Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 45: January 2001

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. Competition Results: Who has won an ISIS Audio Book?
5. Article: Converting Friends and Family to Pratchettism!
6. Review: Sourcery in Australia
7. Review: Guards! Guards! An Unseen Theatre Company Production
8. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 45 and the start of a new year. Last month we said we didn't think there was a hardback edition of Eric. We have received a few messages saying that there was in fact a hardback edition but we were unable to obtain an ISBN number for it.

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Proof reader extraordinaire)

2. News are advertising The Thief of Time for release on the 3rd May 2001.

Murray Music And Drama Club in Pinjarra, Western Australia, is conducting auditions for a production of Guards! Guards! on the 31st of January at the Pinjarra Civic Centre (next to the Shire offices) at 7:30pm. For more information email Tom at .

SHAMDRAM (Shillingstone Amateur Dramatic Loonies) are putting on a production of Wyrd Sisters at The Portman Hall, Shillingstone, Blandford, Dorset on Thursday, Friday & Sat 21st, 22nd & 23rd Feb 2001. Tickets are 4GBP and 3GBP. [Unfortunately we didn't get any contact information with this message - Ed]

Sudbury Dramatic Society based at The Quay Theatre in Sudbury, Suffolk are putting on a production of Stephen Briggs's adaptation of WYRD SISTERS on Monday March 5th - Saturday March 10th 2001 at 7.45pm. They produced a successful version of MORT last year. Tickets are 8.50GPB and obtainable from the Box Office on 01787 374745 or email for more details

Small Ads....

"Toby Svoboda" ( ) has created a web site that reviews fantasy novels at

"Kirsi Kaustio" ( ) needs all Discworld enthusiasts (and, generally speaking, all fantasy literature addicts) to help her out with her thesis! She is studying translation and interpretation at the University of Turku, Finland, and the tentative topic of her thesis will be something like "Problems in translating fantasy literature" although the final title will probably be something quite different.

Kirsi needs your expertise. Please get in contact via email and tell her what kind of translation problems YOU have found in fantasy books (not necessarily Discworld, but everybody knows there are loads of translation problems in DW books, so she'll listen to anything you have to say). Please give concrete examples and it would be perfect if your mother tongue was something other than English, because then you would have read quite a few translations, but good ideas from anyone at all are most welcome!

Pamela Munt ( ) would like to thank all the fans that visited the Unseen Theatre Company's production of Guards! Guards! in Adelaide during November. They were overjoyed to have full houses most nights and were amazed by the amount of enjoyment the audiences seemed to be having. She also suggests you look out for the sequel Men at Arms coming up next year. [You can read a review of Pamela's play in section 7 of this issue - Ed]

"Dan Dan" ( ) is trying to locate a black & white photo published some time ago which he found on a fan site somewhere. It is a side on view of Terry at his computer with his daughter Rhianna standing behind him, looking over his shoulder.

Tay Wilson ( ) would be interested to know if anyone from Sydney, Australia is producing Discworld Plays, or would be interested in getting together to discuss the idea?

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 because we're pretty short of entertainment around here, you better believe it.

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: "Rosemary" ( )
I have just seen the American covers for the Discworld books - what a way to treat the world's greatest books. Those covers are so boring that I can imagine whole rows of books in the store dropping off to sleep. It's easy to see why Lisa Daniels feels she is the only fan in Colorado; why would anyone feel moved to buy the books. I read somewhere that the Josh Kirby covers were considered too childish for those, so very adult, Americans. After all this time the (proper) covers are almost an integral part of the story; I know I check out the covers several times while reading the book. Imagine not knowing what Death looks like riding a motorbike! Come on US fans, do yourself a favour and insist that the publisher use the proper covers.

* From: "Sean Wright" ( )
Shock! Horror! I have finished reading The Truth and for the very first time in nearly 30 novels I actually put it down THREE TIMES! In anticipation of its arrival I started reading all of the books from the very beginning and even though it was second time through still found myself roflmao and couldn't put one of them down before finishing it. Then the much awaited 25th book arrived. I warned everyone to stay away from me, cancelled all meals, set the video and started. Wow, was I surprised. I was half way through the book before I actually had a giggle (Foul Ole Ron wouldn't you know it, Buggrit) The characters that I have learned to love were lifeless and the lead guy (William) can only be described as two dimensional. Vimes and Company were there (albeit Nobby, Colon, Angua and Carrot virtually featured as one liners) as was Vetinari, two Ridcullys and even Gaspode. But not one of them were their old selves. Still, hey! you can't complain can you. One average book out of 24 gems has got to be considered nothing short of amazing and must be the envy of most authors. Does anyone share my opinion??

