The Light Fantastic

The second novel in the Discworld Series

For Innovation’s graphic novel, The Light Fantastic, click here

UK hbk : demy 8vo hbk: Colin Smythe, 1,034 copies on 2 June 1986 (0-86140-203-0)
Note that the front flap of the first printing dust-jacket only has reviews of The Colour of Magic. Later printings also have reviews of The Light Fantastic as well as those of The Colour of Magic on it.

Distributed in the US by Dufour Editions.
A facsimile edition originally announced as being of 500 copies, but later increased to at least 1,000, was published by Hill House Publishers (without a contract), copies being sent out to all subscribers on 5-6 January 2007, according to the publisher. Equal Rites was scheduled to be issued in April 2007, but never appeared.

Compact edition: Gollancz, c.20,000 copies on 16 November 1995 (0-575-06164-2)
Discworld Collector’s Library: The Unseen University Collection (hbk, cover engraving by Joe McLaren): Gollancz, August 2014 (978-1-473-20533-8)

Pbk: Corgi, 34,100 copies on 5 September 1986, (0-552-12848-1), reprinted 1987 (twice), 1988 (twice), 1989 (twice), 1990, 1991 (twice), 1992, 1993, reset 1994, increasing pagination from 224 to 288 pages, reprinted 1994, 1996 (twice), 1997, 1998. etc
New issue, with black/gold photographic design cover, on sale at same time as Kirby edition, 1 September 2004 (B-format 0-552-15259-5)
Reissued B-format with modified Kirby cover: Corgi, 21 June 2012 (978-0-552-16660-7)

Large print: Isis, hbk March 1995 (1-85695-369-6), pbk November 1995 (1-85695-399-8)

BCA’s Unseen Library: 7,000 copies in November 2001 (CN7210)

hbk: As Colin Smythe Ltd refused to accept the inadequate terms offered by St Martin’s Press for subsidiary rights on this title, it was published as a hardcover edition in the US only by Doubleday’s SF Book Club. Thereafter, until the Discworld series was taken over by HarperCollins, the only American-published hardcover editions were the book club ones.

USA pbk: Signet (NAL) (with Kirby cover illustration), March 1988 (0-451-15297-2)

With first reprint (2nd printing) ISBN changed to 0-451-16241-2. Third printing has The Roc imprint, but ISBN remained same for it and subsequent printings.

Mass-market: HarperPrism, cover illus. Ben Perrini, February 2000 (0-06-102070-2)
This promotional edition also contains the 16 page section entitled ‘The World of Terry Pratchett’ that appears at the end of the advance reader’s edition of The Fifth Elephant.
Trade pbk: Harper Paperbacks, October 2005 (0-06-085588-6)

This includes ‘Inside – a sneak peek at Terry Pratchett’s new novel, Thud!’ with 8 pages from that novel – see note to The Color of Magic.
Premium pbk: Harper Premium, 29 January 2013 (978-0-06-222568-9)
Library hbk of pbk: Turtleback, ?March 2008 or earlier (0-613-57938-7)

US book club: Science Fiction Book Club Selection, August 1987 (with Kirby cover  illustration) (ref. 11154)
This edition has the Smythe imprint on the book and jacket, but the text was reset, so that it has 189 (plus 3 blank) pages as opposed to the Smythe edition, which has 218 pages plus 3 blank leaves. The earliest two printings were bound in quarter black cloth-patterned paper and bright blue paper-covered boards with gold blocking on spine. Later printings had Prussian blue paper-covered boards, spine blocked in yellow. The date is omitted from the title page and the title verso omits the British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, while the English typesetter’s and printer’s names and addresses are replaced by `Printed in the United States of America’. The SF Book Club’s policy was to reproduce the edition of the publisher from whom they had licensed the edition, hence the Colin Smythe edition being used by the Club, much to people’s puzzlement. Copies with the first binding can be found without and with a printer’s imprint ‘Quality Printing and Binding By: | ARCATA GRAPHICS/KINGSPORT | Press and Roller Streets | Kingsport, TN 37662  U.S.A.’  The latter, with its more complete information, is almost certainly the first printing.

