Better Than

Discworld Monthly - Issue 161: September 2010

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Review: Wadfest 2010
6. Results: I Shall Wear Midnight Competition
7. Going Postal Competition
8. Article: The Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness - Part 2
9. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 161. This issue will be coming out during a busy couple of weeks for UK Discworld fans. Wadfest is now over and the 2010 Convention is in mid flow. I hope everyone has a great time at the Convention and would like to thank Carol Johnsen from Vancouver, USA for her letter suggesting I should get free entry to all Discworld Conventions anywhere in the world. It's a nice idea but I don't think it will take off.

Last month I must have had a complete brain freeze and got the release dates for I Shall Wear Midnight completely wrong.

Corrected information:

UK release date 2nd September 2010 (see news section for a one off signing on 1st September).

US release date (according to the Advanced Readers Copy) is 28th September.

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 (Games Designer)

2. News

Terry will be signing copies of I Shall Wear Midnight at a ticket- only event from midnight on 1st September at Waterstone's Piccadilly in London.

The event is limited to 300 tickets. Tickets cost 9.50 GBP (including a copy of I Shall Wear Midnight). You can book your tickets on 020 7851 2419. Lines are open Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm only.

There will be no dedications at all and no other books will be signed. The evening will include a talk between Terry and actor Tony Robinson.

More information is available at:

It appears that the on/off adaptation of Truckers may well be back on. The magazine Licence Global has recently announced that while there are no release dates it currently looks like the film is going ahead.

Many thanks to Colin Smythe for sending us details of this.

As part of the release of Going Postal on DVD and Blu-Ray a survey was commissioned to find out how many people had got into trouble by sending inappropriate emails.

The result of the survey is that 1 in 20 have been reprimanded. You can read a summary of the report at:

Terry has confirmed that he will be attending the SFX Weekender 2 in February 2011.

Terry will talk exclusively about his new collaboration with Stephen Baxter on their forthcoming 'Long Earth' at the event - the (self proclaimed) UK's ultimate celebration of sci-fi and fantasy culture.

Terry and Stephen are the latest guests to be announced for the SFX Weekender 2, taking place in Camber Sands, East Sussex from Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th February, where more than 3000 sci-fi and fantasy fans will immerse themselves in a galaxy of culture curated by SFX - the world's bestselling sci-fi and fantasy magazine. Big name guests at the event include Star Trek's George Takei and Red Dwarf's Craig Charles, with many more to be announced.

Dave Bradley, Editor-in-Chief of SFX, said:

"I'm delighted that Terry and Stephen will be joining us to reveal more about The Long Earth - SFX readers are already clambering to get their hands on the first book and we can be sure of some surprises from the pair."

Head over to for further details and to book tickets now.

The latest issue of SFX (the UK sci-fi magazine) includes reviews of Going Postal on DVD and I Shall Wear Midnight which got five stars.

More information at:

Ian Stewart (co-author of The Science of Discworld) has written in his Guardian blog why he, a respectable mathematician, will be spending bank-holiday weekend in Birmingham at the Discworld Convention.

Terry will be a guest at the 2nd Chiswick Book Festival from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th September 2010.

Other guests include: Andrew Motion and Val McDermid

The event takes place at: St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, Priory Avenue, London W4 1TX, Tel: 020 8994 1380

Tickets will be available from mid-August from Chiswick Waterstone's branch or online 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.

[AU, Updated] The Drummers Downunder, the Sydney sister of the Broken Drummers, will have their next meeting on Monday 6th September 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

[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 6th September at The Monkey Puzzle, Paddington, London, W2 1JQ.


[AU, New] Monstrous Regiment will be performed by Unseen Theatre Company. Preview night is Friday 17th September. Opening night is Saturday 18th September and season continues Wednesday - Saturday until 2nd October.

All shows open at 8pm, Duration 2 hours plus 15 minute interval.

Tickets for preview night are 15 AUD, free tickets are available for health care card holders.

