Discworld Monthly - Issue 12: April 1998
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
3. Isn't That a Computer Game? - Part 3 - As Long As It Is Good
4. Readers' Letters
6. Review: Clarecraft's Bonsai Mountains
7. Feature and Competition: Eric "The Beer Monster" Speaks
8. Review: Wyrd Sisters Live
9. Review: Guards! Guards! Hackney Empire
10. Article: Hogfather
11. Feature: What To Expect From A Live Action Discworld Movie
12. The End
This month we have lots of reviews, more DiscTrivia and Readers' Letters and competitions to win some Clarecraft pieces and some new pieces from Eric "the beer monster" and Waxworks (if you like that sort of thing).
Amazon.co.uk are now taking advance bookings for the Last Continent the following URL will take you to the order page.
(The above should all be entered as one line in the address box of your browser with no spaces)
For all you budding Inspector Poirots, Danny F. Gibas has come up with a Discworld whodunit for you to solve.... It is only available by email due to the fan fiction nature of it. For more information visit http://www.ufbs.co.uk/cgi-bin/dwmyst.pl - NOTE: This file no longer exists!
Errata: Last month I incorrectly listed the contact email address for an Australian production of Men at Arms. The correct email address is email@example.com
*Request for input*
We need your input: please send us any articles, book reviews, details of events or anything else that other PTerry fans might enjoy. We need to receive all articles no less than a week before the next issue is due. We should receive all submissions for issue twelve by Saturday 25th April 1998.
Jason Anthony, firstname.lastname@example.org (editor)
William Barnett (deputy editor)
Graham (Daniel's Teddy)
The Discworld Convention have been given permission by PTerry to re-print the short story "The megabyte drive to believe in Santa Claus" which has not, to date, been seen anywhere outside the pages of the Western Daily Press newspaper. Convention members will receive this as part of their membership. For more information about the convention visit L-Space on www.lspace.org/ or email email@example.com
The new Discworld Game will be called Discworld Noir...
PTerry will be in Sydney, Australia signing autographs at the Galaxy Bookstore on the 13th July at around 10:30am. He will also be going to a convention at Parramatta around the same time. Others attending include Sara Dougless and David Gemmell. For more info on this convention, contact Karen Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org
* PLAYS *
Woodley Theatre, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, England will be playing Stephen Briggs' adaptation of "Wyrd Sisters" from the 30th March - 4th April 1998 with performances starting at 19:45. Box Office: 0118-969-0827 tickets are priced at 5.00 GBP each.
The award winning Arena Theatre (in Dorset, England) present a Discworld Extravaganza from the 10th to the 14th March 1998.
"Wyrd Sisters" will be performed on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th March at 7.30pm and Saturday 14th March at 2.30pm.
"Men at Arms" will be performed on Wednesday 11th, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March at 7.30pm.
For more information visit
www.furrow.demon.co.uk or email
St Mary's Church hall, Whitkirk, Leeds, England will be playing MORT
from the 23rd - 25th April 1998 tickets at 3.50GBP each.
I love the Clarecraft figures and Waxworks' beer mug is great. I still enjoy watching both the Discworld cartoons and the Soul Music CD occasionally gets played as well.
One spin-off I thought was a great idea but didn't live up to my (high) expectations is "The Discworld Companion". It's only when you come to use it you realise there is so much missing. Try looking up Headology - actually don't bother it's not there. The sections on characters don't state which books they appear in. BUT we all still use it as it's better than nothing. I suppose that you would need a 12 part Encyclopedia Discworldia to include all the information I would like. Although I would be happy with the complete texts on CD-Rom.
Another disappointing extra is "The Streets of Ankh-Morpork". I looked at it once and decided there wasn't enough to hold my interest. Who needs a map of Ankh-Morpork it's not as if you're going to visit. But it still sells so someone must like it.
The Discworld Beer tastes great but is it Discworld? Well, probably not, Discworld beer should taste pretty rough, especially if it came from the Drum. In fact, in the case of the Scumble, it should probably eat its way through the table.
