Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Death and What Comes Next by Terry Pratchett Review


A dying philosopher attempts to smugly outsmart Death with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics before being coolly checkmated by the Reaper Man. I SEE YOU… 

I just discovered this obscure Discworld short story and I’m so glad I stumbled across it as it’s great! Apparently Terry Pratchett originally wrote Death and What Comes Next for an online puzzle game called Timehunt (never heard of it!) back in 2002. As a lifelong fan of the author, Discworld and the Death books in particular, it’s a delightful reminder of everything I love about arguably Pratchett’s best character. 

The story is filled with the kind of sharp and witty dialogue that won Pratchett the huge audience he continues to have. In addition to succinctly explaining a complex aspect of quantum mechanics in a clear and accessible way (while also working in an understanding of the famous Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment), he gives Death an effortlessly clever response delivered in the calm, beguiling and convincing way only an entity as absolute and powerful as Death could possess. I especially loved Death’s withering assessment of humanity: 

LET ME PUT FORWARD ANOTHER SUGGESTION: THAT YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A LUCKY SPECIES OF APE THAT IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF CREATION VIA A LANGUAGE THAT EVOLVED IN ORDER TO TELL ONE ANOTHER WHERE THE RIPE FRUIT WAS? UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU HAVE ACHIEVED A GREAT DEAL. 

Awesome – and what a brilliant ending too! Death and What Comes Next is a wonderfully entertaining Discworld episode featuring some first-class Death material any fan will get a kick out of - I definitely enjoyed this great short story a lot. 
Read it for free here: http://www.lspace.org/books/dawcn/dawcn-english.html 

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