Discworld Monthly - Issue 63: July 2002
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
3. Readers' Letters
4. Birthday Trivia Part 8
5. Competition Result: The Science of Discworld II: The Globe
6. Article: The Invention of Thud
7. Article: Toronto Tour Review
8. The End
Jason Anthony (Editor) email@example.com
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Statler out of the Muppets)
Having successfully presented Maskerade in October 2000, the Playhouse Company are proud to present a production of 'Carpe Jugulum'.
Performances will take place each evening between the 20th and 27th July 2002, excluding Sunday 21st July at the Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham. Performances will start at 7-45PM and the theatre will be open from 7PM.
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Bath Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HG United Kingdom
Tickets are priced at 7UKP, with concessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Please contact the box office for details of concessions. Tickets can be obtained from the Box Office either in person, or by phone on 01242 522852. The Box Office is open between 10AM and 1PM Monday - Friday, and 10AM - 4PM on Saturday.
Most of the signed standard ones are down to last copies now. We still have copies of all the Limited Editions although the last three published are down to some twenty copies each now.
We have recently come across the unlicensed use of Josh Kirby's Discworld work on an imported jigsaw puzzle that didn't even mention Discworld. The worst part though is that the jigsaw credited the artwork to another artist (probably a fake name) which is the most terrible insult to the memory of such a brilliant artist. There were of course no details of the publisher, only the importer. We would like to appeal to the Discworld community at large to e-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you come across any products that seem suspect in this way so we can pass the information on to the appropriate people. Please give as much detail about the product as you can.
Please note, DWM has no way of checking the veracity or validity of
any of the items in our small ads section. As always, exercise
caution when giving out your details over the Internet. We
*strongly* recommend parental supervision for younger readers who
follow up any of these contacts.
Rosemary ( email@example.com ) writes: Is there anybody out there who has or knows somebody who has a Death's Study plate for sale? I could spin all sorts of tales about how it is needed for a pathetically sick child who believes that only having this plate will allow them to get well again - but the reality is I really want it to hang on my own wall. Living all the way out here in XXXX means we are really deprived in terms of access to great things like the Convention and lots of PTerry stuff, so if anyone has a spare plate and a soft heart I would really be very appreciative and grateful.
A Sponger ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes: I desperately need a Discworld plate for my pathetically sick child who believes that having the plate will make him well again. He is planning to be ill several times until he has a complete collection.
CarpeVivium@aol.com writes: I'm a monsieur Pratchett fan in CA, and would like to know if anyone knows where to find Discworld tshirts.
Rob Westwood ( email@example.com ) writes: I have three DW items for sale:
1) A rare FLOPPY DISK version of DISCWORLD 1 PC game. Original packaging & manual, perfect condition. Very rare and only 30GP.
2) DISCWORLD NOIR CDROM in original packaging (not new DVD box version) 10GBP.
3) A hardback copy of THIEF OF TIME signed by Terry addressed "To Rob", so ideal for anyone out there called Rob! 20GBP.
Keith Batchelor ( Keith@batchelor69.fsnet.co.uk ) writes: I have a complete set of Discworld novels in paperback for sale, all in mint condition, to sell as a set. Any reasonable offer will be accepted.
Daniel Kilburn ( Rebellion70@hotmail.com ) writes: I was wondering whether TP's books have been translated into Tagalog (Philipino) as I speak the language reasonably well and would like to learn more and the best way is to read a book which you already know and can refer to if you get stuck. So if anyone out there knows if any of the Discworld series are translated in to Tagalog please contact me.
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 (maniacal laughter).
It is vitally important that you don't pass off other people's work as your own. If you use information from other resources please let us know so we can give proper credit.
This month we are hoping to get some new gifts to give away but they haven't arrived yet. So this month's best letter will get a prize so secret that we don't know what it is.
* From: Phil Masters ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
In DWM, Antonia Stewart asked, "Does anyone have any idea of where Terry got the idea for Bel-Shamharoth from?" Obviously, people's knowledge of early 20th Century pulp horror isn't all it should be.
