Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review - Unseen Academicals

Terry Pratchett is a genius.

He has for the better part of 30 years been the sole inhabitant of the Humorous Satirical Fantasy subgenre. For a population of one, he hasn't done too bad for himself. He has a truly unique vision. Yes, the Discworld is populated by witches and wizards, life and DEATH struggles, battles between questionably good, the uncertainly evil, and the hilariously neutral - but his books are unlike anything you have ever read before or will ever read again. Every book is a crazy, hilarious ride that I hope never ends, but unfortunately after approximately 430 pages it does. Damn.

Unseen Academicals takes place in one of my favorite Discworld settings, the Unseen University in the city of Ankh-Morpork, and tackles (HA!) the subject of foot-the-ball. I believe his portrayal of foot-the-ball's rough, almost criminal beginnings, the rabid fanatics, the madness of the crowd, the willingness of the players to risk life and limb, is spot-on for the modern day game despite the strangeness of the fantasy setting. It doesn't get more strange than a flat world carried on the back of four elephants supported on the shell of the world turtle, Great A'Tuin, who swims through space.

Unless you are a Sooner fan or a Cowboys fan here in Oklahoma during something they call "bedlam".

Personally, I loathe foot-the-ball, soccer, football, or whatever it's called where you live. I don't know anything about any of it and I don't have any desire to learn. I buy a square in the company football pool every week and I have to trust that my co-workers are going to tell me if I won. Considering I have yet to win any money at all in four years, I'm beginning to think they are taking advantage of my ignorance and splitting my money between them.

During the last football game I watched over at a friend's house - one of the four games I can say I've watched from beginning to end - I was quoted as saying "Oh dear, someone dropped their yellow hankie on the field." I wasn't invited back, but I'm convinced I'm not really missing anything.

That is until I realized that foot-the-ball can be played with a team of wizards and an orangutan, coached by a goblin and refereed by the Archchancellor of the University who is possessed by the shade of Evan the Striped (every child's nightmare gym teacher) whenever he uses the whistle and begins screaming phrases like "ANY BOY HERE WHO HAS NOT BOUGHT HIS KIT WILL PLAY IN HIS UNDERPANTS!"

Now THAT is a game I could get in to.


  1. Damn it! Stop tempting me to actually read!

  2. I'm pretty certain a little Terry Pratchett is not going to be enough of an good influence to change your naturally rebellious ways. :)