Discworld Monthly - Issue 160: August 2010
Table of Contents:
3. Readers' Letters
5. Review: I Shall Wear Midnight
6. Going Postal Original Artwork Competition Result
7. I Shall Wear Midnight Competition
8. Article: The Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness - Part 1
9. The End
Welcome to issue 160. This month sees two big Discworld events in the UK: first up is Wadfest from 20th - 22nd August and then the Convention takes place a week later from 27th to 30th August.
Sadly I can't afford to go to the Convention but will be at Wadfest - which as usual promises to be a great event.
August also sees the UK release of the DVD and BluRay of Going Postal, the 2011 Discworld calendar and the worldwide release of the excellent latest Tiffany Aching novel I Shall Wear Midnight.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will consider it for publication.
Jason Anthony (Editor) email@example.com
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (Model Son-In-Law)
The Guardian newspaper gave Going Postal a great review, stating: "... when I am President of the World this is how every Sunday and bank holiday Monday teatime will be - great slabs of fabulous telly smothered in lashings of Pratchett jam" and "It's all boundlessly clever, joyful and exuberant". You can read the review at: discworldmonthly.co.uk?redir=POSTAL160
Thanks to all your votes last month, Terry won the Brit Writers' Award: Published Writer of the Year Award for Nation.
Terry will be a guest at the Chiswick Festival. The festival will run from 17th to 19th September and will be based at at St Michael and All Angels Church and Parish Hall in Chiswick.
A new version of the Discworld Reading Order Guide 2.0 updated for 2010 and featuring a new, illustrated design has been made available.
Krzysztof Kietzman, the author of the revised guide, states: "I know that the reading order of Discworld novels is not limited to the version I created in the Guide and, to say the truth, I personally prefer to read them in the chronological order, but the Guide is intended for those fans who wish to try a different approach to the novels."
You can get the new version from here: discworldmonthly.co.uk?redir=LSPACE160A
L-Space also features some older versions and non-English versions of the Guide at: www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/
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.
[AU, Updated] The Drummers Downunder, the Sydney sister of the Broken Drummers, will have their next meeting on Monday 2nd August 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
[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.
The next meeting will be on Monday 2nd August at The Monkey Puzzle, Paddington, London, W2 1JQ.
[UK, New] Chorlton Players will be performing Wyrd Sisters between Thursday 12th August - Saturday 14th August at the Church Hall on St Werburgh's Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 0TL. Doors open at 7.10pm with the show starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost 6.00 GBP each (4.00 GBP concessions) and are available in advance at www.chorltonplayers.com or on the door.
[UK] Wadfest 2010 the premiere Discworld camping event 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.
[UK, New] The Thalian Theatre Company will be performing Carpe Jugulum from 10th to 13th November 2010 at the Mirren Studio, Towngate Theatre, Basildon, Essex. If you have any booking enquiries, please email Jacqui at email@example.com
[AU] The third Australian Discworld Convention will be held on 8th, 9th and 10th April 2011 at the Penrith Panthers conference centre in Penrith, NSW.
Keep checking in at
ausdwcon.org/events The website has been
updated with hotel information and lots more registration is now
open at early bird prices, but full prices for registration come
into effect on 1st July.
Now available - Promotional merchandise featuring our stylish logo by graphic animator Rhianna Williams. www.zazzle.com.au/nullus_anxietas
[US] NADWCon2011 planning is underway. The dates of the new con will be July 7-12, 2011, and the location will be the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club, in Madison, Wisconsin.
[DE] The German Discworld Convention 2011 will take place from 30th September to 3rd October 2011. Assassins will roam the halls of Castle Bilstein but they promise not to harm visitors of the 3rd German Discworld Convention during that time (except when contracted).
Registration has now started and there is an early booker gift if you register before the end of this year.
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.
Mark Ayling who created the wonderful Iconograph and Death's Clock a few years ago recently got in contact to let me know that he has dusted off his old acrylic paints and started painting again.
