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Law of Expanding Returns
on 11 February 2013
I felt an overwhelming sense of crushing disappointment as I started working through the first few stories and articles in this book. I love Pratchett, and had high hopes. However, the pedestrian comic tales I found, with nothing to distinguish them from any decent (but not great) humourist, let me down in a way Pratchett never had before. They weren't stories that really deserved to be collected together - this was obviously a vanity project, riding off his name rather than the worth of the content.
Then, about a 100 pages in, I reached 'The High Meggas', a tale of infinite parallel earths that would later develop further into the novel The Long Earth. It's brilliant. Smart, incisive, funny, exciting, and best of all - it matters. The characters matter. Their struggles matter. It grips. From out of nowhere, the book suddenly stands alongside the best of Pratchett, and it doesn't look back.
With the book arranged to chart Pratchett's career from early, formative stuff that isn't quite 'there yet', to what we recognise instantly as the humanist humourist who gave us the Discworld, a law of expanding returns kicks in. If you're a fan of his novels, you have to wait for that writer to turn up in this book, but when he does he's on top form. I don't recommend that anybody wanting to know why Pratchett is brilliant starts here (they might lose patience, and never find out), but everyone who already knows will enjoy this (eventually).