The creature in question is a blatantly Lovecraftian sort of being -- that's as in H.P.Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu cycle and all that. In particular, the form of its name and the rustic habitat suggests Lovecraft's Shub-Niggurath, "The Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young", who seems to be some kind of dark fertility goddess. (One Web page I found says 'sometimes depicted as a demonic goat, sometimes as an enormous amorphous mass spawning her "Dark Young"-- huge tentacled tree-like hulks with shaggy goats legs and hooves -- in an endless orgy of reproduction.')
As to where Lovecraft got *his* ideas from - well, out of his own slightly messed-up head, far as I know. They're mostly a mixture of distorted pagan ideas, satanic imagery, and period science fiction. (And seafood. Lots of tentacles.)
In addition, "Bel" shows up as the name or part of the name of a god or gods in Middle Eastern myth. It seems to be equivalent to "Baal".
DWM replies: That's what we said!
* From: "Kathy Davey" ( email@example.com )
I need some help and was hoping all you people out there might be able to save what little sanity I have remaining.
I am sitting here bored (as usual) at work and for some reason, felt an overwhelming urge to relive some good times I had back in November 1998. I was in the first production of Carpe Jugulum, adapted for the stage by Irana Brown and performed by the Wotjacallum Players. I played Agnes Nitt. I have no idea why it popped into my head, but it has and now I can't get rid of it.
Anyway, I was wondering if anyone out there actually reviewed us? I am having no luck finding anything on the web. We had such a laugh and worked so hard and went through so much together, I just want to know that it wasn't all for nothing. And all right, yes - I want to know what people thought of me in my large amounts of padding.
I know it was a while ago, in relative terms, but please - can anyone help me?
* From: "Andrew Bage" ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Wyrd Sisters & Soul Music can both be bought on Region 2 (UK) DVD at the price of 13.99GBP each from www.play.com. Also, with this being DVD, Soul Music is not split up into two parts like the videos.
JA replies: I can recommend Play as a supplier as I have purchase many DVDs from them, although they usually take a few days to deliver.
* From: "Erica J. Hateley" ( email@example.com )
For anyone who is interested, I thought I'd advertise the fact (and simultaneously achieve a very self-serving advertisement at the same time) that Monash University in Melbourne, Australia has for the first time, taught a Terry Pratchett novel at undergraduate level as part of the core reading for a course.
For anyone who is happier with Pratchett operating outside the academic gaze, and takes pride in anti-establishment reading, read no further....
I am unashamedly happy to admit that I shamelessly harassed my supervisor at uni into putting *Wyrd Sisters* on a course in "Contemporary and Postmodern Literature" that my uni runs. I taught the course last year, and was disappointed with some of the texts, so this year - in a lovely coalescence with my thesis research - suggested (repeatedly) that he include *Wyrd Sisters* in place of another text. He agreed, so you could call this course the litmus test of Pratchett at Monash.
I gave the lecture on *Wyrd Sisters* as postmodern parody of Shakespeare's *Macbeth*; and the students had the opportunity to present oral papers/presentations, or written essays on this theme, the novel's participation in the broader fantasy genre, or the construction of gender in the novel.
We had a mixed response, with some students confessing they'd only chosen the course for Pratchett, and others stating that they'd chosen the course in spite of Pratchett. I did have one young lady inform me in no uncertain terms that Pratchett "is not literature". When tackled - very nicely - on this point, she confessed that she hadn't actually read the novel itself, but was nonetheless offering an informed opinion based on her assessment of the cover (I kid you not). I asked her to pay me the courtesy of actually reading the novel, and then offering an assessment - VICTORY! - she has since admitted to reading several more of the Discworld novels, and "perhaps you could call them literature after all". Overall, we had very lively tutorial groups, if nothing else!
The standard of work produced by students on Pratchett was very high; and I believe the text will be remaining on the course in future years after a successful test-run. Yaaaaay!
