Discworld Monthly - Issue 129: January 2008
Table of Contents:
Welcome to issue 129 and the start of a shiny new year. Unless you live on another planet you can't have missed the news that Terry has been diagnosed as having a rare form of early onset Alzheimers. Below is what Terry wrote about it on 11th December 2007.
I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".
We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)
PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.
Then due to the high amount of traffic he was receiving he updated the news with the following on the 12th December.
My good friend Sandra Kidby of PJSM Prints [www.pjsmprints.co.uk] is allowing me to use her website because I am proverbially too busy to run one of my own. We have hardly the time even to read the thousands of messages that have come in here, let alone reply to them, but thank you all.
Could I make a small comment, however? Lots of people are sending me plot ideas. Please, I have a lot of ideas. There is no shortage of ideas and ideas sent to me, even with the very best of intentions, are carefully filleted out of the correspondence before they even get to me. I know they are sent in an effort to help, and I appreciate this, but I advise you not to waste your time.
I am also getting a lot of requests for interviews. I am not giving any because everything I have got to say or that can be said is in the bulletin below. There is no point in saying it again, but in a different order.
Can I remind everybody that I still aten't dead, even today.
Thanks again for all your good wishes.
Discworld Monthly of course wishes Terry all the best and hopes that the world will soon leave him alone a bit so that he can get on with what he enjoys doing most which is writing books.
My apologies if this month's issue is a little shorter than usual. Life has an annoying habit of getting in the way occasionally and this month has proved particularly difficult for me (work getting in the way).
I did however manage to make a few days free at the end of November to go to the Hogswatch event in Wincanton - which was great fun. See section 5 for details.
Hopefully once things have settled normal service will resume. Oh, and Bernard, I will review the Silver Procrastinator next month - I promise - I just couldn't make the time!
It looks like August is going to be busy for events this year. The 2008 Convention takes place from the 22nd - 25th August and Wadfest takes place less than a week later from 29th - 31st August.
I guess lots of people will be in the same boat deciding which event they will be able to go to. I doubt I'd get the time off for both events so will unfortunately have to make a choice as to which event to go to. I expect it will be Wadfest because I find it difficult to justify the cost of going to the Convention. The Convention guys, it has to be said, have done a great job of getting excellent hotel rates but they are just too much for my pocket.
You never know - I may win the lottery before then and make it to both.
Don't forget, if you visit a play or a talk and would like to let the world know about it, please feel free to email your review to email@example.com and we will consider it for publication.
Jason Anthony (Editor) firstname.lastname@example.org
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Better Letter Editor)
From Colin Smythe (CPSmythe@aol.com)
In case you've not seen this:
Terry Pratchett Signing Book Zone interviews Terry Pratchett at his book signing in Cambridge for new novel 'Making Money'.
Brightcove - 50 Newest Videos - www.brightcove.tv/
MAKING MONEY has made the Washington Post Book World's list of the "Best Books of 2007"
Goldmann will be publishing Lu-Tze's Yearbook of Enlightenment as their 2009 diary, as will Talpress, who will also be publishing the illustrated version of Eric.
Karisto (Finland) will be publishing The Last Continent
Dela Vision (Hungary) are acquiring a licence for Soul Music, and Conrad (Brazil) for Small Gods.
In January 2008 Ediciones Altaya in Spain are market testing news-stand editions of The Colour of Magic, Mort, Sourcery, Wyrd Sisters and Pyramids.
Proszynski (Poland) have published the graphic novel of The Colour of Magic, which will be followed by The Light Fantastic. They have also acquired a licence for Night Watch
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.
[UK, Updated] The Broken Drummers is a London Discworld Group that meets once a month on a Monday evening. Membership is free - just come along. New members and visitors to London are both welcome and encouraged.
January's meeting is still to be announced so keep an eye on
www.brokendrummers.co.uk or e-mail email@example.com
[UK, New] St. John's Players will be presenting their production of Wyrd Sisters at St. John's Hall, Canal Street, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, at 7.30 pm, on 31st January, and 1st and 2nd February 2008.