Bill and Richard conveniently missed Discworld Monthly, TWK, GOFAD and the Discworld Convention as Discworld spin-offs. Was Bill being hypocritical by asking you not to purchase any Discworld merchandising? Does the same thing apply when you go to see Motorhead in concert and then buy the t-shirt and the mug?
The fact that there are over 6500 people reading Discworld Monthly suggests that there are markets for such items out there. All the time markets exist products and services will continue to fulfil them.
There are plenty of CMOT's around waiting to take your money, but you can rest assured that the vast majority of the merchandise is of a very high standard.
We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated, including the sender's email address. We may also edit your letters for reasons of clarity or space.
Each month the writer of the month's best letter will receive two Discworld badges with PTerry quotes on them from Snapdragon Gifts. You can contact Snapdragon Gifts at email@example.com or www.snapdragongifts.com. Please mention DWM in any correspondence.
Once again we have had mountains (not bonsai ones) of mail and have had to be very ruthless in what gets printed. We appreciate all mail and we do read it all.
* From: "Fernando L. Frias Sanchez" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
This is only to ask if you are interested in an Spanish version of DWM. If so, I can do the translation.
JA Replies: If other readers are interested in a Spanish version of DWM, contact email@example.com and let us know.
* From: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am writing to rectify the horrendous mistake of Van Wezermael in her letter last issue. She wrote that in many cases, translation ruins the book, but not so with DW books. She said that during the translation from English to Dutch, nothing was lost. This may be true, I don't know a word of Dutch. However, being an American in Israel has made me quit fluent in both languages. Fluent enough to tell that Dutch may be the ONLY language which doesn't ruin the translated books. It seems that at least here in Israel, translators are very lazy. If we're lucky, we'll get one PTerry book a year. Even then, it will be about as expensive as buying a nuclear bomb. But as faithful DW readers, we PTerry fans do the right thing to do. We buy the book in English. You see, it is practically blasphemous to read one of those books. The content is shaped to the will of incompetent translators. For example, "hedgehog" is translated as "a kind of pig".
* From: "The hobby master" < email@example.com >
I must admit that for the first time a letter has actually gobsmacked me in Discworld monthly. The one from Tom Cleghorn commenting that PTerry does not write Literature. Okay he does supplement it with "novels of light entertainment", but he says they are getting anorak like. Is he a snob? I don't mean to be insulting (no? - RM), but he has obviously never heard of the theory of postmodernism which states that concepts such as high art (literature like Conrad) can no longer apply. And that a bestseller can now be classed as Literature and be as equally deserving. I am actually writing my dissertation on the way high culture/literature applies to PTerry's work, and have come to the conclusion that it is Literature. I hope I don't offend anybody, but I'm just airing my views.
* From: "Francesco Guerrieri" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
In Italy there's almost no translation of PTerry's work (only "The Colour Of Magic", "Diggers", "Carpet People" and "Truckers").
It isn't a problem for me: I read English without any problem. My problem is finding the books... but my Discworld collection is almost complete. I think it's really a LOSS for Italian readers who can't read English.
I'd like to translate some of PTerry's work, or plays (I think it'd be GREAT to go to theatre to see "Mort" or "Guards! Guards!" .. although I'll have to go to England to see them ). I'd like my parents, my friends and every Italian, if willing, to be able to read PTerry's books... and it would be great, being the author of the translation, that these books became also, in a little way, MINE!
I'd like to get in touch with other Italian fans willing to help me, to answer questions about "legal topics" (I don't want, of course, to violate any copyright: to steal money from PTERRY? ARGH! ) ...
* From: "Steve Pearce" < email@example.com >
No offence, to anyone, whether they like Josh Kirby's art or not (especially not to the artist himself), but how can you complain about the cover-art of the fabulous Discworld books. Surely everyone's heard the old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover".
Now the way I think it works is that, Mr Kirby knows he can't please everyone all the time and so he pleases the important one, himself. He is obviously going to draw a cover illustration that matches to what he thinks sums up the book. You can tell that he does read the books or at least gets a synopsis and character summary; I'm sure I'm not the only one who has read one of PTerry's books and then looked at the cover to work out what has been drawn. The point is, Josh Kirby draws what he sees in his mind - now that is never going to be exactly the same to every reader of the Discworld novels.
