Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 93: January 2005

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Latin Translation of Thalacephalos
6. Competitions
7. Event: Wincanton - Opening of the Ankh Morpork Post Office
8. Review: Going Postal - ISIS Audio
9. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 93 and the first issue of 2005. Whilst sitting here in the dark (due to a power cut) I got thinking about living on the Discworld. I have vague ideas about how fun it would be to live on the Disc, but having spent several hours with just candlelight to see by I can see the fun bit fading fast. I don't mind roughing it for a few days in a field (e.g. Clarecraft event or Wadfest) but I don't think I could live like it long term.

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Magic Master)

2. News

WyrdFest, the first German Convention which takes place in June 2005, now has its own website located at

There is a little bit of information about Thud and Wintersmith at:

Discworld Dates...

This section will contain events that you need to keep in your diary. Entries will remain until they go out of date. New entries will include the word [New] next to them. If this section gets too large we will start pruning entries.

Unicorn Theatre, in which Stephen Briggs performs and directs, will be presenting the first ever production of Going Postal from 25 to 29 January at 7.30 (2.30 matinee on 29/1) at Unicorn Theatre, Thames Street, Abingdon.

Tickets are 7 GBP from

The New Dawn Theatre Company, Sponsored by Rowland's Music (Swansea) will be presenting Wyrd Sisters at the Theatre Elli, Llanelli, Wales on the 9th, 10th 11th February 2005. Doors open at 7:30 and tickets cost 5.00 GBP.

The Westoning Players, located 2 miles east of Junction 12 off the M1, will be staging a production of Mort on 31st March, 1st and 2nd April 2005.

All are welcome to auditions on Thursday 9th December 2004 at 19.30, for rehearsals starting in January 2005. For more details visit their website at

Unseen Theatre Company will be performing Interesting Times from March 17th to April 2nd at the Backhouse Theatre, 255 Angas St. Adelaide. Auditions (for the large cast) take place on 5th December at 3pm. More information at

The 2005 Clarecraft Event will take place on 29th - 31st July 2005 at its usual venue of Warren Farm. The theme of the event will be Monstrous Regiment. Details will soon appear at

Wadfest 2005 will take place over the weekend of the 2nd to 5th September 2005 at a new campsite. More details can be found at the Wadfest website

The First Australian Discworld Convention will take place in Melbourne Australia from 20th-22nd January 2006. More details can be located at

Small Ads....

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.

Angela Conlon writes: Please, please, please will someone inform me of where I can purchase red leather bound, gold embossed editions of the Discworld series. I have got the first six and cannot find any more.

Steve Worsley writes: Hello TP fans, I have started an "Audiscrobbler" group for people interested in Terry Pratchett and his Discworld. Audioscrobbler collects stats about what you are listening on your computer and then tells you who you who you listen to the most and recommends new tracks etc and it also works for groups so we can nose around other TP fans music collections and also see which artists TP fans like the best! If you would like to join please click here:

3. Readers' Letters

If you have any letters or comments, please email them to

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 then stuff the remains under the carpet.

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.

The best letter of the month will receive a Kiss the Cook print supplied by Bonsai Trading. Bonsai Trading is the Discworld store that brings you Clarecraft figurines, diaries & calendars, Thud and much more.

* From: "Egeltjes" Egeltjes@TiscaliMail.NL
Recently the dutch translation of The Wee Free Men can be bought. It's called "De Vrijgemaakte Ortjes", freely translated as "The Freemade Ears" included some Dutch type-errors.

What those Ears has to do with the men, I don't understand, but it does read pretty easy.

* From: "Mike Wilson"
In which novel did Lord Ventinari strangle a vampire? The act has been referred to in several of the Discworld novels. However, I cannot find the novel in which the heroic deed was done and the villain done in.

* From:
Though this arrives a month late, I thought that a short rundown of the Sundowner talk by Pterry in Auckland on November 1 would be of interest. Someone there recorded the whole thing, so maybe they will be kind enough to make it available (hint hint).

The talk followed a busy day of signings, and was held at the Charleton Hotel. His talk followed his career, fans, and work, giving an insight into his twist on reality. And, of course, he was funny, as anyone who has heard him speak will tell you, and just as good in person.

