611WOSSNAME -- July 2011 -- Main issue
- Jul 25, 2011WOSSNAME
Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
July 2011 (Volume 14, Issue 7, Post 1)
WOSSNAME is a free publication for members of the worldwide
Klatchian Foreign Legion and its affiliates, including the North
American Discworld Society and other continental groups. Are you a
member? Yes, if you sent in your name, country and e-mail address.
Are there any dues? No! As a member of the Klatchian Foreign Legion,
you'd only forget them...
Editor in Chief: Annie Mac
News Editor: Fiona (not Bruce) Bruce
Newshounds: Vera, Mogg, Sir J of Croydon Below, the Shadow
Staff Writers: Asti, Pitt the Elder, Steven D'Aprano
Convention Reporters: Mithtrethth Hania Ogg et al
Staff Technomancer: Jason Parlevliet
Book Reviews: Drusilla D'Afanguin
Puzzle Editor: Tiff
Bard in Residence: Weird Alice Lancrevic
DW Horoscope: Lady Anaemia Asterisk, Fernando Magnifico
Emergency Staff: Jason Parlevliet
World Membership Director: Steven D'Aprano (in his copious spare
Copyright 2011 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
01) QUOTES OF THE MONTH
02) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
03) "SNUFF" NEWS
04) GOING POSTAL USA DVD NEWS
05) DISCWORLD GAMES NEWS
06) PTERRY AND ALZHEIMER'S NEWS
07) ANATOMY OF A SUPERFAN
08) DISCWORLD CONVENTION NEWS
09) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
10) DISCWORLD GROUPS MEETING NEWS
11) DISCUSSION: "FORGOTTEN" DISCWORLD CHARACTERS
12) REVIEW: I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT
13) REVIEWS: THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD, WEE FREE MEN
14) MORRIS DANCING FOR THE WIN!
15) IMAGES OF THE MONTH
16) WHERE THE MULTIVERSES MEET
17) DISCWORLD AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
18) DISCWORLD ARTS AND CRAFTS NEWS
01) QUOTES OF THE MONTH
"Discworld is like drugs, 'cause when you can't go get coke you're
gonna get good old cannabis, and when you can't get cannabis you'll
lick the outside of a dead rhinoceros. So any Discworld is better
than no Discworld."
Pterry's deadpan (but invisibly grinning) comment in Melbourne,
April 2011, in response to a question about which characters/arcs
are the fans' favourites
"It was all smoke and mirrors, but when the smoke blew away, the
mirrors were still there."
from the same session, on his skills as a journalist
02) A LETTER FROM YOUR EDITOR: WATCH THIS!
Back in April, I wailed long and loudly upon discovering that Pterry
had been booked for one of his Australian "Imagination, Not
Intelligence, Made Us Human" lecture/Q&A gigs just down the road
from us (at the Wheeler Centre, Storey Hall), and I'd somehow missed
hearing about it until all the tickets were long gone. However,
since his Sydney Opera House gig was made available on the internet
(as featured in the May issue of WOSSNAME), I consoled myself with
at least being able to watch that one. But now, the Wheeler Centre
has made the Melbourne video available, and I have to say that for
all the excellence of the Sydney appearance, the Melbourne one
knocks enough spots off it to change an entire leopard.
The compere-interviewer is one Michael Williams, a Melbourne-based
writer/editor/broadcaster who currently is head of programming at
Melbourne's Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, and he does a
superb job of it. The atmosphere feels far more intimate and
relaxed, and less formal and performance-y, than of the Sydney
video, and The Author is on absolutely cracking form as he fields
questions from Williams and members of the audience, shares
reminiscences and childhood anecdotes, and gets passionate about,
well, many things.
I've been housebound with illness lately (more than usual, that is),
and was finding it hard to feel cheerful or positive about anything
much, but watching the Wheeler Centre video was a great tonic. So
here you go click on the link below and enjoy!
And now, back to our regular programme...
03) SNUFF NEWS
3.1 SNUFF: A REVIEW...OR NO, JUST AN UNOFFICIAL TEASER...
Oh, Sam! Ohhhh, Sam! Oh oh oh Sam and Sam! Oh oh oh Sybil! Oooh,
Willikins! Ohh, Havelock! Oh, Ronnie! Oh, Fred! Oh oh oh Sammies, oh
village green, oh chickens oh posh nobs oh egalitarians oh
sociopaths oh snuff oh me oh my!
I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I Vimesed. I'm fairly sure you will,
(Proper review follows when it's closer to release time.)
3.2 ...AND THE OFFICIAL TEASER FOR JULY
On Pterry's Facebook page this month, Lynsey writes:
"Wednesday 13th July, only three months from publication of SNUFF we
can exclusively reveal that the first five characters to grace its
1. Lord Vetinari
3. Commander Sir Samuel Vimes
4. Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom
5. Captain Carrot"
Remember, Snuff will be out on 13th October!
Signed copies available for pre-order from August 2011 from PJSM
04) GOING POSTAL USA DVD RELEASE
According to Acorn Media, both the DVD and the Blu-Ray of Going
Postal are now available in the USA! Each is priced at US$39.99.
DVD extras include:
Terry Pratchett video introduction
Director Jon Jones audio commentary
Bonus disc with cast interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes,
blooper reel, and image gallery
The site also offers Going Postal in download form. The complete
miniseries is priced at US$31.99, or it can be purchased in the form
of two episodes, priced at US$17.99 each.