Tickets for all other nights are 18 AUD, Concessions 15 AUD, and groups (of 10+) 14 AUD. Fringe Benefits 14 AUD.


[UK. New] Skegness Playgoers will be performing Wyrd Sisters at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October 2010. Ticket prices 8 GBP adults, 7 GBP concessions and 2 GBP accompanied children, all available from the Embassy Box Office on 08456 740 505. Please book early as seating for these two nights are limited.

[AU, New] The Brisbane Arts Theatre will be performing Going Postal from October 30 - November 20, 2010, including a special Halloween performance!

Tickets cost Adults - 27 AUD, Concession - 22 AUD, Members - 17 AUD, Opening night - 37 AUD (includes supper & drink), Halloween Performance 40 AUD (includes supper & drinks + Halloween party)

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL: 3369 2344 or Email:

[UK] 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

[AU, Updated] 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 The website has been updated with hotel information, Guilds and lots more. Gala Dinner registrations open on 2nd October for all registered attendees.

Competition now on for referrals - win a free gala dinner ticket by inviting your friends to Nullus Anxietas III. See website for rules.

Volunteers needed. Contact (no mimes - by order of the Patrician).

Want to help publicise this convention in your area? Contact to have colour flyers posted out to you.

Now available - Limited Edition Paul Kidby merchandise produced under a time limited licence - get it NOW.

[NL, New] The first Dutch Discworld Convention takes place at Hotel NH Atlanta in Rotterdam on 28th - 29th May 2011.

Contact details:

For further information contact:

[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.

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.

Emma Latham-McDuffus writes: I recorded Terry's lecture at Christmas on my Sky box and promptly lost my DVD recorder remote so I couldn't transfer it to disc. My Sky box has now decided that working is for wimps and given up the ghost, taking with it said recording. I would be very grateful to anyone who could let me have a copy of the lecture as it has huge meaning to me on a personal level due to family issues, as well as obviously being some wonderful words from the great man. I will happily pay any costs incurred and will make a gift of a rather nice box of choccies to the kind person who helps me out!

Tmara Pounsett writes: I am in need of money, so will probably be selling much of my Discworld collection. This includes a signed (by Pratchett & 2 others, will update when I find the moving box it's still in) goatskin board & stone figures edition of Thud! the game. Does anyone have any idea how much this would be worth? Where would be the best place to sell it?

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 using an ancient and cryptic cypher.

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.

* From: "Noreen Ramsden"
A chinese proverb has come to my attention:

"Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere" -

and I immediately thought "Ah! Learning has a name - Luggage, with its many feet, following Rincewind!" Whether he liked it, or not!

I read some extracts from "Sourcery" and indeed, the proverb rings true...

1988: 160 "If there is one thing a travel accessory needs more than anything else, it is someone to belong to." Indeed, what use is learning, if it is not appropriated by someone?

"The Luggage was exceedingly angry now. It had been awoken from hibernation, it had been scorned, it had been briefly attacked by a variety of mythological and now extinct lifeforms, it had a headache..."

1988: 227 Learning can be awoken, can be rejected, can be attacked by myth and superstition and can result in a headache when what one believes conflicts with what is...

* From: "Loretta H."
I'm sure you will get a lot of mail about this one. Americans know what a white elephant is and what a white elephant sale is. The real white elephant sale has to be things that no one can find a use for, recognize, or need. In other words, completely useless. Hard to accomplish because everything is useful or needed by someone.

