Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 152: December 2009

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Review: Nation at the National
6. Review: The First Ever Irish Discworld Convention!
7. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 152. So here we are again at the end of another year. We would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy Hogswatch.

This month I have visited London to see Nation at the National Theatre (see section 5 for my review) and will be heading down to Wincanton at the weekend to join in the feastivities at the annual Hogswatch event.

Terry's powerful and moving documentary, Living with Alzheimer's, has just won the Bafta Scotland award for best factual series. Terry's PA Rob picked up the award on Terry's behalf.

If you ask Rob nicely enough he might even show you the picture of him receiving the award.

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 and we will consider it for publication.

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Card Sharp)

2. News

Only You Can Save Mankind - The Album is out now. The suprising hit of the Ediburgh Fringe a couple of years ago has been made into a studio album. You can listen to the first six tracks at:

or via Itunes at:

The Librarian has got a new best friend. Suryia the orangutan became friends with Roscoe, a Blue Tick hound, when they crossed paths at a South Carolina preserve for endangered animals. Now they swim together, play together and Suryia even takes the dog for his walks.

Terry gets a mention in the Telegraph's Top Ten Internet Rules and Laws. Item 10 on the list is: The Law of Exclamation which quotes Terry as saying 'five exclamation marks is an indicator of "someone who wears their underwear on the outside"'.

New Scientist recently included an interview with Terry at his home.


You can find out more about the theatre adaptation of Nation by visiting the National Theatre on Wednesday 16th December at 6pm where playwright Mark Ravenhill and director Melly Still discuss the process of bringing the novel to the stage.

Tickets cost 3.50 GBP (2.50 GBP concessions).

The National Theatre will also run an interview with Terry on Tuesday 19th January at 6pm. Terry will talk about his work and Nation's journey to the stage.

Finally if you are unable to make it to London to see Nation, the National Theatre's NT Live program will be broadcasting Nation to venues around the world on 30th January.

The website allows you to find your closest venue:

In an interview for the Telegraph Melly Still Nation's director was asked what she thought of Terry's books. Her suprising reply was: "They don't appeal to me in the slightest I'm afraid,"

Mark Ravenhill Nation's playright then added: "That fantasy world isn't really my kind of thing."

You can read more at:

Melly Still appears in an article for What's On Stage about Nation. In this article she talks more about how she and Mark Ravenhill went about the process of adapting the novel for stage.

The Telegraph has a review of Nation on its website at:

The theatre adaptation has generally not recieved great reviews from the press. The BBC Entertainment website includes a round up of serveral reviews.

The Telegraph has declared Nation as their Family Book of the Month for October 2009.

Terry will be at the Guardian Book Club on 14th December at Kings Place, London to discuss Unseen Academicals.

Tickets are 9.50 GBP online/11.50 GBP from the box office and can be bought direct from Kings Place at or by calling 020 7520 1490. Event details:

Date: Monday 14 December
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: Hall One, Kings Place, London

Terry's literary agent Colin Smythe recently presented Trinity College Dublin's Library and the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies with a complete back-catalogue of Terry's works, in all languages published:

The British Humanist Society has a video of Terry talking about assisted dying on their You Tube channel.

Terry was recently interviewed by Irish radio station Newstalk about Alzheimer's desease while visiting the Irish Discworld Convention.

Blogger Marg has created their first reading challenge and has chosen Terry as their prefered author. So if you would like to take part in the Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge head over to:

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.

[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.

December's meeting will be on Monday 7th December at The Monkey Puzzle, Paddington, London, W2 1JQ.


[AU, Updated] The Drummers Downunder, the Sydney sister of the Broken Drummers will have their next meeting on Monday 7th December from 7pm at Maloneys on the corner of Pitt & Goulburn Streets (across the road from World Square), Sydney, Australia. Visitors to Sydney are also very welcome. For more information please contact Sim Lauren

[US, New] Osceola Community Theatre is holding auditions for their production of Wyrd Sisters on Dec 7 and 8 at 7PM at 311 S Apple Rd, Osceola, Indiana USA. For more info please call 574-299-6895.

The production should take place in February 2010. More details when we get them.

[UK, New] Tower Theatre Company will be performing Maskerade at the Bridewell Theatre, Fleet Street.