For more information, and to order, go to:
05) ONCE AGAIN WITH GAME-NOTES: NEW DISCWORLD BOARDGAMES
Exciting enough news to repeat: this was in last month's late
breaking news; now with extra added updates...
5.1 GUARDS! GUARDS!
David Brashaw of Backspindle Games said:
"We are delighted that twenty years after Leonard [Boyd] pulled
together his original version of the game, it has now been developed
and will shortly be available for Discworld fans to enjoy. It's
ironic that its being made in China... (20 year anniversary and all
that). A great outline of the game can be found at:
"At the time of writing the game is off to print... Officially we
are hoping for a US release on 4 August at Gen-Con, www.gencon.com
and a more likely release in the UK around 15 August. Once dates
are confirmed, games and a collectible Bookmark will be available on
pre-order at www.guardsguards.com
More information and the occasional competition can be found on:
"At this time it's looking like we'll be selling through our website
to Australia & New Zealand so there'll be a bit of postage to pay,
sorry. However you do get the unique character Bookmarks buying it
this way. We're not doing them for Amazon or Play.com."
For further enquiries:
David Brashaw & Leonard Boyd
Backspindle Games Ltd
Tel: 07760 337578
Two pages of iconographs at Boardgame Geek, showing some of G!G!'s
Extracts from a long, detailed review of the game, by gaming
podcasters/bloggers Little Metal Dog:
"Guards! Guards!, at first appearance, is a reasonably
straightforward game to play. You move around the board
collecting/pressganging various volunteers (taken from the books)
all of whom have various attributes. These can either be charmed
into joining your ragtag band screw that up and you can always
resort to good old bribery to get them onto your team. Once you've
moved to a space on the board that shows one of the spells you need
to collect, you declare that you're about to head on a Spell Run
in other words, you're going to try and get the spell home. The
board is split into four quadrants and you declare which ones you'll
be passing through in order to get back to your start space...
"The game captures the chaos of the Discworld well you'd hope
so, of course, as anything that comes out bearing Terry Pratchett's
name needs to be cleared as worthy by the man himself. The artwork
throughout the whole game is provided by regular Pratchett
contributor Steven Player, and his gloriously grotesque style really
gives the game a distinctive flourish. Each volunteer card also has
a quote lifted directly from one of the books as mentioned
above, this is definitely a labour of love. It's a game where you
need to be watching what everyone else is doing and taking your
chances at the optimal time or just figure that you'll have as
much of a laugh by kicking opponents when they're down. Where many
licensed games fall down on the actual content, the guys from
Backspindle have created an entertaining (if challenging) title that
well deserves a look. Fans of the series will appreciate the detail
that has gone into its creation, while those not into the Discworld
will find a solid game that could well spark a new interest..."
This exciting new Discworld board game will be out in September,
with a launch party at leading UK games specialist Eclectic Games.
Here be the press release, verbatim:
Ankh Morpork needs you! Lord Vetinarii is dead, or missing, or
possibly on holiday. Regardless, there's a chance for the power-
hungry to take control of the city, or complete the plans his
Lordship has been so inconsiderately standing in the way of. Players
take on a hidden role with differing ways to win, and play cards to
place minions, build buildings, control areas, assasinate
inconveniences (other players' minions), gain (or lose!) money and
do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals.
On Saturday 3rd September, eclectic games in Reading will be hosting
a Launch Party for Martin Wallace's latest boardgame, Ankh Morpork.
Dripping with Discworld flavour, boasting gorgeous artwork and fun,
compelling gameplay, Ankh Morpork more than lives up to the high
standards associated with both Discworld and Treefrog Games. Martin
Wallace will be here all day to demonstrate the game, explain the
finer points of what the differences between the Thieves Guild,
Fools Guild and Seamstress Guild cards mean from a design point of
view, and will probably deface your copy of the game with his
signature if you ask him politely. There will be cake, a small prize
for the best Discworld fancy dress, and of course, the game will be
available to purchase.
Eclectic Games is open from 10am to 6pm, and is located at 36,
Market Place, Reading, RG1 2DE. Telephone 0118 959 8250. Our website
is www.eclecticgames.co.uk and we can be reached by email via
For more information about how to play, the collector's edition, and
so forth, go to:
06) PTERRY AND ALZHEIMER'S NEWS
6.1 PRATCHETT NAMED "HEALTH CHAMPION"
"Award-winning author and Alzheimer's Society supporter, Sir Terry
Pratchett, has been named Health Champion of the Year by the UK's
leading health experts and journalists. The award, presented at the
Medical Journalists' Association (MJA) Summer Awards, acknowledges
Sir Terry's tireless campaigning and awareness-raising of dementia-
related issues. Sir Terry, who has a rare form of dementia called
Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA), said of his award: 'I am, of
course, very pleased to have won this award but must point out that
all I had to do, some years ago, was find out that I had this
wretched disease. It took no courage to freely talk about it in
public, indeed, it would have taken more courage to do nothing.'
"In addition to Sir Terry's award, Alzheimer's Society's national
media team beat off strong competition to be presented with the
'Health Charity of the Year' award..."
