Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 44: December 2000

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Competition: Win an ISIS Audio Book of The Fifth Elephant
6. Article: Why Trolls Eat People
7. Review: Unseen University Challenge
8. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 44 and the end of another year. We would like to wish you all a very merry end of year celibration and a happy new year.

We have recently added a new feature to our web site. The new Discworld Monthly forums will allow us to deliver news items during the month without filling your inbox. We have also created a forum called Ads where you will be able to exchange various Discworld games etc with other fans (without having to wait a month for the next DWM to come out). There are links to the forums on our web pages and you can visit direct via:

Matt Harris wrote to us about a useful web site that helps explain some English colloquialisms:

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Editor Schmeditor)

2. News

Terry is author of the month on this month - there's a great interview and an extract from The Truth (which most of you will have probably read by now anyway).

Stephen Briggs' narration of The Fifth Elephant is released on audio book by ISIS on December 1st, it takes up 10 cassettes, making it the longest - in term of timing, at least - of Terry's books to see audio release. The downside of this is that this lifts it into the next price bracket, making it cost 29.99GBP. However, as this is the first of Stephen's readings to appear, ISIS have decided to offer it to Discworld Monthly readers at a slightly reduced price - four quid off, in fact, bringing it down to 25.99GBP + P&P at their usual rates. To take advantage of this offer call ISIS on 0800 731 5637 in the UK or +44 (0) 1865 250333 for the rest of the world or email Peter Johnson on Remember to mention you subscribe to Discworld Monthly. In related news ISIS' new web site should be active by the beginning of December. One feature of particular interest will be an exclusive interview with Terry Pratchett by Peter Johnson.

"Stephen CMOT Briggs is delighted to be able to let his customers - particularly those outside the UK - know that, at long last, he can now accept payments by Visa, Mastercard and Switch!

He recognizes that getting sterling bank drafts has been an increasing problem, and an expensive one, for non-UK fans. This should make things easier.

Details of his current merchandise - including the new Complete Fool's badge and Harga's apron - from or by s.a.e. to him at PO Box 147, Oxford, OX2 8YT"

Colin Smythe, Terry's agent, recently discovered this Good Omens news in the 27th October issue of Screen Monthly.

The lead actor in Gilliam's The Man who killed Don Quixote, Jean Rochefort, has suffered a "double disc hernia. .... The news came in the same week that Gilliam partnered with the UK's Renaissance Films to direct $50m comic fantasy Good Omens. The film is being adapted by the director and Tony Grisoni from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's best-selling book. UK and US-based Marc and Peter Samuelson are co-producing with Charles Roven's US-based Atlas Entertainment. The picture, which is to shoot in the UK in late 2001, tells the story of an angel and a demon sent to Earth to track down the Antichrist."

Need a Hogswatch present for the Discworld fan in your life? Earlier this year, the North American Discworld Society produced some T-shirts, based on the great designs of Rhett Ransom Pennell. The first print run sold out very quickly, so they followed it up with a second, and while almost all of the T-shirts have now sold, they have a few left in stock. You can see the designs at:

For shipping within the United States, the T-shirts cost $14 each, with a discount for orders of more than one T-shirt. They're giving a $1 donation to the Orangutan Foundation for each T-shirt sold, and each order also includes a set of three buttons, featuring more of Rhett's artwork. If you're interested in buying one (or more) of these T-shirts, please send an e-mail to for the current list of available sizes. (The have some in XXL and XXXL, and they apparently make great night-shirts!)

The 2002 Discworld Convention committee have recently added a membership section on their web site. It now contains the latest Membership List, details of how to apply for Convention membership, and a printable application form.