Really you ought to treat these covers like a still from one of the animated versions of the novels: this is someone else's vision. I haven't read many complaining letters about the animations, a long series of pictures, yet the one illustration that goes onto a book comes into the direct line of fire and is mercilessly slaughtered.
Why don't we let Josh Kirby draw what he wants for the book covers (PTerry after all, writes what he wants for the stories!) and then use that to help us visualise the events in the novels. Please don't keep complaining because someone doesn't imagine things the same as you, be an individual!
Oh, and my last point is, the publishers obviously like his work as it is (it must be attracting some people to PTerry's work), so he isn't going to change when he's on to a good thing! Hope that's cleared up this annoying argument.
* From: "Glyn R Evans" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Hello there, and thanks for the most recent edition of DWM. Plenty of interesting stuff, particularly William Barnett's article about the merchandising. As I was Cutwell in the production of Mort that you reviewed, I've got some ideas of my own on this point, particularly on the question of the playscripts.
Now, Mort is the only one of the scripts that I've read, but I do know it very well, I know how it works on the stage - and I have to say that many of the cast, as Pratchett fans (and most people are - he's a very mainstream author), were not massively impressed with the job Stephen Briggs did with it. There are problems with converting Pratchett to the stage, not least the fact that the books zip from place to place very quickly. Fine in the cinema, but it does make for a very bitty, episodic play with short scenes that make character development hard to do. The novel and the theatre are very different media, and more restructuring might have been in order.
Secondly, the re-editing that is done isn't even particularly tight. There's one scene where Cutwell refers back to something Mort said earlier that Briggs has actually cut out of the play - so that part of the script as published makes no sense. It's careless, and smacks a little of making a quick buck. Lines are given to different characters without much obvious rationale, and the mixture of speaking lines and then switching to Pratchett's footnotes, for example, can be uncomfortable.
Having said that, Mort was one of the best productions I've ever
been in - the fact that it was an adaptation of a work we all knew
and loved meant that we really cared about the show, and were very
keen to do it well. We had sellout crowds who enjoyed themselves,
and made bucketloads of cash for the theatre. We certainly weren't
exploiting the paying public - though we would have been if we'd put
on a bad show and sold it as Pratchett. Which is, of course,
William Barnett's point.
* From: "Caroline Walcot" < email@example.com >
The Discworld is a private world that captivates the readers, who naturally cries out for "More!". But we should wait patiently for each new title. My guess is that new ideas pop up in the author's brain, (If No Idea, Then No Book). He then works hard to develop the plots properly to remain utterly consistent (are you sure? - Ed) within his own rules for the Discworld, so you are not jolted with sudden changes in characters, the post-Death scenery etc which are familiar from previous books.
What would be UTTERLY WRONG would be for someone else to write a book about Triangleworld balanced on the necks of 3 giraffes etc or some other similarly recognizable formula, like using octiron in magic, and then expect to publish and make money. Such obvious plagiarism and imitation is the stuff of freeloaders and true fans should condemn it. Luckily there are copyright rules.
However, the Discworld spin-off industry is not in the same mould. As long as PTerry KNOWS about the products, and helps create some of them (eg the useful Map) and provided that no new characters are invented that are not found in the Books, I see nothing "cynical, insulting or bloody typical" to be cross about. If it gives the author a break by quietening the clamour for new books and by inducing people to re-read what they have, well ... why complain? Why not a Trivial Pursuits edition when Discworld has its 21st title.
Getting other people's ideas onto the market is often called Marketing. In some universes this is a legitimate occupation.
* From: "Steve Hamer" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
The letter from Tom Cleghorn has prompted me to write and express my opinion on Discworld novels as "Quick books to fill in spare time".
Isn't the real point that When you read a TP book you get some level of enjoyment out of it? The quality and depth of that enjoyment is up to the individual concerned surely?