Mark is available for commissions such as theatre programme covers, illustrations, whatever really. Mark has done quite a lot of illustration in the past for posters, programmes and books so can turn his hand to most things.
Mark is also still able to repair damaged Clarecraft figurines.
To contact Mark visit www.wizardofthewoods.com/
If you have any letters or comments, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 in strange or amusing ways...
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: "Gail" email@example.com
I have been looking for a similar pair or identical boots to Adorabelle's boots ever since I saw Going Postal. I will be unable to bid on the auction, even if knew which con they would be available at :)
Is it possible for you to find out/let me know where the boots came from. Made for the film or off the shelf.
I do live in the UK so Soho might be a possibility :)
I am sure this will not be the only email on the subject lol
Also love the reporter's purple coat :)
Yours hopefully with thanks
DWM replies: I am sure I read that the shoes came from a shop in Soho. We'll supply more details if we can verify this.
* From: "Katy Jennison" firstname.lastname@example.org
Last month you included the following information about Book Drum:
The bookdrum has turned its attention to Good Omens. The bookdrum
takes a novel and supplements it with photos news, annotations,
reviews etc. You can spend an enjoyable couple of hours finding
out all about Good Omens at:
So I log on to the site, and I get to page two or thereabouts, and I find the Book Drum quoting:
Page 41. " I normally have to help with the White Elephant."
and offering the following explanations:
"A "White Elephant" is something that costs more to maintain than it is worth. This stems from Thailand and Burma where the white elephant was seen as a sacred animal and was not used for labour, thus could not pay for the cost of its maintenance.
"The term is also used for a party game, the White Elephant Gift Exchange, where players compete against each other for a selection of gifts."
Dearie dearie me. Have these people never rummaged through the mixture of rubbish and treasures on a White Elephant stall at a village fete? Where do they come from, America or somewhere? Party game, indeed!
DWM replies: I wonder if the White Elephant stall is a particularly English invention. Katy get this month's Letter Of The Month. I received a second email from Katy to say that the editor at Book Drum updated the listing to include this British definition. Speaking of which...
* From: "Hector Macdonald" email@example.com
Many thanks for your kind mention of Book Drum in your last newsletter, which brought a phenomenal number of new visitors to our nascent site. We've even made a couple of corrections to the profile as a result of their helpful correspondence!
Of course, Good Omens is not a Discworld novel, and as yet none has been profiled on Book Drum. If any of your subscribers would like to rise to the challenge, explaining all the in-jokes and references in Mort, say, or any other favourite title, we'd be overjoyed to see more Pratchett humour leavening the over-representation of serious classics we currently have.
Editor, Book Drum,
* From: "Charles Simmons" firstname.lastname@example.org
It is not often that I have the exquisite pleasure of reading the "work" of such a non-productive space filler as Rod Liddle. There. I'm sure that'll set the tone.
First I'd like to make it clear that I as a matter of course always attend movies that have been panned by the critics, who mostly seem to miss the point that entertainment needn't necessarily be edu-inspirational.
Also, to establish, or at least claim, my bona fides, I must admit to having read with pleasure nearly everything from the Holy Bible to the backs of breakfast cereal boxes. As an indiscriminate devourer of verbiage I must say that I'm amazed at Mr. Liddle's attempt to sneer approvingly. What gall. An honest advocate would not be so tempted to cover his, er, postern.
And now that I think of it, perhaps Rod's reaching out, trying to connect without loss of pride. Or maybe he's just a twit.
* From: "Bri Derbyshire" email@example.com
For those who think they're missing something - and you probably are, I missed at least half the references in "Soul Music" - I heartily recommend Leo Breebaart's APF. Go to www.lspace.org/books/apf/ and be prepared for a mix of erudition and giggles. It's not up to date, alas - is there a webmeister listening who'd be willing to handle a Part Two? Attached to DWM seems an eminently sensible place to put it .....
