In the sixteenth part of Thief of Time, I know y’all have been waiting for this for a while now. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
We’ve got two huge things to discuss, friends. Buckle in!
I got into an argument with a man at Readercon last month regarding spoilers.
Now, I’m sure there was a component here that’s far more uncomfortable than the face of it. An older white man was extremely rude and condescending to me about my own website, and he tried his damnedest to prove to me that I don’t know how spoilers work, nor do I know why they don’t necessarily matter. His need to be right – and for me to learn something through him – was more important than anything else. This is not the first time that I’ve experienced this kind of nonsense at a convention. Truthfully, I brace myself for white dudes all the time. It’s like they have to be the arbiters of all information all the time! Why! Who asked you! These aren’t questions!!! Stop doing this!
But I digress, since that’s not really the point I’m trying to get to. See, I was in a mixed group of friends, a few acquaintances, and a couple strangers who I had just met minutes earlier. A close friend of mine mentioned how excited they were for me to watch Person of Interest, as they thought it was an underrated show. The stranger at the heart of this story had good intentions at the start, as he excitedly chimed in to say that he was glad someone else was going to get into POI as well. He thought it was largely ignored when it shouldn’t be.
And then it started. “See, here’s what you need to know about Person of Interest–“ he began.
Thankfully, before I could do anything other than raise my hands in a dismissal, practically everyone in the group interrupted him and told him not to spoil me. I’m sure that if you’ve been around this community for a while, you’ve seen this exact exchange unfold in real time.
Him: No, no, this isn’t a spoiler–
Friend: No, Mark can’t be spoiled for anything. It’s like his whole thing.
Him: I’m sure this isn’t a spoiler, I just want him to know something going into it.
Another Friend: I really don’t think you get it. Mark’s whole reviewing style is to be completely ignorant going into things.
Him: But I just need him to know that–
A Third Friend: Please stop.
Him: But if he doesn’t know–
Me: DUDE, PLEASE STOP IT. WE SAID STOP.
I get that what I do is a little weird and strict. I REALLY DO. And I don’t begrudge anyone for not knowing just how intense my personal spoiler policy is! I’ve been spoiled by folks entirely by accident, and I promise I hold no grudges or ill feelings for that. But once this guy was told to stop and he kept going, I stopped feeling any sort of sympathy for him. Why couldn’t I experience this show on my own terms? Why was it so important that I know something about it, and why did it have to come from him?
I haven’t seen it because one of you called it out and I had it deleted, but there was a guy on my YouTube channel who was apparently furious that I got the big twist of Thief of Time wrong. Now that I’ve gotten to it, I was told what it was they were saying. Apparently, my experience with this book was “ruined” because I couldn’t see the full extent of what Pratchett was doing. That’s probably true, but that’s true for most people while they consume most media. The initial experience that we have with a text – in whatever format – involves a complex set of biases, interpretations, perceptions, and readings, and it is my absolute favorite thing in the world. I stumbled into this whole unspoiled reading/watching thing mostly by accident, but one of the reasons I kept going with it is because, frankly, it’s so fucking fun. It’s fun to not know what I’m doing, and for the most part, I’m surrounded by people who get that. Who understand that half the fun is the (very public) struggle I have to put the pieces together, to anticipate tropes, and then, in rare moments like this, to realize that I have been utterly tricked by a work of fiction.
It’s not that I’m trying to make some grandiose statement about the inherent superior value of unspoiled readings. I get why other people love spoilers, and I get why some people like to have the full context of a work before they experience it themselves. Y’all, I “watched” every episode of Glee beyond “American Cheesus” ENTIRELY THROUGH RECAPS ON TUMBLR. I have not seen a single second of any episode past that awful episode, aside from a scene where Merecedes drags Kurt to hell. (It’s very entertaining.) I am not unspoiled in my life. I only read recaps of season five of Game of Thrones until that last episode because I couldn’t subject myself to The Thing. So there’s no Objective Value in any one type of consumption here.
But there is one for me and this project. I want to be foolish. I want to misinterpret things. And I want to learn at my own pace because I want to inherently support that we are going to get things wrong. I got this book wrong – HORRIBLY SO, IN PRACTICALLY EVERY WAY – and I would not want to have done this differently. I literally guessed correctly and then convinced myself that I was wrong, IN PUBLIC, for all of you. And to me, that makes the experience of reading Thief of Time so much more entertaining. It means I was immersed in Pratchett’s world enough that I bought the lie that he sold me. It means that the writing and storytelling was good enough that this twist was truly a Twist for me, and I can’t understand wanting to take that away from me.
So thank you. I am so incredibly happy to be Completely Fucking Wrong.
Please have an extra laugh at me for not realizing Jeremy and Lobsang were “twins” (not technically, but you know what I mean) DESPITE THAT I AM A TWIN MYSELF. How??? HOW DID I MISS THAT THIS WAS EVEN A POSSIBILITY? It is not just painfully obvious in hindsight; I feel like this book outright told me and I ignored it.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about COOL TWIN SHIT because it’s so fascinating to me, and I figure people love hearing this kind of shit. I’ve been immensely close with my twin my whole life, even when we lived on opposite coasts. Most of the really eerie/awesome stuff we did, though, happened before we were ten or so. We flat-out invented an entire language as toddlers that we used to communicate with one another. My mom said we would babble on for hours with each other, and it was clear that we were saying something that each of us could understand. I WISH I REMEMBERED THIS, BUT I DON’T. Apparently, I was a child genius?
We also had a number of unexplainable and weird coincidences growing up that all centered around our connection with one another. In elementary school, we had the bizarre ability to know if the other one of us got hurt. I SWEAR TO YOU. And this still manifests from time to time! I’ll get a burst of anxiety or pain out of nowhere, and I’ll text my brother to find out he stubbed a toe or something bad happened to him. Anyway, in third grade, one time my brother fell while playing football and skinned his knee. All the way across the playground, I was playing handball when I tripped due to a searing pain in the exact same knee that my brother hurt. I THEN SKINNED THAT KNEE, TOO.
Oh, y’all should see us play games together. We actually got forbidden from being on the same team for things like Taboo because we were frighteningly good at being able to communicate a word or idea in a matter of seconds. We often had intensely similar dreams growing up! And they’d be on the same night, too. One of the only ways in which we break the pattern is that I’m gay and he’s straight, but other than that, we always have been similar.
I’ve wondered what that was due to. Maybe because we shared a womb together, there’s chemical or biological shit going on that explains some of hear things. Maybe it’s part socialization or part environmental. We shared a room for many years, and for a large part of our childhood and teen years, we were pretty inseparable. That could explain the closeness… to an extent. Yet despite my curiosity, which has always been my default state anyway, I don’t think I need an explanation. It’s just part of who I am, you know? I can’t imagine NOT having a twin, and I certainly wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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