Now I am well aware of the many comments, both intra- and extra-textually, that Pratchett has offered in denigration of academia; that said, I was most proud to be involved in his inclusion on an undergraduate course for study. As someone who is passionate about lit.crit. I have always felt it a great injustice that Pratchett is not paid more attention by the academy. I hope this is one small step forward for my institution at least.
If anyone has any queries or comments on this issue, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org If by some small chance you actually took this class, I would be especially interested in hearing your feedback!
I would also be interested in hearing from any other teachers who have been teaching Pratchett in general, or *Wyrd Sisters* in particular.
* From: "liz thompson" ( email@example.com )
I partly agree with your review [of Science of Discworld II - Ed]: the Discworld chapters are short compared with the science, and I would - like all DW fans! - have enjoyed more. But I also enjoyed (and understood) the science. I read a lot of the popular science books that come out, so was reasonably well-acquainted with the concepts already, but the easy style and jokes made the whole experience FUN. It took me about three days to read. I've also bought the new SOD I in paperback, and re-read it to see the new material. It cost me about 6GBP, and was worth it; it's pretty common in scientific texts to update and revise a new edition - it's just that we don't expect it in fiction! On the whole, I think SOD I is better than II - more interesting, better balanced between DW and science. I get the impression that the new book was 'spun out' rather, to make it full-length.
* From: Elisabeth Meister ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
RE: Jon Brierley's letter about the Pratchett quote in "Britain in the First Millennium".
I just had to laugh out loud because I used the exact same TP-quote last year in my master's thesis on the German colonialists' views on Africans. Any more university people out there who used this? ;-)
* From: "Quixotic Star" ( email@example.com )
In response to Owen Burgoyne: "A license to print money?!"
I beg to differ! Sure, there's tons of Discworld merchandise, but you have to be a fan to know how to get it. And I've spent a lot more than I actually own on Discworld stuff too. (Has anyone else realised that once you buy your first hardback, you have to cave and buy all of the next ones in hardback? My bookshelves are now sagging...)
But... well, it doesn't count as much. We're fans, ergo we buy fan type-things that we can worship. It's not nearly as bad as Harry Potter: walk in to the local Ottakars and you'll get bombarded with merchandise. And the fact that there are now Harry Potter Sherbet Lemons available is quite surreal, and if that's not merely a way to make money I don't know what is...
But I think you'll be right when it's possible for all of us to go out and buy Klatchian Coffee ^^
* From: "Ferg" ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
As I understand it, Discworld books are published in hardback months before their paperback incarnation because they cost more to buy, and therefore make more money. The trouble is I hate hardback books, and I would be willing to pay hardback prices for a paperback book if it came out at the same time. After 6 months or so, the price of the paperback books could be lowered, therefore allowing the people who buy paperback because they are cheaper to do so.
DWM replies: Don't give them ideas...
* From: "Andrea, April & Cari" ( email@example.com )
I was ordering some helium-filled balloons for a retirement party when I looked up at the other balloons on display and THERE HE WAS - DEATH. Exactly as Terry Pratchett describes him, holding a scythe over his shoulder; the other bony hand is clutching a cupcake with one candle in it and he is saying, "RELAX. I'M ONLY HERE FOR THE CAKE."
Needless to say, I bought the balloon and keep it around whenever I'm rereading a Discworld book.
If anyone would like to see a .gif of this, email me . . .
* From: "- -" ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Ok I know this is the DISCWORLD monthly but Mrs Tachyon also says "Bugrit-Millenium hand and shrimp"
* From: "Catherine Lamin" ( email@example.com )
I just got my first ever first for an essay and I am holding Discworld and Pratchett personally responsible! Thanks to his amazing use of postmodern techniques such as pastiche, irony and self-mimickry, I achieved a fantastic grade of 72%, which I can safely say beats my previous best, by a lot!
So, all those people (especially my Dad), who thinks that reading Discworld is of no educational use, I would just like to say nah nah nah nah!!