JA replies: It's a brave man who says he doesn't like a new Pratchett novel. Good luck. I personally thought The Truth was one of Terry's better novels. Just goes to show everyone's different.

* From:
I'm a new Caledonian fan of Pratchett, maybe the only one in my country. Actually I'm studying in France as I speak french, but when I began to read Pratchett in french I couldn't help going on and on and I can only survive by reading his books in english, as the translation takes a lot of time.

In fact I guess reading Pratchett has improved my english, and I think his books are really deep if you take them at the third or fourth degree, and at the same time soooo funny. I particularly like the irony and cynicism. I'm looking for any one in France who is also a Discworld fan.

* From: "Ben Warsop" ( )
Every time I drive down the M5 and see the sign for "Blind Yeo" I think of Pratchett. I am certain that Blind Io is a combination of ideas - the river, the goddess IO in Greek mythology, Woden in Norse mythology who only had one eye, and all those blind fates in just about every mythology in the world.

Apropos of Somerset (after all TP does live there) one evening, hot, sunny, 6.20pm, May, 1998, I found myself driving down the Cheddar Gorge. The light was golden and clear; the tourists had gone, and I was lost, and had no idea that this was where I was going. As I went deeper and deeper down the Gorge, I found myself thinking "flat... vertical, but flat..." and realised that I was in the Kingdom of Lancre. I asked TP if I was right at a signing, and he said something about "other places too".

* From: "Shiladitya Sen" ( )
This is with regard to the following letter from Dan Rogerson. Actually, Blind Io is a fairly thinly-disguised version of the king of the Norse gods - Odin. Odin (or Woden - hence Wednesday, or "Woden's Day"), was blind in one eye (gave it up for knowledge!) and served by ravens, who brought him information (as well as food while he was stuck down a well, but that is another story...). Ring any bells? Then again, as with any of Terry's creations, Blind Io's got more layers than an onion.

DWM replies: Shiladitya receives Letter Of The Month for telling us about Woden's Day.

* From: "Rita Ventura" ( )
My name is Rita Ventura and I'm Portuguese, from Lisbon. I'm a great fan of Terry Pratchett and his wonderful books, mainly the Discworld books. But it is really sad that in Portugal only two books were translated and they did not have much success. I read them by chance, since they belonged to a science fiction collection, including many other authors, which I was buying. I first read Mort and I liked it so much that I bought the next, Wyrd Sisters. Unfortunately I kept waiting anxiously for more books by Terry Pratchett but nothing more was edited. I went to London and the first thing I did was to buy all Terry's books I could find (more than 15 books, they were very suspicious in the alfandega...) and I read all of them. Whenever I go to England or some friend goes there I always complete my Discworld collection. Now I must wait until March to buy the new ones: The Fifth Elephant, The Truth and The Legends that includes the story with Granny Weatherwax (one of my favorite characters, as well as Death, who is so "human", and the other witches and the wizards). The only way to be informed of the news relating to Discworld is through Discworld Monthly, which I eagerly wait for each month and it is a pity I did not discover it earlier! Well, probably I'm not being original at all, but Terry Pratchett is a wonderful writer. I love his books so much that I cannot stop reading them once I've started. I even read them on public transport and I can't help laughing aloud - the other people must think I'm mad. When I know I'm going to be under stress or I'm feeling depressed I think to myself "let's read a Terry book" and you must believe that I feel better immediately even before starting reading, because I know that I will really enjoy the story, the way it is written, the superb sense of humour, the cover of the book, and everything in it! To finish, I would like to know if there are any other fans of Terry Pratchett in Portugal, because I don't know any near me! Sorry for the long letter, and I'm waiting for the next Discworld Monthly, which will be in the next year! Have a good New Year, for all of you.

* From: "erik jelinek" ( )
I'm sure that someone must have asked this question before, but I would really love to know whether Foul Ole Ron's "millennium hand and shrimp" actually 'means' anything. Is it some obscure joke that I haven't cottoned on to yet or is it just completely random? Does anybody know? Because I really would like to.

* From:
I'm a 4th year student at Paisley University and for my dissertation I'm investigation the readership of the Discworld series. I'd be obliged if you would post this message on your site. All I need is for respondents to number their answers and e-mail them back to me.