Performances start at 7.45 pm from Tuesday 8th - Saturday 12th December with a Matinee at 3 pm on Saturday 12th December.

and also at:

Theatro Technis, Camden Town. Performances start at 7.45 pm from Tuesday 15th - Friday 18th December with a Matinee at 3 pm on Saturday 19th December.

Ticket Prices at both venues 11 GBP standard tickets (9 GBP concessions/members).

[US, New] Osceola Community Theatre will be performing Wyrd Sisters on February 19th, 20th, 26th and 27th at 7PM and February 21st and 28th at 1PM (Sunday Matinee shows) at 311 S Apple Rd, Osceola, Indiana, USA. For more info and ticket information please visit

[UK, Updated] Straight From the Heart Productions will be presenting "Carpe Jugulum" at the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, High Street, Glastonbury BA6 9DU from April 14-17, 2010. Doors open at 7:30 for an 8 pm start. Tickets will be available from Gothic Image, Glastonbury, or email ANICECUPOFTEAANDBISCUITS@GMAIL.COM.

[UK, New] Waterside Theatre Company - based at Holbury, near Southampton in Hampshire will be our performing their fourth Pratchett/Briggs production, this time Maskerade.

The show is on from 20th - 22nd May 2010 at Waterside Theatre Holbury.

Waterside Theatre Company have won awards for all three of their Discworld productions but their most successful was Guards! Guards! which won Best Newcomer for Carrot, Best Set and Props, Best Lighting and Effects and Production of the Year in the Southern Daily Echo Curtain Call Awards!

More information at:

[UK] Wadfest 2010 takes place from 20th - 22nd August 2010 at Trentfield Farm, Notts.

[UK] The 2010 Discworld Convention will take place from 27th - 30th August 2010 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel.

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 whistle tunes from Super Mario Bros.

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 as by Bonsai Trading. Sadly Bonsai Trading is no longer trading but John Pagan has kindly supplied me with a number of prints to give away.

* From: "Mal Aziz"
Love the newsletter, first time I read it I noticed I just missed pterry's visit to Bulimba in Brisbane by two days. Anyway to my question. Does anybody know if pterry is a Andrew Vachss fan and if the reference to Altogether Andrews 8th personality Burke in "The Truth", the one personality nobody wants to see appear, is a reference to Andrew Vachss's character Burke from the Burke series?

* From: "Leonard Heidebrecht"
Having just read (and re-read) Unseen Academicals, I am reminded of how amazing a researcher is Terry, for this year is the centenary of the re-forming and re-regulating of American football.

In 1905, 26 players across America were reported to have died on the field or as a direct result of the then brutal tactics and attitudes employed. Deaths on the field while tragic were almost considered a part of the game until the outraged American public, including then US president Teddy Roosevelt, demanded safety and ball movement changes to the game which first came about five years later.

Canadian football, played on a larger field and involving slightly different passing rules and downs, never became as deadly in proportion to the American game. It should be noted that we prefer the spilling of blood on ice rather than a field.

* From: "Jacqueline Simpson"
This is almost certainly the wrong kind of question, and the answer will quite certainly be incomprehensible. But still --- why does the Cabinet of Curiosities have these precise mathematical constraints on the size of its drawers and the time that objects are allowed to be outside the drawers?

As eleven dimensions are mentioned, I have a nasty suspicion that String Theory is lurking somewhere.

* From:
Hi, I've recently purchased an ebook reader and I am keen to purchase copies of my favourite Discworld novels to download. (Nothing will replace the joy of lifting a TP from the shelf but as I regularly [read] a book a day on holiday I am struggling with the weight factor so an ebook reader is the ideal solution). As of yet I have not found them stocked on any of the usual online book suppliers so I can only assume that the publishers have not yet released them in this version. Could any one tell me if TP's works are likely to be distributed in this way? Thankyou Ally

p.s I am resisting the temptation to read Unseen Academicals as I have a holiday coming up and will be carrying this with me!!!

* From: "Chris Drew"
Hi, Does anybody know if there are plans to release the Discworld series in an eBook format?

If so, it might give me just the excuse I'm looking for to buy myself a Sony reader.

* From:
Are any of Terry Pratchett's books (especially the Discworld series) available in electronic format?

HTML form is preferred as anyone with a web browser can read the book, no matter what the computer Operating System is.

DWM replies: OK, it looks like there's a market for Terry's books in bBook format. I believe the the last two books were released as eBooks in the States but not in the UK.