Artists UK are now on the web. You can visit their new web site at

AcornMedia are giving away copies of The Truth (while supplies last) when you purchase the Wyrd Sisters film from their web site:

The Burnside Players of Adelaide, South Australia are presenting the Australian premiere (to the best of their knowledge) of Maskerade. This comes from the same team that brought last year's highly successful production of Wyrd Sisters. The play will be staged at the University of Adelaide's Little Theatre from December 7-9 and 13-16 at 8PM, with a matinee at 2PM on December 16. More information, or bookings are available by calling BASS on 131246 or Gerard on 8340 0161 and leaving a message containing your name (twice, just in case) the night you want, and the number & type of tickets required. Alternatively you can email him at

Collingwood RSC, based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire have the honour of performing the World Premiere of the play "The Fifth Elephant". [Are you sure Stephen Briggs hasn't already performed this one? - Ed]

The performances are from the 16th-20th April 2001 and tickets cost 4GBP and 3GBP for concessions and children. Tickets go on sale on the 10th Jan 2001. For information phone 01329 332240.

Small Ads....

Julie Squire ( ) writes: The Room 3B message board has disappeared & the site hosting is not responding to emails. I think it is time to move on so a new Room 3B message board has been set up. The wonderful people who contributed so much to the success of the last "version" of room 3B are begged to return; we need your witty input!! Anyone else who has ANYTHING to say about the Discworld is welcome to join us!

Alexander Nilsson ( ) asked us to mention his new website at

Laura Underhill ( ) writes: Being the completely original person that I am, I was wondering if anybody would like to email and talk about Terry Pratchett. Or anything. Frankly, you could talk about paint drying and get my rapt attention (yes a-levels are THAT boring). Anyway, I have to go, apparently there is some grass growing outside...

Farah Alkaf ( ) has created, we believe, the FIRST Malaysian Discworld fansite on the net. Farah would especially like to get in touch with other Malaysian Discworld fans, and would possibly like to start a Malaysian fan club.

Adrian Hughes ( ) is hoping to find a hardback version of "Eric". He's looked everywhere but to no avail.

DWM replies: We're not certain there is a hardback Eric - do you mean the large, illustrated edition?

Aaron Dow ( ) owns the Playstation versions of Discworld I and II and knows their secrets by heart. He is willing to help anyone stuck in either of these games and would like to talk to other Discworld fans. He is from the US and hasn't met any other Discworld fans in person.

Ross Michaels ( ) and a colleague have transposed Witches Abroad into a play. It has been performed once up to now in Rotherham. The script is available for hire (with permission from Mr Briggs or Mr Pratchett).

Lodewijk van Zwieten ( ) has recently opened a new Discworld Web site at It's Holy Wood! The place where dreams come true! Be a barbarian, a pirate, a hero, a villain and a bum! All in one day!

Megan ( ) lives in the US and says "We don't have NEARLY enough Discworld conventions here, and that is a problem. All the hype about the conventions in Europe make me want to attend, so I would like to know if there are any other Americans who would like to discuss hosting (in America) or attending (in Europe) a convention.

Beth Winter is still looking for fanart for her fanart gallery at the Discworld Compendium ( -- anything to do with Pratchett will be welcomed, including first-time artists.

Malcolm Martindale ( ) would like to know if there are any decent Discworld screensavers / wallpaper on the net?

Geoff Parton ( ) has updated his web site "Interesting Times" and claims it is much improved. He has also changed the URL to

3. Readers' Letters

If you have any letters/comments, please email

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 with a great big pair of scissors.

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 or Please mention DWM in any correspondence.

* From: "James 'Hug-me' Bartley" ( )
Upon visiting France I found out that they sell translated versions of the Truckers etc. trilogy for next to nothing. I thus bought the lot and now enjoy trying my knowledge of French on them. I have so far improved my knowledge of the past historic and subjunctive tenses and improved my vocabulary!

Pratchett - not just a great author but also a learning aid.

* From: "Malaclypse" ( )
The name Uberwald at first seems confusing - it is German for "Over-Forest". I recently found out via my encyclopaedia that the word Transylvania is Romanian for "place beyond the forest". Coincidence? no. The area was also conquered by the Hungarian Magyars. (sound familiar?)

* From: "Dan Rogerson" ( )
There is a river in Somerset called the Blind Yeo which has obvious Pratchettian harmonies with the head of the Discworld pantheon. I have often wondered if the name Blind Io came from that source.