Personally, being of limited intelligence (but then who isn't?), I tend to read a new book once for the obvious humour and then again studying it for the hidden (?) meanings and very often finding another level of humour / intelligence / character development.
But after all that twaddle - who really cares? You enjoy them? Great! THAT is the real point !
* From: "Michelle Shortt" < email@example.com >
In reply to Tom Cleghorn's DWM 11 letter I agree with him that there is far too much analysing of the Discworld books and of PTerry himself (why he puts up with it I don't know) I read them because I find them to be hugely entertaining and I love to read. However I do disagree with him in that they are much more than just space fillers but then each to his own as my old Gran used to say!!
- Danu Poyner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Queensland, Australia
- What is knurdness?
- What types of raw matter are commonly found flowing into the universe?
- What are the three seasons in Djelibeybi?
- What is a resograph?
- How often is it possible to become an early riser on the planet Zyrix?
This month's answers can be found in section 12.
- Discworld Companion
Bonsai is normally associated with the art of growing miniature trees. Pratchett came up with the idea that long lived people may grow miniature mountains instead. He then asked Clarecraft to produce some. (The question is why? Novelty paperweight perhaps?) Clarecraft, who took considerably less than a thousand years, came up with three bonsai mountains. One is Himalayan, the second volcanic and the third is a valley. The level of detail on these models is very high and they look great with their little bonsai tree bases.
But the question remains who would buy them? The mountains' appeal may be widespread because they will look good even to those unfortunates that haven't read Pratchett. I had to look them up in the Discworld Companion because I didn't remember anything about them (surprisingly - WB). Elton of Clarecraft says that they are very popular with the members of their collectors guild.
These pieces could certainly be considered conversation pieces and may take quite some explaining. Priced at 15.95 GBP each they are some of Clarecraft's cheaper pieces and in comparison to the size of some other models they represent good value for money.
For a catalogue or more information contact Elton at Clarecraft on Elton@lspace.org Please mention DWM in any correspondence.
We have one of each of these mountains to give away. To win one of these pieces send the answer to the following question to email@example.com before Saturday 25th April 1998. The winners will be drawn at random.
- In which mountainous area do the three witches live?
Wallbro are also doing LEATHER DRINKING TANKARDS AND GOBLETS!!!!! Yes, the first tankard is based on the leather tankard found on the Mary Rose, and has, Stolen from the Mended Drum branded on it. The second is a medieval blackjack, which if you want can have a name carved on to it. Lastly the Goblets bearing the mark of Mrs Palm's Guild.
Also, not strictly Discworld, Oggham sets that come with instructions explaining not just about the history behind them, but how to use them to tell the future.
For more information about all these products contact Eric Wall at any of the following:
Address: (Hogswatch beer) Wallbro, 11 Hornbeam, The Fairways, Loughborough, LE11-2NY
* Competition *
Anyone who asks for more information about any of the above products before 24th April 1998 will go into a prize draw. Please state name, address, age and which prize you would like to win. The prizes are either a Terry/Toby jug, a Leather drinking vessel of your choice or a 4 pack of birthday beer. Good Luck.
Okay, I'm not a professional reviewer or anything but it seems to be topical at the moment to talk about reactions to seeing a Pratchett work as a play. This is the first Pratchett play I've seen and I didn't go into it with very high expectations as I'd never seen anything by this local group before. The first nice surprise was the theatre it was set in. It's a lovely little theatre that I didn't know existed, and immediately my hopes began to rise.
The play was the Stephen Briggs adaptation, and I find it difficult to comment on how well the adaptation worked as I already knew the book so well that it was difficult not to imagine the scenes in the book in between the scenes in the play. A colleague who hadn't read the book thought that the play flowed well and was perfectly understandable in terms of story (she is now going to start reading the books!). However, my father who had been dragged along against his will said that although the play was understandable he thought the story was very boring, and not anymore complicated than a pantomime (he still refuses to read the books - ah well, can't win 'em all). This made me think that while the plays are enjoyable they do lack all of the wonderful detail that make the books so great. Though overall a good adaptation I think.