This is the production which had to be postponed from October, due to casting difficulties! Tickets are 5GBP, and 4GBP for concessions, available from Liz on 0115 9724182, or Gordon, on 0115 9732265.
[UK] The Discworld Convention 2008 will take place at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham from 22nd to 25th August 2008.
For more information visit: www.dwcon.org/
[UK, New] Wadfest 2008 will take place on the 29th - 31st August 2008. Tickets cost 15 GBP for adults with children under 16 free when accompanied by a paying adult).
For more information visit: www.wadfest.co.uk/
[US] The First North American Discworld Convention will take place from September 4-7, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.
For more information visit
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David Keisler firstname.lastname@example.org writes: The Disc World Fan Group at www.hi5.com is in need of a lot of new members. Please pass this on and help me to get this group up and going again. You can look for Shepherd or the "Discworld fans" group.
Dan email@example.com writes: In case anyone plays Guild Wars and would like to join a Discworld Guild thought would be a good idea to email you. The guild is called The Hogfather and Death (MORT), guild hall has been picked to fit that theme as well. If anyone is interested can contact me in game as "Luggage Rincewind" or "Dan Mocha".
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The best letter of the month will receive a Kiss the Cook print supplied as by Bonsai Trading. Sadly Bonsai Trading is no longer trading but John Pagan has supplied me a parcel of prints to give away. As soon as I source some suitable packing tubes I will resume sending out the prints.
* From: "Nina Franklyn" email@example.com
Like thousands (millions?) of others I am deeply dismayed by the news on Terry Pratchett's health and wish him all the best. I have loved the Discworld books for years - the humour, the plots, the characters, the references to science and literature; all combine to create something stunningly brilliant and totally accessible to all ages.
It is more than time that TP is awarded with something more than an OBE - and when you consider some of the duffers who get awarded a knighthood it seems more than appropriate that 'Sir Terence Of The Black Hat' should kneel before Her Maj :)
Actually I am quite serious - all the DW fans could get behind this and start writing letters nominating him. I think we should send them to the Prime Minister but someone may know better.
Please give this idea your most serious consideration and decide whether you would like to use your newsletter to start the ball rolling and whether there are others I could approach with this idea.
DWM replies: Nina gets this month's Letter of the Month.
* From: "Trevor Agnew" firstname.lastname@example.org
Discworld enthusiasts are never surprised by the way that the affairs of our planet echo those of Discworld.
Cut My Own Throat Dibbler, the itinerant pie-seller is no exception - he always seems familiar. So familiar, in fact, that he pops up on page 228 of 'The Complete Pompeii' by Joanne Berry, Thames & Hudson, 2007, ISBN 978-0-500-05150-4
I was intrigued by the colour illustration of a gilded bronze statuette found in Pompeii. It is the figure of a shouting, bearded man holding a tray, and it was one of four, probably used to serve food at a banquet. The caption describes them as 'placentarii: itinerant pie-sellers'.
Not convinced that this is a Dibbler? The picture shows the pie-seller is holding his right hand to his throat!
What's the latin for Cut My Own Throat?
* From: bri derbyshire email@example.com
PRATCHETT PERCEIVED at PATRICK'S PERSEID PARTY!!
The Perseid meteor shower happens every August, and Sir Patrick Moore hosts a viewing night in his garden, away dahn sahth in Selsea. This year the BBC recorded a Sky at Night special, and topically broadcast it .... in November. (Bloody Arts graduates!)
Among the guests were one Brian May, now "Dr." of that ilk .... and our hero Terry Pratchett. Some may remember his presence at the SaN 50th birthday bash, too. (Some people get all the luck. It can't just be research - we already know Great A'Tuin's method of dealing with incoming debris.)
Keep watching the skies .... or your screens .....!
DWM replies: Terry wrote a few words about this on the PJSMPrints
website back in August. For more details and a couple of pictures
* From: "David Liu" firstname.lastname@example.org
After looking closely at the cover of Making Money, I found out that Death is in the background, in a "Where's Wally" style. I'm not sure if he was actually that hard to find in the first place, or I am mentally challenged, but he seemed well hidden, especially with Moist in a gold suit attracting the eye. I hope this observation enlightens readers, even in the slightest, to always look for Wally.