It seems in bad taste to be writing about British rivers at a time when they are doing their best to wash the inhabitants of the island into the sea but there you are.

* From: Lisa Daniels ( )
I live in Colorado, across a vast ocean from the Great Terry Pratchett. I have no idea what has been put on video, what books are now on tape, or even if a new book is coming out... until I receive your newsletter. I am a freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. I had entered college, certain that I would find another Discworld fan. I couldn't have been more wrong. I have come to the conclusion that I am the only enlightened one in Colorado. Either that, or all the others are in the closet. It is only through your newsletter that I am secure in the knowledge that I am not alone.

* From: "Melville" ( )
To the best of my knowledge, the manufacture of magical swords is mentioned only once in the series. This is by Magrat in Wyrd Sisters, when she says something like "We could make him a magic sword. It's easy, there's instructions in one of Goodie Whemper's old books. What you do is, you get some thunderbolt iron, and you make a sword out of it.". It's been a while since I last read this, and I can't find the quotation right now, so it's probably not totally accurate. It should be pretty close though.

* From: "Aaron Brown" ( )
I've been reading the Discworld Monthly for about 2 years now, and each month the experience amounts to something akin to peering wistfully through the window to a shop which is closed. The reason why will be made clear in a moment. Still, I keep reading, hoping for bits of news that might actually affect me within the next 6 months or so, and also because I enjoy the Terry Pratchett fandom, removed though it may be.

Recently, however, I read a letter which moved me to do more than just watch through the window and actually respond with a letter of my own. Someone from (as I remember) the other side of the Irish Sea wrote in to rant briefly about the fact that Mr. Pratchett's upcoming signing tour won't be passing through his kitchen. Or words to that effect. I was perturbed, I suppose you might say, if you were too polite to say what you were thinking. I live in Kansas, you see, the center-most of the United States, and I have every expectation that I will come no closer than a few thousand miles to any Terry Pratchett book signing in my life. Of all the gatherings, live performances, parties, conventions, and signings that have been mentioned in all the time I've been reading the letter, not ONE has been within a day's driving distance of my home. That I can remember, anyway. So, to coin a rural turn of phrase from the States... Quit yer bitchin.

P.S. Just to take care of some misconceptions before they gather any more momentum: Kansas is not all flat (I live on a hill), and the local population does NOT necessarily enjoy being reminded of the Wizard of Oz at every opportunity.

P.P.S. Re-reading my note here, I detect a certain... grumpiness and general all-around bad attitude about life in general. Sorry about that. Caught me on a bad day, I think.

JA replies: We're off to see the Wizzard! Just to show we didn't think you were two grumpy we decided to award you Letter of the Month.

* From: "Jane & Phil Grainger" ( )

I have heard on the grapevine that in one of Terry's publications he mentions meeting Nanny Ogg at a book signing. It was in "Merry Hill" shopping centre, near Dudley.

I am that Nanny Ogg, but I can't find which book. Help please!

Am also stuck on Discworld II, how do I get the girl some diamonds? Yes I know it must be very easy cos it's only on the first level but I can't do it.

Thanks for any help. Love and kisses Nanny Ogg

* From: Timo-Jussi Hamalainen ( )
About "Samizdat"...

I guess everybody really knows that Soviet Russian underground papers were called Samizdat. They weren't very healthy to be caught carrying with you...

* From: "Ralph Evins" ( )
In Carpe Jugulem the Omnian Priest, whose name escapes me, declares the double-headed axe to be a holy symbol. However, in Reaper Man, the Chief Priest of Blind Io also refers to a holy double-headed axe. This proves that the axe the Omnian, whose name I have not yet recalled, used to kill the vampyre only worked because it was a symbol for the Discworld's most powerful god. However, this rather detracts from the moral of the story, namely that you can make your own holy symbols (or even cymbals). It is much more likely that this double-headed axe has simply got stuck in the trousers of time. Ouch.

