Happy Friday! Today’s post features Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett.
This was the very first Pratchett book I ever read. I think I was about 12 or 13 years old, and my English teacher got tired of trying to keep me entertained whenever I finished the books we were assigned in class while everyone else was still at chapter 4, so she went to the library and got the box with all the English books (I went to school in Denmark. The selection of English books were literally in a cardboard box), put it in front of me, and told me to go nuts.
I don’t know why it took me a decade to return to Pratchett, because I remember laughing out loud at this book back then. And I’ll tell you, I was a grumpy kid. Me laughing freaked the other kids right out.
And amazingly, I still loved it upon rereading it. It’s the third and last book in the Johnny Maxwell series, but it is by far the best one. I love crazy Mrs. Tachyon and her time-traveling shopping trolley, not to mention her insane cat Guilty.
Johnny and the Bomb
by Terry Pratchett
Twelve-year-old Johnny Maxwell has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This has never been more true than when he finds himself in his hometown on May 21, 1941, over forty years before his birth!
An accidental time traveler, Johnny knows his history. He knows England is at war, and he knows that on this day German bombs will fall on the town. It happened. It’s history. And as Johnny and his friends quickly discover, tampering with history can have unpredictable–and drastic–effects on the future.
But letting history take its course means letting people die. What if Johnny warns someone and changes history? What will happen to the future? If Johnny uses his knowledge to save innocent lives by being in the right place at the right time, is he doing the right thing?
I’m still alive. And to prove it, I give you Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett!
I swear that I’m really back this time. It’s been a couple of weeks since things calmed down around here, and now I’m finally done hiding under a blanket because I’m scared of checking my emails. My brain still sounds like the engine of an old car on a cold morning when I try to work on blog posts, but after a few false starts, I do get it rolling.
This also means that you are now allowed to hunt me down and kick me in the ass if I don’t reply to comments on here. There are no more excuses.
(Though I might try to come up with a few…)
About the book: Johnny and the Dead is the second book in the Johnny Maxwell series and I liked it more than Only You Can Save Mankind. However, I could not tell you the morale of the story, even if my life depended on it. I get the strong feeling that there is a morale in there somewhere, but in that case it flew right over my head. But hey, who needs a point to the story when it’s funny?
Johnny and the Dead
by Terry Pratchett
Over their dead bodies . . .
Not many people can see the dead (not many would want to). Twelve-year-old Johnny Maxwell can. And he’s got bad news for them: the council want to sell the cemetery as a building site. But the dead have learnt a thing or two from Johnny. They’re not going to take it lying down . . . especially since it’s Halloween tomorrow.
Besides, they’re beginning to find that life is a lot more fun than it was when they were . . . well . . . alive. Particularly if they break a few rules . . .
Time to shoot some aliens, with Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett.
This is the first book in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.
It might not have aged as well as Pratchett’s other books, but the overall message about how we’re numb to the horrors of war fits as well today as it must have done in the 90s. In the book it’s the Gulf War they’re referring to, but it might as well have been any of the wars over the last thirty years.
But despite the timeless morale, I think kids today would have a really hard time relating to this book, considering they have never known a time where space invader games were ‘cutting edge’…
Only You Can Save Mankind
by Terry Pratchett
It’s just a game . . . isn’t it?
The alien spaceship is in his sights. His finger is on the Fire button. Johnny Maxwell is about to set the new high score on the computer game Only You Can Save Mankind.
Suddenly, a message appears:
We wish to talk. We surrender.
But the aliens aren’t supposed to surrender—they’re supposed to die!
Lights! Camera! Action! It’s Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett.
This has always been my least favorite Discworld book, but I did like it a little better upon rereading it. I do, however, think it could have been vastly improved by more scenes with the wizards. Especially since this is the book that introduces Archchancellor Ridcully, my favorite wizard and nightmare boss. But then again, there’s only so many times the poor Bursar can be nearly shot by his new boss before he loses it, and he did deserve to keep his sanity, at least until the end of the book…
But the mental image of most of Unseen University’s faculty clinging to to Windle Poon’s racing wheelchair while screaming their heads off was amazing, and I could have used more of that. Compared to that, Victor just wasn’t that interesting a main character.
by Terry Pratchett
‘Holy wood is a different sort of place. People act differently here. Everywhere else the most important things are gods or money or cattle. Here, the most important thing is to be important.’
People might say that reality is a quality that things possess in the same way that they possess weight. Sadly alchemists never really held with such a quaint notion. They think that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: the invention of motion pictures, the greatest making of illusions. It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It’s either that or they’re about to unlock the dark terrible secret of the Holy Wood hills – by mistake…
It’s time for assassins and disgruntled mummies with Pyramids by Terry Pratchett.
You didn’t think I was done with Discworld, did you?
I only have a few books left to finish my reread of this entire series, but I’m pacing myself. Running out of Pratchett books is one of the biggest problems I face in my reading life, so I’m rereading even those books that weren’t among my favorites the first time around. Pyramids doesn’t have the greatest story or characters, but it does have some pretty funny scenes. There’s Teppic getting ready for his Assassin’s exam and then promptly falling over from the weight of all the weapons he’s hidden on his person. And then there’s his prophetic dreams:
“There was seven fat cows and seven thin cows. One of them was playing the trombone.”
What the book needed was more Assassins. But considering I own two pairs of Assassin’s Guild socks, I might be bias…
by Terry Pratchett
It’s bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn’t a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do. After all, he’s been trained at Ankh-Morpork’s famed assassins’ school, across the sea from the Kingdom of the Sun. First, there’s the monumental task of building a suitable resting place for Dad — a pyramid to end all pyramids. Then there are the myriad administrative duties, such as dealing with mad priests, sacred crocodiles, and marching mummies. And to top it all off, the adolescent pharaoh discovers deceit, betrayal – not to mention a headstrong handmaiden – at the heart of his realm.