Bahasa Indonesian: The Light Fantastic, trs. Michael D. Elwin Setiadi, Penerbit PT Elex Media Komputindo/ Kompas Gramedia, 24 November 2010 (978-979-27-8746-7)

Brazilian/Portuguese: A Luz Fantástica, trs. Roberto DeNice, Conrad, ?November 2002 (85-87193-40-6)
Dedicated by the publishers to the memory of Josh Kirby

Bulgarian: ФантастичнаСветлина, trs. Mariana Zakharieva, Vuzev, 15,000 copies in October 1993 (954-422-004-6)

Chinese mainland (simplified): 1. Science Fiction World Magazine, 2007 (978-7-5364-6256-4)
2. Dook Shanghai, January 2019 (978-7-5559-0779-4)
New cover: Dook, July 2020 (same ISBN)

Croatian: 1. Fantastično Svjetlo, trs. Sanja Pavličević, in Futura Znanstvena Fantastika, Bakal, 5,000 copies, issues 1-3, 1994, pp. 70-127, 70-127, 70-142.
    2. Čudesno Svjetlo, trs. Drago žtajduhar, Marjan Tisak, 2002 (953-213-047-0)

Czech: Lehké Fantastično, trs. Jan Kantůrek, Talpress, 6,000 copies in December 1993, (80-85609-29-X)
Also published as a double volume, with The Colour of Magic. See here

Danish: Det Fantastiske Lys, trs. Hans Palle Mortensen, Borgen, 9 March 2004 (87-21-02187-2)

Dutch: Dat Wonderbare Licht, trs. Venugopalan Ittekot (pseud. of Ruurd Groot), Prisma/Het Spectrum, 7,000 copies in 1991 (90-274-2842-5)
Reissue: Mynx, 2008 (978-90-225-5114-1)
   Schijfwereldomnibus nr.1 (omnibus edition with The Colour of Magic and Equal Rites), Het Spectrum, 4,000 copies in 1998 (90-274-6338-7)
Reissue: De Boekerij/M, cover illus. Paul Kidby, November 2002 (90-225-3386-7)

Estonian: Fantastiline Valgus, trs. Krista Kaer, jacket illus. Kirke Kangro, Varrak, 1500 copies on 5 February 1998 (9985-3-0089-0)
Hbk: jacket illus. Hillar Mets, Varrak, April 2005 (9985-3-1007-1)

Finnish: Valon Tanssi, trs. Marja Sinkkonen, Karisto, May 2001 (951-23-4177-8)
Pbk: Karisto, February 2004 (951-23-4518-8)

French: Le Huitième Sortilège, trs. Patrick Couton, L’Atalante, September 1993 (2-905158-75-1)
Reissue, with new introduction by Terry Pratchett (dated September 2014), 21 November 2014 (978-2-84172-690-5)

Pbk: Pocket, October 1997 (2-266-07155-6)
Pbk with Marc Simonetti cover: Pocket, December 2011 (978-2-266-21182-6)

Georgian (Mkhedruli script): Pant’ast’iuri nateba, trs. ??, Ilia State University Press 2011 (978-9941-18-030-9)

German: Das Licht der Phantasie, trs. Andreas Brandhorst, Heyne (06/4583), 1989 (3-453-03450-3) using Kirby’s Majipoor Chronicles picture ‘Valentine’s Arch’.
Reissued in Heyne’s general Allgemeine Reihe series (1/13097) in November 1999 (3-453-16280-3) but still using the incorrect cover illustration. Although the Heyne art department were told in no uncertain manner that the picture was painted for the Majipoor Chronicles series and was therefore unsuitable for the Discworld series, and thus inappropriate for Die Scheibenwelt (where it has been corrected), it did not seem to have crossed their collective minds that the picture was therefore still incorrect for one of the novels in it when published on its own. Both editions state that they are the first novels in the Discworld series, presumably because when Heyne first published The Light Fantastic, Goldmann still had the rights to The Colour of  Magic, and they were the first volumes of the Discworld Series that Heyne published.
Reissued in September 2000 in Heyne’s Algemeine Reihe series, (01/12186, 0-453-17059-8)

Republished by Piper, January 2005 (3-492-38501-5), revised design with 6th printing October 2009
Reissued with new cover design by Katarzyna Oleska, Piper, 8 June 2015 (978-3-492-28048-8)
All nine Piper Discworld titles issued in a box.with spines combining to create a single image by Katarzyna Oleska, illustrator of all the covers, Piper, 8 June 2015 (978-3-492-28080-8)

