This is a collection of, only recently discovered, short stories written by the literary canon that was Sir Terry Pratchett, under pseudonym in the 1970s and 1980s. Welcome ‘Patrick Kearns’ who submitted short stories to the Western Daily Press, while Terry Pratchett wrote for Bucks Free Press and worked on The Dark Side of the Sub, Strata and The Colour of Magic.
Colin Smythe, Prachett’s publisher of many years, tells us that it is thanks to Chris Lawrence, who tore out one of the stories (The Quest for the Keys, 1984) from the Western Daily Press, aged fifteen, that we have these stories to read today. And of course thanks to ‘uber-fans’ Pat and Jan Harkins who spent countless hours going through 70s and 80s issues searching for its publication date, discovering the Kearns stories in the process.
A Stroke of the Pen brings us twenty of these short stories, containing all Pratchett’s trademark wit, satirical wisdom and fantastic imagination. There is a tale of Og the inventor, the first caveman to cultivate fire, one of the defiant ghosts of the condemned Pilgarlic Towers, who haunt the Ministry of Nuisances to save their home, there is weird weather in Blackbury, and time travel too. And, of course, the Quest for the Keys.
I must confess I have tried (and failed) to read a couple of the Pratchett novels in the past. I just never could get into them. These short stories though, they had me straight away. They are witty, easy to read and interesting. There were several I wished were longer, the last sentence leaving me wanting more. Whether you’re a Pratchett connoisseurs or a novice, like me, I’d recommend you seek out a copy and give it a go. It might just surprise you.
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