In the course of the talk, Pterry mentioned the work underway at the moment: Thud, its tie-in Where's My Cow, (from here on my memory is a little fuzzy, I didn't think to take notes) a third Nac Mac Feegle book (?) and a fourth which I can't remember anything about, except perhaps something vague about winter(?). Anyone who knows can you correct me please?

He told us that Thud was another City Watch book, focussing on Sam Vimes, who attempts to get home each day by six o'clock with the assistance of the Disorganiser Mark 3, so he can read a story to young Sam. The story is 'Where's My Cow', the sort of book with big pictures, few words and digestion friendly pages. You know the sort of thing;

"Where's my cow?"
"Is that my cow?"
"It goes woof. That is not my cow."

"Where's my cow?"
"Is that my cow?"
"It goes oink. That is not my cow."

Sam puts his own twist on this, describing the citizens of the city who he has encountered that day:

"Where's my cow?"
"Is that my cow?"
"It goes Buggerem Millenium hand and shrimp."
"That is not my cow. That is Foul Ol' Ron." etc.

Terry's publisher liked the idea for this, and suggested it as a separate tie-in book to accompany Thud.

Talking about the course of his work, Pterry described getting published for the first time with Carpet People, mentioning in passing that anyone lucky enough to have a copy had something worth a lot of money. One person stuck up their hand, and in response to Pterry's disbelieving "I don't believe it! And you will tell me you picked it up for 5 pound in a car boot sale," he was told, "No, it was 25 pee." "I suppose you are going to want me to sign it now, won't you? Let me guess, make it out to "Lucky Ebay bidder."

He also talked about his fans, and the preconcpetion among the media that every Pratchett fan is a 14 year old boy with glasses named Kevin [the boy, not the glasses - Ed]. At one of the Maskerade balls a reporter attended and gleefully began interviewing the dancers. He eventually returned to Terry practically in tears, with the news that these were real people, with real jobs, many of them earning more than he did. Terry also mentioned that the most fervent fan he knew had the cover of Equal Rites tattooed on their back, and suggested that if anyone ever needed a new cover, then this would be ideal.

He also told of how he used to received packages from devoted fans, in the early days especially; these consisted of a slice of birthday cake, which all went very well until the day of The Great Cake incident. A thoughtful cook added a little extra 'love' to the cake, resulting in PTerry enjoying a trip back to the seventies. "This is a note to all you children out there who did not live through the seventies. Drugs are bad". As he found sitting at his computer, where he experienced a sudden moment of clarity: "That, right, when you think about it all the bits of a word are on the keyboard, and, really that means they're all just stored there, waiting to come out. All the words in the world, every word that's been written, and it's all just waiting to be found and brought out". And cue the Bursar and his dried frog pills.

His editor got in touch one day wanting to know what Terry wanted to do with a package which they had received, and Terry told him to forward it on. Terry got it and opened it to find a knife and a note (cue Swedish Chef sounds): 'Hello. I am Lars, a Swedish knife thrower, and I am your biggest fan. I make all my own knifes, and here I have sent you one as a gift'. And it is a really good knife too. You can throw it and it sticks into things. I keep it beside my computer.

A While later another, larger, package arrived with a note attached. The note was from Lars. "Hello again from your biggest Swedish fan. The Vikings used to have a tradition of cutting women's hair by tying them up by their hair against a wall, and then throwing axes at them to cut the hair. Some of the axes hit, but others missed. I also throw axes, and so I have sent you one of the axes I use, I make them myself".

The question and answer session was begun in the usual manner, as Terry put it, "We all know how this goes, there will be embarrassed silence for about 20 seconds, then someone will raise their... turtle", this last in response to someone waving a large stuffed turtle to get his attention.

It was a great night thanks to a great man. After the talk Terry stayed and signed the books of everybody who waited, the line taking at least two hours until the last person left.

DWM replies: dhat003 gets this month's Letter of the Month.

* From: Steven D'Aprano
Last month Susan Kimber write about her dislike of William de Worde

There are a number of smug and self-satisfied characters in The Truth. Most of them are called Lord de Worde.

I don't see how anyone can call William de Worde smug and self-satisfied. If anything, he is the opposite: far from being self-satisfied, he is absolutely driven by his feelings that he will never be good enough for his father.