Also, in reply to Andrew Kopittke's letter of DWM 43, I can only say that anyone who states "and believe me there is . . ." is sadly missing the point. The whole point is that some evidence must be produced in order to convince us of their claim. They cannot simply order us to believe then and assume that we will. If they try, it will make us even less likely to believe them. I have no doubt that there is other evidence than what is stated in the book. As I found The Science of Discworld (all the chapters) very good reading, I can only ask that if you feel you can do better, go ahead and convince us. But please to just expect us to believe you.

Because believe me, it's incredibly annoying.

* From: "Jennifer Peake" ( )
I've just finished reading 'The Truth', and as much as I enjoyed it, I have to say, something is troubling me. Several of the characters make reference to Music with Rocks in, including the Patrician and Otto. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Death say that no one would remember the incidents surrounding Music with Rocks in? I'm not usually one to be so pedantic, but this has been bugging me a little.

* From: "Stephen A. Haines" ( )
Although Richard made a valiant attempt to answer Andrew Kopittke's rather incoherent comments about The Science of Discworld, a more direct response might have been to suggest he go to and read the customer reviews. There are presently 29 of them, but they represent a good range of opinion [although, like Andrew's, exhibit some failure to understand science].

* From: "Hamish Hughes" ( )
Just a further note on the word Kangaroo (as if you guys hadn't heard enough about it). From a linguistic point of view, it's an oddity, because it seems to have evolved separately in two different cultures. The term "Kangaroo Court" actually PREDATES the settlement of Australia (And, consequently, the discovery by Europeans of the kangaroo!). Pretty weird, eh? Maybe Douglas Adams' famous answer wan't forty-two, but really kangaroo? Something to think about when you're really really really bored!

* From: "The Innerbrat" ( )
Last month Alison King asked about the 12 inch pianist joke mentioned by Nobby in Jingo, the joke goes something like this:

A man walked into a bar very depressed, carrying two boxes: one about a foot square and one tiny ornamental one. He proceeded to drown his sorrows in vast quantities, but when the bill came, it transpired that he had no money. "But what I'll do," he told the barman, "Is I'll show you something amazing."

He opened the larger box, and took out a tiny piano and a man not 30cm tall, who sat down and proceeded to play it. "Very impressive," said the barman, but it's not going to pay for the drinks"

"OK then," said the man. "I have a genie, and I'll let you have one of my wishes."

This sounded more like it. The barman took the tiny box, and said "I wish I had a million bucks." "They're behind that door" said the genie, pointing at the kitchen. The barman opened it and a million ducks flew out, filling the bar. "What's this?" asked the barman, annoyed. The man sighed "What do you think I asked for? a twelve inch pianist?"

DWM replies: Thanks also go to the many readers who wrote in about this joke. We chose this particular letter because it was one of the least offensive versions.

* From: "Kay Steele" ( )
I've got to agree with Ben Warsop's letter last month. The first Discworld book I read was Feet of Clay, and I was completely hooked. It took a bit to track down the earlier books, and by the time I'd gotten to the Colour of Magic I'd read most of the others. The main reason I stuck with it is because I was stuck in an airport waiting for a seriously delayed flight. Where most of the later books are good stories that also happen to be really funny, that first book seemed more like a parody of every fantasy novel every written. Yeah, it was funny, but the story itself just wasn't much. And if you hadn't read the books that were being parodied, you were missing out on the joke. I'm perfectly happy with the later books, and if they're "formulaic" I hadn't noticed.

