more are shunted off to a very special old peoples' home on the south coast of England. They proceed to have Last of the Summer Wine style adventures involving lash-up machinery and half-remembered magical artefacts. You don't have to be evil to work here, but it helps develops the theme of Hell being a Human Resources department full of management bollocks-speak and continual assessments with Health and Safety Law making it impossible to go out and slay dragons. A very tall dwarf and a very short giant feature as characters...
- Tom Holt on Wikipedia
To be more specific; for the non-British reader to better understand Unseen Academicals and the importance of football the autobiographical Fever Pitch is a must read. Written by a left-leaning intellectual well versed in feminist theory who to the amazement of his peers spent much of his formative years on Highbury's North Bank.
This specific recommendation by Iron Hippo 20:13, 23 October 2009 (UTC), and backed by --Knmatt 20:08, 8 November 2009 (UTC). It's a fantastically funny and searingly true book, but don't bother reading any of his others. Nanny Ogg's got a word for them. And it's not complimentary.
- Nick Hornby on Wikipedia
The Keeper's Chronicles are a set of three (so far) books taking place in Canada, a sort of urban fantasy-comedy. More overt than Discworld but a lot of fun.
- Tanya Huff on Wikipedia
Bridge of Birds - "A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was."
Li Kao is a great scholar with a slight flaw in his character. His patron and servant, by turns, is Number Ten Ox, a peasant lad of unusual size and strength and more wit than anyone expects. The two engage in fantastic adventures in a version of Seventh-Century China unknown to historians. Annotators might find more amusement than even Pratchett provides (if they are serious students of Chinese history) trying to separate the research from the imagination.
The similarity between Li Kao and another wrinkly little old man with unusual powers will strike most Pratchett readers. Don't tell the British press; they'll be off to Arizona to pester Mr. Hughart for his reaction to the outrageous plagiarism (again.)
The series continues with Eight Skilled Gentlemen and The Story of the Stone, but these are rare and expensive.
- Barry Hughart on Wikipedia
Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (Honorary #23)
A cautionary note: Shea and Wilson are rightly famed, in alternative circles, for the Illuminatus! series of novels. The trilogy is a joyously anarchic and irreverent romp through the whole scope of the occult, politics, conspiracy theory, secret societies, not-so-secret societies, et c, and sends up many genres of writing including the police procedural, horror, fantasy, political polemic (Ayn Rand gets a kicking), et c.
The novice approaching Illuminatus! for the first time should not try to understand what's going on, as that way lieth doom. It's like trying to appreciate opera and understand the lyrics. On a first read, just see it as a series of loosely connected episodes but don't try too hard to comprehend the relationship between them. Just accept as a unifying theme that unless something is done to stop it, the Eschaton is about to be Immanetized (ie, the world is about to end in a manner loosely reminiscent of Good Omens. Hell, there's even a Leviathan as well as some unpretty denizens of Earth's Dungeon Dimensions).
You get characters like the cynical street policeman who's seen too much; the hippies who really ARE about to be made streetwise (man) whether they want to be or not; the occupants of a submarine (which for some reason is painted bright yellow), whose mission is to prevent a war starting -initially out of a dispute over ownership of a small, hitherto unregarded, island; the arch-villain Putney Drake, who controls all crime in the USA but has decided he wants to find his angel and go straight; the arch-manipulator Hagbard Celine who saves the world but has an agenda all of his own; 0023, the secret agent Britain is not proud of, and who gets all the weird X-files-like assignments that Bond sneers at; and a cast of eldrich supernatural entities, who are partly or wholly not human. Oh, and there are lots of Justified, Illuminated and Elucidated secret societies, with their own passwords and doorway ritual, administered by Brother Gatekeepers...
(As an aside. Flawed criminal mastermind Putney Drake, who controls all organised crime in the USA but still wants more. Compare to Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl?)
James Joyce is referenced many times and indeed even enters the book as a character at one point. This has to be said, as the structure of the book owes something to Joyce, the episodes stepping in and out of linear time and causal order. Therefore it's not an easy book to read but it rewards time, attention and frequent re-reading.
It's also very, very, funny.
I can guarantee you will never see the Reverend Billy Graham in quite the same light again after the manner of his cameo appearance! (Indeed, if the book has any conventional political stance, it can be discerned by the way the Republican/Religious Right Middle-American world-view is remorselessly sent up).