* From: "Nathan Rose"
In response to Archi Buse's question in DWM 151 about Terry's "Golden suit" uniform of black clothing, beard and hat, I suggest you get a copy of 'Once More* With Footnotes' and read Terry's essay about being an Author With A Hat and, at other times, A Man Without A Hat.

And then read the rest of OM*WF, as it's a brilliant book.

DWM replies: Nathan get this month's Letter of The Month.

I have just finished reading Unseen Academicals - quite simply, it's wonderful. This is even though it's about football and I only really like rugby union of course, being Welsh.

More power to your elbow and everything else Terry and thank you for all your wonderful books.

Yours, Marianne Williams aka "The Dragon Queen" aka "She who Must be Obeyed.

(I'm the secretary of the Dragonriders Motorcycle Club, from Mold, North Wales)

* From: "Joanna Richards"
Further to threepot900's letter in the last (excellent!) newsletter regarding references to Sir TP in other books, I have just finished reading Rude Awakenings, A Tale of Terra Infirma by Jonathan Eaves, in which the author makes one or two passing remarks which are obviously inspired by the Discworld.

In one, when describing Chester, a librarian, he states that he is '...incredibly ordinary i.e. not overly hirsute, does not have a face like an outsized inner tube and doesn't possess hands that look like leather gloves...' and elsewhere, when explaining how a cat came to have three legs, it apparently involved '...a terrible accident involving a scythe, a tall chap in a robe, and a bad case of misidentification!'

But the cheekiest reference of all is definitely a spoof quotation in praise of the novel which appears on the back cover and which declares the book to be 'funny, clever, a right rollicking read', the quotation being attributed to 'Terry Pratchett. No, not that Terry Pratchett; this one's a bus driver and he lives in Crewe!'

4. DiscTrivia

This month I'm asking some questions about Mena at Arms.

Who is the most dangerous man in the world?
Who laid out the Gardens of the Patrician's palace?
Whos is Vimes's butler?
a) Wilkins
b) Willikins
c) Walkins
d) Dorkins
Which member of the fools guild had been seriously hit on the back of the head and then stuck under a bridge?
Who was the first Dwarf (by Birth) in the Night Watch?

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

5. Review: Nation at the National.

Reviewed by Jason Anthony

I went to the first preview night of Nation at the National Theatre, London on Wednesday 11th November. The show runs at the National until March 2010.

I'm going to mention some plot elements in this review so if you've not read Nation please look away now!

The play starts very suddenly with Mau shouting as he embeds the axe into the tree on the boys' island. Then the tsunami storm breaks and Mau is back on the Nation island but everyone appears to be alive. It quickly becomes clear that the islanders are just ghosts and the play returns to the book's story.

As someone who knows the story I was really confused by the beginning and I can't imagine anyone that hasn't read the book having a clue what was going on.

The stage features a large turntable holding the top section of a globe that rotates throughout the play and allows the action to move quickly from one scene to the next. The boat scenes are well executed. The Sweet Judy crashing into the island was done by having a large sheet lifted by members of the cast with one holding a model ship. When underwater scenes were required slow motion video was projected up onto large screens at the back of the stage.

The performances of the two leads, Gary Carr and Emily Taaffe, are excellent and the attempts at communication between them are very funny. The rest of the cast are very good as well. Jason Thorpe who plays the Parrot, dressed in a corset and multi-colour bustle, gets most of the best lines - usually by swearing in amusing ways.

The story moves along at a reasonable rate but the problem is, that it isn't quite Terry's story. The dialogue is familiar but different. Mark Ravenhill who adapted the book felt it necessary to rewrite nearly all of Terry's dialogue. For me this is the weakest part of Nation. The play feels Nation-shaped but it's just not Nation the brilliantly written book.

I felt that the play could do with a better start that explained what was going on more clearly. There are some bits of the book that are missing and some bits in the play that I felt were unnecessary. I really wonder what people who have not read the book will make of the play. I did enjoy it and would recommend it but just remember that it's very much an adaptation.

6. Review: The First Ever Irish Discworld Convention!

Reviewed by Kelley Salter

It came and went so fast and all I have is the hangover! Well and the stuff I got in the auction and the gopher T-shirt and my goody bag - ok, ok, I have a lot of stuff to remember it by as well as all the lovely photos on the website - yipee!