That's all I have to say on the matter, but if you are really bored
you can find the essay on
* From: "stephen haines" ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Having elsewhere touted Science of Discworld as required reading for all students, I found Jason Anthony's review of SoD II a bit disturbing. Disturbing not that he's "wrong" in his opinion, but that he should hold it at all. Both Science of Discworld volumes were an attempt to bring the findings of modern research to the widest possible audience. Most of that target audience, I believe, is younger people who are receiving conflicting messages from schools on the one hand and churches and parents on the other. Both books address the issue of religious myths as "lies to children." Both books rightly point out how religious mythology has been eroded by scientific findings in many areas. From the Big Bang to the course of life's evolution on our planet, any attempt to describe The Globe's history is a perilous journey to undertake. The issues are complex and the knowledge has been tortuously built up by many workers over many years. We should applaud the trio of authors for their efforts.
Jason's comments on the scientific portions of SoD II, however, indicate the effort isn't entirely successful. That's sad. We have two SoD books because there was simply too much information, some valid and some otherwise, on human evolution to cram into one volume. That information is not the accumulation of bones and stone tools languishing in museums. The real issue is what makes humans different from the rest of the animal kingdom. That difference is how we think and how we communicate. Even as the SoD stories were being developed and published a host of new books on how humans think have appeared in the bookstores. Having delved into many of these, i can sympathize with T, I & J in trying to winnow down the available works. They attempt to convey that wealth of information in SoD II in a constrained environment. Interspersing the Discworld chapters removes some of the available space, but also provides a means of asking the kinds of questions their audience is likely to ask. The following "scientific" chapters are designed to answer those queries. How humans think, however, remains the subject of intense debate, and SoD II is a starting point for readers to learn more. Both SoD volumes suffer the lack of a further reading list, which would have to be highly selective or horrendously long. Instead of faulting the science chapters, perhaps a second reading of the questions is in order. After all, Science of Discworld II is about you and how you think.
RM replies: I'm afraid I just didn't think it was very good, though, but for providing a balanced viewport, have Letter of the Month.
* From: "Beth Waller" ( email@example.com )
Will John Cleese be there to judge, or guard the eggs? It was him, after all, in an episode of "The New Avengers" (TV, colour, sometime in the 60's) that was the person in charge of the storehouse of "Vaudevillian Eggs", where there was a vast repository of painted raw eggs, as all were copyrighted as unique for each person in face paint.. To view this distinctive collection, one had to "walk this way" (quoting Cleese, pre. the department of Silly Walks) and be very careful (and quiet). Unfortunately, he was murdered by a scheming band of forcefully retired vaudevillians who were led by a Punch & Judy puppeteer, and in his death throes accidentally destroyed the entire collection. The combination of John Steed and Tamara King were able to complete their investigation, however, despite the caretaker's death and defeated the dastardly criminals, including a quick-change artist and a pantomime horse.
- What spell summons Death?
- What is written on the sign in the scorpion pit that the
Patrician hangs mime artists upside-down in?
- If I set out Widdershins from the Hub on Small Gods' Eve, how
far will I be Turnwise from the Ramtops by Hogswatch Night?
- What is the registration number of the Enterprise?
- What song features the line, 'the giraffe can, if you stand on
The answers can of course be found in the final section of the newsletter.
SOD explains the process of teaching as "_____ to children"
The missing word was of course lies. The five randomly selected winner are Karla Smith, David Waller, Harry McDonald, les malpolis and Roy Stead.
If you we not one of the lucky five you can still purchase Science of Discworld II directly from Amazon using the following link:
At The Cunning Artificer's in Wincanton High Street, Somerset we met Bernard - what more needs to be said? The welcome was that of an old friend and we chattered away happily as we looked at the exhibits. I happened to remark to Rona that I could make a game out of something I'd spotted. Bernard made enquiries - I made up games and puzzles? Yes. And this shop (i.e. Discworld) was, suddenly, inspiring. Go on, then, have a go and come back with ideas. If only to meet Isobel again, we said we'd have a go.
We would have spent the rest of the holiday at home anyway, so it was no hardship to think Discworld while lying in a hammock in the garden (or under it when it poured with rain).
