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WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2004 -- PART 2 OF 4

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  • Joseph Schaumburger
    WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2004 -- PART 2 OF 4 ====Part 2 5) Once More, With Footnotes 6) New Year s Resolutions
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2005
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      WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2004 -- PART 2 OF 4

      ====Part 2

      5) Once More, With Footnotes

      6) New Year's Resolutions

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      ONCE MORE, WITH FOOTNOTES: a review

      by Anna M.C.

      At times, being an American fan of Terry's Pratchett's writing smacks
      of second-class citizenship: we lack cohesive fandom, we don't
      produce Discworld plays, and until recently, the books debuted here
      months later than their U.K. counterparts. Thus, it is with great
      glee that I reveal New England, not old England, is responsible for
      the first-ever Pratchett miscellany, a collection of forty-five short
      stories, articles, speeches, and essays published by NESFA (the New
      England Science Fiction Association) to commemorate Terry's tenure as
      Noreascon Four's guest of honor.

      These selections range from the readily available to the impressively
      rare. While "Theatre of Cruelty" has been online for years, "And Mind
      the Monoliths" hails from an obscure 1983 edition of the Bath and
      West Evening Chronicle, and only Terry's audience at the University
      of Portsmouth's honorary doctorate ceremony has heard "Doctor Who?"
      Also unique to this volume are Terry's brief introductions, which
      enrich each piece with context, commentary, and far more laughs than
      you'd expect in so few paragraphs.

      Containing only four Discworld short stories and six Discworld essays
      and tie-ins, this book may not appeal to the casual fan. But for
      those who love the wizardry of his writing, Discworld or not, Terry
      shares some genuine delights. If judged on a strict word-to-laugh
      ratio, the 100-word "Incubust" ranks as one of the funniest bawdy
      bits ever written. "Final Reward," a 1988 chronicle of a fantasy
      writer's life being literally overtaken by his creation, seems a
      prophetic metaphor for Terry and the Discworld. Despite its choppy
      style, even his first short story, "The Hades Business," is well
      worth reading, as the thirteen-year-old Terry already possessed an
      appreciation for the absurd and a knack for playful language. These
      powers are at full maturity in "The Sea and Little Fishes," where
      Granny Weatherwax's baking gives new meaning to "killing with
      kindness": "It looked as though a herd of small cows had eaten a lot
      of raisins and then been ill. They were Ur-cakes, prehistoric cakes,
      cakes of great weight and presence that had no place among the iced
      dainties."

      Common themes unite his nonfiction: our intrinsic need for stories,
      the nature of authorship, and our ambivalent relationship with
      technology. Although this leads to repetition, particularly among
      his apologias for the fantasy genre, all essays are thoughtful,
      thought-provoking, and very, very opinionated, balancing Big Ideas
      with personal glimpses of his career in the nuclear industry, his
      bookish childhood, his bemused appraisal of his own success, and even
      his iconic hat fetish. One of the best of the bunch, "Imaginary
      Worlds, Real Stories," will inspire you to run out and read all the
      folklore you can find. All work to create, in the words of Esther
      Friesner's introduction, an immensely likable portrait of "the man,
      the myth, the beverage."

      Of course, it falls short of being comprehensive. As the introduction
      explains, Terry never preserved his prodigious journalistic output,
      and less well-regarded works like "Night Dweller" are conspicuous by
      their absence. To grasp the scope of the omissions, you have only to
      check such websites as

      http://www.diversebooks.com/tp_biblio.shtml.

      Still, all things considered, this is the most complete collection of
      "unconsidered trifles" you're likely to pick up in quite some time.
      Thanks go to NESFA for undertaking the daunting task of tracking down
      articles even Terry had forgotten, wangling the rights and
      assembling the results, all with limited budget and time, and an all-
      volunteer staff. I propose a moment of applause for all their
      efforts, as well as a moment of silence for the sad demise of this
      collection's original working title. Hopefully, in some alternate
      universe, "Oh Bugger! by Wossname" lived to see the light of day.[ed]

      Once More, with Footnotes is available for purchase at:

      http://www.nesfa.org/press/Books/Pratchett.html

      [editor's note: of course it did - that's what L-Space is all about]

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      NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: AN A-M- TIMES REPORT

      as transcribed by Steven D'Aprano

      ======================

      William de Worde, well-known editor of the Ankh-Morpork Times, has
      asked some Notable Persons of interest to share their New Year's
      resolutions with us. Their responses are provided below...


      "Not to leave Unseen University ever again, not even for potatoes.
      Except in case of an attack by Things from the Dungeon Dimensions;
      then run away."
      -- Rincewind, a Wizzard.

      ***

      "I Choose To Make The Resolution That I Shall Work Harder Next Year
      By My Free Choice As A Free And Independent Being, So As To Be Able
      To Buy More Golems And Free Them As Well. I Make This Resolution By
      My Own Free Will And Not Because I Have Been Ordered To Do So."
      -- Dorfl, a golem and Watchman.