Slipping in under the radar, and done with humour, is a lot of interesting philosophical stuff. For instance, what is the nature of money? (Ref. Making Money). We blithely refer to political affiliation as being left-wing, right-wing, anarchist, communist, et c, but what do these convenient labels really mean? Does the conspiracy theory or the cock-up theory govern human history, or a mixture of both, and at bottom is there really a difference? What is conspiracy theory? Do you have to be paranoid to believe it exists? Is there any validity to magic, occult, and psychic thought and practice? Can one Leader really exert a difference? What is the mystical all-importance of the number 23, and all its associations, like the letter "W"? Did the events of The Lord of the Rings really happen, making Tolkien not so much an author as an observer?
This trilogy is believed to have influenced Terry Pratchett - there are just too many allusions and associations in the Discworld books. Recommended!
Shea and Wilson went on to write a second trilogy, The Universe Next Door, that develops Illuminatus themes and ideas while being true to the original. This deals a lot with quantum physics and the multiple-worlds model of the multiverse, whilst remaining extremely funny.
Possibly far more accessible as novels, while still being in the spirit of Illuminatus!, are the books Shea and Wilson wrote solo: The Historical Illuminatus trilogy, by Wilson, charts the life of Neapolitan wunderkind Sigismundo Celine in the latter part of the eighteenth century. There's sound history, intriguing discussions on the origins of Freemasonry, the decline of Catholicism, the Occult underground in Europe, why revolutions happen (lilac may or may not be included), and the true nature of scholarly footnotes at the bottom of the page. (they're a separate rogue novel, a kind of parasitic literary form trying to break into the reality of the main text) A jolly good story with believable characters, not without humour. Sigismundo Celine even invents a theoretically working steam locomotive - but evidently Naples and Paris are not the right orchards for this idea to blossom into steam-engine time, as he is derided and laughed out of university, much to his chagrin.
Shea wrote a series of novels where the themes of Illuminatus! are further explored, where West met East in the mediaeval crusades and the western world suddenly became too small for old orthodoxies. (All Things Are Lights and Saracen!). In a second series, the underlying themes of Illuminatus! are seen through the eyes and experiences of a Zen warrior-monk, in what on the surface of things is nothing more than a rip-roaring adventure story set in mediaeval Japan and Kublai Khan's China. ( Shiké: Last of the Zinja and Shiké: Last of the Dragons)
Sadly, both authors are now deceased, having left their respective solo works unfinished, and their central characters hanging in limbo. (Although Robert Shea has placed many of his writings on his website, including completed and partially completed novels, so that they may be accessed for free). But - worth reading! Recommended by AgProv.
The books are intended for a younger audience but I (and other Pratchett fans with the Tiffany Aching series) have often found so-called children's books to be extremely well written, often more so than their adult counterparts. One of the major themes in her books is the "multiverse" theory--explored in Pratchett as Quantum and The Trousers of Time. She has a fairly extensive bibliography; I would recommend starting with "Deep Secret" (written in a psuedo-epistolary style) or "Charmed Life" (in The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol 1). "Charmed Life" has a more Tiffany Aching-esque feel to it. --Anatwork 05:27, 2 April 2007 (CEST).
Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is recommended by Terry, and includes many Discworld themes, such as swords, lost heirs, and Cities of Wizards. Marmosetpower 14:55, 7 November 2011 (CET)
- Diana Wynne Jones on Wikipedia
Classic sword & sorcery, but very often kind of tongue-in-cheek. TP has admitted that his early Discworld books, which can be seen as a parody of the S&S genre, were heavily inspired by Leiber's series about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. --Havelock 02:20, 1 April 2007 (CEST)
In fact, the principal city of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories is named "Lankhmar", which is very similar to that of Ankh-Morpork, and seems to share its social complexity.
- Fritz Leiber on Wikipedia
Stanislaw Lem is a Polish writer of science fiction, some of which is very funny and whimsical. He has been lucky with English translations that capture the spirit of the original, and try to keep up with the word play. Cyberiad is a great place to start; it's a series of stories about the robot inventors Trurl and Klapaucius. Great illustrations by Daniel Mróz, too! Oh, and if you saw the George Clooney film version of Lem's great novel Solaris and that turned you off, just ignore it: see the original Russian film version instead.
- Stanislaw Lem on Wikipedia
Another suggestion from Terry Pratchett himself: he brought The Evolution Man to a British television show-and-tell as a book he wished he'd written. He said he'd read it in 1961 when it was nearly new and the influence on the thirteen-year-old writer is apparent.