* From: "Melissa Johnson"
In my recent re-reading of Carpe Jugulum, it struck me that Sir Terry might be as precognitive as he is talented. Half the fun of re-reading Discworld stories is coming across previously undiscovered jokes and allusions, but this time I stumbled across several pre-allusions. As Nanny and Magrat, in the Vampyres' stolen coach, find their dark situation becoming blacker when they must actually enter Uberwald, their enemies' home turf, Nanny says, "It could be worse." "How?" " Well...there could be snakes in here with us," I immediately thought of the Hollywood movie, Snakes on a Plane which of course Carpe Jugulam predates. Then as I read Lacrimosa's complaint about Vlad liking Agnes just because he couldn't read her mind, I was immediately struck by the similarity to the currently wildly popular teen vampire franchise, Twilight, in which the hunky, male vampire is attracted to the human female love interest partly because she is the one mind he is unable to read. Reading further, I was reminded of a different, recent Hollywood vampire movie, Underworld, as Igor awoke the sleeping head of the vampire clan prematurely in the moment of crises. Although, as I recall, in the Hollywood movie scene, the old vampire gets fresh blood pumped into his crypt through sterile blood bags, and Igor just nicks his finger. My theory is that Sir. Terry perhaps does have access to UU's L-space which reportedly provides access to every book ever written, past, present, future, and apparently including movie scripts. I shall look forward to future discoveries of Discworld pre-allusions.

* From: "Roy Spearman"
I have just read The Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness - Part 1 penned by Juliette Harrisson, a very well reasoned article and I look forward to part 2. However, there is one little part of the scale that I should like to take issue with.

Quote - The Faculty of Unseen University and Hex are sadly lacking any books of their own. End quote. Hummmm - so have the Science of the Discworld series not been included in this scale? Surely, they are as much part of the Discworld bibliography as any of the other novels? While I can understand that a line has to be drawn somewhere as your scale could end up being skewed all over the place with the inclusion of books such as the Folklore of the Discworld, the Science series do feature a full Discworld story in its own right with a common theme of the Roundworld Project as manipulated, monitored, maintained and mounted by HEX within the HEM Building. And then of course there is the latest of the Discworld stable - Unseen Academicals. Surely that is a UU-centric book within the definition given?

I would be very interested in reading the author's opinion on this or her rationale as to why the Science series were discounted in the preparation of the scale - and if this seems a bit picky, sorry! I've been proof reading and editing my wife's Masters Degree essays and I think my brain's become a little fried between the Learning Outcomes and the advanced Nursing practitioners' theory.

DWM replies: well we found 3 apostrophes missing from your final paragraph, Roy, so I hope your wife's getting a second opinion on the proofreading (although I had to take a guess as to whether practitioners is plural or not).

* From: "Linda Wilkinson"
I thought Pterry was joking when he suggested that foods could be related to body parts. Obviously Woman's Day magazine agrees with his concept. Who'da thunk!

4. DiscTrivia

This month I'm recycling some of the questions that have been asked in previous issues (sorry).

What common card game does Twoflower try to teach Death in "The Light Fantastic"?
When in Ankh-Morpork, where does Albert (Death's manservant) stay?
What are the Unseen University main gates made of?
What is the fastest thing on the Disc according to Ly Tin Wheedle?
What are the three seasons in Djelibeybi?

The answers as usual can be found at the end of this issue.

5. Review: Wadfest 2010

Reviewed by Jason Anthony.

Wadfest 2010 took place over the weekend of 20th - 22nd August 2010 and this year's theme was skool [sic] sports day. Some of the committee members became house captains and visitors were randomly allocated a house. My daughter and I were part of the Yellow house. The event took place in Trentfield Farm in Church Laneham, Derbyshire.

The opening ceremony took place on Friday afternoon with a short introduction by Waddy and then the initiation of the Wadfest virgins. This year the first time visitors were blindfolded and the rest of the visitors hid in the marquee. After this hilarity, Waddy went off and eventually Dame Victoria (who bore a striking resemblance to Waddy) came back to announce the event open.

The main event on the Friday evening is the now traditional cocktail party where the guest cross-dress. My daughter took great delight in getting me into a black dress and "doing" my hair. I must admit to not being the most attractive female but some of the costumes were scary! Lots of alcohol was consumed and I believe the party went on until the early hours of the morning.

The next morning we woke to torrential rain but this soon cleared. Constructing and painting the Luggages was next on the list of activities - four Luggages were made, one for each house colour.

