Strata (novel)

Strata (novel)

Infobox Book
name = Strata
title_orig = Strata

image_caption = Strata
author = Terry Pratchett
cover_artist =
country = UK
language = English
series = none
genre = Science Fiction
publisher =
pub_date = 1981
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
oclc =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
:"For discussion regarding the term strata as used in geology, see stratum. See also Strata (disambiguation)."

"Strata" is a comic science fiction novel by Terry Pratchett. Published in 1981, it is one of Pratchett's first novels and one of only two purely science fiction novels he has written, the other being "The Dark Side of the Sun".

Although it takes place in a different fictional universe and is more science fiction than fantasy, it could be said to be a kind of prequel to the "Discworld" novels, as it also features a flat Earth similar to the Discworld. It has been called a "preconsideration" of Discworld, though the plot is modelled on (or parodies) that of the novel "Ringworld" by Larry Niven.

Plot summary

Kin Arad is a human planetary engineer working for the Company, a human organisation which builds planets like the Spindles did, with the intention of creating diverse enough branches of humanity to ensure the whole species' survival for eternity. All planets they build are carefully crafted with artificial strata containing false fossils and no trace of being artificial. She, a four-armed warrior kung named Marco and a shandi historian/linguist named Silver are led by a mysterious human named Jago Jalo to a flat Earth.

This planet is artificial, a flattened version of the medieval Eastern hemisphere of Earth. It rotates inside a gigantic hollow sphere with tiny "stars" affixed to the interior, with a small sun, moon and planets orbiting it.

After their ship is hit by an orbiting "planet", Kin, Marco and Silver are forced to land on the flat Earth. A return from the flat Earth seems impossible, unless they are able to find its mysterious builders, so they embark on a journey to the structure at the hub of the disc, the only thing which does not match geographically with the Earth they know. En route, they encounter the superstitious Middle Ages inhabitants of the disc, who believe the end of the world is coming about, due to the disappearance of one of their planets and the devastation caused by the ship's crash. They also discover a number of other differences. Rome exists - but only since in this universe our 'real' Rome was named Reme. Since only the Eastern hemisphere of Earth is represented, the continent of America is completely missing; the travellers encounter a Viking ship headed west and rescue it from falling over the rim of the world. The "planet" Venus does "not" have a moon.

In addition, there are real "magical" creatures and objects here, demons and magic purses and flying carpets - all of them, the travellers realise, highly advanced and sophisticated technological constructs like the disc itself. Indeed, the planet itself is an extremely old and complex automated system. The characters come to suspect that the builders of the flat world in fact constructed the universe as a whole, with the evidence of previous races being hoaxes and the flat world being an in joke.

Kin and the others eventually reach the hub and Kin makes contact with the planet's controlling systems. She is told that, lacking maintenance, the flat Earth threatens to fall apart. The machines offer their advanced technology, in exchange for Kin's construction of a real replacement Earth for the flat planet's inhabitants. Kin agrees; the implication being that the world she will build is our own Earth.

Ideas and themes

"Strata" is set in a universe in which history unfolded very differently from our reality. North America is named Valhalla, and was colonised in the first millennium A.D. by the Vikings, led by Leif Ericson; the Roman Empire is known as Reme instead, after the other twin in the story of Romulus and Remus; the planet Venus is orbited by a moon like Earth's Luna. In the present day, humanity is much more developed in the field of space travel and has met several other intelligent species, such as the tall, froglike kungs and the bearlike shandi.

Humanity appears to be merely the latest of a long series of intelligent species who have evolved, altered the universe to better suit themselves, and died out before the next species arose. Before humans, there were the Great Spindle Kings, a race of acutely claustrophobic telepaths, who lived only a few hundred to a planet and therefore built entire planets from scratch to accommodate their population. Before them were the Wheelers, who were themselves preceded by increasingly alien races extending all the way back to the Big Bang.


* "Страта" (Bulgarian)
* "Strata" (Czech)
* "Delven" (Dutch) (published together with "The Dark Side of the Sun" in one volume in 1982: republished separately as "Strata" in 1994) [ [ Original publisher's homepage)]
* "Strate-à-gemmes" (French)
* "Strata" (German)
* "Dysk" (Polish) (first edition was entitled "Warstwy Wszechświata") "Strata" means "loss" in Polish.
* "Страта" (Russian)

External links

* [ Annotations for "Strata"]
* [ Quotations from "Strata"]


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