Everybody on arrival would check in to their room and then register for the convention. When you registered you got a lovely goody bag which included the brochure with everything you needed to know about the con. Also the rules and policies, info on guests that were coming and the all important timetable, pluse a gift token to claim a free gift at the dealers table.

A few things had already happened before I got there: the Undead Monkey Party happened from 9am till 12 noon and then the briefings started. There was an hour on how you discovered Discworld, a Klatch with Jack Cohen and the dealers room was open from 3pm. The opening ceremony was in the lovely main hall at 7pm where the committee was introduced by Bernard and they ran though everything that was happening in the con.

The first round of the Unseen University Challenge was after this. I gophered and had to keep score, aahhh maths! It was close half way through but one team steamed ahead in the end, winning 105 - 65. Then as we were in Ireland we had a Cheilli, (sorry cant find how to put the foder on the E). This is an Irish dance and was opened with some of the children showing us how it should be done, as children always do it best. Lots of fun was had trying to keep in time and work out who had to be where. This concluded the opening day.

I had a nice lay-in the following day but the people who had signed up for the Maskerade had to be at rehearsals at 9am, poor things. Bernard's ramblings were in the main hall and we all know how he can ramble on. UU Challenge rounds were happening as well as the Klatch with Diane and Peter, two of the guests of honour. There were a few other quizzes going on and a talk about life outside the Discworld.

The afternoon show was at 2pm and all important Terry was arriving today! He didn't have long to settle in though, as the TV show Nationwide interviewed him and then there was a Klatch at 4pm for the lucky people who were picked. Also the first book signing started at 5pm which was very packed but the Watch kept order. The Maskerade started at 8pm where the contestants did their stuff and were judged for their efforts. There was a few Watchmen, Otto showed off his iconograph, Which Witch was acted out, there was also a group of UNblack ribboners including an Igor! And of course the LADY was there! There was a photo op while the judges deliberated, which can be seen at and they are well worth a look. I think that the UNblack ribboners won overall but Otto's iconograph I think stole the show. Then a Disco to finish the night off.

Sunday already - it can't be! I missed most of this morning as I spoiled myself with breakfast in bed. But there were a few things going on: the quizzes as always, another chance for a Klatch with Jack Cohen, a writers workshop and another Terry signing. There was a competition going on to see who could be the best 'man in the hat' and during the signing one of the contestants swapped places with Terry and he had to deal with Terry being the crazy fan! The charity auction was moved forward to Sunday as some people were leaving. All went well in the end and the auction raised nearly 4000 Euro. The UU Challenge semi-finals also happened today as well as a Klatch with Bernard and Terry (though not together).

The most important thing was the interview with the guest of honour where he talked about his visit to Trinity college, mostly the library and what he enjoys about Ireland. The Oswald dinner was at 8pm with a reception before hand. This was very well set up and looked beautiful and Terry gave a speech to start the proceedings. The food was lovely and the staff were very nice and quick as we all wanted to get to the awards! I didn't make a note of who won what but I think you can all guess who won best 'man in the hat'. There was a dance after the award with a live band.

Monday can't be the last day - oh hang on, Terry said he is staying another day, yipee! I had my train ticket booked so couldn't stay but many people did. There was still plenty going on including Klatches with Diane & Peter as well as Colin Smythe, also lots of quizzes and the final of the UU Challenge in the main hall. Again, it was a close match but the Tooth Fairy Fancies / McD's won 275 - 90 which meant they took on the celeb panel! The Celebs lost 130 - 70 to the Tooth Fairy / McD's so all is right with the world! While I was waiting in the rain for my train there was the closing ceremony which judging the rest of the con would have been real fun. The Undead Monkey Party closed the con and while the timetable says it ended at 11pm, I'm sure that was pushed to its limits - we are Irish after all.

The whole event was very well organised and seemed to run smoothly so I'd like to say well done to Mary-Ellen, Sheila and Nicola as well as all the committee who arranged everything and were so welcoming. Everybody enjoyed the con and looks forward to meeting up again in a few years, so get planning girls!

7. The End

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* Disc Trivia Results *

Who is the most dangerous man in the world?
Leonard of Quirm
Who laid out the Gardens of the Patrician's palace?
Bloody Stupid Johnson
Whos is Vimes's butler?
b) Willikins
Which member of the fools guild had been seriously hit on the back of the head and then stuck under a bridge?
Who was the first Dwarf in the Night Watch?
Lance-Constable Cuddy.

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