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The Bromeliad Trilogy: Truckers, Diggers, and Wings    by Terry Pratchett order for
Bromeliad Trilogy
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nomes rule! I don't understand how I missed this wonderful series before, but at least it allowed me to read Truckers, Diggers and Wings all at once in this re-issued trilogy edition. Nomes are four inches high, and they move so fast that humans rarely see them. They live fast too ... 'To a nome, a year lasts as long as ten years do to a human.' These three tales are told from the pint-sized point of view, and their perspectives on humanity (including debates on whether humans are intelligent), along with their thrilling adventures, make for riotous reading, for young and old.

In Truckers, we meet Masklin, a young nome who, with help from Grimma, works hard to scrape a perilous living, hunting and gathering for a dwindling community of mostly old folk. In search of a better home for them, he ingeniously (though with much grumbling) gets all of them and the black 'Thing' they have carried for generations onto a truck. It takes them to the 'Store'where a hierarchical society of nomes live under the floorboards, worship 'Arnold Bros', and don't believe in the 'Outside'. Though they find themselves a niche there, it doesn't last long after the discovery that the store is heading for demolition in three weeks. Fortunately, the presence of electricity wakens the Thing, which turns out to be a powerful computer, reveals their origins, and accepts the task of helping to get them home again. No rest for the wicked, as poor Masklin has to organize another escape. How do four inch folk manage to drive a truck? Read the book and you'll find out.

They took refuge in an abandoned quarry, hunting for food and setting up reading classes for the littler nomes. But those pesky humans are everywhere, and soon they seem to be about to re-open the quarry. Diggers is mostly Grimma's story, as Masklin leaves on a quest to find a way for his people back to the stars, via NASA. Sound impossible? Masklin has learned the hard way that 'The way to deal with an impossible task was to chop it down into a number of merely very difficult tasks, and break each of them into a group of horribly hard tasks, and each of them into tricky jobs, and each of them ...' With Masklin gone, winter on the way (with real snow, not the glittery Store stuff), a fundamentalist mutiny, and humans cluttering up the neighborhood, Grimma has a challenge on her hands. She rises to it, with help from inventive old Dorcas, who has discovered 'Big John', the Digger, of course. The combination of Grimma and Big John results in hilarious cross-country mayhem.

In the third episode, Wings, Masklin and two fellow adventurers hitch a ride on a Concorde to Florida, where they encounter yet another society of nomes. This group have adapted to a migrating lifestyle. With their help and in a hair-raising race against time, Masklin sends the Thing into space, and the rest is from the flying saucer files. In The Bromeliad Trilogy, Terry Pratchett offers his usual brilliant combination of thrills and satiric humor, and there's a tiny romance in there as well. The author ties it all together with an analogy to the 'epiphytic bromeliad', a remarkable South American plant that exists in mountain trees, and whose blooms hold tiny pools in which tree frogs live 'such a tiny life cycle, it still had training wheels on it.' You won't be able to put this one down.

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