      ***

      "Oh, it's a new year, is it? Strange, things seem exactly as they
      were yesterday, with the possible exception that there are more
      people with hangovers and fewer wearing silly hats. That was a
      particularly bright shade of yellow underwear you were wearing on
      your head at the party last night, and I especially enjoyed the
      anecdotes you told. New Year's Resolution, you ask? Very well. I
      resolve to take very careful note of the advice and criticism of my
      policies that you so very kindly, if rather incoherently, expressed
      to me last night."
      -- Havelock Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.

      ***

      "It's the new year already, time for me to be digging up my
      parsnips and carrots. You'd never guess what humorously shaped
      vegetables I found last year, ha ha! My resolution is to try
      growing asparagus this year."
      -- Mr Wintler, Ankh-Morpork vegetable grower.

      ***

      "It is a hard hard world for helpless ol' ladies and respectable
      widows like mys*cough cough cough*. Sorry, I don't know what came
      over me. In this terrible world, family is more important than ever.
      My resolution for the new year is to be more grateful for my
      children and grand-kiddies, bless 'em. And to my daughters-in-law,
      lazy bunch of slovens the lot of 'em, I don't know what my boys see
      in 'em, I'll try to help 'em become better people by pointing out
      all their faults more often."
      -- Nanny Ogg, a Lancre witch.

      ***

      "New year's resolutions? I can't be having with that sort of thing!
      If you ain't doin' what you need to be doin', no damn foolish
      resolution is going to make you do it."
      -- Granny Weatherwax, another Lancre witch.

      ***

      TO TRY TO GET OUT AND MEET MORE INTERESTING PEOPLE. AND FEWER ALMOST
      DEAD ONES. AND CURRIES. I'D LIKE TO EAT CURRIES MORE OFTEN.
      -- Death, the Grim Reaper.

      ***

      "My resolution for the new year is to encourage the people of Lancre
      to be more accepting of modern technology and perhaps to bathe more
      often. Or even ever."
      -- King Verence II of Lancre.

      ***

      "Well, here's the fing, Ron says he doesn't really care too much
      about what year it is, when you're living in the sewer its all the
      same. But Ron says, he'd like to stop following you home and sitting
      outside your front gate and muttering loudly to himself whenever
      people come to visit you, and if you have a few pennies or perhaps a
      bottle of somefing, he finks he could avoiding breaking that
      resolution for weeks."
      -- Foul Ole Ron, beggar, as translated by his Thinking Brain Dog.

      ***

      "Have you theen my new Marthter? He'th all thumbth, and I thhould
      know, I thewed them on mythelf. My retholution ith to have collected
      my wageth and be far far away from hith experimentth before he
      pullth the big lever."
      -- Igor, freelance assistant.

      ***

      "I vould like to do more of zer study of zer interplay of light and
      shadow. I am zinking that I vould like to make zer iconographs of
      zer light as it falls on zer surface of zer nice cup of cocoa, and
      most definitely not any ozzer drink, not at all, vot sort of stupid
      sucker do you take me for?"
      -- Otto Chriek, iconographer.

      ***

      "My resolution for the 'new year' is try out my new filing system at
      the regimental 'head quarters'. For some reason my requests to be
      transferred keep getting misfiled, which shows that their existing
      filing system doesn't 'cut the mustard'."
      -- Captain Blouse, Borogravian soldier.

      ***

      "Too many damn dwarfs and trolls and the wrong sort of people in the
      city these days. Resolve to do something about it. And Klatch. Time
      to finish off what we started, show Johnny Klatchian a taste of cold
      steel and watch him run."
      -- Lord Ronald Rust.

      ***

      "To hire some gnolls and put them on patrol in Ronnie Rust's street."
      -- His Grace the Duke of Ankh, Samuel Vimes.

      ***

      "To catch that geas that keeps flappin' at the big man Rob, should be
      good eatin' on one o' them. And more fightin'. An' drinkin'. An'
      stealin'. But no' the ship beasties, no' unless the wee hag says it's
      okay. An' drinkin', especially drinkin' the strong licker just after
      we've stole it from some bigjobs we've jus' been fightin'."
      -- Daft Wullie, a pictsie of the clan Nac Mac Feegle.

      ***

      "After last week's bit of unpleasantness with Lord Selachii, I
      resolve to never again discuss the relative merits of the vertical or
      upright position vis-à-vis standing and walking."
      -- Lord Charles Venturi

      ***

      "To drink a cup of tea with rancid yak butter in peace and quiet for
      a few moments, without having to worry about people who don't know
      Rule One."
      -- Lu-Tze, a little foreign old man with a broom.

      ***

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      END OF PART 2

      "And there's more..."
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