Among many ideas was one that had hit me as we'd crossed the road after leaving Bernard's shop (it was ok to be in dreamland, I was once again being seen safely across, as usual).
A game - trolls against dwarfs (like the fights in the Mended Drum) - but how on Disc, does a small dwarf capture a large troll? The answer was immediate - a group of dwarfs throw the front one at the troll and knock it over.
Returning to Bernard with several ideas - he picked up on 'Trolls and Dwarfs' and encouraged further work on what was only a thought.
So it took seconds to create the core idea of the game, many weeks' work to turn it into something playable, but 36 years of experience creating games and puzzles to know what was and wasn't viable.
Oh yes, and one other vital ingredient - an addiction to the Discworld books. It is a simple fact that, having made up scores of games, nothing like Thud could have occurred to me without the basis of Discworld - other fantasy books had never given me a sense of dwarfs and trolls having any real character and believability (like going to the pub on a Saturday night) and the unique twists given to life in the books led directly to what are, I believe, unique features in the game.
The board is octagonal - eight is a significant Discworld number. The trolls move and behave like Discworld trolls. Ditto the dwarfs. The battle of Koom valley, where two forces both tried to ambush each other, is reflected by the trolls gathering in the middle and pretending to be a rock with the dwarfs scattered around the perimeter, looking as if they aren't really an army.
The final, simple product may look obvious and inevitable, but along the way the trolls' army has gone through every number from 4 to 9; the dwarfs from 12 to 36. The mentally-challenged Trolls only learned to shove after weeks of one-square moving. There was no rock; then four, movable, rocks appeared (and went) and finally one rock. The board has always been the same shape but has grown and shrunk like an overcooked Yorkshire pudding. The game has, alternately, been a certain win for the dwarfs, the trolls and back again until the final, balanced, version was reached. The main work was done by taking a fortnight's 'summer holiday' in September, during which time 'Black Friday Night (when it just didn't work) was soon replaced with Fairly Optimistic Saturday Afternoon. During all this time, the man from Wincanton was never less than totally encouraging and Rona was never less than an ever-willing ear, devil's advocate, and severest critic.
It was all just a dream and an exercise in logic until Bernard created those marvellously individual pieces - 32 dwarfs, each a living character. Eight lumbering trolls menacingly armed with clubs and rather brief loincloths. The game suddenly came alive and playing with them gave a sense of reality to the battle scene that I had never felt before in games with 'abstract' pieces.
Terry Pratchett had been briefed on the idea but was, quite rightly, concerned about how far it had developed informally, as it were. Over the years he must have had many Discworld Games, promising novelty and uniqueness, offered to him that turned out to be Chess, Draughts or Snakes & Ladders with Discworld characters pasted on. So, here was yet another one, from out of the blue. He was, though willing to accept the credentials of the inventor and my explanation of where my idea for a genuine Discworld game had come from. Of course, he also trusted the Cunning Artificer's acumen and permitted the game to be launched in December 2001 at a book-signing event at the Sign of the Cunning Artificer.
The reception to the game by both games players and games haters was astonishing. After an introduction, games started up and players of all ages set to. Families sat down together and young children gave Dad a hammering. When Terry came to have a look he was assailed with comments. I didn't have to worry about nervously answering his questions - thanks to Becky and friends, I couldn't get a word in and retired gratefully to a quiet corner. Some souls, after playing for more than six hours had to be, more or less, prized out of their seats with crowbars and hurled into the High St - otherwise they would have been in the cleaner's way the next morning.
The Discworld fans we met that day proved to be an incredibly friendly group and this friendliness and helpfulness was raised to the nth degree on April Thud Day when the first Quickfire Thud Tournament was held.
As I'm still in a daze, I have to ask you to visit
www.thudgame.com for a report on the day's events, - the
pictures cannot lie.
