Strange Territories, A Year on Discworld: Book 21 — Jingo

In a quest to escape the reality of 2020 and recapture my youth, I’ve set myself the goal of reading all 41 Discworld novels in one year. Join me on this voyage of discovery which definitely isn’t a complete waste of time. Mild spoilers, probably.

Art bu Josh Kirby

I find myself running out of new ideas.

Given I’m halfway through 41 novels, Pratchett’s work is fully consistent now and I’ve written about a lot of the ideas that come from looking at nostalgia mixing with escapism, the fantasy of youth, the politics of the bizarre. I find myself running out of new ideas. I did want to look at how Pratchett writes about the night and the desert in Jingo — which I particularly enjoyed — but those hit on a similar theme to what I wrote about after reading Hogfather and Small Gods. I highlighted a few phrases here and there but realised they covered political ideas I’d raised in almost every other Watch entry.

“But here’s the thing, as much as I like both of those characters — one of Carrot’s in-universe characteristics is that he is impossible to dislike — their relationship is dull.”

Carrot is the perpetually positive and unflappable Watchmen who starts out as the series major protagonist but as it continues, has to make room for and be the foil of the cynic Sam Vimes. Angua is one of the Watch’s first diversity hires, in that she is a woman and a werewolf. Carrot and Angua are dating.

“…damaged men thinking Tyler Durgen/Rick Sanchez/Don Draper is the hero, comics fans wanting to keep politics out of comics, Star Wars fans caring about Rey’s parents, that sort of thing…”

From a nostalgia perspective, I was introduced to the concept in my teens by a friend who spent some time on forums discussing shipping in witchy romance series Charmed. My initial annoyance grew from the fact Charmed is awful, it seemed overly romantic and girly, and he was doing it to impress a girl I didn’t like. But, even as I grew out of the regular teenage misogyny and learned that there are many stupid things you’ll do to impress girls, my dislike of shipping never went away. Charmed might be better in retrospect but I’ll never commit to finding out, sorry.

“…will-they-won’t-they narratives are only interesting as long as they won’t…”

For a while now I’ve thought about writing a long piece about all the ways fans fail to understand what they love — damaged men thinking Tyler Durgen/Rick Sanchez/Don Draper is the hero, comics fans wanting to keep politics out of comics, Star Wars fans caring about Rey’s parents, that sort of thing, — and shipping would be in the list.

“I’m a strong believer in the theory writers should chase their characters up a tree, then throw rocks at them.”

Part of me believing is this comes from the fact I’ve long been interested in how stories are constructed and there are certain rules I think to stand the test of time, namely drama comes from conflict. Shipping to me largely seems to be the want to eradicate conflict and is the enemy of good storytelling. But how did I jump from not liking shipping to… ship-sinking? It one thing to want to change a story and to leave it how it is.

“So for the greater good, better storytelling and my own enjoyment, I have to commit not just to shipping agnosticism but shipping anti-theism.”

What is interesting to me here is Pratchett has seeded that the characters might break up in an earlier book, with Angua almost leaving Carrot and changing her mind at the last moment, so there is potential. Aside from the enjoyment of the torture of characters, it would give to me, I also think Carrot need more development. He’s purposely a winner, in every sense of the word. He is nice, charming, good in combat, intelligent, caring and destined for greatness. He shares the super-power of moral correctness with the likes of Superman and Captain America, and his narrative purpose is to stand in stark contrast to the world view of Vimes as his plot function is to effortlessly overcome challenges. But unlike Superman and Cap, Carrot seems to be willfully oblivious to the cynicism and unfairness of the world he lives in. He does the right thing by nature, not by choice. Because of this, he is likeable to read but without a character arc. His victory is a foregone conclusion.

Journalist, author, comics writer and rambler. I like odd things. Comic found here www.hocuspocuscomic.com/ — Support my writing here https://ko-fi.com/rikworth

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