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on 21 October 2014
Most of this shows an early Mr Pratchett, learning his trade, and the majority of the stories reflect this .Perhaps I've been spoilt by starting with the Discworld series, and then reading further books, like Dodger, but these stories - apart from a few towards the end of this collection - reminded me of the large number of fair but unmemorable stories written for the early sci-fi/ fantasy mags. I can't recommend this collection, except as an item of interest to someone interested in the history and/ or development of Mr Pratchett's remarkable storytelling skills.
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on 15 October 2012
A fascinating insight into the development of Terry Pratchett's skill. I've long held the view that the man is a literary genius, and this book shows the brilliance and craftsmanship of his work. Beyond that, it's extremely entertaining, being funny, clever and thought-provoking. Treat yourself, and banish the damp-dark-autumn-days blues!
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on 26 May 2016
For someone who was as prolific at writing novels as Terry Pratchett he ddin't write much in the way of short stories. As he himself comments in this collection of his work this is because 'they cost blood' to write and he wondered how others such as Neil Gaiman could write so many short stories. This is all the more surprising given his grounding in journalism, something that demands producing a story withing a set number of words.

The basis for this seems to be that the nugget of an idea behind a Pratchett book was rarely simple enough to be encapsulated neatly in the short story form; his characters and ideas took time to develop and that's before the addition of the amusing footnotes and his skill at producing pastiche, parody and satire of many different things without the narrative stumbling or swerving.

This collection shows that although relatively few in number, the Pratchett short story was just as fine as could be expected. Sometimes they could be a little rushed to get to the point before the end (best seen in his tale of a gnome from the country that finds other gnomes in a department store - the story that was later rewritten fully as Truckers)

This is also a somewhat eclectic mix. There is the first story that he was paid for about the devil wanting to promote hell, which he wrote at school but it is clear that he already had the flair for writing even then. A few science fiction stories including the prescient and dark #ifdefDEBUG "world/enough" "time" about someone retreating to a virtual reality world. There is the story that formed the first ideas that would eventually become The Long Earth and of course some Diskworld shorts and related notes.

Taken together they show that over a long span of time Pratchett was coming up with great ideas. There is a little uneveness but part of this is due to his writing style being different between Diskworld and his more science fiction based stories (something that confused a lot of Diskworld readers when they read The Long Earth, but goes back even to The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata both of which are very different to Diskworld in tone.

To this end the editors have been wise to have the Diskworld stories as the second half with the 'other' stories at the beginning. This avoids the tone changing too much between stories.

This sounds like it might be for the Pratchett 'completist', like one of those greatest hits albums that comes out with just one or two rare tracks, but really this is a great collection of short stories by any measure. A couple of these are fairly well known - Troll Bridge and Theatre of Cruelty - but there is nothing gratuitous here. And of course there are plenty of laughs and subtle takes on society and humanity
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on 30 October 2013
I have been a fan of Pratchett for a long while now, and have read almost all of the Discworld books and some, but not all, of his collaborations with other authors. I have read very little of his short stories, but thankfully with this collection this has now been resolved.

The best way to think of this collection is as a box of rocks. But as you read these, it dawns on you that even though they are a little rough looking, they are actually uncut gems and carry the potential thoughts and ideas that came to make him a household name later on.

As these have been drawn from his very earliest writings, some are rough at the edges, and do not have the finesse of more recent novels. There are some really good stories in here, Theatre of Cruelty was particular favourite. Some sprung into full length novels later on, and when reading them you can see the inspirations and germs of ideas. These are not all fantasy stories, Once and Future and #IFDEFDEBUG + World/Enough + Time are science fiction stories, which whilst short are good.

There are a couple of things that really stand out for me though. The humour, which is very funny, sometimes rude and most importantly clever. And secondly that with his decline because of Alzheimer's then these brilliant stories and observations will cease sooner that they could have done, and that is a tragedy.
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on 19 November 2012
Where to start - the best place is probably with the forward. It's a sign of how well respected Sir Terry Pratchett has become that it doesn't seem incongruous that the forward is written by A. S. Byatt.

The stories themselves consist of short pieces from throughout his career, right from the very first story he had published (and I'm jealous that a thirteen year old could write that well - my writings at that time seemed to consist of trying to sneak rude words past my teachers!)