6.2 ...AND LAUDED FOR SHOWING THE WAY
Oxford University neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield, on a recent
visit to Australia, praised Sir Pterry's efforts on behalf of
Alzheimer's awareness and research and said the world needs more
"She said Sir Terence Pratchett, a best-selling British novelist who
has chronicled his experience with Alzheimer's disease, deserved
accolades for his efforts. 'I think we need more people like him who
have suffered and are willing to talk about it,' Baroness Greenfield
said... 'Without appropriate funding for dementia research, too many
parents and grandparents will be lost to a condition for which more
effective answers can be found. We can beat dementia. Governments
are just not trying hard enough'..."
6.3 FUNDING "BREAKTHROUGH"
As reported in This is Somerset:
"Care Services Minister Paul Burstow yesterday announced a multi-
million pound boost in funding for the fight against dementia after
a high profile campaign led by West author, Sir Terry Pratchett. The
cash will be used for research into the condition that will affect
more than a million Britons within 10 years, including more than
100,000 in the South West. Mr Burstow launched a 'route map for
dementia research' which pledges up to £20 million over five years
for four new biomedical research units. It also commits the Medical
Research Council to increase funding for neurodegeneration research
by 10 per cent to £150 million by 2015..."
07) ANATOMY OF A SUPERFAN?
...otherwise known as the semi-legendary Pat Harkin, gentleman,
scholar and aficionado of all things Pterry (and very nice man, as
your Editor can confirm) and also one of the subjects of a
Guardian article on, well, superfans:
"One could inventory the shelves and surfaces and cabinets that fill
his house in Leeds and never quite be certain there was method in
them. Examples: a souvenir potato shrivelled with desiccating gel; a
fibreglass facsimile of a medieval trunk; a box of fake teeth; a
real and rather sharp scythe (with a blunt replacement "party
blade", part of a Death costume, which had to be imported from
America); a murky jar reputedly containing an onion grown and
pickled by Sir Terry Pratchett; a photograph of Sir Terry,
shirtless, signing books; a shell casing fired by Sir Terry; a
knighthood certificate bestowed by Sir Terry; a convention lanyard
worn by Sir Terry... Ah yes. A theme is beginning to emerge... What
it grew into was a life inside one of the world's most active fan
communities. Now Harkin visits multiple conventions, in many
countries, several times a year, often acting as their compere and
08) DISCWORLD CONVENTION NEWS
8.1 NADWCON NEWS: PRE-AND POST-MORTEMS
8.1a Pterry's pre-NADWcon phone interview with Madison, Wisconsin
journalist Jeanne Kolker, in which we learn that Madison is
important for geological reasons and that it was also the scene of
one of Pterry's first book signings, attended by a tiny handful of
"It took a long time coming because, way back when I started, my
American publishers were not particularly good and didn't really
know how to sell me. The upturn began when my agent, the late Ralph
Vicinanza he was Stephen King's agent worked out how many UK
copies of my hardcovers were being sold as imports in the United
States. And then two publishers merged and out of the merger I got a
new publisher who knew my name always a good thing and a new
publicist who had read my book always a good thing and that's
when the thermometer started to rise. And pretty soon I was doing
signing tours, and in fact one of the first ones I did was in
Madison... I think I had about 26 people..."
8.1b NADWcon videos, iconographs, and blogs
Lots and lots of NADWcon videos on YouTube! The extensive forestcats
In which Pterry and Rob burst into song:
Librarian quilt auction:
Pterry and Neil Gaiman:
The NADWcon blog on LiveJournal:
NADWcon on Twitter:
A very happy-looking author at the end of the con:
The huge floral clock from the gala banquet:
Some photos of Pterry and Neil enjoying themselves during their
Lovely detail from the Librarian Quilt:
A summing-up of NADWcon 2, by chair Emily Whitten:
"It's been a privilege to work with Terry, our other amazing guests,
and all of the wonderful and talented people who have been a part of
making each of the NADWCon events happen, and to witness such
amazing contributions, dedication, and hard work from the Honored
Guests, convention committees, staff, program participants, and
volunteers. I am honored by the confidence that was placed in me and
the other fans by Sir Terry and all who attended the conventions,
throughout the process of putting these events on in proper
Discworld style; and touched by the support and goodwill that has
been extended towards myself and the rest of the convention
organizers over the years. I am also very honored to have received
such a high public accolade as that of being made a Dame of
Discworld, and will try to do the title proud (and only show off my
bloomers on very special occasions!)..."
...who also gets her (ever-articulate and enthusiastic, and indeed
why not!) say in "Mrs Palm's" post-mortem:
from blogger Judith or Not:
from blogger madgeniusclub:
For trainee librarian Jen Moore, NADWcon was her first-ever fan
convention, and she loved it:
8.2 WADFEST 2011
Barely a month now until the the tenth anniversary Wadfest!
When: 19th 20th 21st August 2011
Where: Trentfield Farm, Church Laneham, Retford, NOTTS.
