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Monday, January 24, 2011

Unseen Academicals


Unseen Academicals
by Terry Pratchett

Take Football, Soccer if you will, although I prefer Football.

No, not the game per se. The insanity the game births and nurses and fosters.

That's the subject of Pratchett's genial attack in this 37th book in the Discworld Series.

Unseen Academicals are the wizards of the Unseen University (UU), led by none other than Mustrum Ridcully, (with the Librarian for their goalie), who have to win a football game playing by the rules (even if they make up the rules themselves) and using no magic. Else they lose a big chunk of endowment for the University. Or so Ponder Stibbons says.

When the Patrician himself takes an interest, and the ArchChancellor feels his afternoon chunk of cheese shuffling away forever, things need to be done.

Mr.Nutt is an enigma. He is an orc. The only living orc as far as people know. Or so the history books say. He is also the football coach for the Unseen Academicals. And a brilliant one at that. Strategies and authority come to him naturally despite his diminutive figure and shy nature.

Trev Likely and Juliet Stollop make a winsome pair. But, Glenda Sugarbean takes the cake. Or bakes the cake. Pies actually. Especially the Ploughman's Pie, complete with a special technique to keep the pickled onions crisp, which she invented herself. Glenda is the reigning queen of the Night Kitchen at UU.

Despite learning about his Alzheimer's, Pratchett spins a funny yarn that aptly reflects not only the football madness, but our own prejudices regarding creatures we fail to understand and appreciate simply because we fear it based on invented past...

Not my cup of tea - the topic, but, Pratchett always makes me laugh. And think. And does it in such a sophisticated and entertaining manner that inspires me.

[picture source: guardian.co.uk]

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