Smack the penguin took place next. This is a children's game that is based on the old computer game. The competition was fierce but the weather took a turn for the worse and the event had to be finished early.

We noticed the Luggages we outside getting wet and mounted a quick rescue mission to bring them into the marquee before they got too damaged. Unfortunately the weather meant that some of the planned sports events had to be postponed. Once the weather improved the second round of the dodge ball tournament took place in the sports field.

The Wadfest play took place in the afternoon - this year's production was based on Terry's short story Theatre of Cruelty. I was impressed with last year's adaptation of Troll Bridge and this year's performance was just as entertaining.

The evening events started out with the talent show and once again I was asked to be one of the judges. After last year's trouble where I accidentally insulted my children's performance I was slightly concerned. This year however, nobody from my family was taking part, so I felt safe. The range of acts were varied and all were entertaining. While we decided who had won, Rob Lupine performed a magic show. Once we had finally made our decision we came back into the marquee to let Mr Bugs know that he had won for his variation of the Beatles classic Get Back.

After the show the light parade took place, with people walking around the camp site with glow sticks, light sabres and light floats. Once it returned back to the marquee the school disco went on until just before 11pm. After the organised events finished much drinking took place.

Sunday morning started dry and the blessing of Periwinkle and Butcher's wedding took place at 10am. The Luggage wars broke out at 11am and the postponed sports events were rescheduled.

The charity auction started at 1pm and over 2,000 GBP was raised for Cancer Research UK. With the auction over the closing ceremony took place and the event was all over. After finalising the auction and collecting the money we said our farewells and headed off.

You can find more information about Wadfest at

Loz Green, Wadfest's official photographer, has several albums of photos up already on Facebook at:

6. Results I Shall Wear Midnight Competition

Last month Sandra Kidby from offered us a signed hardback copy of I Shall Wear Midnight (to be sent out as soon as possible after publication).

We asked you to provide the answers to the following two questions:

According to the PJSMPrints website when is the 2011 Discworld Calendar due to be released?
What slogan is printed on their Librarian tote bags?

The answers we were looking for were: 19th August and "May contain nuts".

The competition proved to be very popular with 272 correct entries and 52 incorrect entries. I think some people that entered didn't know who the Librarian was! The randomly selected winner of the signed copy of I Shall Wear Midnight is Mrs Joan Cowdell of Pembrokeshire.

If you are one of the 323 people that entered and didn't win (or one of the thousands that didn't enter) you can still get hold of a signed copy of I Shall Wear Midnight from

7. Going Postal Competition

Ian from The Cunning Artificer's shop recently got in touch to say that he has three limited edition DVD copies of Going Postal to give away and asked if I would be willing to run a competition for him.

So in order to win a copy of Going Postal on DVD you need to answer the following question:

What is the diameter of The Dibbler Pie from catalog.php in inches?

Send your answer along with your postal address to by 20th September 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 20th September 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. The Judges' decision is final.

For more information about The Cunning Artificer's product range visit or visit the Shop on Facebook at

8. Article: The Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness - Part 2

Written by Juliette Harrisson.

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.

4 - Spiritual and abstract ideas made solid

Somewhere between myth and real technology lie spiritual and abstract ideas, which are either things that some people believe to be real (religion, ghosts), or representations of things that we all know to be real but which are less anthropomorphised in real life (death).

Where you categorise Small Gods really depends on whether you are religious or not; since I am and Pratchett is not, this makes it rather hard to place (though it is firmly category 4). I have, however, decided that since Om is certainly not the object of a real religion, and since, assuming God/gods exist, She/He/they are unlikely ever to become stuck in the form of a tortoise, this probably belongs nearer the softer end of the scale.

Then we come to Death and family, anthropomorphic personifications of real concepts (well, Death is, the others are his hangers-on). The Death books tend to swing towards the softer end of the scale in their B plots, often featuring the faculty of Unseen University and Hogfather veers towards category 2, though Soul Music leans the other way, towards category 5. The sad reality of the concept of death in the real world, and the fact that many people believe in some kind of afterlife (even if Pratchett himself does not) place these books within category 4.

