Discworld Monthly - Issue 82: February 2004
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
3. Readers' Letters
5. Review: The Cunning Artificer's Hogfather Plaque 2003
7. Review: Monstrous Regiment - ISIS Audio Books
8. Article: The Seven Ages of Discworld
9. The End
Jason Anthony (Editor) firstname.lastname@example.org
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Under Sub Deputy Assistant Editor)
The Royalty Theatre Sunderland will be performing Wyrd Sisters from Monday 15th March to Saturday 20th March at 7:30pm. Tickets cost 6.50GBP / 5GBP concessions and are available on 0191 565 7945. More information can be gained from www.royaltytheatre.co.uk
On February 21st you could have the chance of meeting up with the likes of The Real Hodgesaarrgghh, Waddy and a whole host of other Discworld fans. Plans are to converge on a pub called "The Broken Drum", located at 31 Hitchin Road, Baldock, Hertfordshire, from midday Saturday until closing time. The organisers have requested that you come in costume if you can.
The Cunning Artificer is pleased to announce he will be shinning up the May Pole on the Whitson weekend, which is Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th May.
In celebration of this he is offering the readers of this electronic organ a little bit of a special freebie. Send your snail mail address to email@example.com and she will send you our new catalogue completely free. A big booklet crammed with goodies, pretty pictures, and no long difficult words cos the Cunning Artificer wrote it.
Caerphilly Players Amateur Drama Society will be performing Wyrd Sisters from Wed 18th - Fri 20th February 2004 at St.Martins Comprehensive, Hillside, Caerphilly, CF83 1UW.
7:30pm Curtain up, tickets 5 GBP (4 GBP conc.) AT THE DOOR ONLY
Interval Raffle includes copies of the book signed by Terry
himself! See the website (
- or contact the Caerphilly Players secretary on (029) 2086 2559 if
you cannot find what you are looking for there.
To celebrate its first birthday, the Cheery Littlebottom cartoon
www.cheerycomic.co.uk has been improved and expanded.
The site now features quotes for all Watch books, detailed Watchmen
biographies and some new fun stuff. The collection of Discworld
comic strips is still there, and a new one is added every Sunday.
It's bigger, better, and more purple than ever before.
The Altogether Theatre Company will be staging "Wyrd Sisters" at the Gilmorehill G12 theatre in Glasgow on the 4th, 5th and 6th March 2004. Booking information can be obtained from www.gilmorehillg12.co.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
News from Colin Smythe:
Anne Hoppe at HarperCollins has sent me an email listing all the honours that The Wee Free Men has received in the US, and I thought it would be of interest to you. Here's what she wrote:-
We're just through with the American Library Association Midwinter conference here, making it an excellent time to bring you up-to-date on all the year-end-type-honors The Wee Free Men has accrued in the US. A very nice collection!
- An ALA [American Library Association] Notable Book
- An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
- A Horn Book Fanfare Title of Best Books of 2003
- A Kirkus 2003 Editor's Choice
- A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
- A Parenting Book of Year Award-winner
- A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book
- A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing book
Parent's Guide to Children's Media, Inc: "Recognizes achievement in children's books 2003" starred reviews in Horn Book, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kliatt
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.
Kate DrJonnyRoyale@aol.com writes: I have some figurines for sale including DW70 LTD edition Discworld (no 156 of 1000) offers please. Also DW66 Angua.
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 and dance naked in your garden.
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* From: "Vanessa Mullin" email@example.com
Living in Oklahoma, there wasn't any possible way for me to attend a signing of Monstrous Regiment when Terry Pratchett was in the United States... I live in the middle of nowhere important.
I contacted my daughter, Amanda, who lives in San Diego, and begged her to attend the signing there on my behalf. Good kid that she is, she willingly faced the masses for me.
After receiving my book in the mail, I eagerly opened the package to check out the autograph. I must insert here that my daughter is an extremely overweight woman... Mr. Pratchett signed my book "To my biggest fan in Oklahoma". Being very familiar with Terry's humor...exactly how did he mean that?