Earnest and driven and with a real belief that the truth is important, that is how I would describe him. The closest he comes to being smug is that he is unaware of just how privileged his upbringing was. A more worldly person who knows just what a jungle it is out there would stay out of the situations William walks into. He is not oblivious -- he knows he could get hurt. But he just doesn't realise just how *easily* he could get hurt.

As for him interviewing Granny Weatherwax, yes I'd love to see that too. I think it would be fascinating. William's dedication to the truth is his shield, and I think Granny would respect that even if he used it to stand up to the interfering old baggage.

I suspect that Granny would fight him every inch of the way, she would be the most difficult interview he'd every had, but ultimately she would allow herself to be persuaded to open up.

Granny, I think, would admire William's ability to see things as they really are. To witches that comes naturally. William has to work at it, but he gets there eventually: he isn't fooled by suckrose and akwa. And that respect would be the chink in her armour that would allow Granny the luxury of opening up to William.

Even Granny, I think, would like to share the burden of being Granny for a few moments.

* From: "oliver tully"
As per Steven D'Aprano's letter [last month - Ed], I too have been having the same affliction. I could be reading some well-meaning tale about a hero with arms like a sack full of footballs and a heroine with a couple of melons down the front of her dress, and you suddenly think, "ah, but what will he be like when he's eighty?" Or going through a tale concerning a boy wizard and his magical school and I can't help thinking, "He's brave now, but he may be a bursar when he's older, why are the staff so amiable and why hasn't that librarian more hair?" Some books just lack Mr. Pratchett's insight, originality and detail. I still read however, as I recognise that he, as are others, is in entirely different league, perhaps another type of game entirely. Even Lord of the Rings is not exempt. I keep expecting Rincewind to flee from Gondor, the trailing luggage scaring away the elephants and saving the day inadvertently. Read Robert Rankin and godspeed.

* From: katie mitchell
I was just reading the letter from Isobel about Mr Pratchett being such a good chap and signing everything and not leaving until all is monikered... A few years ago I had a similar experience in a bookshop in Ashford, Kent - her arrived monstrously late as at each previous signing he would not leave until every book, print, hat, breast and rear leg of ant had been signed. I later found out from bookshop staff that he had arrived after 6pm and after about two hours (when staff were wilting through lack of nourishment and an surfeit of happy grinning Pratchetteers) he asked everyone to leave their unsigned books with dedication note, etc, and he would do them all (like homework). He was there until gone 11pm. And the point of this email? My partner has just read the letter, and said, "If he signs everything, does that mean that an UNSIGNED book is rarer therefore worth more for rarity-value??" Think On.

DWM replies: It has become a running joke in the Discworld community that unsigned Discworld books are worth more than signed ones. When book proofs of The Truth were release I understand that around 250 were signed and 200 were unsigned. So in that situation the unsigned ones were more rare. What I found amusing was that somebody parted with a substantial amount of money for an unsigned copy at a Clarecraft event and then had Terry sign it. Making the unsigned ones even rarer.

4. DiscTrivia

This month we continue our series of trivia based on quotes. We provide the quote and you need to guess the character and novel. We would like to thank Peter McElwee for researching and organising these questions.

What does a blackboard monitor do?

Want a bogeyman under your bed, eh?

It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever. Have you thought of going into teaching?

No. but you're a w - !

Put a pointy hat on it and it'd be a faculty member.

The results, as always, appear at the end of this issue.

5. Latin Translation of Thalacephalos

by Veljko B. Petrovic pveljko@sezampro.yu

Well I'm not a classic languages scholar (IANACLS, to coin a new Internet acronym) but a quick rummage through my ancient Greek dictionaries (and a not so quick Internet search) indicated the following:

  1. Thalacephalos does not appear anywhere in the ancient Greek corpus I had access to, nor does it appear anywhere on the net (according to Google).

  2. Thala isn't a standalone word in ancient Greek

  3. Thala is most accurately transliterated into THETA-ALPHA-LAMBDA-ALPHA

  4. Apparently thala (as it is used in the modern speech as a part of, say, thalamus) hails from tha^la^m-e,he (or to write it down more succinctly: thalame) which means a den, lurking place, lair but also means "a body cavity" (used if I recall as a word for the holes in sponges, for nostrils and recesses in the cranial bones). Also a link may be established with the word thalamos (said to be the root of thalamus by the OED) meaning a inner room or chamber.