* From: "Kirsty Anderson" ( )
I read in the DWM issue 43 that there may be a board game produced of the Discworld. Last year, for my GCSE Graphics project, our task was to design a board game, and as one of PTerry's hugest fans I decided to do mine on the Discworld. Although it was an incredibly stressful project, and took up all of my free time (including my sleep in the last fortnight before the deadline) I really enjoyed working on a project that I actually had interest in. I did email Colin Smythe (Mr Pratchett's agent) to get official permission, and as it was granted I went to all lengths to make my game the best! The board is the Discworld, drawn using 'The Discworld Mapp' and consists of 4 quarter-circles which fit together using a jigsaw connection. On the 'circumfence' of the Disc are 8 turtles, which are themed with 8 of the most important cities, countries or continents. I designed counters, cards with Discworld trivia questions on them, and the track on the turtles was removable, meaning that there were thousands of combinations for the track, making every game unique. The track on the actual Discworld had 3 circles, connected by straight tracks and there were symbols and actual instructions on the tiles. I also wrote a long rule book to accompany the game. My graphics project also consisted of a 30 - 40 page project, which including copious amounts of research, planning and ideas, giving a step by step approach as to how I came about my final idea. I was very glad to come out with full marks. I wondered if there was any way that my work could be used in the manufacture of a board game, as I would definitely be prepared to sell my whole project for a reasonable price. I am, after all, still at school and it would be most amazing if my project could be used, even if in the smallest way to help out. Whatever happens, though, I really enjoyed working with the expansive Discworld, and it really helped improve my knowledge to answer the trivia questions that come with the magazine. It was also a great excuse to read all the books at least another time each!

* From: "Brian Wallace" ( )
While going through the weekend supplement of my paper, I found a picture of a painting that looked strangely familiar.... An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768, by Joseph Wright of Derby. To see the picture go to and look up Joseph Wright, Experiment or some other key word.... and consult your copy of The Science of Discworld.

* From: "Sascha Brengmann" ( )
There was a readers letter last month that spoke out of the deepest depth of my heart - GERMAN READERS OF THE DISCWORLD NOVELS ARE A REALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES. Endangered by the catastrophe that is called "translations".

The person who tries to transfer TP's hilarious stories into German language (which I always feel insufficient to fit THAT suit anyway) is not only bad at it, but worse. Sometimes I think he's got the same firm grip on sanity as the Bursar - shame that there are no dried frog pills anywhere near him, especially when he lays his murdering hands on the titles. Whenever a new TP-novel is available in German bookstores I go and have a look and after that a lie-down with tears in my eyes (The occasional exception e.g. The fifth Elephant lets me wonder if a new translator has been found, but - alas - this is not the case).

I switched to reading the English version very early and now have all of them except Fifth Elephant, which I hope to receive as a Christmas-present.

I wonder weather there is an article concerning that matter in the UN-Charta or in any other book of laws (and ordinances ?) within the multiverse, thus helping to save German readers and protect them from sure annihilation of their brains (and all the fun that TP's books bring).

Or can't anyone call in the GW (Granny Weatherwax)-peace-keeping force (which could fill, for example, the translators bones with hot lead) ???

Please help us !!! ANYBODY !!!!! (Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind - not to wonder, with that translator)

4. DiscTrivia

This month, with the festive season approaching faster than ever, I have decided to make the trivia questions about one book: Hogfather. For no other reason than whenever I read it it makes me feel all Christmassy! Answers as always at the end.

  1. Who organises the Ankh-Morpork wassailers?
  2. Name the four pigs that pull the sleigh.
  3. What was the Cheerful Fairy's name?
  4. What kind of bird was the Blue Bird of Happiness?
  5. Who was Sideney's childhood nemesis?

Simon Greener ( )

5. Competition: Win an ISIS Audio Book of The Fifth Elephant

To coincide with the launch of their new web site and their latest audio book The Fifth Elephant, ISIS have arranged for three lucky readers to each win a copy of this new, ten cassette audio book. All you have to do for a chance to win is answer the following simple question:

Three people have read ISIS Discworld Audio Books. Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs are the most well known. Can you name the other?

Hint: We have in a recent back issue's news section mentioned the answer to this question.

Please send your answer to by the 21st December 2000. The winners will be randomly selected and announced next issue. ISIS have informed me that due to the massive demand for pre-orders of this title the winners will unfortunately not get their prizes until the end of January and apologize in advance for any delays.

ISIS would love to post you a free catalogue so please include your postal address if you would like one. If you don't want a catalogue please say in your email.