The early works do show glimpses of the talent that was waiting to blossom, as well as some of his influences - Beachcomber showing his head in some of the early pieces. I wonder if the obvious influences of Coren in the pieces from the 1970's are due to admiration of his work, or possibly his editors admiration for the editor of Punch. It is also interesting to see the origins of some of his later works in these short pieces, including the "Bromeliad" and the "Long Earth"

The majority of the Discworld pieces were ones I had already read, although there was a surprise addition to one of them that I found very thought provoking.

Overall, this is probably more one for the dedicated fan than the casual reading, but being a dedicated fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it.
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on 12 January 2015
A Blink of the Screen is a wonderfully eclectic collection of short stories from Sir Terry Pratchett. It shows us some of his earlier writing, even one story written as young as thirteen, and includes the ideas for the Truckers series and the Long Earth series and some set in the Discworld.

I found this collection of stories very easy to read, his earlier work was still very recognisable as coming from the pen of Sir Terry, with all his little quirks and eccentricities, and one of the main Discworld short stories was a very good example of "headology" in all its glory. It's not just short stories, its little anecdotes and details often included in appendices, such as common Discworld medical conditions, and the Ankh Morpork National Anthem (whose second verse actually includes "ner, ner, ner" lyrics - Brilliant!).

My favourite was "The Sea and Little Fishes", which I love because it is about Granny Weatherwax, one of my favourite characters in the Discworld series, and is a superb example of how she can get under everyone's skin without even breaking a sweat.

I would recommend A Blink of the Screen to anyone who enjoys Terry Pratchett books, as some of the short stories might confuse people unfamiliar with his other works.
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on 16 February 2016
Over the years, starting from when he was at school until he started having hits with his Discworld stories, Pratchett wrote stuff. It got published in local papers, the school magazine, places like that. And the stories have a certain charm, and it is interesting to see the origins of things. But I probably would not spend actual money on these, unless you are a total obsessive - and I speak of a fan who owns pretty much every Pratchett novel.
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on 3 December 2012
This book is a must for fans of Terry Pratchett and if you can't buy it for yourself ask the Hog Father!
This is a chronological collection of Pratchett's writings from his first story at 13 years old to 2010 and it emphasis's the point that great writers are born great writers. Every individual story just adds delight onto pleasure and with illustrations by Josh Kirby this is a perfect piece of heaven
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on 7 November 2012
Being a Discworld fan for... well...almost 18 years now I must confess to some slight bias towards this collection. However, I am not a fan of some of Terry Pratchett's non-Discworld work so I hope to be balanced in this review. The non-Discworld stories start with Pratchett's early work and whilst not the greatest short stories in the world, they show the growth of a writer and how he cultivated his skills. The best ones for me are: "Final Reward" which recounts an author killing off his famed creation only to be greeted with him on his doorstep. "Turntables of the Night" is classic Pratchett about a collector meeting... well...another collector. "#ifdefDEBUG + 'world/enough' + 'time' is a story about virtual reality and immersion into a second virtual life and is a slow, but great read. I have already read most Discworld shorts and I am reading the ones I missed now. It is a mixed bag, some good, some bad. However, it is an interesting read and gives an insight into the processes of writing and makes a great addition to any Pratchett fan's collection.
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on 9 March 2013
I received this book, along with Doger for Christmas. I eventually got around to Reading Doger and enjoyed it very much. However, when reading 'Blink of the Screen' I was disappointed. It is a collection of short stories spanning his whole career and considering he was only 13 at the time, 'The Hades Business' was a very good effort, which I enjoyed. The next few stories were a mixed bag. Some left me thinking 'What?' at the end, some a bit banal, but there were a few gems here such as 'Rincemangle, the Gnome of Even Moor','And Mind the Monoliths', 'The High Meggas' - a particular favourite, 'Twenty Pence, with Envelope and Seasonal Greeting','Hollywood Chickens' and 'Once and Future'.
Then we get to what most fans want - the Discworld stories. These were all very good, especially 'The Sea and Little Fishes' about Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. I would have loved to see some of these in a Discworld novel, but he obviously couldn't work them in.
A good book overall, but I felt a little let down.
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