The book describes a family of "ape-men" who are responsible for most of the social and technological development of the paleolithic era over one generation, somewhat like Jean Auel's Cro-Magnons in Clan of the Cave Bear but lots funnier. It has also been published as What We Did to Father and Once Upon an Ice Age. Recently republished in the US by Vintage Books.
- Roy Lewis on Wikipedia
Jason Comso series, a tongue-in-cheek approach to swords and sorcery.
- Dan McGirt on Wikipedia
Known in his early writing years for prolific production of potboilers - the Elric series are well worth reading as "straight", if high-camp, fantasy fiction and provide a lot of background detail, as to where some of the jokes in the earliest Discworld novels originate.
Moorcock has tried his hand at farce and comic writing in the Pratchett mould: a novel called The Chinese Agent, about a chaotic collision and an escalating series of misunderstandings between the world's secret services operating in London, is laugh-out-loud funny reading, with echoes of Good Omens.
Similarly, there is a short story called The Stone Thing (A Tale of Strange Parts) in the anthology The Flying Sorcerers (Souvenir Press, 1997) where Moorcock attempts to take the mickey out of his own portentous high-camp style of writing, before anyone else does.--AgProv 17:02, 9 May 2007 (CEST). This anthology also features a Terry Pratchett short story called Turntables of the Night. Recommended by AgProv.
Also worth reading is the Von Bek series, beginning with The Warhound and the World's Pain, and the Dancers at the End of Time series, which begins with An Alien Heat, and is full of Oscar Wilde-esque humour. Both of these series are available in omnibus editions.
- Michael Moorcock on Wikipedia
Hilariously funny novels, which while not exactly fantasy or science fiction have elements of both. Vampires, demons, cargo cults. Death turns up as well, although it's more of a Tooth Fairy-esque franchise than a single anthropomorphic personification. It's probably best to read them in publication order, as recurring characters develop over the novels. Start with Practical Demonkeeping, for an introduction to the barely sane inhabitants of Pine Cove.
- Christopher Moore on Wikipedia
Small but sweet novels set in a sort of alternate, anachronistic fairy-tale past. Humorous fantasy but with a definite American touch (a la Shrek). Whimsical, but with serious undertones.
- John Moore on Wikipedia
A founder member of the H.P. Lovecraft Holiday Fun Club, Kim wrote Anno Dracula, the definitive "what if..." book, starting from the utter failure of van Helsing and his well-intended dreamers to destroy Count Dracula. This irritating little diversion dealt with, Dracula then resumes his trip to England, and introduces himself at Court as a member of very long-standing Rumanian royal dynasty. Which is true, to a given value of true. Queen victoria then invites her relative - well, he's European royalty, he must be related - to come and stay at Buck House, or Sandringham, maybe Balmoral, or the one on the Isle of Wight. Having been invited into the palace, Dracula, like a certain vampire noble in Carpe Jugulum, stays. And stays. And takes over England. And by extension the British Empire. (Does this sound like a certain Pratchett book yet?). He even marries the royal widow and becomes King-Emperor. Then invites the family over from Transylvania. The idea if a vampire dynasty ruling Britain, the degree of acceptance/rebellion it engenders, and how Dracula dealt with threats to British world rule, is continued in the following novels of the trilogy. .--AgProv
- Kim Newman on Wikipedia
A fantasy dragon-story, set in the original 17th century Roundworld! The story isn't as funny as a Discworld novel, but Temeraire's dialogue (the dragon in question) can be very tongue-in-cheek! Could be a bit girlish book, but then again, you can very well be one! .--Charlie007
- Naomi Novik on Wikipedia
Although her book The Hounds of the Morrigan is aimed at children, like the best children's writers she creates a world which may also be inhabited by adults without their losing face. Set in West Galway, two children come to realise that despite St Patrick's best efforts, the old Irish gods and goddesses never went away. They just went over there a wee bit.
The return of the Old Gods to modern (1970's?) Ireland has its threat: the Goddess who has awoken is the old and evil Morrigan, the triple-goddess of death and chaos and nightmare. She must be stopped...