On to the players..... I have two firm favourites from this version of the play, these were Nanny Ogg as played by Carol Walton and the Fool as played by Steve Collinson. Possibly I loved Nanny Ogg because her costume & appearance had strong overtones of the Paul Kidby illustration but also because her mannerisms were wonderful & her rendition of 4 lines of "The hedgehog can never..." was hilarious. The Fool gave a very strong performance, especially in his Magrat romance scenes & scenes with Felmet. The only thing I found odd about him was that he seemed far too good looking to be The Fool :-). Good performances also from Emma Carlton (Magrat), Bill Kelly (Verence), John Todd (Felmet), Liam Hamilton (Hwel) & Mark Buckley (Tomjon). Esther Arnold played the Duchess well but didn't quite match up to the image I had of the Duchess from the book, not quite forceful & overbearing enough. Tim Farrow had a good attempt at Death but I'm afraid that no-one playing Death would suit me unless they managed to do something spectacular with him, as how do you get an actor to speak in CAPITAL LETTERS!? This just leaves me to talk about Granny Weatherwax, as played by Jan Dormer. I think in any other role I would have found her to be an excellent actress. She gave a wonderful performance but she just wasn't Granny Weatherwax for me. I think Granny is one of the most difficult characters to pin down from the books. I mean, she is a main character & I have very definite images of her but not one that I can see anyone managing to play well.
Costumes, sets & music....... a lot of thought and research seems to have gone into giving the play accurate & wonderful costumes in this production especially the witches. Granny has her hat pins, Magrat her jewellery, Nanny her boots & ever-present flask. The sets were very good, simple, effective and changed many times. Now I think the decision to go for something different for the music was very brave; they used the idea of sampling speeches made by the cast with the music arranged around this. Unfortunately this was the only part of the production that I didn't like as the speech samples became repetitive and annoying for me after the first couple of scenes.
Overall, a good performance which I greatly enjoyed, and I would recommend that other Pratchett fans give the plays a chance as they can be good fun. This performance has made me even more eager to go and see more Pratchett plays.
The venue, Hackney Empire, is one of those wonderful, old-fashioned theatres with red and gold furnishings that are slowly being replaced with boring modern buildings. You could imagine the Hackney Empire being the theatre Maskerade was set in.
The cast (and casting) were excellent with Vimes (Paul Darrow) leading with ease and confidence, splitting his time well between acting and playing to the audience with a raised eyebrow or slight smirk. Whilst Vimes managed to communicate to the audience in subtle ways I felt the way Dibbler (Nick Conway) played to the crowd was too obtrusive: "That's you wife sir? You'll be wanting some of this Dragon Protection cream then!"
Lady Ramkin (Roz McCutcheon) looks and sounds just like I imagined and her opening scene with Errol (Mark Powell) was great. Errol, the swamp dragon, was brilliant and was well received by the very vocal audience (but I guess it was press night).
It was a wonderful feeling being with several hundred other Pratchett fans laughing together at the great one liners and word plays. The scenes where the Librarian (Maddy Sparham) plays charades to communicate with the other characters is wonderful and works well as a visual gag.
The sound and lighting were eerie and atmospheric, especially when the dragon struck, freezing its victims in red light. The sets were simple and effective but I found it quite distracting when the sets were changed during some of the scenes.
Watching Guards! Guards! is like seeing some of your favourite characters come to life and comes highly recommended. Go out and buy your tickets now before they sell out.
Tour information and prices can be found at the official website: www.uktw.co.uk/info/guards.htm
[Pete Petriv < Pete@Pendlepete.softnet.co.uk > sent us a review of the opening night at the Blackpool, Grand Theatre. Although he says the production was great, he felt that the play would have benefited from a more raucous audience.]
It showed that, other than the comical stuff which, as letters to this esteemed publication have pointed out, make us feel good about the Discworld and enjoy it, there are some genuinely nasty, brutal and thoroughly unpleasant characters in it.
