Raising Steam (Review)

Raising Steam (Review)

kay, I’m going to admit to a number of relationships that should have me thrown off the jury of review; I love trains, especially steam trains. And I love Diskworld (Terry Prtchett’s wonderful fantasy world). So what’s not to love? And that, I will get to.

Over the thirty years of Diskworld books, we’ve seen themes rise in his stories. Cleverly he takes things that changed our world (Hollywood, Central Banking, Newspapers, etc) and extended them into his swords-and-sorcery-and-satire world. And now we’re got an engineer with his sliding rule who has figured out how to harness steam, and how to make it totally useful (i.e. steam engines). Having read the book The World the Railroads Made, and knowing how they did change things (from travel to goods to industries and even to time), it is certainly a big deal. If anything will change Diskworld, this would.

But Pratchett is not merely content to play with short lines that bring coal to mom-and-pop industries – he jumps the process thirty years and mirrors the American transcontinental effort, in this case because of the Patrician’s desire to see Ankh-Morpork joined to Schmaltzberg (in far-off Uberwald). And Moist Von Lipwig is just the scoundrel to pull it off.

Add to this a possible double storyline, that of the Dwarves resistance to change – a faction of them is bound and determined to move their race backwards in time, to Make Bonk Great Again, as it were. Acting as a combination of non-religious Islamists and Luddites, they are determined from keeping the Low King from returning to his kingdom and reclaiming his rightful scone (not a typo, I can assure you). And this results in the first train becoming a race-against-time, with ambushes and fighting and all sorts of excitement.

And yes, it was good, a very wonderful story overall. But it didn’t quite cross the line for me. Possibly it wasn’t as funny as I’ve remembered some of his others as being, or maybe I was in a rush to finish and start a friend’s gift, I’m not sure. It just didn’t quite pull it off for me. And that’s not to say it was bad – I just wasn’t in a place, I suppose, where I fully enjoyed it. But if you don’t know Diskworld (or you do, and are looking for more along its crazy storyline), I would give it a nod. Have a look.