Bookclub hbk: derclub, 2001 (00205 5) double volume Die Scheibenwelt (with Equal Rites/Das Erbe des Zauberers), Heyne, ?September 1993 (3-453-07339-8) which also used Kirby’s ‘Valentine’s Arch’ on the cover. The 1999 printing finally changed the cover illustration, using Josh Kirby’s image for the first Discworld computer game.
Republished: Piper, November 2004 (3-492-28515-5). This uses the Kirby illustration for the first Discworld computer game
Issued as an ebook: 16 July 2012
Illustrated edition, illus. Stephen Player, Piper, November 2009 (978-3-492-26717-5) This uses the illustrations commissioned from the artist by Gollancz for its edition of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic (The First Discworld Novels).
Bookclub edition of above: Das Licht der Phantasie, Das Erbe des Zauberers, Boulevard Taschenbuch (Goldmann) ?May 1998 (ref. 00538 9), but using Kirby’s illustration for The Light Fantastic.
Rincewind der Zauberer, an omnibus containing the first four Rincewind titles, Die Farben der Magie, Das Licht der Phantasie, Der Zauberhut and Eric, Heyne, cover illus. Tom Kidd, July 2001 (3-453-18942-6).
Republished by Piper, January 2005 (3-492-28500-7)
Die Magie der Scheibenwelt, Heyne, December 2002 (3-453-86367-4; 06/9300), the first three novels in one – with foreword by Neil Gaiman. Revised cover design with 4th printing October 2009 (978-3-492-28519-3)

Greek: Το Χρωμα Τησ Μαγειασ, Το Φωσ Τησ Φαντασιασ, trs. Lil Ioannidou, Para Pente, 1992 (99-8007-443-4) two volumes in one.
   Το Φωσ Τησ Φαντασιασ, Alter Para Pente, 1994 (no ISBN given)

Hebrew: אור מומלא, trs. Nurit Sharabi, Kinneret, April 1995 (965-286-451-X)

Hungarian: 1. A Mágia Fénye, trs. Dr Anikó Sohár and István Nemes, Cherubion Könyvkiadó, 4,947 copies on 27 January 1998 (963-9110-04-3)
Used Josh Kirby’s cover illustration for The Colour of Magic.
   2. Cherubion, 2000  [not seen]
  3. Delta Vision, 2017 (978-963-395-225-2)

Icelandic: Tonleikur, published in breach of contract terms. Not seen.

Italian: 1. La Luce Fantastica, in I Colori della Magia (with The Colour of Magic and Equal   Rites), trs. Natalia Callori, Mondadori, 1991 (88-04-35085-7)
2. La Luce Fantastica, trs. Natalia Callori, Tea (Salani/Longanesi), cover illus. Serena Riglietti, 6/99 (88-7818-269-9)
Hbk: Salani, June 2016 (978-88-6918-789-6)

Korean: Sigongsa, 2005 (89-527-4280-X; set 89-527-4194-3)

Macedonian: Чудесна светлина, trs. Aleksandar Takovski, Ars Libris, 500 copies in 2014 (978-608-229-704-0)

Norwegian: Det Fantastiske Lyset, trs. Rolf Andersen, Tiden Norsk, 3,500 copies on 31/8/98  (82-10-04269-6)

Polish pbk: Blask fantastyczny, trs. Piotr W. Cholewa, Fantastyka S-ka/ Prószyński i S-ka, April 1995 (83-86669-45-4)
Hbk: Prószyński i S-ka ?December 2001 (83-7337-048-X)
Special supermarket edition: Prószyński i S-ka, March 2005 (83-7337-790-5)

Portuguese: 1.  A Luz Fantástica, trs. Mário Dias Correia, Temas & Debates, June 2003 (972-759-555-3)
Bookclub: Circulo de Leitores, April 2004 (972-42-3179-8)
The first edition published by Themas & Debates has Death as female, but his gender was corrected for the bookclub edition (I hope)

Romanian: Lumina Fantastică, trs. Domnica Macri , Noesis, 11 December 2002 (973-85637-1-2)

Russian: 1. Безумная Звезда, trs. Iryny Kravtsova, Azbuka/Terra, 25,000 copies in 1997 (5-7684-0355-8)
Eksmo, 7,100 copies in August 2001 (5-04-008326-2)
Double volume with The Colour of Magic: Eksmo, 5,000 copies printed on 14 May 2003 (5-699-03074-3)

Serbian/Yugoslav: Svetlost Čudesnog, trs. Dejan Papić, Laguna/ReVision in their Octarin series, 1000 copies on 15 December 1998 (86-7304-012-4)

Slovak: 1) Ĺahká Fantastika, trs. Vladislav Gális, Talpress, 1,500 copies in November 2004 (80-7197-254-1)
2) Ĺahká Fantastika, trs. Vladislav Gális, Slovart, 2,000 copies on 17 September 2019 (978-80-556-3940-6)

Slovenian: Ucila [not seen, ? never published ?]