* From: Brigette Lee email@example.com
I have for a number of years thoroughly enjoyed your news letter. It has been a very informative news letter and I can appreciate the effort that goes into it. Not only in the info but also in the way you guys travel all over the place and all the conventions you visit. Lucky you!!
I have just recently been very annoyed by two e-mails that have been submitted to the news letter by fellow Discworld fans. One was by some South African that was going on about reaffirmative action and Nelson Mandela. I took offence at that because I am a South African and do not agree with his viewpoints. I was very irritated that a news letter about a fantasy story allows political nonsense into the news letter. Now in this months addition I have to read about some gay guys sexual fantasy. Well, if he wants to read about gay action then he must start reading other books!
I would appreciate if we could just get back to what this news letter used to be and not get people involved with political stuff and their sexual preferences. If this nonsense carries on then I am going to unsubscribe from this newsletter. I did not sign up to hear other peoples idiotic opinions - unless they seriously have something to do with Discworld.
A most disgruntled fan,
DWM replies: We received a lot of negative mail last month over our choice of Letter of the Month with several people getting quite offensive - fortunately the most offensive ones also took the opportunity to un-subscribe.
We like to include a broad range of letters and sometimes these will challenge views. We've always like to think that Discworld fans are intelligent people that will discuss things in an adult way. Unfortunately this view got badly tarnished last month by a small vocal minority.
Having re-read the letters of last month I stand by our decision to award Letter of the Month the way we did - if you don't like our choices then fine, you always have the option to un-subscribe.
* From: "Raye Johnsen" firstname.lastname@example.org
I read Jamie White's letter on the lack of gay characters in Discworld, and while I sympathise with him, he's not correct. There is, in fact, an established gay couple in the Discworld canon - Lofty and Tonker, in 'Monstrous Regiment'. It is also worth noting that most readers, when the subject comes up, comment on the strong connection between Maladict and Polly, also in 'Monstrous Regiment', which could easily be seen as a developing relationship.
It's true that these four characters are female, rather than male, but Lofty and Tonker are very definitely gay and together, so there are definitely gays on Discworld. So who knows? Maybe one day soon, Reg Shoe will get a boyfriend!
* From: "Gisli Bergmann" email@example.com
Don't know if people know this but Iceland is now joing the great many countries that have translated a book by Terry Pratchet. That's right a nation of only 300.000 people think its worthwhile to publish a Discworld novel and hopefully this will only be the start. Now I just have to wait for Christmas and then I'll be sitting down with some nice Christmas ale and the Colour of Magic in my own language (just hope the translation is good).
DWM replies: Let us know. We would like to find out how well Terry's work translates into Icelandic.
This month I'm asking questions about The Fifth Elephant.
- What is Angua's brother called?
- Who finds his inner wolf?
- Whose trousers does Sam Vimes wear?
- a) Grandpa Ivan
- b) Uncle Vanya
- c) Cousin Vinney
- d) Sister Mary
- What name upset Angua's parents?
- What secret does Lady Ramkin want to tell Sam?
The results, as always, appear at the end of this issue.
Reviewed by Jason Anthony.
The end of November brought a couple of hundred fans from far and wide together in Wincanton, Somerset. The event was the annual Hogswatch event that Bernard and Co have been running for the last few years.
The main events take place on Saturday and Sunday but a lot of fans turn up during the day on Friday. Whilst there are no activities organised there is a chance to spend your well earned cash in the shop and to eat, drink and be merry in the various inns and restaurants.
I chose to have a very nice curry with a few friends (about 30 of us took over most of the restaurant) before heading off to the pub. As we were tired we chose to get some take-outs and have an early night. At nearly 2 in the morning we decided that probably wouldn't happen!
On Saturday we heading back into town to see what activities were planned. The memorial hall had been booked and many stalls had been setup with various organisations trying to pry you from your money with shiny things to purchase.
A room off the main hall had been set aside to entertain the younger fans and volunteers helped the children with a variety of craft activities.