* From: "Robert Williams" firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't recall if it was ever mentioned that the clown museum in Terrys Men At Arms does actually exist in the Roundworld. It used to be in London, but is now in Somerset. The website is here:
Possibly not a site to be seen by small children [or those afflicted with Coulrophobia - Ed]
DWM replies: Two of my wife's uncles are professional clowns and can be found listed on that site.
* From: "Stephen Vlack" email@example.com
It would appear that the artist of a popular webcomic is also a Pratchett fan, as this strip shows The Count from Sesame Street making use of the trolls' numerical system:
* From: "Shaun O'Connor" firstname.lastname@example.org
Pro Cycling and the Discworld would rarely (if ever) coincide, but this was in Bicycling Magazines on-line site during the Tour de France. The hardest man in the world, Jens Voigt describes a crash he had at 70 kph coming down a mountainside and the problems he had re-joining the group. This is only 12 months after he had a horror crash in last year's Tour which saw him out of the race.
In each of his blogs this year during the Tour, Jens nominates a book of the day. After today's fun and games, he wants to nominate Interesting Times. Unfortunately Jens doesn't actually name the book and also mis-spells Cohen's name (maybe the German interpretation for Cohen IS Conan?), but goes on to explain his thinking behind his choice. Anyway, check out the article here - discworldmonthly.co.uk?redir=CYCLE160 and if you get a chance, Google search Jens Voigt and check out some of his comments and antics. He is one of the best characters in the world of sport. Shut Up Legs!!
* From: "Linda Estlund" email@example.com
Hello from the States:
Does anyone know if and when the series will appear on U.S. television? Has it been shown here already? Did I miss it?? Will it be shown again??? Soon????? Sincerely, Pratchett Zombie and Apostle (dedicated to spreading the Word Of Pratchett).
DWM replies: The good news is you haven't missed it. The bad news is that we don't have any date information for you. The UK DVD should go on sale on the 23rd August so if your DVD player can cope with region 2 discs you might be OK.
* From: "Liz Kearney" firstname.lastname@example.org
Humorous Vegetable Alert: Don't worry, not -too- humorous.
I work at a small newspaper in Livingston, Montana. Sadly, I was not in the office today when this alert reader brought in a humorous vegetable from her garden. Too bad the twenty-something photographer is too cool (and perhaps not a Pratchett reader) to have enjoyed this as much as I do.
DWM writes: I've added the photo Liz supplied to my PhotoBucket account, you can see the photo at: discworldmonthly.co.uk?redir=PHOTO160
This month I'm asking some more questions about the first book I grabbed hold of tonight - The Wee Free Men.
- How big are Jenny Green Teeth's eyes?
- What is the name of the trainee gonnagle?
- A) Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock
- B) Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock
- C) Bigger-than-Wee-Jock-but-not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock
- D) Rob Anybody
- Who does Tiffany agree to marry?
- What do Dromes do?
- Tiffany creates a new stamp for the cheese, what does it depict?
The answers as usual can be found at the end of this issue.
I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth book in the Tiffany Aching series that started with The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. In each progressive book Tiffany has grown a couple of years in age.
Tiffany, now nearly sixteen, has settled into her role as chalk witch. She has realised that this mostly means visiting ill people and doing chores for them. The problem is that there are so many chores to do Tiffany doesn't seem to have time to sleep and eat. When the old Baron dies, Tiffany has to travel to Ankh-Morpork to find Roland and let him know that he will be the new Baron.
While in Ankh-Morpork Tiffany meets the owner of Boffo's emporium, Mrs Proust, and also meets Wee Mad Arthur of the Watch who finally discovers who his people are.
Back in Wintersmith when Tiffany kissed Winter, something happened: something evil, a tangled ball of evil, hatred and malice got woken up and is hunting for Tiffany.
It's great to see Tiffany immersed in her work as a full witch and there are some quite nasty things that she has to do - but she's the witch and she's the one that has to do them. Tiffany still has that determination to get things done that we first saw back in The Wee Free Men.
