Duck Duck Book

22 – bromeliad
07.21.2005, 12:03 am
Filed under: fiction

The Bromeliad trilogy / by Terry Pratchett.
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.
[MCL call number: j PRATCHETT; 20 copies, no holds]

The Bromeliad Trilogy is a collection of three novels about a people called “nomes,” a major social crisis, and the methods they use to solve their difficulties.

Nomes are tiny people — not to say that they’re just little humans, because they’re definitely more than that — who live in the midst of us. The nome society we meet in the first book (Truckers) live in a department store, and believe that the margins of the universe are the walls of the store. These nomes have a complicated, hierarchical society based on the circumstances in the store — a powerful religious order inhabits the stationary department, for example. The store nomes are in trouble — Masklin, a nome visitor from Outside, has arrived and freaked everyone out (he’s from outside the bounds of the universe, after all) and he has a very important black box with him that is reporting that the world is pretty much going to end really soon. Clearly this is a crisis — socially, religiously, and perhaps mortally.

The genius of these books is not merely the concept, the story, or the characters — the genius is that Pratchett has created a world that is similar to the one we know, but this world is shown from a completely alien perspective. The world of the book has deatils very different from our world which Pratchett logically explores and eloquently explains. For example, Nomes are very small, only a few inches tall. Like other small mammals, they have very tiny hearts that beat very quickly. Their voices are much higher than ours, and although during the story the nomes come across lots of humans, and they try to listen to us talk, they cannot understand us very well at all because our voices are so impossibly low, our speech so slow and groaning and rumbly.

But still, the story is fascinating and the characters compelling. The books are charming entertainment, and yet they give us a great deal of real substance to contemplate. No doubt The Bromeliad Trilogy would be wonderful to read out loud, so as to maximize the potential for having a good discussion later.

The three books in the trilogy were originally published separately, and are available from various publishers and in various editions. They are: Truckers (originally printed in 1989), Diggers (1990), and Wings (1990).


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