The best part of a convention is often the discovery of other people enamoured with the same books, characters and worlds. But I came to the world of fandom late and made friends with those who had similar reading interests regardless of where I met them.
Petra Bulic, who ran SFera and the was Head of Volunteers in London last summer, was one of them. I cannot in all honesty say it was she who introduced me to Terry Pratchett. I had already been handed his books by someone, possibly so early that I have no memory of it. (Or my memory is just bad).
Anyway, I had already read him by the time I met petra in college and I have done so many things with Petra since – SFera, the SFERA Award, all those SFeraKons, trips to Worldcon, a Eurocon, trips to Croatian conventions – that somehow it’s been years since we spoke about books. I have no idea how that happened – I was not even aware of it until the SFera Book Club last Tuesday.
She brought three Pratchett books to the Club – Snuff, Monstrous Regiment and A Hat Full of Sky. The SFera Book Club in 2015 is organized to have a different individual run it every time and they get to name up to three books by an author of their own choosing they would like people to read. And whoever runs the Book Club gets to moderate.
Petra did not just do the three books, she brought pairs. So, the Book Club opened with a discussion of similarities between Snuff and Disgrace. The the inevitable comparison of the number of books sold as in audience reached (Snuff 55 000 in a day! while Disgrace won a Man Booker and never reached anywhere near that number in a day). I have not read Disgrace, but I have a need to now, if nothing else than to pen an essay on the lack of serious themes in genre literature and how it actually does not exist.
Unfortunately, there were those among us who had not read Monstrous regiment, so the discussion had to skirt around a bit in order not to reveal any spoilers. I was able to recommend a book of essays I had discovered, read and enjoyed so very much that I will insist this particular Book Club receive an extension once everyone gets up to speed with Monstrous regiment – and that would be Pratchett’s Women: The Books, the Bad and the Broomsticks by Tansy Rayner Roberts. I am eager to see what would develop in that conversation.
The A Hat Full of Sky discussion centered around Tiffany as one of the very well rounded characters while Marko Štengl, one of the biggest Croatian Terry Pratchett fans proclaimed it an awesome parenting manual. Totally did not see that coming and now I have to reread the book to see why.
Some of the crowd that SFera draws on Tuesday nights did not take part in the Book Club, they were busy discussing film. But as the evening drew to a close, we discovered that they also thought Pratchett was “just fun” and thus felt disinclined to have a discussion about him. This created another lively discussion which resulted in a new Book Club reading assignment. proposed by one of the younger members. I love it when that happens – that is why SFera is important all year round and not just as the society that organizes SFeraKon.