If you would like to find our more about ISIS products visit their new website at or email Peter Johnson at

6. Article: Why Trolls Eat People

by Paul Duffy ( )

It is a constant surprise that Trolls, who subsist on a siliceous diet (they eat rocks!), feel the compulsion for the occasional human to spice up their diet.

In fact this business of eating people is down to poor diet. As we know from The Light Fantastic, trolls regrow their diamond teeth every year (hey, you try a staple diet of granite and maybe a seam of chalk on Sunday and see how long your teeth last!). For trolls living near a good supply of coal this presents no problems. A healthy dose of coal every day will provide the carbon needed for continuing tooth growth. However those living away from the coal seams or where those pesky dwarves insist on digging it all up (and let's face it, even in the Century of the Fruitbat there is still some tension between these fine members of our community) must look elsewhere.

An alternative source of carbon is clearly needed. And like any good hunter a troll is quite happy to let his food come to him. As bridges effectively channel people into a small area then what better place for a troll in need of some dental enhancement to await a mobile denture fix? After all, just as much carbon and none of the digging needed to get to coal.

So, the occasional human is not, as some would have it, spicy flavour and an interesting texture as a contrast to the normal diet but a vital "mineral" supplement. Perhaps Mr Dibbler might offer a new line in coal-based tooth care products to those of his inorganic customers who want to avoid the stigma of being known to lurk near bridges in wait for lonely travellers.

Surely this would be a sure fire success!

7. Review: Unseen University Challenge

by Alison King ( )

This lesser-known book is, as the title suggests, a quiz book, featuring on the cover an illustration of two teams of four Discworld inhabitants shown one above the other in an oh-so-familiar style... (For American readers, University Challenge is the title given to the British version of College Bowl). The questions in the book come in sections grouped by topic or 'faculty' - these are, after all, UU exam papers - and simply deciphering the faculty names is a rewarding challenge in itself: the Faculty of Adhesive Ultimates, which quizzes the reader about the untimely demises of characters, was a particular favourite of mine.

Some of the questions are straightforward basic trivia - facts and figures, names and places from the Discworld books and occasionally from some of PTerry's other work: Strata, The Dark Side of the Sun and so forth. However the book raises itself above this level by not only creating less straightforward questions that you rack your brains to answer, but also by enlightening the reader as to many of the more obscure references in the books that could easily pass you by - ever wondered where the name of the town Sto Lat was originally found, or where Casanunda borrowed his slogan - "but I try harder" - from? The author of this book has obviously put in a lot of research to discover details that few people other than hardcore fans would otherwise come across.

A useful tips section is included and all the answers are at the back rather than after the questions they relate to, which can be a bit fiddly and makes it hard to find one section's answers without seeing another's. At the end the author refers to 'ten deliberate (!) mistakes' - whether he's joking or not I'm not sure, but there are some things in the questions that even I as a dedicated but unobsessed Pratchett fan noticed as referring to the wrong characters, and there is a strange reference to 'Granny Ogg'. Quite frankly I'd rather have a more thoroughly checked book: how can you distinguish a spot-the-mistake game from simple sloppiness?

That said, I would still strongly recommend this book as huge fun to play with a group of Discworldophile friends, and as a truly interesting guide to some of the more obscure references in PTerry's work for the interested reader. When PTerry has even gone to the trouble to write an introduction, you feel you must be in for a quality read - and you'd be right.

8. The End

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* Trivia Answers *

1) Who organises the Ankh-Morpork wassailers?
- Anaglypta Huggs

2) Name the four pigs that pull the sleigh.
- Gouger, Tusker, Rooter and Snouter

3) What was the Cheerful Fairy' s name?
- Gwendoline

4) What kind of bird was the Blue Bird of Happiness?
- A chicken

5) Who was Sideney's childhood nemesis?
- Ronnie Jenks

* Obtaining Terry's Books *

If you are looking for PTerry books or videos over the net, simply visit our web page at and follow the "Purchasing" link on the left panel of the page.

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