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The endless question,
This review is from: The Dark Side of the Sun (Hardcover)
Young Dom Sabalos is about to become Chairman of an entire planet. That means giving up countless adolescent pleasures. He won't be able to make exploratory journeys into the marshes or ponder the mysteries of the Joker Towers. Of Old Earth ancestry, Dom's home is Widdershins, a planet producing a special pharmaceutical - pilac. The demand for this drug has made the Sabalos family powerful and rich beyond calculation. It says much that Dom's godfather is a bank. IS a bank - one that takes up an entire planet.
Being rich and powerful evokes enemies, even when your wealth is gratefully contributed to by all who take pilac. Which is nearly all sentient creatures. There are other species scattered about the universe, but they all appear to be approximately the same duration - four or five million years. Before that, there seem to have been The Jokers. As Dom flees Widdershins to thwart assassination, he seeks answers to the Joker mystery. The quest leads to endless adventures and opens many questions in the reader's mind. The main one being: "Who are we, and where did we come from?"
In today's world, "Dark Side" can occupy only a special niche. Older - sorry! "established" - Pratchett readers may look upon this book as an historical curiosity. The really established SF reader will see the obvious reliance on Isaac Asimov's "Robot" series. In "Dark Side", the very intelligent robot is named "Isaac". Douglas Adams' "probability math" is given place and complex problems are solved by a team of a poet and a "mad computer". The book's themes and characters are very "1970s SciFi". Yet the sparks of the later Discworld books shine brightly here. Beyond the carryovers of such ideas as Hogswatch Night, Small Gods and Widdershins itself, there are the usual touches of Pratchettean irony and insight. There is also the underlying foundation of Pratchett's capacity for bringing remote facts and ideas into his stories. There are Gypsy terms, ancient Philistine goddesses and touches of Classical Greek theatre.
These literary arabesques are what makes Pratchett a repeatable read, no matter what genre critics try to cram him into. Although nearly thirty years have passed since this was written, it remains worthy of a place on your bookshelf. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]