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Ethnic Background
  5. Occupation
  6. Geographical Location
  7. Do you hold a Degree or equivalent?
  8. If yes, what subject is it in?
  9. How many books in the Discworld series have you read?
  10. Who is your favourite character?
  11. Did you start reading the Discworld series: by accident, by recommendation, by other means?
  12. Would you describe yourself as a fan of the fantasy genre in general?
  13. If yes, what other fantasy writers works do you read?
  14. If no, what other genres of writing do you read?
  15. Would you be willing to participate in a follow up questionnaire?
Thanks for your time and effort.

WB replies: We strongly recommend you proof read the final dissertation.

* From: "davidaharvey" ( )
Last month Collingwood RSC claimed they were performing the World Premiere of the Fifth Elephant and DWM asked if Stephen Briggs had already performed it.

You're right, "Fifth Elephant" premiered in Abingdon last November (1999) with CMOT Briggs as Lord VETinari (cue cringing werewolves) and the major baddie. Their production of "The Truth" a few weeks ago (22-25th November) was also rather good. I look forward to next year's production.

* From: "Angela Parker" ( )
Does anyone know how did Rincewind end up on a desert island thinking about women offering him big potatoes? As far as I can remember he was summoned back from the Dungeon Dimensions by Eric. I'm unclear as to how he and the Luggage ended up marooned. I assume that Eric made it back home so why didn't Rincewind? Does anyone have a list of the chronological order of the Discworld books as I'm trying to read them all in the order Terry wrote them in.

DWM replies: As we understand it, it's something like this: at the end of Eric, Rincewind returns to the Disc. At the beginning of Interesting times he's plucked from the island you mentioned & sent to the Agatean Empire. At the end of Interesting Times he's accidentally translocated to XXXX. As for the order of the books take a look at

* From: "Kate Young" ( )
I am currently doing my GCSE's and have been getting this newsletter for about 3 months now and I think it is brilliant! Due to responding to people writing I have made many Discworld friends. I live in a pretty remote place and I feel like I am the only one here the has even heard of the Discworld. Thanks to your newsletter I have found plenty of friends who actually know who Rincewind is. One of my friends and I were trying to name everyone in the Watch and where wondering who were the other dwarfs except Cheery? Could anyone help?

* From: "Gareth Paynter Roberts" ( )
I am a student and have been given an assignment to design and publish a web magazine on the college intranet.

As I'm a fan of TP I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of some music & pics that I could include in the mag. Midi files would be good for the size of them of short mp3, wav samples. I know that there is a mp3 cd of some of the books. Any web/e-mail address you know of?

* From: "Weeks, Fiona (PFC)" ( )
This is my second edition of DWM; I love it and hope to maintain a long and fruitful acquaintance. I also challenge any South Africans who read this e-zine to actually come out of the closet and prove it by writing something.

4. Competition Results: Who has won an ISIS Audio Book?

To coincide with the launch of their new web site and their latest audio book The Fifth Elephant ISIS arranged for three lucky readers to each win a copy of this new, ten cassette audio book.

All you had to do was answer the following question: Three people have read ISIS Discworld Audio Books. Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs are the most well known. Can you name the other?

The correct answer was Celia Imrie (best know as Lady Groan in the BBC's recent Gormenghast adaptation). Unfortunately many of you suggested Tony Robinson as the third reader but Tony only reads the abridged Corgi books not the unabridged ISIS ones.

The three randomly selected winners are: Gene Bennett, Tom Madden & Ian Cockerill. As soon as ISIS have managed to post all their pre-orders for this title the winners will receive their copies.

We will hopefully have a review of this audio book in Issue 46.

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

5. Article: Converting Friends and Family to Pratchettism!

by "Rucha Dalvi" ( )

Okay, so we all know how frustrating it is to try and convert our friends and family to Pratchettism. We have all forced them to read the Discworld books, nagged them for ages to finish them and even gone to the lengths of reading aloud to them, only to be met with a "It is strictly OK." Or, "I didn't get much time to read it, actually." "What is the matter with them?" you think. "I was crazy about my first Discworld book!"

Strangely enough, our families seem to dislike the very elements of Pratchett that we find so appealing. For example the complaint "What sort of author is he anyway? He doesn't even write in chapters! And he keeps changing scenes all the time."

Here are some tips for conversion:

1) The choice of the book with which you will introduce them to Pratchett is important. It is a good idea to get them to read Pratchett's non-Discworld (i.e. the Truckers and Johnny Maxwell trilogies, the Carpet People, Good Omens, etc.) books before the Discworld chronicles. They provide a good introduction to Pratchett's writing and are much simpler, written in chapters and have far fewer scene changes. They are also less dark and complicated than the Discworld books, making it easier for people (especially children) to understand. Most of them were written for children, but adults find them equally enjoyable. In fact, I still prefer Truckers to many of the Discworld novels and I'm thirteen (I thought tastes change at this stage?).

