Protagonist Musicians in SF, pt. 3

TITLE: Soul Music
AUTHOR: Terry Pratchett
YEAR: 1994

If by ‘S’ you mean ‘Science’ then no, but if you mean ‘Speculative’ then yes.  Pratchett’s DiscWorld is a stripped down version of our own, allowing him to superimpose select aspects of our world over his own, with much irony and hilarity ensuing.

This book is too intricate to blogly-summarize it well.   The protagonist, Imp Y Celyn, is a harpist who works hard, yet dreams of making it Big Time.  He does achieve the big time, but seemingly only for magical reasons (such is the modis operandi of the DiscWorld novels) and spends the bulk of the novel trying to understand what he’s doing or how things are happening.  The magic attracts the attention of Death’s granddaughter, etc.

YES-then-KINDA-then-REALLY NO!!!  Protagonist starts as an actual musician (harpist) who gains stardom not by his efforts but rather via a magical guitar which unwittingly propels him to rock stardom. At the end of the book he has forgotten everything and is now an apprentice to the local fish and chips seller.

Having a musician become a music-dumb rock star deepens the irony quite severely.  Do stars have talent? What is it that makes them stars? Who makes them stars?  What does it mean  to be a star?  Do you need talent to be a star?  Does talent get in the way of being a start?  Do you have the star-making talent to be a star?

YES—Funny, apt, valid, witty—the arc of the love story is great! There’s just not much music going on, but in this ironic take on music industry, itinerant musicians and superstardom, that’s pretty much the point—the music gets lost in the hype…

© 2014 Peter J. Evans, theorist

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