* From: "Linda Millar" firstname.lastname@example.org
Having just read Only You Can Save Mankind (after which, I resolve to read the other Johnny Maxwell books just as soon as I can get my hands on them!), I have realised that Terry has a strange fixation with Shambala, Tibet.
It is mentioned several times in Good Omens, and in OYCSM, it is the address of the software designers. Having recently re-read Thief of Time, I can but wonder... do those software designers follow The Way of Mrs Cosmopolite??!
I would be most intrigued to know if there is any major symbolic reason for the repeated occurrence of such places- is Terry a secret practiser of Lu-Tze's Way? Or does he just look good in saffron robes?
If anyone out there has any ideas, I would be most intrigued to know!
* From: "Silver Wolf" email@example.com
My addition to David Hopkins email about Mr Hong and the Cthulhu stories (and totally not Discworld related, but fun none the less) if you want to get a good picture of them, I suggest you find the nearest Forbbidden Planet store (2 in London, 1 in Bristol and others) and hunt for their cuddly versions! Yes, that's right, you can own your very own plush Nyarlathotep!!!
* From: "Mary Becker" firstname.lastname@example.org
I am, sadly, far away from the island of TP's home and am wondering if you or your readers will help a poor soul avoid the bad connections and expense of international calling to WH Smith's in order to get some info on some of TP's books. I have all of them, but I was told by a former Englander that there exists a set of said books that are very small in size. I'm presuming that they would be about 8 X 6 cm or so.
I already have the books in hard cover or paperback, but a lovely addiction of mine is for these smaller volumes. I have looked through WH Smith's site and found no reference to them and I haven't seen them on e-bay either so I am wondering if they were a one-time printing or if they're just specialty items only sold in England. Any information would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this, your listing makes me smile every time!
* From: "Lilly Higgins1" HIGGINSL@uk.ibm.com
I tried to introduce my daughter's American husband to some decent British reading material.
But when I actually bought one of the earlier Discworld books, the book cover was a "normal" totally uninteresting cover. Not anything like the book covers we have here in England.
Is that correct? The book was purchased in a good bookstore in Key West, Florida, and I would therefore not think that it was an unauthorized copy.
Do you know if it is correct, that the American version is published like that, and is there a way of getting a decent British copy ordered in America with the proper book cover?
DWM replies: Yep, this is correct. The US versions have rather dull, conservative covers.
* From: "Margaret Ronald" email@example.com
I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but the character of William the Gonnagle in The Wee Free Men seems to me to be a sort of homage to the Scottish poet William McGonagall (1830-1902). McGonagall is really, really quite bad as a poet; his rhymes are strained, his subjects iffy and he seems to have had all the metrical sense of a limpet. If any poet could make one's ears explode by simply reciting, he probably could do it.
As an example, his "Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay" includes the lines "Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay!/With your numerous arches and pillars in so grand array,/And your central girders, which seem to the eye/To be almost towering to the sky./The greatest wonder of the day,/And a great beautification to the River Tay,/Most beautiful to be seen,/Near by Dundee and the Magdalen Green." The editors of _Very Bad Poetry_ suggest reading this poem in quick succession with his later works, "The Tay Bridge Disaster," and "An Address to the New Tay Bridge."
I learned of McGonagall's work in _Very Bad Poetry_, edited by Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras, 1997, Vintage Books (The quote above is also from this book). The book's well worth your time, if a bit mind-scarring. At least now I can say that I've read such masterpieces as "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese" and "Elegy to a Dissected Puppy." And after reading _The Wee Free Men_ (and Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock's battle poetry), I think it's likely that Terry Pratchett has done the same.
DWM writes: Margaret gets this month's Letter of the Month.
* From: "JAK" firstname.lastname@example.org
Having read Cain Hegarty's letter in Issue 81 of DWM about East Anglian soil being the possible source of Treacle mines, I think that it might have been closer to TP's home.
