Mark Reads ‘Thief of Time’: Part 5

In the fifth part of Thief of Time, there is another. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny, homophobia, toxic masculinity.



You know, I wagered internally how much I was going to say on this because I don’t want to do that thing that we dudes are guilty of all the time, where we try to talk about sexism in a way to distance ourselves from complicity in misogyny. I WAS CALLED ON THIS BEFORE AND MUST BE CONSCIOUS NOT TO DO IT. I was starkly reminded of what Pratchett was referring to in the joke behind the “gentlemen” of Fidgett’s, though, and I wanted to talk about the kid of absurd manliness you often see from men just like that. And look, it’s not that being gay means that we are any less likely to be misogynist; just ask women how they feel about gay men’s misogyny, AND I ASSURE YOU THEY WILL HAVE LOTS TO SAY. But there’s a certain phenomenon that happens where toxic masculinity causes men to willingly distance themselves from any act that might be perceived as being less manly.

I brought this up in the video because of that joke Pratchett makes about the gentlemen of Fidgett’s literally believing that women didn’t exist outside of a certain period of time. I offered up some absurdities myself: I grew up with guys who thought bathing was gay. Who only took showers if they had to. Who thought loofahs were gay or womanly. And the thing I almost said but didn’t? I honest-to-gods knew way too many men to count who did not ever wash their ass because it was gay. I feel disgusted just thinking of that sort of nightmare, y’all. SO THIS JOKE PRATCHETT MADE IS TOO REAL, THERE ARE MEN OUT THERE WHO BELIEVE THIS KIND OF NONSENSE.

I urge you to submit your own stories even though I’m terrified to read them.


Pratchett does a fascinating thing here: he sets up Susan to be alone (and a little lonely) when she meets up with Death, and then he introduces her to a reality where there is someone else just like her. Early on, he writes:

Susan sighed. She knew what was behind that, and it wasn’t a happy thought. It was a small, sad, and wobbly little thought, and it ran: each of them had no one else but the other. There. It was a thought that sobbed into its own handkerchief, but it was true.

Though Susan clings to her humanity, she knows that she lives a life that is detached from the experiences of everyone around her. She might not be comfortable with that all the time, but she’s used to it, and I don’t think she could imagine living life without all the perks she’s gained as Death’s granddaughter. Plus, there’s an arrogance in Susan, and you can see it in the way she refers to “humans” as if she is not one herself. She wouldn’t dream of doing anything as foolish as those humans, you know?

So, we’ve got this sense of loneliness of experience (and company) that’s written in between the lines at points, and then we’ve got Death’s lengthy attempt at explaining the strangeness of the ripples in time. It’s all with the aim of getting Susan interested in what the Auditors and humans are doing. (I also believe it’s so that the reader has a better sense of the complicated mechanics at work here.) I got the sense that he appealed to her curiosity, but was that enough? Why should she care about the Glass Clock beyond the obvious? (You know, that whole pesky World Ending thing.)

Well, here’s one way to do that:

“Well, that sort of thing used to happen a lot in antiquity, didn’t it?” said Susan. Poets were always falling in love with moonlight, or hyacinths, or something, and goddesses were forever–“

BUT THIS WAS REAL, said Death.

“How real do you mean?”


“How could–“


what the fuck


So my instant thought was: it’s Jeremy. It has to be, right? Here’s a man preternaturally obsessed with clocks and time, who has been commissioned by a strange person to build an impossible clock that can make time cease to exist. Or, really, everything cease to exist in a manner of speaking. It’s a possibility, sure, but it could also be true that Jeremy just really, really likes clocks.

I am also curious how far Pratchett is going to take Jeremy’s illness, at least because it’s never named. He requires medicine for it, and Dr. Hopkins is worried about Jeremy fixating on clocks, so… I don’t know? I don’t know if it’s a significant part of who this character is or just a quirk. (Which… if it’s the latter, that’s gonna eventually be a problem.) The fact that Jeremy avoids taking his medicine doesn’t seem to be a superficial thing, but the lack of specificity bothers me. What’s going on with him?

Madam Frout

I know I’ve just started this book, but I feel like a confrontation between Jeremy and Susan isn’t that far off. (What of Lu-Tze and Lobsang, though??? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.) Susan’s convinced that she has to get involved, so with a clever (if cruel) use of her abilities, she gets time off from Madam Frout. I did appreciate that Pratchett had Susan acknowledge that freezing time on Frout was “cruel,” especially since it toyed with her perception of reality. The same goes for the way Susan changed Madam Frout’s mind. It’s not something that should be taken lightly or done without a care. (Well, or at all, I suppose, but I don’t think the book is going to address that. Susan has other things to worry about, like THE END OF THE WORLD and SOMEONE LIKE HER out in the world.

It doesn’t justify her cruelty, though. If anything, it shows us that Susan still sees herself as an exception, as different, as separate. So what’s it gonna be like when she meets someone that proves she’s not all that different from everyone else?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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