O'Shea blends the ancient tales into a modern Irish landscape with deftness and humour. The children enter the other Ireland of myth and fable, and while at its worst the humour takes on a Disney-Oirish cuteness, the colour and texture of the book slowly darken into a mythological landscape Neil Gaiman would be proud of (not without humour). Recommended. --AgProv 23:15, 25 July 2007 (CEST)
- Pat O'Shea on Wikipedia
Have you ever wondered about the description of Lancre Castle, in the early pages of Wyrd Sisters, as having been designed by an architect who'd heard about Ghormenghast, but had done the best he can despite having neither the budget nor the space? Or about the description of the way time and space do weird things in the precincts of Unseen University, with the effect that it makes Ghormenghast look like a toolshed on a railway allotment?
Well, Peake is the source: his contribution to the fantasy fiction ouevre is the magnificent and thick-as-several-bricks Ghormenghast trilogy, a beautifully written account of life in a massive, rambling, castle-cum-city-cum-palace which has, er, accumulated over the course of several thousand years, with every new generation adding further bits to it as they see fit. Therefore it rambles a bit, like the most eccentric English stately home, and entire rooms, floors, even wings, have been lost over the centuries.
Peake richly describes the settings and populates the Castle with a civilization of grotesques, of whom the sanest and most sympathetic is possibly the good Doctor Prunesquallor, a man who like Cosmo Lavish is burdened with a dificult and sometimes embarrassing sister.
The social system is a suffocating heirarchy where a royal family rules at the top, and everyone else is born into a rigid caste system where even their very jobs are mapped out for them at birth. There is no way to change one's preordained social status, and until the advent of a rebellious kitchen scullion named Steerpike, nobody attempts to. At first a hero deserving sympathy, Steerpike climbs literally and metaphorically out of the depths of the castle kitchens and begins a calculated advance to the very top. His character subtly changes as his ambition grows, and it is clear he is seeking to depose the ruling family. After several murders, the former hero has become a monster: he is indirectly responsible for the death of the heroine Fuchsia, whose brother, Titus Groan, heir to Ghormenghast, resolves to destroy him.
A magnificent piece of fantasy and "baroque humour", a must-read for anyone into fantasy fiction, and another source of ideas and in-jokes for TP! (Pyramids is thought to be heavily influenced by Peake's characters. See here).
January 2010: Breaking news. A fourth Gormenghast novel, started by Peake and finished, at least in draft outline, by his widow, has been dicovered among a batch of the late author's papers. There is a possibility that it will see print by 2011. More here:- . --AgProv 02:52, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
- Mervyn Peake on Wikipedia
An obvious choice, perhaps, but if you're looking for the fantastic and not just the hilarious, His Dark Materials is a fabulous trilogy. It's probably the best fantasy since Tolkien. Terry Brooks, Weis and Hickman, Susan Cooper have all been and gone; JK Rowling's had a good go, but this is by far the best written of all of them. I know it's just become a film, but read the books first. The metaphysics is cool too. The idea of multiple worlds and realities (parallel universes?) could have come from Ponder Stibbons himself... --Knmatt 14:05, 23 December 2007 (CET)
- Philip Pullman on Wikipedia
Much kookier than Pratchett, Rankin has a love affair with running gags and breaking down the fourth wall, has a style that seesaws between grandiose and I'll-break-yer-teeth, and his books generally involve small British towns and aliens, Hell, Elvis, time travel, or all of them at once. Described as "stark raving genius". His most recent book, The Educated Ape, has a chimpanzee for its lead character who is oddly reminiscent of a certain orang-utan, thwarting misdeeds in a Victorian Steampunk London assisted by scientists, assassins, and wizards. Hmm.
- Robert Rankin on Wikipedia
Author of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. These books are very witty with a superb use of footnotes. Told from the point of view of a wisecracking demon summoned by British magicians.
- Jonathan Stroud on Wikipedia
A cartoonist, who created the St Trinians schoolgirls, as well as the Molesworth stories (in fact written by Geoffrey Willians) and several other books, like an illustrated adaption of Gilbert and Sullivan's work for print Dick Dead Eye.
The father of modern science fiction and sometime writer of wonderful fantasy short stories. He is often mentioned for his apparent prediction of the DNA molecule in his novella, The Golden Helix .
Sturgeon was the kind of professional writer, like TP, who could knock off an assignment from elsewhere with imagination and force (e.g. I, Libertine), and he has similarly been accused of literature.
Look for More Than Human, The Dreaming Jewels (aka The Synthetic Man), Without Sorcery, E. Pluribus Unicorn, Caviar, but any collection you stumble across will contain a gem or two.