Terry was kind enough to do a book signing and it generated some quite long queues. I didn't have any books that needed signing so I had an enjoyable drink and chat with friends in the pub instead.
The Maskerade was again very impressive with some wonderful costumes on display and then the Hogfather gave out presents from the Secret Hogfather that had been arranged on the Discworld Stamps forum.
After the Secret Hogfather we started preparing for the charity auction and then set off to our various pubs for the sausage supper.
We then headed back to the hall for the auction where over 1600 GBP was raised for an umbrella charity organisation and 170 GBP was raised for the local museum. Some notable items were boxed bits of bark liberated from location shooting of The Colour of Magic. These were authenticated by Terry as "soil of the homeland". Also from The Colour of Magic were two pieces of roof rescued from the Broken Drum when it was blown up.
After sorting out all the auction monies we headed back to The Dolphin for some liquid refreshment.
Sunday morning started with the now traditional football match. This time, however, for a reason known only to the organizers the ball was make of taped up bubble wrap and all the players were also wrapped in bubble wrap. There were four teams and therefore two rounds to find the eventual winners. It was an interesting way to play football and I managed to pick up a foot injury! I really shouldn't get involved in these type of activities. The team I was in came second overall and were rewarded with "not winners" badges created by everyone's favourite special jeweller, Barry.
I wandered back to the shop and spoke briefly to Bernard before making a slow getaway. My foot was hurting and I still had a two hour drive to contend with.
I had an excellent time and can't wait to go back again in May.
I have uploaded a few photos to my Picasa account:
Last month Bernard "The Cunning Artificer" Pearson asked:
Terry has worn one since 1992, where can you find them now? A clue: well, it will be in view when he autographs his books.
We received an interesting range of answers but the one we were looking for is his Death Ring. Not his Hat, Beard or apparently surgical support!
While Terry's ring is gold, the prize will be in argent of course. The randomly selected winner is Helen Rodwell of Flintshire.
I'll pass on your details to Bernard who will get in contact with you.
Don't forget to check out Bernard's Cabinet of Curiosities on www.thecabinetofcuriosities.co.uk What is offered is mostly harmless, may contain nuts, and should provide amusement, if not a bit of seasonal magic.
Reviewed by Julia Nenova Jnenova@havering-college.ac.uk
A very pleasant night out was had by all concerned - by all I mean 2 Pratchett Fans and their partners.
After driving to a friend's house for dinner and a glass of wine we then drove through the wilds of Essex, well the back roads to Basildon, to The Towngate Theatre near the centre of the town.
Of course we were a bit early so we had to have another drink in the Theatre Bar before collecting our pre-booked tickets and entering the packed auditorium.
There was very little scenery but that was made up for by the enthusiasm of the actors. The cast was quite small and several people had to double up but that was fine as it was clear who they were meant to be. The dragon was represented by coloured light, sounds of flapping wings and then the stage being completely blacked out.
One really interesting addition was the personification of the footnotes from the novel, acted out by a female carrying a long pole with a footnote sign at the top and a klaxon - which was a bit irritating. I particularly liked the portrayal of Sam Vimes - the actor really showed clearly Sam's drunkenness at the beginning, his cynicism in the middle and his gaucherie whilst trying to conduct a relationship with Sybil. I was a bit disappointed by Sybil's outfit - a pair of denim dungarees - I was expecting tweeds and wellies, but this did not detract from the role. Nobby Nobbs had a great laugh which elicited humour from the audience.
The disintegration of the villain of the piece was also clearly presented to the audience, and his 'accidental' death was also greeted by laughter.
It was all very well done and I did not have to explain anything to my partner, who is a non-Pratchett fan.
I will certainly take another trip to the wilds of Essex next year if The Thalians put on another Pratchett.
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* Disc Trivia Results *
- What is Angua's brother called?
- Who finds his inner wolf?
- Whose trousers does Sam Vimes wear?
- b) Uncle Vanya
- What name upset Angua's parents?
- What secret does Lady Ramkin want to tell Sam?
- That she is pregnant.
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