A Hat Full of Sky

Can’t really say that politics interest me at the moment. And I strongly suspect that I’m not alone. As Jay Currie says, this is a rebootable campaign.

Actually, here’s an interesting challenge: everybody reading this should set up a journal to record the election ads they see. Whenever you see an ad, write down the time, the date, the party which paid for the ad, the channel and the television show it aired with.

I ask this because I have to wonder how many political ads will reach me, even after January 3, when the real campaign supposedly starts. Since Vivian was born, what little television I watched has shrunk further. The only shows we watch regularly are West Wing (maybe), House, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who. If we have the television on for background noise, it tends to be tuned to PBS, Discovery Channel, CablePulse 24 or something else (somewhat) educational.

So what ads are really going to reach me? West Wing is only available on an American network. Are the mainstream parties going to spend money on Discovery or Space networks? Will the Conservatives really advertise during Battlestar Galactica (insert Stephen Harper/Paul Martin Cylon jokes here). I suspect that the only ads I will see will be shown during House.

Are television ads going to be as effective this time around? Despite my assertion that there is nothing magical about blogging, I have been getting most of my news and opinion from the Internet.

Wake me up on January 3. In the meantime, I’m going to read a book.

Reviewing Terry Pratchet


After having thoroughly enjoyed Terry Pratchet’s Wee Free Men (see review, I was eager to tackle the sequel, A Hat Full of Sky.

Set two years after Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky finds now eleven-year-old Tiffany leaving her farm to receive formal (secret) instruction on how to be a witch. Despite having defeated the Queen of the Faeries armed only with a frying pan (and the help of the Scottish smurfs, the Nac Mac Feegle), she’s finding instruction to be a lot harder than she expected. Witchcraft is surprisingly mundane for her, and despite being imbued with incredible powers, the simplist acts of magic seem beyond her, and her fellow witch-trainees see her as a provincial nobody. It’s all very frustrating.

But Tiffany’s powers attract the attention of a Hiver, a thoughtless presence that possesses the minds of powerful individuals, ramps up their paranoia, and removes all inhibitions to their ambition. Tiffany under the Hiver’s influence becomes truly terrifying, but fortunately she has no shortage of help. The Nac Mac Feegle are there for her, as are other witches who (thankfully) understand what is going on and don’t put the problem down to Tiffany being a spoiled brat.

As I said in my earlier review, Wee Free Men is a wild novel, a performance piece to read aloud, and fantastically funny. The Nac Mac Feegle are at the heart of the story, and these hard-drinking, disreputable little faeries-with-Scottish-accents (saying, among other things, “Ach, Crivens” every page or two) are just the backup that Tiffany needs to beat the dream-wielding Queen of the Faeries. A Hat Full of Sky is less of a funny performance, but only because the story is more serious and focuses more on Tiffany. Tiffany is older, here, and coming to terms with just how powerful she is, and how much responsibility comes with that power. The Nac Mac Feegle feature, but not as prominently. Their belly laughs are limited to their attempt to travel inconspicuously by stagecoach, but they are no less heroic, and Rob Anybody plays a major role in resolving the climax.

Wee Free Men was a roller-coaster ride, and part of its energy was its freshness. Terry Pratchet appears to be dealing with a number of new characters here, and the exuberance of introduction is infused in the book. In A Hat Full of Sky, Pratchett settles down and explores Tiffany more. Things are more familiar, more internal and less manic. It’s a bit of a disappointment if you’re coming directly in from Wee Free Men, expecting the same pace, but at the same time it’s more rewarding. Tiffany is a strong character, a girl on the verge of womanhood, about to become an extremely powerful witch.

A Hat Full of Sky was only recently released, so only Pratchett knows whether or not Tiffany’s further adventures will be chronicled. But I hope so. The sense of this book is that Tiffany’s story is only just beginning, and if we as readers are not around to see it, then, Crivens, there is going to be a kickin’!

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