Mark Reads ‘Soul Music’: Part 3

In the third part of Soul Music, Susan resists a fantastical adventure. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

So many things to discuss, friends!

Susan’s First Refusal

It is endlessly funny to me that Pratchett is directly addressing the absurdity of many fantasy narratives through Susan. Now, I love a great fantasy adventure involving animals as guides into a mythical world. JUST GET ME TALKING ABOUT HIS DARK MATERIALS AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT I MEAN. But it is funny that Pratchett takes a realistic approach here. Who would really follow a talking raven and a rat skeleton anywhere? (I mean… I would. I am a bad example for this.)

I do think this set-up is horribly flawed by that misplaced, misguided “N word” joke. I do not believe for a second that Pratchett wasn’t trying to poke fun at the real slur he’s referring to here. It’s just bad form, y’all. Non-black people: we don’t get to joke about that word. At all. Stop it.

Anyway, Susan is great because for every “answer” the raven has (HIS NAME IS QUOTH oh my god), she has a stunning response ready for him. When he notes that he’s the only talking animal around, she points out the humans exist. When he says humans can’t see the Death of Rats, she more or less raises her hand. I particularly loved this part:

“Look,” said Susan, “I’d just like you to know that I don’t believe any of this. I don’t believe there’s a Death of Rats in a cowl carrying a scythe.”

“He’s standing in front of you.”

“That’s no reason to believe it.”

“I can see you’ve certainly had a proper education,” said the raven sourly.

THIS IS JUST REALLY FUNNY TO ME. Of course, someone who wasn’t a fan of fantasy narratives at all would find this to be bullshit.

Susan’s Second Refusal

Yet, she soon learns that she’s ignoring some weird shit in order to maintain her understanding of reality. That understanding is… well, it’s a lot more complicated than I think Susan would admit to. Susan has a superiority complex, and I’m wondering if this is another commentary that Pratchett is writing into this book. She clings fiercely to her logical and ordered idea of the universe, and any time someone veers off of this pass, she writes them off as “stupid” or an “idiot.” In her mind, for example, she’s the most talented hockey and lacrosse player, and yet? She is never picked to be on a team. That doesn’t make sense, right?

Even fat girls with spots got picked before her. It was so infuriatingly unreasonable, and she could never understand why.

She’d explained to other girls how good she was, and demonstrated her skill, and pointed out just how stupid they were in not picking her. For some exasperating reason it didn’t seem to have any effect.

As I said in the video, OH, THIS DEFINITELY HAS AN EFFECT. It’s just not what you want. It’s also really terrible to treat others this way, to infer that it’s offensive that someone would choose a fat, ugly person over one’s self! At least we didn’t get anything this ugly from Susan as she hung out with Jade and Gloria. (Further proof that this must take place either during or after the events of Men at Arms, by the way! The first troll and dwarf students in this school!) She seems to actually enjoy their company, which makes me think we might see them more as Susan continues on her adventure.

Because now, all three of them have seen Binky. Jumping. And not coming back down. We discover here that Death has sent Binky to Susan to be her next owner. (If Death is off on a trip of self-discovery, that means he’s not doing his job, right? Right???) That seems like a fairly serious gesture on his part, so I imagine that this means he’ll be gone for a long time. What he doesn’t plan for, though, is the fact that Binky is not like a regular horse. Binky is THE horse, and I feel like that’s the best way to explain Binky. Just THE horse. Now, this is the Discworld, so of course, people come up with very creative mental tricks to convince themselves that they did not see a horse floating in the air. Susan is one of those people, and it’s interesting to see her accept the horse as her own but not accept that this is happening for a very weird reason.

Susan’s Third Refusal

This is sounding like a Bible story or something, isn’t it? SUSAN REFUSED THREE TIMES BEFORE THE LORD BOOMED BEFORE HER AND –

Okay, nevermind. Despite that Susan refused to go along with her “destiny,” so to speak, she is curious enough that she seeks out the wizard in Quirm whom owns Quoth. AND MEETS a TOOTH FAIRY. Not the Tooth Fairy of course, but to Susan, it all seems like impossible nonsense. And yet it isn’t. Unlike most people we’ve encountered in the Discworld, Susan stubbornly doesn’t believe in anything that we would deem supernatural. Or magical. Or mythical. She has none of that within her, even though her nature is pretty darn supernatural. (Well, the word “supernatural” doesn’t work in the context of the Disc, does it? These things are all very natural!)

So when will she give in or see things differently? What’ll convince her of that?

The original text contains use of the words “stupid” and “idiot.”

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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