A year or two ago I found a magazine cutting in an old family book relating to the Tilehurst Treacle Mines. As Tilehurst in Berkshire had family connections I managed to find a little more and have updated the article and put it on my website.
The link can be found at the bottom of www.area51b.freeserve.co.uk/dworld/watframe.htm
if any of your readers wish to know more.
* From: "Ross McCleary" email@example.com
Jackie Porter said in issue 81:
"Has anyone noticed the small but obvious homage to Terry Pratchett in Robert Rankin's book, Snuff Fiction? Robert mentions several gangs including a gang called the Greebos."
I have no idea why I'm replying to ths but i felt an inexplicable need to mention this anyway: Robert Rankin hasn't read fiction since 1981, coz he believes he'll pinch someone's ideas if he did, so he has said. Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels came out after this, the first in 1983 i believe: ie he could never have read a Discworld novel. And the first one with the witches wasn't published till after this, so I don't really believe its a homage. There. Rant over :-)
* From: "Thierry reste zen" firstname.lastname@example.org
First the French translation. I'm not astonished at all about P. COUTON winning awards for his work. I've only read 'SOURCERY' in French for the moment (please, don't tell me reading the all thing in the correct order is vital or I shall collapse in tiny swirling particles of a strange greenish yellow colour making odd sounds and eating all the wallpapers they can) and I never had that feeling before: I could easily believe the book was written in French in the first place... There's always been a problem with translating English humour in French. The subtitles for 'MONTY PYTHON's Flying Circus' on French TV were awful and the French version of The Hitch Hiker's guide to the Galaxy seems to have been written by a six year old kid... (Am I clear? Looks like my English, which is not so bad for a French speaker explaining about the poor quality of the translation works here...) Anyway, reading Mr Pratchett through Mr COUTON's words is a pure pleasure. Maybe English readers are missing something, to tell the truth. I think all the French readers should write to Mr Pratchett and tell him to transform Mr Couton into a character of one of his books, as a tribute. If Mr Pratchett is the ultimate God for the Discworld, then Mr Couton is his prophet... Well, enough of it, people would think Mr Couton is a friend of mine, which he is not.
To finish on a more serious note: My father read the fourteen first books of Discworld in a little year and a half. He loved them and always took five minutes to quote the last hilarious extract of them at each of our meetings. He won't read more of them for he died on Tuesday December 16th at the age of 59 of cancer. Till his last day of strength and consciousness he kept on reading. I think it helped him waiting for the man who talks in capital letters. I loaned him Sourcery. He told me it was absolutely stupid but he was happy that I tried it by myself. In a sense, it's the last thing we shared. So keep on, Mr Pratchett, you give a lot of happiness to your readers. A happy new year to all of you. I go back to 'Trois soeurciores' (Wyrd Sisters in French)
And excuse my English which is not always as clear as I want it to be...
* From: "Kiyomi Onogi" MisaonoShinomori@aol.com
I started reading Terry Pratchett a little under 2 years ago. My first book was 'The Fifth Elephant' which I loved so much I picked up 6 more paperbacks before I realized that I liked Terry Pratchett way too much. I tend to reread my favorite books a lot and am a fast reader. It was thus that about a month into my Pratchett initiation I decided to go hardback and not only acquire all those pesky novels which I hadn't read, but also replace the paperbacks I'd already bought.
In spite of the fact that I managed to acquire a practically new copy of 'Guards! Guards!' in hard cover I recently reread it and had the misfortune to find it falling apart as I reread it! The Watch books are my favorites, but this is the first time I've had a hard cover book last less than 2 years! Terry Pratchett is truly splendiferous! Now I must go hunt up another copy - why aren't books indestructible?