- Theodore Sturgeon on Wikipedia
The Dragonlance series of books are quite possibly the best all-out quintessential fantasy books since J. R. R. Tolkien. A normal premise (a relatively unassuming band of friends – who happen to be a warrior, a wizard, a knight, a half-elf, an elven princess, a hobbit-like creature, a dwarf and so on) become involved in a quest, and end up saving the world. Kitsch as that sounds, the story is genuinely enthralling and the first series spawned a massive TLR push, and there are now in excess of 50 books, Dungeons & Dragons-style RPGs &c all based on them. Go read - the first three (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning) are wonderful. --Knmatt 20:21, 15 August 2007 (CEST)
- Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman on Wikipedia
Douglas Adams (At last! Honorary and actual #42!)
English comic author sometimes compared to Terry Pratchett, most famous for his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, who passed away in May 2001.
He developed a Pratchett-like idea in his novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), where idiosyncratic private investigator Dirk Gently has to investigate a case involving the survival of the old Norse gods into the present day, and the nature of the dark pact they have to enter into to ensure their continued existence. This book echoes the Pratchett theme that a god may only survive so long as belief persists, and that there is no thing sadder than a god still doggedly hanging on after the need for him (or her) has ended.
The book also develops the concept of Thor (who is also encountered in Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982) as an otherwise unnamed Thunder God trying to pull Trillian at a party, and being outwitted by Arthur Dent) as an over-muscled and somewhat thick god with exaggerated body language.
Some concepts are shared by Pratchett and Adams in their respective science-fiction work, most notably a debunking of the utopian Star Trek ideal that greater technological sophistication confers greater wisdom and a pacifistic world-view.
It can justly be said that Arthur Dent and Twoflower share a common characteristic: both are ignorant wanderers in a strange and foreign world, but the difference is that Arthur Dent is painfully and continually aware of how dangerous it all is, and of how much the settled inhabitants view him with condescending derision. (Hey, monkeyman!) Twoflower is blissfully unaware of the dangers and ambles unconcernedly through life. While it is true Arthur Dent does not have the Luggage to defend him, he is equipped with the Babel Fish (the equivalent is Rincewind's ear for language) together with the resources embodied in Ford Prefect. Is Rincewind a parallel of Ford Prefect? Well, both have a vested interest in cheating death and running away from potential trouble by any means available. Just as Rincewind is constrained by the Patrician's expressed wish to keep Twoflower alive and well, Ford must keep Arthur alive, as the last living being from planet Earth who may know the Question to the Answer. In both cases, a genuine friendship (of sorts) exists. --AgProv 17:02, 9 May 2007 (CEST) Seen otherwise, Arthur Dent shares some of Rincewind's view that he will be flung into a bad situation no matter what.
- The official Douglas Adams website
- Douglas Adams on Wikipedia
- Douglas Adams on Wikiquote
- h2g2 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Wodehouse's stories feature light humor, similar to Pterry's earlier works. Flashes of Wodehouse whimsy appear regularly and young Pratchett heroes like Moist von Lipwig resemble PGW's Psmith. Willikins the butler, of course, comes in a straight line from the famous Jeeves. There are a number of direct references, including, in *Hogfather* a suggestion that the Hogfather's pigs be urged on with the cry "Pighoo--ooey!" an echo of a Wodehouse story by the same name.
Also like Wodehouse is the development of several distinct groups of stories with their own casts and localities. The Blandings books are set at Blandings Castle and usually have to with the Earl of Emsworth's obsession with his pig; the Mulliner Stories are set in the Angler's Rest and are increasingly tall tales about Mr. Mulliner's relatives; the Drones Club is set in London among a set of truly hapless, albeit wealthy young men.
The turn of phrase is very similar: Neil Gaiman has pointed out that he, PTerry, Douglas Adams, and Jasper Fforde can all do it. Pratchett goes into darker territory: the most threatening figures in Wodehouse are aunts. But it can be argued that both Wodehouse and Pratchett present a view of the world that is ultimately accepting and tolerant.
- P.G. Wodehouse on Wikipedia
Humorous fantasy in a Candide-like style (very short chapters with very long titles). Her Enchanted Forest Chronicles explore what happens to a beautiful 16-year-old princess who does not WANT to get married to a handsome prince. Ostensibly written for children, it has a Harry Potter-like style that can be enjoyed by adults (and was written way before Harry Potter, btw!). Kellyterryjones 00:47, 24 December 2007 (CET) She has also written a series of fantasy books set in an alternate frontier America. Tiffany_Aching 10:43, 17 July 2014
- Patricia C. Wrede on Wikipedia