The Nac Mac Feegles are back and Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are more than just cameos this time. We even get to see Magrat again. Oh, and there is one character that comes back after a very long absence but you will have to read the book to find out who.
I've really enjoyed all of the Tiffany Aching books and this is no exception. The drama unfolds at a steady pace and there are a few laughs mixed in with the grit of the story.
I Shall Wear Midnight gets released in the UK on 23rd August and in the US on 28th August.
You can pre-order a signed copy from Sandra at PJSMPrints from the
end of July at:
Or if for some reason you prefer your copies unsigned you can pre-order from Amazon UK at: discworldmonthly.co.uk?ISBN=0385611072
US readers can order signed from PJSMPrints or unsigned from Amazon at: discworldmonthly.co.uk?USISBN=0061433047
Last month Bernard offered some original Going Postal Artwork to three lucky winners.
We went viral with this competition with it being picked up by the competition section of a well-known financial website. They kindly published both the question and the answer on their site. It's nice to have lots of entries but we prefer the entrants to get the answer themselves. I spoke to the website concerned and had the answers removed and they have agreed not to publish the answer to any future competitions.
Bernard asked you to name the pin that Moist gave to Stanley that he said he found.
The correct answer was: a number three broad headed "Chicken" extra long.
The randomly selected winners are: James Ryall, Larry Hart and John Hird.
We would like to thank Bernard for making this prize available. I have sent the winners' details off to Bernard. You can find out more about Bernard's products at www.discworldemporium.com or join the 1,500 other fans at their facebook page at: www.facebook.com/pages/Discworld-Emporium/110497847377
This month, the wonderful Sandra Kidby from PJSMPrints.com has offered us a signed hardback copy of I Shall Wear Midnight (to be sent out as soon as possible after publication).
In order to win this prize you need to answer the following two questions:
- According to the PJSMPrints website when is the 2011 Discworld Calender due to be released?
- What slogan is printed on their Librarian tote bags?
To enter, send both your answers along with your postal address to email@example.com by 18th August 2010. Your address will only be used if you are a winner and only for sending out your prize - once prizes are sent out all address information will be destroyed. Entries received after 18th August 2010 or sent to any other address will be ignored. No more than one entry per person will be accepted. Answers to the questions must not be posted to any websites before the competition ends. Judges' decision is final.
The lucky winner will be announced next issue. Don't forget to look at PJSMPrints.com exhaustive range of Discworld goodies at www.discworld.com
Written by Juliette Harrisson.
The Discworld books are fantasy books - that much is clear. They feature wizards and magic, they are set on another, magical, planet that runs largely on narrativium and they are shelved in the fantasy section of the book shop. But the magic of the Discworld is not the magic of J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien. It is not mystical, nor even especially mysterious. As Juliette Hughes has observed, there is a sort of science to the way that magic works on the Disc, while some of the more recent novels feature less of the 'swords and sourcery' sort of fantasy, but rather a more philosophical vein of things that exist in our world but that might still contain an element of 'fantasy'. If we analyse the amount of the more traditional sort of 'fantasy' in the Discworld novels, we quickly find that there is a trend for the earlier novels to be much more 'fantastical' than the later ones. But how, I hear you ask, can we measure such a trend?
The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness is a measure of the scratch resistance of minerals. The Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness is a measure of the level of potential scientific reality vs fantasy in science fiction. So, for example, 2001: A Space Odyssey is quite near the 'hard' end of the scale, because it is based on certain elements of scientific theory, while 2009's Moon is even harder, with a minimum of currently impossible elements and almost nothing that is not considered theoretically possible. Star Wars, on the other hand, is very soft science fiction, much of it barely distinguishable from fantasy, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is softer still.
And so, just for fun, I here present the Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness.
I should point out here that I have discounted the mere presence of dwarfs, trolls, werewolves, vampires and even golems as an indicator of hard or soft fantasy. This is because, in the Discworld, these species are often simply metaphorical representations of different races of people - not of any particular races, but of racial tensions in general. Where the plot is affected by the fantastical nature of the creature - the vampires in Carpe Jugulum, for example - this might move the story further towards the 'softer' end, but for the most part, the mere presence of fantastical creatures will be ignored as it is just part of what makes the Disc the Disc.