* From: "Mark Hughes Cobb" email@example.com
Thank Boris Karloff for that Death-like voice. The character of Jonathan Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace" was written as a takeoff on Karloff's Frankenstein monster, with Lorre playing his Ygor-ish partner in crime. On Broadway, in fact, Karloff played the role, which was supposed to make the joke of Jonathan looking - after multiple plastic surgeries - "like Karloff" go zing.
Can't remember the reason now, possibly something to do with studio politics, Karloff was supplanted for the film by Raymond Massey, who was basically directed by Frank Capra to "be Karloff."
So there's your Death.
* From: "Jon Price" firstname.lastname@example.org
Been reading Discworld for about 2-3 years now. Like most followers, I've read all the books at least twice and have now started to read to my nine year old daughter. Although she misses many of the references, she finds the story quite amusing. Actually, most of my family have read more than one or two of the books, so I count this as a success (taking them away from Harry Potter has to be a bonus!)
Incidentally, there's a pub in Stretford near to me, called the Drum. It's been mended on a few occasions because of the, er, clientele, taking it upon themselves to redecorate the place with their favourite bits and pieces: furniture, glasses, their mates... Not sure if Terry has been there for inspiration, but I wouldn't have thought so.
Just received Monstrous Regiment for Christmas and read it in two days. I found it very good and up to the usual standard, but confess that I thought there were fewer laugh aloud passages than normal. Brilliantly put together and worthy of the series, but perhaps more thought-evoking?
I look forward to the next.
Oh - by the way, has anyone got a copy of the DW game for Mac? I don't have a Playstation (too old for 'em) and don't really play computer games, but would like to see what it's about. Thanks.
Regards and trust that your interestin' times are interestin'...
- Offler the ______________ god?
- What is the name of a popular religion with lots of schisms?
- Who do you worship after a night of heavy drinking?
- Name the god that gets squashed by The Luggage in Eric?
- The god of slight breezes is known as:
a) Blind Io
The results, as always, appear at the end of this issue.
Due to the birth of my second daughter at the end of November I was unable to make it to Wincanton for Bernard Pearson's Hogswatch event and was therefore unaware of this Hogfather Plaque. So I was very lucky and surprised to receive one of these pieces as a Christmas present. This charming piece measures approximately 7.5 inches high and about 5.5 inches wide.
The scene depicted on the piece is of Death as the Hogfather when he takes over the Hogfather's grotto in the department store. Death is sitting in the Hogfather's chair with a small child (of indeterminate sex) sitting on his lap. A padded cushion can just be seen between the child and Death. Death is holding a sword so I assume this is the scene where the child asks for, amongst many other items (and to the dismay of its mother), a sword. In Death's other hand is a sack full of presents that include a toy castle, a bouncy ball, sausages and some sweet sticks. Waiting in the queue is a small boy with one of his fingers up his nose. This shows the amazing attention to detail that has been included in this piece.
This is an incredible piece of sculpting which will have pride of place on my study wall amongst all my other Cunning Artificer pieces. Once again Bernard has managed to really capture the spirit of the scene beautifully and has proved again to me why he truly is The Cunning Artificer.
To find out more about Bernard "The Cunning Artificer" Pearson visit his web site at www.artificer.co.uk or make sure you get down to Wincanton in May to meet him in person.
* Bonsai Tankard Competitions *
Bonsai Trading is the premiere on-line store for Clarecraft
Figurines, Discworld Diaries & Calendars, Isis Audio Books,
Octarine Forge Jewellery and Prints. More information can be found
Last month we asked: Which Discworld Novel features Albert reluctantly getting into the 'Christmas' spirit?'
The answer was of course "The Hogfather" and the randomly selected winner is Mike Flower of Horsham.
Your DW05 "Death at a Party" will soon be on its way to you.
* New Competition *
This month Bonsai Trading are giving you a chance to win a Josh Kirby print. The winner will be contacted by Bonsai Trading and given a list of prints to choose from.