For example Chickenwire is obviously a nasty fellow but you feel he would at least be dumping you in the river in rather good humour, whereas Teatime on the other hand, is everything a real assassin is: ruthless, cold blooded and without a care for human life. This separates him from the normal assassins because at least they do it for money which makes it, well, more normal.
The corruption of the Santa Claus figure is inspired turning one of the magics of childhood into something primal and nasty to be feared was a masterstroke.
The jokes were fresh, new, and PTerry did not repeat himself like he seems to have done in the (in my opinion) slightly substandard Jingo. The oh-god of hangovers? The sock eater? Susan beating up bears? Brilliant. However, I still prefer Soul Music because it's funnier.
Quixote42@AOL.com > writes about what we could expect from a live action Discworld Movie.
There are two ways that a Discworld movie could go. Either a straight translation of one novel can be done or an original story can be filmed. The problems with a straight translation is that there are many jokes in the prose having to deal with exposition and different meanings for words. These jokes would certainly not work well in a visual medium unless, in a last ditch effort, a narrator was used. I can't speak for citizens of other nations but in the United States omnipotent narrators in movies are looked upon with ever increasing disdain. The other way to deal with this would be to cut those jokes out completely.
The problem with writing an original story is that unless PTerry himself writes it will most likely be a load of dingo's kidneys. Another problem would be who was making the movie. If it was made by people who are fans of the books then we shouldn't have much to worry about. But if it is made by money-hungry power-mongers (read: Hollywood Producers) then we could easily come up with a bastardized version of a once enjoyable property (for example the movie "Bean" and the upcoming American version of "Godzilla"). Hollywood would most likely dumb-down the whole thing and turn it into a slapstick comedy. (This is all assuming that the shysters somehow wrangled creative control away from PTerry, which he probably wouldn't let them do.)
Finally there's the problem that comes with most great books. They just CAN'T be made into movies at all. War and Peace may be the greatest and most entertaining novel ever written but any attempt to make into a movie fails horribly (and not just because of the length). I haven't seen the cartoons, which may have overcome this last hurdle, but it seems to me that turning Discworld into a movie would take away the fun of just sitting down and reading it through (witness the film version of Catch-22 which, while not a bad movie, never achieves the energy and genius of the novel). Discworld is like these books in that while it would be great to see the book going on right in front of you, no film version could ever come close to what you remember reading.
Unless of course they could get James Earl Jones to do the voice of Death, in which case all bets are off.
We prefer information to be sent via email, but can accept information via fax or post at the following addresses:
Post: J Anthony-Rowlands (DWM), 20 Cambrian Place, Pontarddulais, Swansea, SA4 8RG
* Subscription Information *
To subscribe to "Discworld Monthly" simply enter your email address in the form on the "Discworld Monthly" web page. Our web site contains all back issues and links to other Pratchett sites.
Current circulation ~6500
To unsubscribe simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject of "remove". It would be helpful, but not necessary, if you could explain why you are unsubscribing. You will not receive any further correspondence unless you subscribe again.
NOTE: In order to keep the subscription list current any addresses that bounce will be removed. If you fail to receive an issue, please subscribe again.
* Obtaining PTerry's Books *
If you live in the UK you can go to most book shops and pick up PTerry's books without problems. Other countries may find it more difficult. You can order any of PTerry's books over the Net from Amazon.co.uk (they even provide an on-line currency converter for anyone outside the UK). www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/87
* Answers to this month's DiscTrivia questions *
- through sobriety and out the other end. (Sourcery - pg 139)
- paperclips, shirt packaging pins, little central heating radiator keys, bits of crayon, mysterious sections of herb-chopping devices and old Kate Bush albums. (Eric - pg 107)
- Seedtime, Inundation and Sog (Pyramids - pg 112)
- A thingness writer, or device for detecting and measuring disturbances in the fabric of reality (Moving Pictures - pg 85)
- Once every 1789.6 years. (Found in Lords and Ladies, pg.29, footnote)
Thanks for reading this issue of "Discworld Monthly". We hope you enjoyed it. If you have any comments or suggestions for the future of this newsletter please email: email@example.com .