5 - Technology that apes real world technology

For the most part, the books featuring the Ankh-Morpork City Watch come under this category. Night Watch is a good example, as it uses a science fiction/fantasy plot device to get the story going, with some help from the fantastical History Monks, but is largely based on human actions (it even has fewer fantasy creatures in it). Not all the City Watch books belong here - Guards Guards! is a 2, for example - but the majority do. Even more importantly, with the exception of Guards Guards! they tend to be based on ideas or technologies that ape things that exist in the real world. The Gonne in Men at Arms, for example, is a gun with slightly enhanced qualities, while Cheery Littlebottom practices Discworld forensics and Jingo explores Discworld diplomacy. There's still a fair amount of fantasy in these books, including the echoes from another leg of the Trousers of Time in Jingo, the troll thinking helmet in Men at Arms, or the fat deposits in The Fifth Elephant. But the basis for the plots is moving ever closer to reality and the essential difference between these and the more fantastical books is that these books satirise elements of the real world, not elements of fantasy literature.

6 - Plausible technology and social commentary

'Plausible technology' refers to things that do not exist in our world, but could, if we wanted them to - primarily, the clacks towers. There's nothing to stop us building semaphore towers and using them for communication, we just don't, because the telegraph proper was invented and we did not need to.

The two Moist von Lipwig novels continue the journey from fantasy to alternate reality, moving ever further away from magic as a source of plot and closer towards plots revolving around plausible technologies. Even more importantly, these books feature the invention of real world items like postage stamps and banknotes. As Pratchett pointed out, the fantasy elements of Making Money are chiefly reflections of fantasies held and believed in widely in our own world.

Monstrous Regiment also belongs in category 6. The actions of the Duchess lean towards category 4, and the central idea of the plot is taken to extremes, but essentially, this is about women dressing up as men in order to take part in a war, a subject also covered by the comic but distinctly non-fantastical Blackadder Goes Forth. The fact that some of these women are trolls is neither here nor there.

Similarly, Unseen Academicals is chiefly a social commentary on the nature of British football, with the addition of one Orc, some Furies and some fantasy elements at the end. Pratchett's description of Glenda and Juliet's homes and their situation is almost unbearably real, while the humour in the hilarious football match at the end is taken straight from contemporary British culture.

7 - Real world technology

Fittingly enough, The Truth is probably the closest novel to our world so far. The story is focussed mostly on plausible technology, and the plot revolves around something that exists in the real world - the printing press. It also features the clacks heavily, alongside the real-world-aping cameras.

8 - Real Life

Well, none of them belong here, obviously. But the Roundworld science from the three volumes of The Science of Discworld does.


So there we have it - the Discworld Mohs Scale of Fantasy Hardness. We must wait and see whether Pratchett continues his journey towards the harder end of the scale - though, given that I Shall Wear Midnight is a Tiffany Aching book, we will probably find ourselves heading back towards the softer end for another dip into myth and folklore. Pratchett's Young Adult novels have a much stronger tendency to stay firmly in the realm of the fantastic, presumably because children are less aware of the various social and political issues Pratchett satirises in the adult books - if he ever writes a Young Adult Discworld novel about a school, it will be fascinating to see where on the scale it falls!

DWM writes: We've split this into two sections because it's quite a long article, part 1 which covers Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness 1 - 3 appeared last month.

9. The End

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* DiscTrivia Results *

What common card game does Twoflower try to teach Death in "The Light Fantastic"?
When in Ankh-Morpork, where does Albert (Death's manservant) stay?
At the Young Men's Reformed Cultists of the Ichor God Bel-Shamharoth Association.
What are the Unseen University main gates made of?
What is the fastest thing on the Disc according to Ly Tin Wheedle?
What are the three seasons in Djelibeybi?
Seedtime, Inundation and Sog

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