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WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2005 -- PART 2 OF 4 (continued)

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  • JSCHAUM111@aol.com
    WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2005 -- PART 2 OF 4 (continued) ... oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 4) A BELATED WORLDCON INTERVIEW WITH TERRY
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2005
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      WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2005 -- PART 2 OF 4 (continued)
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      oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      4) A BELATED WORLDCON INTERVIEW
      WITH TERRY PRATCHETT
      by Alternative Nation

      Somehow amidst all the chaos of Worldcon, a reporter
      from Alternative Nation was able to track down renowned
      fantasy author Terry Pratchett and arrange to interview
      him in a dank, shady warehouse. Here's what Terry has to
      say about conventions, collectables, and carnivorous plants.

      Alternative Nation: You've attended a fair few WorldCons
      in your time. How did Interaction measure up, aside from
      the name not being very good?

      Terry Pratchett: I think it was probably the best I've attended
      —not the biggest, by a long way, and not the fanciest, but
      certainly the best to hang out at. This may have had
      something to do with the Real Ale bar. I think I met just
      about everyone I know in fandom there.

      Oh, and the food was much better. Instead of going to the
      Hugos a bunch of us went to a Japanese restaurant and
      had a great meal—nothing deep-fried at all.

      AN: It did have a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. We
      drank the local microbrewery dry, I'm told. How did it
      compare to other Glasgow cons you've attended?
      Chasing Iain Banks around the rooftop of the Central
      Hotel must be hard to beat.

      TP: Did I do that? Mythology is a powerful force.
      It beats 'em all, anyway.

      AN: Were there any events (or participants) that
      you particularly enjoyed?

      TP: I moderated an international panel of translators and
      wished it could have gone on for longer, because lots of
      interesting stuff was revealed. The two different French
      translations of Lord of the Rings, for a start, and the strange
      reason why so many Brits get translated into Swedish.

      AN: I had meant to catch that one, but got distracted
      by shiny sword fighting demonstrations. Why do so many
      Brits get translated into Swedish?

      TP: In summary: 'because Swedish writers want to write
      literature that is reviewed in the serious papers, so to meet
      the demand for popular reading we have to import you guys'.

      AN: Heh. Are there many countries that take things the
      other way and just don't publish fantasy? I've heard that
      Spain, for example, is rather hit-and-miss about it.

      TP: That's true. They publish, but feel guilty about it.
      Certainly, across Europe, it's much harder to sell 'out of
      genre' than it is here, But odd attitudes still crop up even
      here. I remember very kindly being put in my place by a
      bookshop manager some years back. I'd wondered why
      my latest book wasn't on the shop's Best Sellers shelf,
      having been number one for three weeks; he said "well,
      you see, you're not exactly Best Seller list material."
      You've got to laugh, eh?

      AN: You've got to wonder what he does consider "Best
      Seller list material". It's back to the idea of SF&F vs 'proper'
      books. Do you think there's much that can be done for
      the public perception of the genre?

      TP: The public perception? What is that? I know that only
      a small minority of my readers are classic fans—when the
      first DW con was held, about ninety percent of the people
      who came along knew nothing about mainstream fandom
      and conventions. I think there are lots of people who read
      F/SF who don't think of themselves as 'fans'. In short, 'the
      public' reads lots of the books and watches the movies and
      TV shows. They're quite happy about it, as far as I can tell.
      But they do get uneasy, maybe, in the presence of costumers.
      Odd, really. Puking your guts out and pushing your arm through
      a shop window on a Friday night is 'normal', but wearing a hall
      costume at what is in effect a huge private party is 'weird'. Strange...

      Some myths float around. On tour last year some shops brought
      in security guards. They'd picked up the idea that my queues
      would be difficult in some way. What they got was three hundred
      people being quite cheerful and patient; one manager came up
      afterwards and said, in amazement: "they were so...nice!" as
      if this was a revelation.

      AN: I guess your average man on the street might have a
      better grasp of things than journalists do. Media coverage,
      for the most part, isn't exactly well researched. Recently,
      you wrote to the Sunday Times about a Time article, written
      by Lev Grossman, in which he describes Fantasy (before
      the advent of Harry Potter) as "a deeply conservative genre"
      that "looks backwards to an idealized, romanticized,
      pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance
      to Greensleeves". Leaving aside for a second the fact that
      your letter was widely touted, quite mistakenly, as an attack
      on JK Rowling, do you think that there are many people
      who subscribe to Grossman's view? Does this notion that
      Harry Potter has completely reinvented an ailing genre exist
      outside of the skulls of poorly-read journalists?

      TP: What happened, I think, was this: when the HP wagon
      began to roll, a lot of journalists who knew little or nothing
      about children's books took a look at them and said :
      "Great stuff! A school for wizards! Hey! Pet dragons! Magic
      streets! Fantastic!" Which was rather strange, because
      none of this was exactly new.

      Now, let's assume that, as a good journalist, you will at this point
      interject: "So, are you accusing JK Rowling of plagiarism?" And I'll
      sigh deeply and say: "No. Don't be silly, that's how genres work."
      Writers have always put a new spin on old ideas. I can think of a
      dozen pre-Hogwarts 'Magic schools'. Some of them are pre-Unseen
      University, too. It doesn't matter. No one is stealing from anyone.
      It's a shared heritage.

      Grossman's remark was a silly throwaway line which insulted
      a lot of good authors. Those familiar with the genre know this;
      those who move from HP onto other authors will find out.

      AN: Do you still get accused of plagiarism for using (and, quite
      often, poking fun at) ideas which are, manifestly, genre property?

      TP: Not really. The problem, such as it was, used to lie with kids
      who genuinely thought that plagiarise actually meant the same
      thing as 'refers to.'

      I suppose the weirdest one lately was the "attack" on Harry Potter
      in The Wee Free Men. You may have missed it. Tiffany daydreams
      of a wonderful magical school and Granny Weatherwax punctures this
      when she says you can't learn witching in a school. Now, Discworld
      indeed has its own magical schools, and Granny Weatherwax has
      gone on about exactly this sort of thing since Equal Rites - but
      several people have called this an 'attack'. I believe someone said
      that even though the incident fits in with DW history, it is nevertheless
      still an 'attack.' That makes me rather nervous.

      AN: H you been catching much flak due to all the 'Pratchett
      Rowling' spinoff reports, from people other than posters
      on Harry Potter message boards? Many of whom still think you're
      female, despite the beard.

      TP: Damn, I knew I should have bought a bigger beard.

      No, away from the close world of fandom there's been none at all.

      AN: It's kind of frightening that people would distort things like that,
      just so that they can go on the defensive about something they like.

      Your latest book, Thud!, centres around dwarfs, trolls, and the
      City Watch. Is there much wizardly involvement, or is this one
      relatively safe from accusations of veiled attacks?

      TP: It would be nice to think so. There is hardly any wizarding in the book.

      AN: Thud! actually existed as a board game before the book
      of the same name was released. Are there plans for any other
      non-videogame-related Discworld spin-offs?

      TP: Well, spin-offs tend to... spin off, without any long-term
      planning. Like the DW stamps, for example; they began as



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