Some details of the goings-on-to-be, provided by Rob Lupine via the
The Murder Mystery is looking for suspects. Details and how to
apply can be found here:
Saturday Night Talent Show, details here:
Followed by the Light Parade:
And the All Day Walk Around Masquerade as usual:
09) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
9.1 WYRD SISTERS IN BRISBANE, FOURECKS
The Nash Theatre, who are commendably big on orangutans, are
currently presenting their production of Wyrd Sisters:
"Terry Pratchett is a longtime supporter of The Orangutan
Foundation, which works to protect the forest habitat of these
intelligent creatures after all, as Pratchett lovers will know,
the librarian is an orangutan! In fact, all performing rights for
Terry Pratchett's plays are paid directly to The Orangutan
Foundation in the UK. Nash Theatre is also supporting The Australian
Orangutan Project. Paul Kidby, the official illustrator of Terry
Pratchett's books has given us permission to use his original
illustration of the Wyrd Sisters & in return we shall be making a
donation & holding a raffle during the run of the show to raise
money for the Australian Orangutan Project. So when you come to see
the play you will have the opportunity to do something for the
planet as well as enjoying a fantastic (in every sense of the word)
When: July 28, 29 & 30
Venue: Nash Theatre, Merthyr Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr Rd, New
Tickets: Adult $20, Concession $15, Members/School Students $12
Bookings: Phone 3379 4775 or email nashtheatre4@...
9.2 REMINDER: MORT IN MINNESOTA
Mort, presented by the Historic Mounds Theatre in St. Paul,
Minnesota, continues its run through the first week of August.
When: Friday and Saturday nights, 29th/30th July, 5th/6th August
Venue: Historic Mounds Theatre, 1029 Hudson Road, St Paul, MN
55106. Phone (651) 772 2253
Time: 7.30pm all shows
Tickets: adults $15, children under 12 and seniors $10
To book online, go to http://tinyurl.com/4yuqkhv
For more information, go to:
9.3 TAMAHER: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PERFORM IT!
WOSSNAME recently reported on the world premiere of the musical
version of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. Now, with
the advent of The Complete Performance Pack of The Amazing Maurice
and his Educated Rodents, everyone can do the musical Maurice!
"Sir Terry Pratchett's ingeniously upended tale of the Pied Piper,
has a roving band of highly intelligent rats as its heroic
protagonists. Matthew Holmes' script and songs capture the plot in a
captivating musical for children to perform and everyone to
enjoy.Perfect for upper primary school performances. The complete
performance pack with its photocopiable script and piano vocal score
includes everything you need for rehearsing and presenting the final
show, plus there's full audio support on CD so you don't need to
read a note of music..."
The Complete Performance Pack of TAMAHER will be available from mid
August. For more information, go to:
Originally posted on the web at:
9.4 REVIEW: THE TRUTH IN ICKENHAM
A review of Purple Theatre's production of The Truth by American
"Now, this was community theater so elaborate scenery and costumes
couldn't really be expected but the cast did such a great job with
their parts that it almost didnt matter. The dark light effect was
really quite good though I don't know if you hadn't read the
book if you would understand what was going on. There were some
stumbling and awkward or rushed transitions but that is to be
expected with the first performance. Sometimes they went so quickly
through the story it was like watching the high school cliffs notes
performance of your favorite book. Part of me understand that
because it is a long book and was a very long play but I missed many
key parts I love from the book.
"On a side note, the theater put together an amazing program
(available for two pounds but totally worth it) that was made to
look like a newspaper complete with want ads and character profiles.
It was full of great Terry Pratchett jokes that made me smile..."
9.5 SNUFF IN ABINGDON...OR MAYBE NOT YET
A few months ago (March issue), WOSSNAME published an item about the
upcoming world stage premiere of Snuff:
"Stephen Briggs and Studio Theatre Club are planning to stage the
first official performance of Briggs' adaptation of Snuff on 15 to
19 November at the Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon (UK). Tickets will go
on sale on 10 September. Tickets will go *very* quickly, so mark the
September date in your calendars!"
At the time, this information appeared to be current and correct.
However, things appear to have changed:
"DISCWORLD PLANS? It's still a little way off but we're planning to
stage Terry Pratchett's 'SNUFF' in 2012."
A case of Watch This Space, perhaps...
10) DISCWORLD GROUPS MEETING NEWS
The City of Small Gods Terry Pratchett Fan Club meets on the last
Thursday of the month from 6.30pm at the Ed Castle, 233 Currie St,
Adelaide (South Australia). The next meeting will be on Thursday
28th July. Details, discussions and organisation of extra events
(such as play outings) are held on their email mailing list, so do
sign up at
The next meeting of the Broken Drummers will be on Monday 8th August
at the Monkey Puzzle, 30 Southwick Street, London W2 1JQ.
Drummers Downunder meet on the first Monday of every month in Sydney
at Maloneys, corner of Pitt & Goulburn Streets, at 7pm. The next
meeting will be on Monday 1st August. For more information, contact
Sue (aka Granny Weatherwax) on kenworthys@...
Perth Drummers meet on the traditional of first Monday of the month.
The next meeting will be on the evening of Monday 1st August at The
Vic Hotel, 226 Hay St, Subiaco.
EDITOR'S NOTE: the above meeting dates for August are correct to the
best of my knowledge, but as the UK Drummers, who traditionally meet
on the first Monday of each month, are gathering on the second
Monday this month, it's worth contacting the relevant organisers for
Sydney and Perth Drummers to check the August date.
11) DISCUSSION: "FORGOTTEN" DISCWORLD CHARACTERS
In "L(J) Space", the leading Discworld community on LiveJournal,
"As depressing as this is to contemplate, I get the distinct
impression that with each new book Pterry is writing, he's wrapping
up loose ends and saying goodbye. I know in Unseen Academicals he
threw a couple nods to older books, and in I Shall Wear Midnight we
got the reappearance of Esk, a one-off character from one of his
earlier works, and there are other examples. My question is this.
