The Time-Travelling Caveman by Terry Pratchett
Penguin Random House, hb, £10.19
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Have you ever wondered how jokes are created? Or what men who are made knights today are supposed to do with their time? Or what it takes to become a world-class football team? Well, The Time-Travelling Caveman has the answers to all of these questions and more in this short story collection by Sir Terry Pratchett.
Mort was the first book I ever read by Sir Terry Pratchett, and I was immediately hooked by the style of writing, whimsical, satirical, and downright funny. The same is true for this collection of short stories, and the message behind each one is as sharp in his early works as it is his later ones.
The short story that stood out the most to me was the titular The Time-Travelling Caveman. Without spoiling the story, it takes the very worse of human behaviour and asks whether you would want to be labelled as human if this is what it means you are capable of. The Time-Travelling Caveman dares us as humans to be better.
Which leads me to the most striking thing about this collection. Although the short stories were written when Sir Terry Pratchett was only seventeen, there is nothing dated about them. The stories are as fresh and full of wonder as any contemporary collection you might pick up for your child today. The fact that these stories are just as relevant today as they were when they were originally written is a sign of Sir Terry’s remarkable skill.
As it happens, my house contains someone in the intended audience age bracket, so when I had finished, I handed it over to see her reaction. There was lots of laughter and the snippets read out loud to her younger brother. Then she asked for some of the books on the ‘Also by the Same Author’ page. The perfect reaction.
This collection of stories is aimed at children but as a lifelong fan, I was just as captivated as my own children. Highly recommended for dreamers of all ages.