Spanish: La Luz Fantástica, trs. Cristina Macía, Martínez Roca, 1991 (84-270-1492-9)
pbk: Plaza & Janés, January 1998 (col.Jet 84-01-46161-8, vol. 342/2, 84-01-47944-4)
Reissued in Debols!llo series. April 2002 (84-8450-976-1)
2nd edition [reprint] in this ‘Bestseller’ format, November 2004 (84-9793-178-5)
Kiosk edition: Altaya, 2008 (978-84-487-2573-0)

Swedish: 1. Det Fantastiska Ljuset, trs. Olle Sahlin, Target Games, pbk  1990 (91-7898-073-9)
2. (pbk): BW-Pocket/Wahlströms, 1995 (91-32-42991-6)

Turkish: 1). Fantastik Işik, trs Savaş Kiliç, Ithaki, March 2000 (975-6902-55-8)
2). Fantastik Işik, trs. Niran Elçi, Delidolu/Tudem, 3,000 copies in March 2016 (978-605-5060-22-0)

Ukrainian: Химерне сяйво, trs. Yudiya Prokopets [?], Starogo Leva (Old Lion), April 2018 (978-617-679-489-9)

Background illustration © and by courtesy of Marc Simonetti


What makes you laugh? It’s a fairly sensible question, actually. Speaking as a book reviewer, there is little more likely to bring a deathly pallor to my cheeks, a nervous tremble to my hand, or a desire to spend a couple of weeks somewhere warm by a swimming pool than the arrival through my door of a book which, according to the blurb, is funny. It almost never is. Most leave me impassive, inwardly amazed that any editor would have bought such guff. Some make me smile. A few – precious few – make me laugh out loud. The ones that make me laugh out loud are the ones I bore people about for the next few weeks.
I’m not boring you, am I? It’s just that there’s this book that came out recently, and it’s actually funny. It’s called The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett, and it does for the worlds of fantasy, magic and adventure what Douglas Adams did for science fiction and what pigeons do to Nelson’s Column…. go out and buy this book.  Right now.  I mean it’s funny.   ‘W.C.Gull’ (Neil Gaiman) in Knave

This is the stuff of which cults are woven. [From the first version of above review]

Marvellous sequel to The Colour of Magic…. If Pratchett had put quill to parchment before Douglas Adams, Ford Prefect would still be stranded somewhere in the Galaxy with his thumb in the air…. Pure fantastic delight.  Time Out

Pratchett excels in both slapstick comedy and tongue-in-cheek wit. Recommended.    Library Journal

That rare event, a comedy sequel that is twistier, plottier, and funnier than its predecessor …. You won’t stop grinning except to chuckle or sometimes roar with laughter. The most hilarious fantasy since  come to think of it, since Pratchett’s previous outing. Kirkus Reviews

It’s hilarious. A complete joke rather than a comic novel…. I’m sure only die-hard fans will stand a chance of getting all the jokes, but those who don’t will have a fine time anyway. British Fantasy Newsletter

If you want a couple of hours of unadulterated fun, this is the book for you…. The plot, however, is immaterial to this witty, frequently hilarious romp that makes fun of everything in sight, including the genre of which it is part. The hardcover edition has a superb Josh Kirby cover. Watch for this one and don’t wait for the paperback. Science Fiction Chronicle

But strangest of all was the sudden burst of interest in Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic – one of our best-selling books in 1985. Colour has sold steadily throughout the year but due no doubt to the sequel being issued, Colour started selling in quantities bigger than most new books, resulting in it being one of our best-sellers for 1986!
The third volume is out this month in hardcover and we predict that Terry’s books are going to become cult favourites.
From the introduction to Andromeda Bookshop’s Catalogue 116, January-February 1987.

Dropping off the edge of their world does not seem to have done Rincewind, Twoflower or Luggage any harm… Excellent.   SFF Books

Good fun is had by all in one of the most hilarious romps in ages.  Erg