  5. TAU-ALPHA-LAMBDA-ALPHA is also used as a word prefix and apparently (deciphering the dictionary text is rather difficult) has something to do with "pain, misery exhaustion (as from battle or hard work)".

From this I can gather three possible conclusions:

A) Terry wisely thought about plausible Greek prefixes, coming up with thala- and meaning it to signify emptiness (as in lair, cave, chamber, body cavity). Thus the noble name of Thalacephalos means "empty-head" or "hollow-head".

B) Terry had in mind the TAU-ALPHA-LAMBDA-ALPHA combination and in fact meant for the name to be translated as "weary-head" or more appropriately "nag-head". Incidentally the word TAU-ALPHA-LAMBDA-ALPHA-DASH-EPSILON-RHO-GAMMA-OMICRON-ZETA was used to describe a horse meant for physical labor as opposed to racing... I think.

C) Terry simply choose an Greek sounding word that was somehow cool (Come on, say it: THALACEPHALOS!) and stuck it in the book.

All these theories have two things in common:

1) They explain the known facts.

2) They are completely and utterly wrong. (Well... very nearly certainly so. It's a million to one chance I got this right. EXACTLY a million to one chance)

DWM replies: Christopher Outen kindly provided this alternative solution: Thallus = penis therefore Thalacephalos = dick head.

6. Competitions

Last month we wanted to give away a unique Sandra Kidby designed T-shirt. The T-shirt was a one-off "The Mob" with the text "Discworld Monthly - Hogswatch 2004" on the front and "Oook" on the back.

In order to win this T-shirt we asked the following simple question:

How much does the Feegle Spotting T-shirt cost at (

The correct answer was of course 15 GBP which every one managed to get right. The randomly selected winner of the T-shirt is Edward Best of Northumberland.

For more information about this great range of T-shirts and other Paul Kidby art visit

7. Event: Wincanton - Opening of the Ankh Morpork Post Office

Review by Jason Anthony

The Opening of the Ankh Morpork Post Office took place over the weekend of the 10th, 11th and 12th December, although the main activities took place on the Saturday and Sunday.

Due to family commitments I was unable to leave until early evening on Friday, which meant I met the usual Friday traffic just before I got to Stonehenge. I finally headed into Wincanton where although the shop was closed I met up with some old friends and enjoyed a very nice meal in one of the local hostelries - washed down with a pint or two of cider (it is in Somerset after all).

After the meal we headed up to the Dolphin Inn where DaveH was doing a reptile demonstration. We had the opportunity to see and touch many of Dave's reptiles and spiders including a 14 foot python (unfortunately not called Monty).

After a few more pints in the Dolphin I took a short (and very cheap) taxi ride back to my lodgings. After eating a late and hearty breakfast I was given a lift back into Wincanton - by which time Bernard's shop was heaving. I managed to squeeze my way into the shop to briefly see Bernard (The Cunning Artificer) and Isobel and to get my ticket for that evening's Sausage meal.

I decided to fight my way back out of the shop and to take a look at the traders in the back room of the Dolphin. There were only a few traders at the event and these included the ubiquitous Dave Hodges (selling his usual fare of badges, pendants and copies of his falconry book), Bursar Vixen who were selling glass tankards and giving away free bottles of Convention beer with each glass and Bonsai Trading who were selling everything from Kiss the Cook tea-towels to Discworld audio books. Later in the day, Joe Patterson (of Clarecraft fame) arrived with his collection of walking sticks. These include the now infamous Death's head (the prototype of which sold for over 300 GBP at Wadfest's charity auction in September).

At just before 2pm the main opening ceremony took place. We were all shepherded out of the shop so that the first piece of post could be delivered. Whist we were waiting outside for Morporkia to turn up on a horse drawn carriage, Bernard demonstrated his policing skills (from a previous career) to direct traffic past the obstruction that was a few hundred Discworld fans.

Things got a bit confused then and the next thing I saw was Moist Von Lipwig sprinting down the high street with a letter in hand, whist being followed, not very closely, by two postmen.

