The Brilliance of Terry Pratchett

I think it’s hard to overstate the brilliance of Sir Terry Pratchett, although it may have been easy to miss because you were so busy laughing.

I suspect—because I’ve seen it make the rounds on Twitter—many people are familiar with the Captain Samuel Vimes “Boots” theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet. This was the Captain Samuel Vimes "Boots" theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

That’s a pretty cogent explanation of why being poor is so expensive.

Recently, I came across some of my old Kindle highlights from Feet of Clay. I thought I’d share them here.

…while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions.
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
It wasn’t by eliminating the impossible that you got at the truth, however improbable; it was by the much harder process of eliminating the possibilities.
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
Rumor is information distilled so finely that it can filter through anything.
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
People look down on stuff like geography and meteorology, and not only because they’re standing on one and being soaked by the other. They don’t look quite like real science. But geography is only physics slowed down and with a few trees stuck on it, and meteorology is full of excitingly fashionable chaos and complexity.
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

I love that take on the famous Sherlock Holmes quote about eliminating the impossible and the appreciation of meteorology.

I think maybe I’ll go reread some of my favorite Discworld novels…