2) Well, Discworld Monthly has already provided answers for the question of which book should be the one to introduce people to the Discworld, relieving me of a little extra typing. (see issue 30)

3) Don't nag them into reading the books. It then becomes a compulsion to read them and this tends to put people off. My brother says that I sound just like Constable Visit when I do that. Don't push it on them and they will take to PTerry more easily than you think.

4) Generally, when people say that they don't have the time, they really don't. It is best to lend the book to them when they will have leisure to read such as on a holiday. Or you could leave it lying around where they are bound to notice it.

5) Even if your folks remain cold to Pratchett despite all your efforts, don't despair, it could actually be a good thing. Previously, when I was the only Pratchett fan at home, I could read his books in peace. Now, whenever we bring home his latest creation, we have a big family fight over who gets to read it first. I end up reading them in the toilet to avoid the eyes of my brothers, thus adding to the growing list of cover WARNINGS about PTerry: WARNING Reading this book can cause severe constipation.

And after hearing that people start landing in hospital from laughing at Pratchett's jokes, I suppose it is a good deal safer to just let things be isn't it?

Good Luck to you all!

6. Review: Sourcery in Australia

by "Tim Highfield" ( )

On 10 November 2000, I had the fortune to experience my first-ever Discworld play, Sourcery, as performed by the Blak Yak theatre in Perth, Western Australia, who apparently do not push yaks off cliffs. To my knowledge, which is extremely limited, this was one of the first times that particular book had been performed anywhere in the world.

The plot of the play was extremely faithful to the original text, with only a few alterations and the insertion of a few Blak Yak jokes. These included a few for the benefit of members of the audience who did not live or breathe Pratchett, most notably the "I Dream of Jeannie" allusions after the interval. Character-wise, the play was very strong. Nick Donald was excellent as Rincewind, perfectly showing the cowardice expected from the wizzard. The Librarian made a welcome appearance, both before, during and after the play, accompanied in a non-starring role by an Igor, whilst the remaining major characters, Conina, Creosote, Nijel and Coin, were all played strongly. The ensemble cast added to this high standard of acting, and the costumes were good enough to help enhance this. And well done to the small boy who hid inside the Luggage to make it move.

Despite the small audience of around 50 people, even on the costume competition evening, this did not detract from the performance, and neither did the lack of special effects, although the small body part that squirted blood over the stage did help this.

All in all an excellent performance, so if you are a Pratchett fan in Perth (Western Australia), don't miss the Blak Yak plays. You might get a special footnote-aplenty programme that has every single page in the wrong order and not necessarily the right way up. Apparently Hogfather is coming next year, so you'd better watch out...

7. Review: Guards! Guards! An Unseen Theatre Company Production

by Rod Lewis

UNSEEN Theatre Company was formed specifically to produce Terry Pratchett's funny fantasy stories, and this one, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs, excels with a minimum of props and scenery.

In the fictional land of Discworld, the Elucidated Brethren of Ebon Night steal a book of magic and terrorise the city of Ankh-Morpork by conjuring up a giant dragon.

Fans of Pratchett will be delighted by director Pamela Munt's simplistic creation of this fantastic world that rides upon the back of the great space-faring turtle called A'Tuin.

Through lighting and sound effects and ample imagination, Munt's Discworld comes to life filled with magic, beasts, warriors and dwarfs.

Although the play - the company's second after Mort - moves as slowly as A'Tuin at times, particularly during the lengthy first act, the quirky characterisations and creative touches keep things interesting. And a few more performances should see a much tighter presentation.

The 18 cast members vary from good to the exceptional with Pete Davies, Melanie Munt, Bruce Alcorn, Danny Sag, Richard Burgess and Chris Irving the standouts.

Melanie Munt, in particular, is a delight. She plays Footnote, interrupting the play regularly to explain particular words or situations, her giant, asterix-topped staff reminding us that she is indeed, a footnote to the action.

Sharman Gilchrist's costumes, ranging from that of Death to an orang-utan, are detailed and stunning, a highlight of the show.

In contrast to those in Unseen Theatre's first journey to Discworld, Mort, the sets are kept to a minimum, with basic furniture representing the settings of the play.

An efficient backstage crew whiz through the scene changes, but the lighting and sound was a devastating letdown. With their cues, figuratively speaking, all over the show.

Despite that setback this company imaginatively brings Pratchett's quirky, laugh-a-minute fable to life.

8. The End

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