There are five Clarecraft pieces retiring at the end of February and Bonsai Trading still have them at 15% off RRP. In order to win the Josh Kirby print simply email email@example.com with the name of the cheapest retiring piece. You email must arrive by 20th February 2004 and you MUST include your postal town in your email.
The answer to the question can be obtained from the Bonsai Trading
web site at
The randomly selected winner will be announced next issue.
ISIS recently sent me a copy of their latest Discworld audio book Monstrous Regiment with Stephen Briggs once again in the reader's chair.
It is becoming more and more difficult to review these audio books and especially to make the reviews interesting because the standard is so high. For me the ISIS audio books are the closest spin-off you can get to the books without actually being them, which means I should probably just repeat my review of the original book!
Once again Stephen has pulled out all the stops to give us some very well rounded characters (especially in the case of Jackrum). Right from the beginning you are drawn into the story and never want to let go until the end.
I've commented in the past that some of Stephen's characters sound similar to others but this time round they all appeared to be unique to this story.
This is a hugely entertaining recording that is well worth listening to. Just bear in mind that you will be listening to it for an incredible 12 hours. Monstrous regiment comes on nine audio cassettes for 19.99 GBP plus postage or ten CDs for 19.99 GBP plus postage.
You can purchase this and all the other unabridged Discworld audio books from the ISIS website at www.isis-publishing.co.uk or on the phone on 0800 731 5637
Channel 4 in the UK recently ran a series called 'The Seven Ages of Britain', in which British history was divided into seven neat little packages, presumably making it easier to digest. Divisions like this are not unique to British history; the ancient Greeks were very keen on dividing their world into Ages of gods and men, and leaving reality behind us, even Middle Earth has its First to Fourth Ages. Over the course of 28 novels, the Discworld has developed a complex history all of its very own, and the time seems to have come to look back and produce the definitive Seven Ages of Discworld.
The First Age - Prehistory
We know little of the early days of the Discworld, but over time we have been blessed with the occasional glimpse of what it was like At The Very Beginning. In the beginning was the Creator, a very busy man with a lot of work to do, and the presence of Rincewind and Eric can't have made his job any easier (Eric). Shortly afterwards a small island's evolution was forever marred by the sudden appearance of Archchancellor Ridcully, the Dean, the Bursar, the Senior Wrangler, the Chair of Indefinite Studies, the Lecturer in Recent Runes and Ponder Stibbons (The Last Continent). At some point, people, trolls, dwarfs and other miscellaneous 'intelligent' beings started to evolve, and the planet must have realised it was in trouble.
The Second Age - The Age of Myth
No civilisation is complete without an Age of Myth. This would more usually be referred to in our world as the Age of Heroes, but since Rincewind's ancestors are involved, that might not be the most appropriate term. During this time, a woman was born whose face launched a thousand ships, before settling down to produce a lot of children and Rincewind's enterprising ancestor Lavaeolus did his best to save the Tsortean and Ephebian armies from destroying each other (Eric). A fifth elephant crashed onto the surface of the planet in Uberwald (The Fifth Elephant) and the island of Leshp sank into the sea (Jingo). The Hogfather came into existence as a blood-soaked wild boar, but quickly evolved into a jolly fat man who likes to creep into children's houses at Hogswatch and leave little presents (Hogfather). It was probably at this stage that a man with a snake staff crawled out of the sands in Djelibeybi and started to build pyramids (Pyramids).
The Third Age - Early History
This Age covers all those historical events referred to in the books which took place before The Colour of Magic. Naturally, this is a pretty busy Age, so here are some edited highlights. Alberto Malich founded Unseen University, then mysteriously disappeared shortly before he was due to die (Mort). The Scone of Stone was established as the seat of the King under the Mountain (The Fifth Elephant). The Battle of Koom Valley took place, the only known battle in history in which both sides ambushed each other (Men At Arms). The Ankh-Morpork Civil War took place, against the background of a Worlde Gone Madde!!!!! (Moving Pictures). Stoneface Vimes chopped off the head of Ankh-Morpork's last king and many years later, two versions of his distinguished descendent together took place in a failed but memorable rebellion against Looney Lord Winder (Night Watch). This last event, obviously, is very close to the books themselves, leading to...