As with any meeting with Bernard and Isobel, it was like a day out with a host of old friends - so much laughter, so many helping hands for any job that needed doing and such a good spirit shown by the 36 players, some of whom had only seen the game for the first time a few minutes before the tournament started. Memorable, too, were the smiles of so many players at the end of a game - and a lot of them had just lost! Asked afterwards what it was like to see my game played - I had to say that it was like winning an Oscar. It was a special honour, too, that Terry, despite a busy schedule and hectic life, took the time to come along, watch, and present the trophies. Ever since that December launch, his support for the game has been wholehearted - but most of all, without his creative talent and ability to come up with the telling word or phrase - it would have been called Trolls & Dwarfs instead of the far more apposite THUD and if he had not created Discworld, the game just would not exist at all.
I had the very good fortune last night to be present at the Terry Pratchett Talk, Q&A and Signing at the University of Toronto. The crowd of over 600 gave Mr Pratchett a warm welcome and it soon became evident that we were in the presence of a caring, witty, intelligent and friendly person. The sort of person you would love to have as a dinner companion or whom you'd meet at the pub for a pint. The sort of person who you could discuss philosophy at one moment and then he'd break into the Hedgehog song at the next.
The first portion of the presentation was a general ramble of his life (with footnotes) and how he came to be where he is right now, though not necessarily in Canada or why his tour only covered half of the country. I was fascinated to learn that his first book was Wind in the Willows, read from street light to street light as his father drove him home when young Terry was at the age of ten. He confirms that there is never enough bookshelf space, hard-drive or greenhouse space. Other revelations were that two new Discworld books are on the go and if you're a writer and you don't start a new book as soon as you've finished the last, then you are a Bum. A confirmed book-aholic and chocoholic, Terry bounded around the stage and spoke directly to the audience, the house lights being left up so he could see everyone.
The second portion was a question and answer which he promised, 'to give witty complete answers, but he might not necessarily answer the question you asked.' While most people came prepared or attempted to construct intelligent questions, there were still a few dunderheads in the crowd who once they had his attention, dithered and or requested obviously FAQs. Terry handled all these with good humour and wit and went over his allotted 45 minutes to well over an hour.
Some of Terry's answers: He doesn't like Vampires, he's allergic to cool without substance, his favourite book is The Evolution Man by Roy Lewis and the one he likes that he has written is Johnny and the Bomb. Terry recommends that a new Discworld reader should start with Mort, Marco Soto is a real person from a Fan Convention in Texas and Terry navigates by BBQ'd ribs and New England Clam Chowder. He also, to great dismay of the crowd, reported that all his manuscripts were put on disc and wiped, 'so OK Arts Grads, you have to work for a living.'
Once the Q&A was complete, a huge but fairly orderly line queued up, most people holding only one or two items as they had been told that more than three would only get initialled. As the line looked to include the majority of the audience, I took my leave well satisfied in the evening.
With this tour, its subsequent publicity and his new distributor in North America, hopefully Mr Pratchett's work will become more readily available to the Canadian public. New releases up until now, even though they are in the UK versions have been extremely slow in coming to the shelves.
I would like to finish on a personal note. Mr Pratchett, you've been too infrequently a visitor to Canada, so please come again and the first pint is on me.
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* Latest Book Information *
The next Discworld novel due for release in November 2002 will be called Night Watch and will star Sam Vimes. 0385602642/87
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* Birthday Trivia Results *
- What spell summons Death?
- The Rite of AshkEnte
- What is written on the sign in the scorpion pit that the Patrician hangs mime artists upside-down in?
- Learn the words
- If I set out Widdershins from the Hub on Small Gods' Eve, how far will I be Turnwise from the Ramtops by Hogswatch Night?
- Who gives a shit? It's not REAL!
- What is the registration number of the Enterprise?
- NCC 1701
- What song features the line, 'the giraffe can, if you stand on a stool'?
- The Hedgehog Song (or The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All)
* Obtaining Terry's Books *
If you are looking for Terry books or videos over the net, simply visit our web page at discworldmonthly.co.uk/ and follow the 'Purchasing' link on the left panel of the page.
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