BOOK REVIEW: A STROKE OF THE PEN – The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett

BOOK REVIEW: A STROKE OF THE PEN – The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett
Penguin Random House
October 2023
Paperback – $32.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

For Terry Pratchett obsessives, this is something akin to the Holy Grail – early, formative, long lost stories which were published in the 1960s, 70s and 80s under a pseudonym (well, two pseudonyms to be exact, and some under his own name, lost all the same)

In 1984 a fifteen year old chap named Chris Lawrence was so impressed with Pratchett’s serialized story The Quest For The Keys that he tore the pages from Bristol’s Western Daily Press newspaper and kept them, albeit with the dates trimmed off. Thirty years later Pat and Jane Harkin took on the mission of finding the original papers featuring these stories – a task which took “countless hours” in the British Newspaper Archive looking through thousands of issues of the paper. In the process they discovered more of Pratchett’s stories, a few under the name Uncle Jim, the rest published as Patrick Kearns.

And what a delight they are. Charming, inventive, cheeky, amusing, fantastical, and always showing glimpses of the major force he would become. Some are dated, a couple of these short stories are a bit flimsy, but throughout we can’t help but wonder what they might have become had he not being writing to a daily newspaper’s word limit and rules.

History shows us that Terry Pratchett excelled at world creation and comedic fantasy in his many novels. This is where he started.


Shane Pinnegar
Shane Pinnegar is an author, chef and music/pop culture writer who lives in Western Australia. He has a lovely wife, two rambunctious dogs with no respect for personal space, especially on the sofa or bed, twenty-something koi, a flock of itinerate galahs who visit regularly, and a never-comprehensive-enough rock n' roll record collection.

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