Soul Music
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Soul Music



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Soul Music

Copyright © 1995 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

[...] the Death of the Discworld, for reasons of his own, once rescued a baby girl and took her to his home between the dimensions. He let her grow to become sixteen because he believed that older children were easier to deal with than younger children, and this shows that you can be an immortal anthropomorphic personification and still get things, as it were, dead wrong . . .



But if it is true that the act of observing changes the thing which is observed,* it’s even more true that it changes the observer.

* Because of quantum.

And then he’d said things, and he’d said things, and suddenly the world was a new and unpleasant place, because things can’t be unsaid.

For Miss Butts sincerely believed that there were no basic differences between boys and gels.

At least, none worth talking about.

None that Miss Butts would talk about, anyway.

And, therefore, she believed in encouraging logical thought and a healthy inquiring mind among the nascent young women in her care, a course of action which is, as far as wisdom is concerned, on a par with going alligator hunting in a cardboard boat during the sinking season.

For example, when she lectured to the school, pointed chin trembling, on the perils to be found outside in the town, three hundred healthy inquiring minds decided that 1) they should be sampled at the earliest opportunity, and logical thought wondered 2) exactly how Miss Butts knew about them.



It was a poem about daffodils.

Apparently the poet had liked them very much.

Susan was quite stoic about this. It was a free country. People could like daffodils if they wanted to. They just should not, in Susan’s very definite and precise opinion, be allowed to take up more than a page to say so.

Trolls disliked druids, too. Any sapient species which spends a lot of time in a stationary, rocklike pose objects to any other species which drags it sixty miles on rollers and buries it up to its knees in a circle.

He was not, by the standard definitions, a bad man; in the same way a plague-bearing rat is not, from a dispassionate point of view, a bad animal.
Folk music was not approved of in Llamedos, and the singing of it was rigorously discouraged; it was felt that anyone espying a fair young maiden one morning in May was entitled to take whatever steps he considered appropriate without someone writing it down.



Susan did not know much about history. It always seemed a particularly dull subject. The same stupid things were done over and over again by tedious people. What was the point? One king was pretty much like another.

The class was learning about some revolt in which some peasants had wanted to stop being peasants and, since the nobles had won, had stopped being peasants really quickly.



You never got cockroaches or rats or any kind of vermin in a dwarf home. At least not while the owner could still hold a frying pan.

If you are a subject in a monarchy, you are ruled by the monarch. All the time. Waking or sleeping. Whatever you—or they—happen to be doing.

It’s part of the general conditions of the situation. The queen doesn’t actually have to come around to your actual house, hog the chair and the TV remote control, and issue actual commands about how one is parched and would enjoy a cup of tea. It all takes place automatically, like gravity. Except that, unlike gravity, it needs someone at the top. They don’t necessarily have to do a great deal. They just have to be there. They just have to be.



“Haven’t you got any muesli?” she said.

“Is that some kind of sausage?” said Albert suspiciously.

“It’s nuts and grains.”

“Any fat in it?”

“I don’t think so.”

“How’re you suppose to fry it, then?”

“You don’t fry it.”

“You call that breakfast?

“It doesn’t have to be fried to be breakfast,” said Susan. “I mean, you mentioned porridge, and you don’t fry porridge—”

“Who says?”

“A boiled egg, then?”

“Hah, boiling’s no good, it don’t kill off all the germs.”



“I should just go out now, if I was you, and tell the universe that it’s not fair. I bet it’ll say, oh, all right then, sorry you’ve been troubled, you’re let off.”

After all, it was only wood. It’d rot in a few hundred years. By the measure of infinity, it hardly existed at all. On average, considered over the lifetime of the multiverse, most things didn’t.

She stepped forward. The heavy oak door offered as much resistance as a shadow.

Everyone was dressed in the same sort of furs and exciting leatherwear, and Susan was at a loss to know how they told friend from foe. People just seemed to shout a lot and swing huge swords and battle axes at random. On the other hand, anyone you managed to hit instantly became your foe, so it probably all came out right in the long run. The point was that people were dying and acts of incredibly stupid heroism were being performed.



They’d assumed that insulating her from the fluffy edges of the world was the safest thing to do. In the circumstances, this was like not telling people about self-defense so that no one would ever attack them.

“Ah, we certainly know what goes into good beer in Ankh-Morpork,” he said.

The wizards nodded. They certainly did. That’s why they were drinking gin and tonic.



She’d never seen him with a sword. He just spent all his time traveling from one wretched city-state to another, talking to people and trying to get them to talk to other people. He’d never killed anyone, although he might have talked a few politicians to death. That didn’t seem to be much of a job for a war leader. Admittedly there didn’t seem to be all the little wars there used to be, but it was . . . well . . . not a proud kind of life.
He began with an important lesson: hitting people was thuggery. Paying other people to do the hitting on your behalf was good business.



“Mr. Stibbons, I know you to be a man who seeks to understand the universe. Here’s an important rule: never give a monkey the key to the banana plantation.”

Wizards were rumored to be wise—in fact, that’s where the word came from.*

* From the Old wys-ars, lit: one who, at bottom, is very smart.



There was the simple life of living things but that was, well . . . simple.

There were other kinds of life. Cities had life. Anthills and swarms of bees had life, a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Worlds had life. Gods had a life made up of the belief of their believers.

The universe danced toward life. Life was a remarkably common commodity. Anything sufficiently complicated seemed to get cut in for some, in the same way that anything massive enough got a generous helping of gravity. The universe had a definite tendency toward awareness. This suggested a certain subtle cruelty woven into the very fabric of space-time.

Perhaps even a music could be alive, if it was old enough. Life is a habit.

The bridges were quite popular as building sites, because they had a very convenient sewage system and, of course, a source of fresh water.

It was called Hide Park not because people could, but because a hide was once a measure of land capable of being plowed by one man with three-and-one-half oxen on a wet Thursday, and the park was exactly this amount of land, and people in Ankh-Morpork stick to tradition and often to other things as well.



“When I was a lad we had proper music with real words . . . ‘Summer is icumen in, lewdly sing cuckoo,’ that sort of thing.”



text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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