Shortly after Terry started a massive signing session in the back room of the Bear. After the signing a Maskerade took place. Once again the costumes looked wonderful but I dislike the trend towards having the contestants do skits. It used to be about the costumes.

I took this opportunity to have a drink in the Dolphin with some friends. At around 7:30 people went their separate ways into the various pubs that were hosting the Sausage supper. After some initial confusion, we found that we were to be seated in the breakfast room of the Dolphin and there we enjoyed a very nice meal with great company.

After the meal we took a short stroll back down to the Bear to witness the charity auction, the proceeds of which went to the local health centre. Before the auction could start, Terry made a presentation to Elizabeth Alway (who produces the excellent Ramtop to Rimfull and runs The Guild of Fans and Disciples (GOFAD)) much to her visible enjoyment / embarrassment.

The charity auction raised an amazing 1650 GBP. Terry did an impromptu book signing before being spirited away.

More drinks were consumed and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. At around midnight I made my way out of pub to wait for a taxi back to my B&B.

Sunday started much like Saturday (but at a more leisurely pace) and I eventually made it back into Wincanton. There are very few events planned for Sunday as many of the guests leave early. The hardcore that stayed behind spent much of the time in either Bernard's shop, the traders' room or the back room of the Bear where people were painting their own!

I managed to spend a little time with Bernard and discussed various stamps and other future ideas (which will become clear with time).

At around four in the afternoon Bernard shooed away the remaining fans and shut up shop. We all made our farewells and headed off to our cars and later the pleasures of the A303.

I had a wonderful relaxed weekend and had the opportunity to meet up with friends both old and new. I heartily recommend trying to get to Bernard's store at one of these events as they really are a lot of fun.

More information can be found at and some photos of the event are at and others at

8. Review: Going Postal - ISIS Audio

by Jason Anthony

I've recently had the pleasure of auditioning ISIS publishing's latest Discworld audio book Going Postal. I am a huge fan of Going Postal (I think it's the best novel Terry has written for some time) so with a mix of excitement and trepidation I started the eleven hour immersion into the recording.

After listening for a few minutes my concerns were dismissed as I let the story flow over me. Stephen Briggs once again proves more than up to the challenge of breathing life into the recording. One wonders just how much time Stephen must spend in ISIS's recording studio (which I understand is not much bigger than a broom cupboard!) to perfect his performance.

Stephen's excellent characterisation means that you can instantly recognise most of the characters just from the inflection and colour in the voices.

Reviewing ISIS's products is always a bit of a challenge because there is usually very little to criticise - and this recording is no exception. It is also hard to talk about the story because that was already done in the novel's review.

I can't recommend listening to these recordings enough because the really are great fun and make a superb alternative to listening to the radio. Just try it and see if you still get road rage.

Going Postal comes on 10 cassettes for 19.99 GBP plus postage and the CD edition comes on 11 discs for 27.99 GBP plus postage. I personally prefer the cassette version at it allows me to pick up the story exactly where I left it. The CD version does however have chapter marks every five minutes.

For information on this and all the other Discworld audio books visit or call the order line on 0800 731 5637 in the UK or +44 (1865) 250 333 for outside the UK.

9. The End

* Contact Information *

We prefer information to be sent via email, but can accept information via fax or post at the following addresses:

Post: J Anthony-Rowlands (DWM), 20 Cambrian Place, Pontarddulais, Swansea, SA4 8RG

* Latest Book Information *

Discworld paperback: Monstrous Regiment 055214941/87

Discworld hardback: Going Postal 0385603428/87

Discworld Young Adult paperback: The Wee Free Men 0552549053/87

Discworld Young Adult hardback: A Hat Full of Sky 0385607369/87

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* Disc Trivia Results *

What does a blackboard monitor do?
Dee, The Ideas Taster - The Fifth Elephant

Want a bogeyman under your bed, eh?
Shlimazel - Hogfather

It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever. Have you thought of going into teaching?
Man in Employment Exchange - Mort

No. but you're a w - !
Carrot - Men at Arms
Put a pointy hat on it and it'd be a faculty member.
Archchancellor Ridcully - Reaper Man

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