Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Reaper ManTerry Pratchett; HarperTorch 2002Death has an unusual problem. The other astral beings have decided he has gained a self identity. Immortals are not allowed do that. If that happens, they become mortal. Death is given an hourglass where the sand is falling. He has a short deadline before he, himself dies and a new Death takes over.
Death goes AWOL from his job. The new Death won’t start until the sand runs out of the current Death’s hourglass. He goes up and takes a job as a farmhand instead. If Death isn’t working, everyone whose life has ended doesn’t exactly die. They wander around as undead.
The elderly wizard Windle Poons learns that. He dies the night Death starts his new job. After being buried in his coffin, Windle discovers he has great strength. He digs himself out and joins a group of “living challenged”. He and many other people in Ankh Morpork find cute snow globes. He sticks his under the floorboards in his old room at the Unseen University. He doesn’t know the true purpose of the snow globe.
Need a laugh in your life? Do you want to kick back and relax? If you haven’t met Terry Pratchett’s Discworld yet, Reaper Man would be a good one to try. I started reading this on the airplane while returning home from a visit with my daughter. I kept chuckling out loud. My seat partner was deep into his military magazine.
Pratchett uses Discworld to poke fun at ourselves, especially in satire similar to Jonathan Swift a couple of centuries ago. The snowglobes turn into… Well, you really need to find out for yourself.
Also, think about the consequences if no living organism can die. Pratchett alludes to the huge problem, but only addresses it through Windle Poons. He’s funny. He was about 130 when he “died”. He had been decrepit. He hadn’t listened to anyone else in years, if ever. Suddenly he discovers strength he’d forgotten he’d ever had. He hears everything and listens as well. He notices things that would have escaped him while he was alive. The wizards he knew while alive don’t know what to do with. The wizard who took over his bedroom does NOT want to give it back to a dead man. He’s waited too long already.
Reaper Man is excellent. Death is a favorite recurring character. Check this one out.
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