The Fourth Age - Early Medieval
This is where it gets interesting, as this is where the books begin. The Fourth Age encompasses;
The Colour of Magic
The Light Fantastic
These novels are characterised by a very medieval setting and heavy use of magic. Somewhere between these and the next set Rincewind spends a long time lost in the Dungeon Dimensions (where, presumably, Time works differently) Susan is born and reaches the age of sixteen and 15 years pass in the outside world while Lancre is under a spell and Tomjon grows up in Wyrd Sisters. Vetinari is named in Sourcery and Vimes, already a recovering alcoholic with a Past, introduced in Guards Guards!, making the Discworld unique in that it goes through four Ages of history within the lifetime of one man.
The Fifth Age - Later Medieval
Lords and Ladies
The Fifth Age is short, occasionally sweet, filled with promise. In Moving Pictures, Ridcully is made Archchancellor of UU. All the following novels (with one exception) must therefore take place within his archchancellorship i.e. no more than a couple of decades apart (Vetinari has been Patrician since at least Sourcery so the timescale must be fairly small, though it should be noted that some dictators have been known to be remarkably long-lived!). Some new inventions start to appear, but for one reason or another (usually involving terrible Things from the Dungeon Dimensions) they never last. Towards the end of the Age, Magrat is crowned Queen of Lancre, and takes her first steps towards leaving the 'maiden' role behind her. The exception to the rule here is Small Gods. This novel can be viewed two ways - either it is set in the 'past' and Brutha died a long time ago, or it is set in the 'present' and Brutha's death is seen in a 'flash-forward' of sorts. It seems more likely that it is set in the past, as Constable Visit and Mightily Oats' practice of Omnianism seems to have developed somewhat from the days of the Quisition.
The Sixth Age - The Renaissance
Men At Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Sixth Age opens with the integration of the Day Watch and Night Watch in Ankh-Morpork to form a new City Watch under Commander Vimes (Men At Arms). This marks a new beginning in Ankh-Morpork, with the introduction of detectives (the Cable Street Particulars in Masquerade), forensics (the introduction of Cheery Littlebottom in Feet of Clay) and traffic control (Nobby and Colon's new duties in Jingo). Changes are also happening within Discworld societies, as female dwarfs start to fight for the right to wear skirts and the Watch is asked to recruit minorities from the troll, dwarf and undead communities. In Lancre, Queen Magrat finally learns about the birds and the bees and gives birth to a daughter(Carpe Jugulum), while Death's daughter and son-in-law die leaving him with a very mixed-up granddaughter(Soul Music).
The Seventh Age - The Modern Age
The Fifth Elephant
Thief of Time
In these most recent novels, the Discworld has entered the Modern Age, only a few years after it left the Early Medieval Period (!). The beginning of this Modern Age is marked by the introduction of the clacks machines in The Fifth Elephant. These do not attract terrible Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, nor are they a magically induced moment of hysteria like the rock music in Soul Music. They are here to stay and they will change the world. They lead to the introduction of newspapers and the invention of the printing press in The Truth and Ankh-Morpork's involvement in the Borogravian War in Monstrous Regiment. Even Commander His Grace the Duke Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ever-Increasing Titles has produced offspring and the feminist revolution is starting to make its way into places like Borogravia, one of the tiniest backwaters of the Discworld (so tiny and unimportant that in twenty-seven novels we've never heard of them before). Truly, the Modern Age has arrived.
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- Offler the ______________ god?
- What is the name of a popular religion with lots of schisms?
- Who do you worship after a night of heavy drinking?
- Bilious. The oh God of Hangovers
- Name the god that gets squashed by The Luggage in Eric?
- Quezovercoatl, the Feathered Boa, god of mass human sacrifices
- The god of slight breezes is known as:
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