wossname: (GNU Terry Pratchett)
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   It's less than a year since Sorin Suciu and Laura May first put out the call for submissions to a planned anthology of short stories on the theme of memory, with a bonus angle of humour, to raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK as a loving memorial to the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett. The response was immediate and wide-ranging, with stories offered by amateur and professional writers alike, and the final result – In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett – has been praised by no less a luminary of humour fiction than Robert Rankin.

   Although I've spent many years reviewing Pratchett novels and associated Discworld "spinoff" books, map(p)s and other auxiliaries, I was unsure how to go about reviewing In Memory. But then I realised that the kernel of this review was already in the book itself, in an afterword by Charlotte Slocombe, author of Bubble Trouble, thirteenth story in this anthology: "Thank you for buying this book, because you never know who you might be saving." And there you have it. In Memory is a unique work, created as a combination tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett and as fundraising "merch" for the benefit of Alzheimer's Research UK. By purchasing a copy of In Memory, you're helping to keep the name of one of our most (rightly!) beloved authors alive in the world of literature and donating to a worthy and vital cause, but the glow of a good deed done isn't the only thing you'll come away with – because you'll also have the pleasure of reading a collection of seventeen bloody fine stories.

   I really mean it. No lemonade is being squeezed here.

   Given the at best variable quality of fan-generated writings, my expectations of In Memory were not exactly high. But I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised – far more, in fact. The quality of the writing is high throughout. The least polished of these stories is worthy of being commercially published, but in my opinion there are several standouts that deserve special mention:

"Thanks for the Memory Cards" by Luke Kemp would make for a brilliant short film in the hands of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.

DK Mok's "The Heart of the Labyrinth" offers the kind of stealth philosophy, cloaked in the tropes of fantasy and mythology, of which Sir Pterry would have been proud.

"The Tale of the Storyteller" by Caroline Friedel is one of the sweetest tributes to our favourite author that I have yet seen.

In "The Vividarium", Steven McKinnon takes on Asimov and Clarke's clumsy attempts at humour and infuses them with a genuine sense of fun.

"Ackerley's Genuine Earth Antiques" by Michael K Schaefer upholds – proudly – the stylistic traditions of Fritz Leiber and Anthony Boucher with a light dusting of Connie Willis.

Co-editor Sorin Suciu's "Doris" is a classy enough tale to easily pass as golden-age Larry Niven.

   Also, kudos go to editors May and Suciu for delivering an almost unblemished example of careful proofreading (with the exception of the most chortle-inducing uncaught mistype since the Wicked Bible of 1631 – it's on page 264, in case you wondered), which is rare these days even in the output of major publishing houses.

   Each story is followed by an afterword from its author, giving a brief overview of how it came into being and, of course, giving respect to Sir Pterry for inspiring them. The book is printed on decent quality paper and has a handsome cover – again, of a much higher quality than one might expect of a charity project. But most impressive of all, in my opinion, is that this collection represents a true labour of love. Nowhere did I find the slightest whiff of "I'm doing this to get my name out there in the industry" or "I'm doing this to make money". All seventeen authors – and the many others whose submissions couldn't be squeezed in – wrote their stories as a mark of the respect and admiration they felt for Sir Pterry, and as a way to give back for the joy his work brought into their lives. That kind of honesty is rarer than ye olde pearl of great price.

   To all of you out there who say you want to keep Terry Pratchett's name alive forever "in the Overhead", I say buy this book, because the more money is raised for research into Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia, the closer we'll get to stopping or even reversing the ravages of the awful thief of memory... and the more of us will never forget him. The people who put their hearts and time into this project hope to raise £6,500 for Alzheimer's Research UK; so far, almost £1,100 has been raised. Let's all go for it, hmm?

Editor's note:
Prices for In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett range from $13.99 on CreateSpace (_https://www.createspace.com/5759638_) down to $6.29 for a Kindle edition (_http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0163JZBLE?tag=sorsuc-20_). The ISBN is 1517603609, should you wish to source it elsewhere.

To read about the step-by-step making of this book, go to http://inmemorytribute.com/blog/

Also, check out these links:


wossname: Clacks rendering of SPEAK HIS NAME to keep Pratchett on the Overhead (Default)

December 2018


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