Friday, February 09, 2007

Of Imaginations Run Riot

Some of us do not have much in the way of an imagination. We can barely guess how nice the bathroom would look in mauve wallpaper, let alone design an entire new universe composed from our overactive craziness. I have an abundant imagination which has always gotten me into trouble. I see herds of wildebeest on city streets and wonder what it would be like if everyone woke up and found themselves a fetching shade of green. I often take my imagination out for a stroll and heap praise upon it so it might bless me with even more bizarre plots for my books. Clearly, I'm wired a lot different than most.

But then there those folks who go "What if?" and then take that question into the realms of the truly unbelievable. Such are those who utilize their Imagination Gene on a regular basis. Two gentlemen come to mind, though there are others in the publishing industry that definitely have been given the I-Upgrade. Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde are two such amazing fellows. If they had been inclined toward pharmaceutical experiments in their early years, they got the really good dope while some of us got ditch weed.

Messrs. Pratchett and Fforde (both Brits) employ their imaginations in a way that roundly skewers human foibles. Silly politicians, stupid laws, greedy corporations all come in for savaging by their pens (or keyboards) but in a way that makes the stories so very readable.

Pratchett creates a lively Discworld with imp-controlled traffic cameras, swamp dragons, six inch tall Pictsies and a second-class god named Nuggin who despises the color blue (causing his followers to no longer look up at the sky so that they will not offend him). Pratchett's humans are full of flaws. And so are his trolls, etc.

Fforde takes us into the world of Thursday Next, a very likable heroine who battles Minotaurs, megalomaniacs and fake Shakespeares. She has a re-engineered dodo named Pickwick (who makes plock-plock noises), a husband who has been eradicated by the Chrono-Guard but fades in and out like an old radio and she hangs with fictional characters like Cat (formerly known as Cheshire) and Hamlet.

To take a trip into either of these writers' worlds is like great sex. You smile a lot afterward and remind yourself to do that again, sooner rather than later.

It's wonderful to watch Uber Imaginations at work. Hopefully, I'll get another upgrade somewhere down the line. Maybe I'll reach Pratchett's or Fforde's level in the years to come.

Humm... maybe green wildebeests would be a good start....


Terry Pratchett

Jasper Fforde

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