Mark Reads ‘Soul Music’: Part 15

In the fifteenth part of Soul Music, the Death of Rats and the raven seek out Albert, and the Band with Rocks In continues their tour. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

This isn’t a terribly action-packed section, but it’s setting up a really interesting confrontation between Albert and Death. I’m excited for it because Albert has almost always been a side character. He hasn’t really pushed the action forward before, but now? I CAN’T WAIT.

But let me back up to discuss the lead up to this. The raven and the Death of Rats also get a piece of the action, and it’s separate from Susan. Well, they’re inspired by Susan is a much better description. The only possible recourse they have is reaching out to someone who knows Death best: Albert. In doing so, one of the coolest bits of worldbuilding is revealed:

There was a battered shoe box under the bed. Albert pulled it out very, very carefully and took the top off it. It was half-full of cotton wool; nestling in the wool, like a rare egg, was a lifetimer.

Engraved on it was the name: Alberto Malich.

See, I never really thought about the existence of Albert’s lifetime, despite that I already knew that Death had the ability to suspend time within his realm. (Actually, let me nitpick myself. Does he actually suspend time himself, or is it more of an automatic thing? Like, does time not pass anywhere in any context there? I LIKE THINKING ABOUT THESE THINGS.) Yet Albert’s lifetimer is definitive proof that any human within Death’s realm is still mortal, but only if they leave it. Which is so fascinating to me, especially once we see how that works for Albert:

It was part of the Arrangement. He worked for Death, and time didn’t pass, except when he went into the World.

There was a scrap of paper by the glass. The figures “91” had been written at the top, but lower numbers trailed down the page after it. 73… 68… 37… 19.

If I understand it correctly, then, Death pulled Albert into his realm and made the Arrangement when he had 91 days left on his lifetimer. What an eerie thought, to know exactly how many days left you have to live on Earth. Nineteen doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but you know what? This detail does wonders to demonstrate just how desperate and determined Albert is, and I think it’s brilliant. We now know that Albert is willing to use that tiny bit of time he has in order to track down Death. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, I LOVE YOU.

Meanwhile, I AM MORE AND MORE CONCERNED FOR BUDDY. Pratchett includes a few more funny and recognizable details of touring life as The Band with Rocks In arrives in Pseudopolis, but Buddy is the main focus for me. I did want to say that I’ve toured with bands who have intense, passionate followings, so I’ve seen large crowds gathered outside a venue, waiting for the tour bus to pull in. For the most part, the fans are respectfully excited; they didn’t crowd the bus or rush to try to get close to the band members. (Though I once worked a show at the Staples Center for the Black Eyed Peas, and I saw some WILD SHIT as numerous people tried to con their way backstage. IT WAS SO SURREAL.) I think that what the Band with Rocks In experiences here is overwhelming to them, but it’s actually fairly tame compared to what I’ve seen. I did love that the City Watch hated the band, because that’s something I recognized instantly. I always thought that venues should hire security who actually come from the live music community. You can always tell when they’re not because they’re HORRIBLE PEOPLE. (I’m having flashbacks to the abusive security team that was hired to guard the stage at Coachella when Rage Against the Machine reunited. UGH.)

Anyway, is Buddy ever going to be okay??? Is he just going to end up in a trance state after every performance??? I’M VERY WORRIED.

Finally, this section checks in with Surreptitious Fabric (AKA Suck), who are attempting their first “recording” session with Dibbler. It went about exactly as I expected it to. I mean, they don’t know how to actually sing or play their instruments. But now I’m curious. Are those devices only meant to work for the music that Buddy is making? All music? Did Dibbler construct them wrong? WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS PLOT?

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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