The scale runs from 0 (softest) to 8 (hardest).
0 - Pure fantasy
The fantasy world of the Disc began with Rincewind and his Luggage, and the books which feature him as the protagonist tend to be the softest, fantasy-wise. Rincewind is a wizard; he has been known to work for an orang-utan; he is followed around by a vicious trunk with hundreds of tiny legs and he is regularly pursued by terrible Things from the Dungeon Dimensions. Rincewind's stories satirise fantasy and fantasy tropes more often than they satirise real world equivalents (though the later Interesting Times and The Last Continent are exceptions) and much of his adventures belong firmly in Pratchett's wilder flights of fancy.
1 - Invasions of Things from the Dungeon Dimensions
Several of the Discworld books feature those dreadful Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, and most of them are to be found within category 0. Moving Pictures, however, slides into its own category because it would be a category 5 novel, aping real world technology, if it weren't for the invasion of the Disc by the Things at the climax. Unlike the later novels, where change must be accepted and dealt with, the enormous changes wrought by the moving pictures are undone when the very technology proves unstable. This was something of a pattern in the middle Discworld novels, and can also be seen in the rock music of Soul Music and the supermarkets and shopping malls of Reaper Man - new inventions appear, but are lost again by the end of the novel. The big action climax of Moving Pictures, based on the soundly fantastical Things, places it far closer to the softer end of the scale than the other examples that followed.
2 - Myth and folklore made real
The Discworld started out by satirising fantasy literature, but later took on all sorts of other targets, many of them from real life, and this is why the series has moved ever further along the Scale of Hardness towards the harder end. The books that come under category 2 sit somewhere in between these two extremes. Although they satirise some real things, most notably the British driving test which provides the basis for the Assassins' final exam in Pyramids, the backbone of the plots of these books tends to come from mythology and from folklore. What they satirise is not as purely invented a creation as fantasy literature, since elements of their targets have, at various points, been objects of belief, but their subjects are clearly far from being real.
Pyramids is the most mythologically dense of the full length Discworld novels (The Last Hero would, of course, also fit into this category). Much of the early part of the novel is concerned with the category 6-7 description of the Assassins' driving-test-like final exam, but after that the novel moves into an exploration of ancient Egyptian gods and what might happen if mummies really were alive in their tombs. We can only hope that Pratchett returns to mythology someday - just imagine what he could do with Greek mythology.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and the Witches books, including the Tiffany Aching books, play mainly with folklore and fairy tale (especially Maurice and Witches Abroad, but they all follow this idea to some extent). Granny Weatherwax would like to be in a harder category, and uses headology, a category 6 idea, as much as possible, but between Borrowing, broomsticks, spells and Nanny Ogg's cooking, the Witches belong firmly in the realm of folklore, as do their stories.
3 - Magic as science
The Faculty of Unseen University and Hex are sadly lacking any books of their own, and all the books in which they play a major role will appear somewhere else on this list. However, those sections of these books where they appear generally come under category 3, especially anything to do with Hex. As mentioned above, Discworld magic often behaves like real world scientific equivalents and nothing epitomises this better than Hex the thinking machine, especially when he freezes and spits out '+++ Out Of Cheese Error +++ Redo From Start +++'.
DWM writes: We've split this into two sections because it's quite a long article, part 2 which covers Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness 4 - 8 will appear next month.
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* DiscTrivia Results *
- How big are Jenny Green Teeth's eyes?
- The size of soup plates
- What is the name of the trainee gonnagle?
- A) Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock
- Who does Tiffany agree to marry?
- Rob Anybody
- What do Dromes do?
- They Spin Dreams
- Tiffany creates a new stamp for the cheese, what does it depict?
- A gibbous moon and a witch on a broomstick
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