Which minor or one-off character or characters would you like to see
make an appearance before Discworld ends forever (hopefully several
years from now) I'd love to see Victor and Ginger again. What about
They're not minor characters, but Pteppic and Ptraci (especially
because of the whole Pterry thing).
Seconding Pteppic. I'd also like to see what Maurice has been up to.
My own private theory is he's managed to get a group of young girls
to dress up in silly costumes to fight crime and give daft speeches.
And he'll live the cushy life while giving them some fake advice,
and stay back home at nights. By 'eck there could be a fanfic in
Not minor, but I really hope he writes the next instalment with
Agnes. (I would love for her to interact with Tiffany!) And also,
though this isn't what you asked, I'd like to see a really troll-
centric book. There have been quite a lot of dwarfy ones, but the
closest look we got at troll society was Thud! and that made me want
to know a lot more. Something about the other races we barely see
gnolls, kvetch, various undead would also make me a very happy
I'd love to see a troll book as well. I love Detritus.
Detritus is awesome. He's been in the series since what, book one?
He's grown so much. *adds Ruby to the Characters I Want To See Again
Brick! I want to see how he is now that Detritus and Ruby are his
foster (adoptive?) parents.
Esk was the one I'd really wished to see again, and she has appeared
already. To be honest, I think I'd like to see what kind of girl
little Esme will become.
I want the Carrot as King issue resolved (although not really).
I want to read about Carrots puppies. Will they play with Sam Jr ?
I'd like to see more of William de Worde and his crew. I was happy
for his brief appearance in "Unseen Academicals", it would be nice
to see another book where he played a bigger part.
tonker and lofty
And Maladict, because Maladict has style.
i would love to see mal, but i kind of feel like it's unlikely that
terry will return to Borogravia. whereas tonker and lofty are
outside Borogravia post-book. i think. so there's some hope!
I'd kinda like to know what Susan's been up to, considering her last
boyfriend just kinda... disappeared. Also I love the idea of Moist
as the next Patrician, but I don't think I want to see it happen.
...I know it's not likely, but I'd like for Death to have company or
otherwise be happy. It breaks my heart whenever I think about how
lonely he is.
I guess, the one character that I really want to get to know better
is Young Sam but I get the feeling my wish will come true with
[It certainly will! Ed.]
I've always wanted to know what happened in Klatch after Jingo. It'd
be cool to see Prince Khufurah and 71-Hour Ahmed again.
There seems to have been a pattern in the last few books Tiffany,
Lipwig, Watch, Tiffany, Lipwig, wizards, Tiffany, Watch (in
October). That leaves the Witches and Death neither arc has had a
new book in over a decade. Personally, I'd like to see what Death
has been up to. I honestly never liked the stand-alone much
Brutha. I know he wasn't a minor character, but Small Gods is my
favorite one-shot, and I find him... restful.
12) REVIEW: I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT
In The Guardian's children's books section ("by kids, for kids"),
young reviewer Charlie writes:
"Within the Discworld series there are different stories but my
favourite is the Tiffany Aching series with the fourth book I Shall
Wear Midnight as the latest installation. The previous instalment's
being The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and The Wintersmith. These
are primarily aimed at children, however I am 17 and I find them
simply hilarious... This is a fabulously witty book which had me
laughing out loud on multiple occasions (all of course due to the
slightly crazy faeries) and I recommend it to children over the age
of 10 years as it touches on the death of a baby. Never-the-less it
is a fast paced, magical adventure and I read them over and over
13) REVIEWS: THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD; THE WEE FREE MEN
13.1 THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD
by Daniel Orner
The Science of Discworld is an interesting experiment. Here we have
Terry Pratchett, noted fantasy author extraordinaire, and Jack
Stewart and Ian Cohen, two highly educated scientists, teaming up
for a book. The book consists of alternating chapters: one chapter
tells a story, the next talks about the science hinted in it. The
science chapters are about twice or three times as long as the
story ones, though, so what you have is a book on science
illustrated with wizards.
The story isn't much of one it's more of an extended skit
revolving around the wizards of Unseen University and a hastily
promoted Rincewind. An accident with a thaumic reactor requires a
high-powered project to drain excess magic power. Ponder Stibbons
thinks this is the perfect time to look into the Roundworld Project
- a pocket universe in which, oddly enough, there is no magic, no
gods, and no discworlds. Instead, there seems to be a lot of space,
ice, big balls of fire, big balls of rock, and no turtles
*anywhere*. In short, Ponder has created our own universe.
The story is more compact than usual but no less hysterical Terry
has molded the wizards into an extended Monty Python sketch and he
knows exactly what to do with them. He introduces the reader to
notions expounded on by the science chapters by having the wizards
interact with the Roundworld Project and their intriguingly
bumbling reactions to it are designed to keep your interest while
the scientists have their go.
The science itself is remarkably specific. Although it touches on
biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy, the main theme is
*history* the history of the universe, the solar system, the
planet and the beings on it. There are a few digressions such as
the nature of coincidences, or the inspired term "lies-to-children"
to demonstrate that a simpler, less accurate understanding is often
required before a more realistic one can be reached but this
topic is the basis for the book.
