|Main characters||Kin Arad, Marco Farfarer, Silver|
|Series||Books by Terry Pratchett|
|All data relates to the first UK edition.|
An early story about a discworld, rather than the Discworld. This one runs on good old-fashioned tech rather than magic. The Broken Drum even gets a mention, which just goes to show that old jokes can last the test of time. :-)
Kin Arad, over two centuries old, and a planetary designer and archaeologist, teams up reluctantly with Silver (a multi-skilled Shandi linguist, sociologist, historian and meat herder) and Marco (a full-blooded Kung pilot who believes as fervently as only a Kung can that he is human) to travel to a flat Earth. This discworld has been discovered by Jago Jalo, a surviving Terminus Probe pilot, who escaped from the disc and now wishes to return and plunder its marvels.
The book chronicles their journey to the disc and quest for the truth concerning who built the disc, and why? Kin is forced to face some uncomfortable truths about how the mightiest of storytellers may unwittingly be acting within a much older story themselves.
THE COMPANY BUILDS PLANETS.
Kin Arad is a high-ranking official of the Company. After twenty-one decades of living, and with the help of memory surgery, she is at the top of her profession. Discovering two of her employees have placed a fossilized plesiosaur in the wrong stratum, not to mention the fact it is holding a placard which reads "End Nuclear Testing Now", doesn't dismay the woman who built a mountain range in the shape of her initials during her own high-spirited youth.
But then came a discovery of something which did intrigue Kin Arad. A flat earth was something new...
- Kin Arad - builds planets for a living
- The Committee - runs the disc
- Marco Farfarer - Kung pilot and part-time human
- Jago Jalo - Terminus probe pilot
- Silver - Shandi linguist
- Azrifel - Geni-like disc demon who unwillingly helps Kin reach the disc builders rather than have Marco the Kung do something interestingly destructive to his lamp.
- Bjorne Chang - Old timer who takes on the challenge of training Kingdom's new colonists how to survive in their new world.
- Joel Chenge - Kin's sometime husband and deputy on planet Kingdom. Plans to escape the imminent economic crash by volunteering to be the Kingdom "Watcher" (looks out for signs of a technological society emerging on the new planet).
- Leiv Eriksson - pioneering Norseman from whose people Kin and company learn much about the disc, and about the effectiveness of a very direct style of management.
- Green-shading-to-indigo - Sanitary officer on Kung line top. An Ehft unipod who unites Kin with one of the Committees' spies.
- Frane Hendry - Strata-machine operator who plants a dinosaur skeleton in a rock seam holding a placard that reads "End Nuclear Testing Now". Nearly gets fired by Kin, his boss.
- Abu Ibn Infra - collector of disc hi-tech, aka "Gods Gifts", including people. Kin was a very brief guest in his seraglio.
- Lothar - Minor noble and opportunist who rescues our heroine naked from a bathing pool.
- Otto - Senior priest who decides that the captive Kin should be held overnight and executed, rather than being immediately killed.
- Rip Van LeVine - Terminus Probe pilot who actually makes it to his target planet.
- Nicol Plante - Strata Machine mixer (and girlfriend?) of Frane Hendry. Helps him program the CND dinosaur.
- Jen Tesemilt - Deceased medic who treated Kin's wounds after fighting the disc-Kung clones.
Strata is very closely modelled on a "classic" science fiction story by Larry Niven, Ringworld. Niven designed a giant world in the shape of a wedding ring with a radius of one astronomical unit. That is, the ring was the same diameter as the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The ring spun fast enough to generate artificial gravity on the inner surface and was warmed by a sun similar to our own at the centre of the ring. The inner surface of the ring was an artificial world with mountains, seas and forests, and a habitable area one million times that of the Earth.
In the book, four intrepid explorers of three different species travelled to this world to explore it: a type of extremely bad-tempered intelligent tiger, a two-headed three-legged alien and two Californian humans – a 200-year-old man and an unnaturally lucky young woman. (All of Larry Niven's humans are Californians.)
The world was explained in great detail with all the mathematics worked out so that the world would be consistent. In addition, Niven coined the terms "Spinward" and "Antispinward" to replace the directions of North and South.
A lot of the intention and the humour of Strata becomes far clearer after reading Ringworld.