The Turtle Moves

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“Small Gods” is the fourth book of Terry Pratchett’s I’ve read.   He employs “British humor” in his fantasy series that happen on Discworld.  These books may share references to places and mention a character more fully explored elsewhere, but they stand alone.   You’ll be all61G2LFdfsiL but immediately deluged with the author’s cynical wit, humor, biting social commentary, comical reasoning and… for all of that, it’s still a bit of a chore to read through.  But, it’s on NPR’s Top 100 list, so here I go again.

This book is, roughly, about a simpleton in a religious order who suddenly is presented with a very demanding turtle, who turns out to be a god (he speaks but is otherwise powerless other than a fortuitous ability to land optimally when dropped by an eagle.  An eagle would do this, you see, to break the turtle’s shell.  These things you learn by reading) who is embodied as this small creature because this is apparently what happens when a god loses his  believing flock.   The residue of lost popularity is similar to Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.”  The story has its rewards, and my bookmarking system of inserting tissue paper on pages with good or otherwise thoughtful quotes attests to the author’s small opinion of gods.  In fact, the only notable quote not related is:

“Words are the litmus paper of the mind.”

Decent enough.  Understand that I enjoyed the book (though I’d recommend Going Postal first), and the following are offered for those who will appreciate the humor.

His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools – the Cynics, the Stoics, and the Epicureans – and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase “You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.  Mine’s a double, if you’re buying.”


Stated philosopher also has a chalk board that serves as a business card: 

Practical Philosophers

No Proposition Too Large
”We Can Do Your Thinking For You”

Special Rates after 6 pm
Fresh Axioms Every Day


And a variety of quicker quotes:

"I could be wrong. Not being certain is what being a philosopher is all about.”

The Captain frowned.  “it’s a funny thing,” he said, “but why is it that the heathens and the barbarians seem to have the best places to go when they die?”

“Just because you can explain it doesn't mean it's not still a miracle.”

“The trouble was that he was talking in philosophy but they were listening in gibberish.”

“We are here and it is now. The way I see it is, after that, everything tends towards guesswork.”

“There’s no point in believing in things that exist.”

“When you can flatten entire cities at a whim, a tendency towards quiet reflection and seeing-things-from-the-other-fellow's-point- of-view is seldom necessary.”

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