Funnily enough, though, scientific history is one of the *least*
well understood areas of science, perhaps second only to
neuroscience in the number of ways it keeps contradicting itself.
The fact that a second edition of the book was released a scant few
years later indicates just how fast people are changing their minds
about what happened long ago and what happens far away. It's like
reconstructing a novel given only the bones of two of the main
Cohen and Stewart also have no hesitation telling us just how
depressing our universe is. Scientific history is measured in
millions or billions of years; the few tens of thousands which
humans have been around for is a drop in the bucket, unnoticeable
and easily swept away. There is no room for art or spirituality in
this yawning abyss the authors acknowledge their existence but
make no bones about their unimportance when compared to science.
The level of discourse is a bit rocky sometimes the authors go a
bit too fast with introducing new concepts or don't adequately
explain them in a way a layman might understand. Other times the
prose can get droning or tedious, as when they start discussing
specific time periods and exactly what happened where. As
scientists and not authors, they don't make any real effort to
captivate the audience; they simply state what is. It's not quite
as bad as reading a textbook, but it's miles away from a good yarn.
The Science of Discworld can be a hard book to read fully. You may
find yourself skimming bits of the science chapters, and no wonder.
The Pratchettian ones are delightful if lightweight, and the one
thing the other chapters at times ponderous and unwieldy will
certainly do is give you a much, much larger perspective on the
world around us.
Note: This book is out of print in North America; trying to find it
is an effort in futility. Do what I did, and order it from Amazon
UK even with shipping it's a reasonable price, especially if you
buy all three Science of Discworld books at once, as I did.
13.2 REVIEW: THE WEE FREE MEN
by Daniel Orner
The Wee Free Men is marketed towards young adults, but really
there's little to differentiate it from the normal Discworld canon
except that the protagonist, Tiffany Aching, is only nine years
old. Living down on the Chalk, on a farm that specializes in sheep
(as most do on the Chalk), Tiffany is very unlike most of her peers
and equally unlike the sort of plucky young leads that tend to
populate young adults' books.
Tiffany's world has no schools, little education, and lots of hard
work. Her age is never even considered as an excuse to run around
and play she makes cheese, and does it well. Tiffany is,
amazingly, bookish and intelligent (one of the only books their
family owns is a dictionary, and she read it cover to cover no
one told her she shouldn't). She's also courageous to a fault, and
has a tendency to observe rather than take part. In short, she's
everything that a budding young witch should be.
Tiffany's encounter with Miss Tick, a shrewd but somewhat pathetic
older witch, touches off her journey of discovery. Starting with
her encounter with Jenny Green-Teeth, a water monster, she soon
finds herself overrun with Nac mac Feegles, tiny blue
fairies^Hpictsies who wear kilts, enjoy drinking, fighting, and
stealing, and are nigh-unkillable. Although uncomfortable with
their cheerful audacity, she soon must enlist their help in
rescuing her rather sticky baby brother from the clutches of the
sinister Queen of the Elves.
While we first saw the Feegles in Carpe Jugulum, they're a little
more understandable and a little more personable this time round.
And by far, they're one of the funniest things Terry's ever
written. I don't know what it is about a Scottish accent, even a
written one, that makes everything in it sound hilarious. Probably
the same thing about an Indian and Yiddish accent, I suppose, but
the cross between farce, slapstick and juxtaposition of the crass
and the high-brow make them a goldmine of comedy.
Interestingly enough, Tiffany herself does not make a giant leap of
personality in the course of the book (or, indeed, all of her
books). I've always found it faintly difficult to believe the sheer
distance between teenage protagonists at the beginning of their
books (brash, foolish, stupid) and at the end (world-weary,
intelligent, kind). Tiffany has a little ways to go, but not much;
and she has no one to teach her but herself. As a character says
near the end of the book, with witchery, first you take the exam,
then you find out how you passed it.
Tiffany is resolutely and constantly down to earth. She's arguably
further along than even Magrat in Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad,
whose rather damp, hopeful views of witchcraft tended towards mystic
sigils, complex spells and sabbats. Tiffany must use her eyes and
ears, but more importantly her instinctive knowledge of the the way
things are and how they must be.
What really makes this book stand out, though, is not necessarily
the journey or the characters, but the history and geography. Terry
paints the Chalk with a steady hand, showing us a hard-working land
with little time for magic and even less time for those who take
advantage of their fellows. Tiffany's narrative is often
interrupted by memories of Granny Aching, an almost mythical figure
to many, but simply her grandmother to her. These vignettes give a
broader view of the place and the people in it, and the solid
grounding that led to the creation of such a unique protagonist.
The Wee Free Men is vintage Pratchett aged to perfection and
distilled to a concoction that warms the soul. By turns funny,
contemplative, harrowing, and thought-provoking, it's a narrative
that sucks you in and puts you in a larger context, with great
humanity. It's an excellent read no matter how old you think you
Both reviews were originally posted at alt.books.pratchett
14) ROUNDWORLD TALES: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MORRIS'D
It seems that Morris dancing is undergoing an enormous resurgence,
thanks in no small part to the Discworld novels and their millions
of fans. Traditional troupes, less traditional troupes (the videos
of black-clad dancers doing the Border Morris would bring an
appreciative tear to Nanny Ogg's eye), testosterone-raddled teenage
male Morris troupes, troupes of Morris *women*, and at least one
troupe of Morris women, the Belles of London, who are known to dance
in corsetry...everything's coming up Morris, it seems!
