In the ninth part of The Last Continent, the wizards discover the truth of Mono Island. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny and objectification of women.
Well, shit. I was close to figuring out the truth of Mono Island! And I can see now why this long scene matters: the wizards needed to get from the island to Fourecks at some point so that they could affect history, so much so that in the present time, Rincewind would discover that they were a huge part of it. Still unsure how all of this ends with Rincewind saving Fourecks from destruction, but hey! I’m piecing it together as I go.
There are parts of this that I love and others… not so much. I’ll start with the negative: I am really bored by the constant jokes and references to the wizards not knowing what to do around women. Yes, it’s their reality, and it is “realistic” that they would behave strangely around a woman in their lives, but that realism is now repetitive. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve brought this up before, and it’s reappearance here doesn’t feel like Pratchett has found a new way to tell the same story. I’m perfectly fine with that.
For example! The power of belief is a common theme within the Discworld series. It has manifested multiple times as the major theme of a book. However, I’d never argue that Small Gods is the same book as Witches Abroad, despite that both have belief as a central motif. They don’t feel repetitive by a long shot! But this joke? It’s just the same one over and over again: to the wizards, women are a strange, foreign creature that no one knows how to behave around. Y’all, the Senior Wrangler just makes sounds at Mrs. Whitlow’s beach outfit. There’s no subversion here of a trope that actual men act out in our world. It just happens! And if Mrs. Whitlow played a greater part in the world of Unseen University, I might be able to ignore something rubbing me the wrong way. However, Mrs. Whitlow exists to be momentarily ogled by these men, and then… that’s it? She’s gone for the remainder of the scene. Like, wouldn’t the discovery of a boat be a big enough thing that they should make sure she comes along?
Where Pratchett succeeds, though, is in the execution of the God of Evolution. I loved that he didn’t just exist for the sake of it; he chose to start over after becoming tired with the routine of the gods. All that smiting (which wasn’t really smiting but coincidence) and believing got to be too much for this god, so he became… an atheist. Pratchett has a lot of fun with the idea of an atheist god, one who has no taste for religion and just wants to experiment with creating things and watching them grow on a tiny island. IT IS SUCH A PURE IDEA, ISN’T IT? This god doesn’t want to hurt anyone or cause anyone distress; they basically want to play the Sims for eternity in the middle of the ocean. I ONLY WISH I COULD HIGH-FIVE A GOD LIKE THIS.
The reveal of who this god is, though, explains why this island was so weird. I always assumed that the God of Evolution knew precisely where these people came from and was playing some sort of game with them. But given that the window must have appeared out of nowhere in Unseen University, then the Geography Professor must have seemed like a random evolution on Mono Island. When more of them showed up… well, technically, they’re all one-of-a-kind, right? So the God had no reason to believe that these further life forms were anything but new evolutions.
Thus, there’s an island evolving to meet the wizards’ needs, not the other way around. Chocolate coconuts, filtered cigarettes, and finally: a boat. A boat that is basically a giant gourd, which allows the Chair of Indefinite Studies to make one hell of a pun. (Bravo on that one.)
So, the wizards and Mono Island will shortly part ways. But then what? What happens when they get to Fourecks? WHAT IF THEY DON’T GET THERE? Oh, I’m still unprepared.
Mark Links Stuff
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