An article about the Belles of London:
Border Morris by the Witchmen and the Wicket Brood:
A nicely brooding one, danced to drums instead of squeezeboxes:
...and one by a troupe called Wayzgoose!
...and Hunters Moon:
...oh, and cardboard Stormtroopers with familiar hankies:
And where would be be, Morris-wise, without our FAQ from
Roundworld's own "Lancre Morris Men"?
"Morris Dancing as we know it today can safely be said to be as
English as tea and crumpets. The widely held belief is that the
dance originated from North Africa and was introduced to Europe via
Spain during the 15-16th centuries by the Moors. Many of these
people converted to Christianity during this period and were called
'Mourrisco' by their fellow countrymen. The term for their lively
dance style was taken as far north as Paris where the style was
described as 'mourris (Moorish) dance'. It does not take much
imagination to see how the dance was brought home to the then major
port of Bristol by sailors and gained popularity in the surrounding
area of the Cotswolds where it is still mainly concentrated. The
name being anglicised as Morris dance. Probably thanks to their
African origin, the dances were carried out by the men of the tribe
and this seems to have survived through the ages..."
"Morris dances can be performed with sticks, handkerchiefs or bare
hands and each is specific to a tune and dance. What you may have
been told is that there are lots of traditional styles each
originating from separate areas or villages. These variations or
traditions mean any dancer who is in a large gathering will know
exactly what he is going to do when the squire announces...'Constant
Billy in the Bledington tradition'. The dance will be performed,
using long sticks, to the tune and steps of that region. This means
in theory, no-one should be doing any extra steps or movements or be
carrying their handkerchiefs. There are around 20 major traditions
practiced today and around 200 popular dances so you can see the
possibility of 4000 or so entirely different..."
Also, a little musical bonus, aka Roundworld's own version of All
the Little Angels:
14) IMAGES OF THE MONTH
NADWCON plushies Death of Rats and Librarian playing the new
Discworld board game "Guards! Guards!":
15) WHERE THE MULTIVERSES MEET
15.1 ANTHILL INSIDE!
"Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed a
framework for decentralized coordination based on the eusocial
behaviors seen in ant colonies... The primary purpose of the Ant-
Based Cyber Defense is to reduce the level of required human
involvement in problem detection and resolution while retaining the
human ability to intervene as desired. The second purpose is to
enable separate enclaves to cooperate in their cyber defense while
maintaining their privacy and proprietary data. A hierarchy is
needed to give the humans at the top a single point of access to
enclave-wide security information, but the monitoring and resolution
are decentralized, bringing the sensor to the data rather than vice-
versa... Currently, development is underway in to use the digital
ant approach as a security mechanism.."
15.2 SOMETHING EERIE...
"Monday's keynote was given by MIT professor Robert Langer, a
brilliant biotechnologist and entertaining speaker, who provided an
inspiring review of his work developing drug delivery systems and
other treatment technologies that combine biology, chemistry, and
electronics. His current work involves cartilage tissue engineering,
including the remarkable accomplishment of growing an ear-shaped
structure on a rabbit, and also the re-growth of spinal tissues in
animals. He encouraged the audience to persevere, noting that in his
early days of work, 'no one believed in what I was doing,' and
predicted that ALD will become a mainstream technology with wide
Thanks go to several readers including mailinutile for these items!
15.3 WOT, NO S.W.A.L.K? LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR MOIST, GROAT, AND
Duncan of BU wrote to say:
"Sounds like the USPS could use a reformer... Or at least hire Moist
to deliver a letter:
"'A love letter written to a Pennsylvania college student and
proclaiming "love forever" was finally delivered 53 years late.
But the tender note written in 1958 still waits forlornly in the
mailroom at California University of Pennsylvania as officials
search for its intended recipient, Clark Moore, now about 70 years
old and living near Indianapolis, according to university
spokeswoman Christine Kindl. The letter, sent from Pittsburgh and
postmarked February 20, 1958, arrived in the mailroom last week,
Kindl said. 'No one here has any idea why it was delayed,' she said.
The letter had been addressed to Mr. Clark C. Moore, then a junior
at the university, which was known at the time as California State
Teachers College, she said. It included a return address, but little
other information about the sender, who signed the letter, 'Love
16) DISCWORLD AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
Blogger Transremaxculver has posted a fine essay on the Discworld
series and the meaning of Discworld:
"It seems to me that the Discworld takes one step to the side of the
world as we know it. In this sense the Discworld is our world, but
liberated from the restrictions of having to fiddle about getting
every little geographical and historical detail absolutely right. As
well as this it seems that because, it is one step to the side, it
is able to offer up things that most people really know about
Roundworld anyway, as 'realities' of the Discworld, without the
reader feeling the need to argue any political points. Because of
this Sir Terry is able to litter the landscape of the Disc not just
with fantastical creations, and fascinating characters, but also
Also, here be another essay by the same blogger "Sir Terry
Pratchett. What he means to me.":
"I don't think there is a single published story of his that I have
not read at least once, though naturally some stick in my mind more
than others. I was introduced to the Discworld by a friend, who's
main advice was to read every footnote. At the time I didn't really
understand what she meant, but now I do. There sometimes seems as if
there is enough inspiration in just one of Sir Terry's footnotes to
write an entire new novel..."
...and a third, a pleasant ramble about Discworld witches and
headology that leads into musings about the Milgram Experiment:
"I tried in an earlier article to describe what I think the
Discworld is, though I wasn't particularly successful: but given
that Sir Terry Pratchett: the author of books concerning said
circular flat planet rotating atop the backs of four great elephants
standing on the carapace of a 12,000 mile long turtle, says he
doesn't know what it is any more, I am I suppose in good company.
I wondered if a better way to go would be to think about the
characters on the Discworld, and what better place to start than my
favourite Discworld character Granny Weatherwax..."
Blogger Incurable Bluestocking reviews Witches Abroad:
"Fairy tales emphasize, as few things do, the power that a story
has. And when it comes to that point, no-one, but no-one, hits the
nail quite so firmly on the head as Terry Pratchett. I'm so
grateful to him for giving me the phrase 'theory of narrative
causality'. It explains so much of what I believe about stories
and about life (and about how little difference there is between the
two, sometimes and how much)... I love this book. Next to Lords
and Ladies, it's my favourite of the Discworld Witches series,
because it mixes together so many things that are just wonderful
treats for me fairy tales, folklore, the power of stories, the
ambiance of New Orleans, the family dynamics. It's also just so
much fun. I love when you can tell that an author must have just had
a blast writing a book, and that gleeful sensation permeates Witches
Abroad. It's a wonderful book that gets better each time I revisit
it, because I'm always noticing something new. As with the whole
of this series, I heartily recommend it particularly if you'd
like to have some deep thoughts and ponder some meaningful things
without having to read a particularly dense book to get there..."
Blogger Shuggie reviews Carpe Jugulum:
"Carpe Jugulum is certainly a lot of fun. It has some interesting
things to say about Faith. I'm not sure there was anything
radically new in it. As I've said by this stage, book 23, we've
touched on most of Pratchett's favourite subjects before, so
there's a lot of familiar ground. But these are characters I enjoy
spending time with. I liked the vampires, I like Agnes and I still
like Nanny and Granny though her black-and-white belief in her
own rightness pushed me on that..."
A shortish review of ISWM by blogger The Crimson Scar:
"Unlike most of Pratchett's novels, which hit the ground running,
I Shall Wear Midnight starts out rather slowly and gathers steam as
it progresses. Is it worth the wait? Most definitely. If you read
the other Tiffany Aching novels, then you'll be glad to take
another journey down the path to adulthood with Tiffany the
nine-year-old girl who read the dictionary for fun (because no one
told her not to) is slowly but surely coming into her own; if
you've never read another Discworld book in your life, you'll
still be delighted by the twists and turns of this coming-of-age
tale. One thing I've always enjoyed about [Pratchett's] writing is
his ability to delve straight into the human condition, the human
psyche, with such grace and ease and humor that readers can fool
themselves into believing they're only reading a fantasy novel..."
A loving, detailed and good-humoured review of Soul Music by The
"This book can be seen as a companion to the earlier Moving Pictures
as an examination of and homage to popular culture. By transplanting
it to the Discworld, Pratchett is able to look at rock music from
the point of view of people who've never even thought about such a
thing before, and who can more easily see the magic of it. And of
course, it's his big chance to make as many music jokes, puns and
references as humanly possible... It's a sort of love letter to rock
and roll and all that it has brought us. From teenyboppers to punk
to the horrible misuses of leather and spandex, it holds a mirror up
to the way that rock music has influenced our modern culture. But it
does not mock, oh no. It shows great attention to and reverence for
this young art form that has done so much to change the world. To
list all the references made in this book would be nearly
impossible, but the amount of work and thought that went into making
it is quite clear. More importantly, though, the book addresses some
questions that are a little deeper than the simple rock and roll
A longish, well-intentioned though ultimately rather incompetent
analysis-cum-review of Sourcery by Sarah of Skells. Worth reading in
a how-not-to-do-it way, perhaps:
Musings on the wisdom of Pratchett by thesilverhorde:
...and to finish, a short, surprised-thumbs-up review of TAMAHER by
18) DISCWORLD ARTS AND CRAFTS NEWS
From PJSM Prints come four rather amazing-looking Paul Kidby prints,
all well known to Discworld fans. All prints are hand-signed by Sir
Pterry in silver pen (see below) and mounted; each print is 420mm X
297mm and is from an exclusive limited edition of 950.
The prints are: a worldscape of the Disc, with elephants, tiny sun
and of course Great A'Tuin, as seen from space; a portrait of Death
resting his chin on his steepled fingerbones; another of Death, with
kitten; and the iconic Greebo "Something wicked this way comes"
Price for each print is £30.00
For more information, and to order, go to:
About that silver pen: Pterry ptweeted on his Ptwitter account,
"Just signed mounts with silver pen... it looks like brandy removes
Sharpie ink from fingers. Well, that's my excuse."
[It's worth noting that the Great A'Tuin print is apparently already
sold out, but as the "NOW SOLD OUT" image doesn't feature Pterry's
signature, it's worth checking anyway Ed.]
And now it's back to bed for me. We'll see you soon with your July
horoscope and any late-breaking news...
The End. If you have any questions or requests, write:
Copyright (c) 2011 by Klatchian Foreign Legion