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January 2000 WOSSNAME Part I

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  • Andrew Millard
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the North American Discworld Society January 2000 (Volume 3 Issue 1) --- Happy Hogswatch!
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2000
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      WOSSNAME

      Newsletter of the North American Discworld Society

      January 2000 (Volume 3 Issue 1) --- Happy Hogswatch!

      *********************************************************************

      WOSSNAME is a FREE publication for members of the North American
      Discworld Society and of the Klatchian Foreign Legion. Are you a
      member? Yes, if you sent in your e-mail address. Are there any
      dues? No. Dues are only required if you want to join the Guild of
      and Disciples and receive the discounts available through bulk
      purchases.

      *********************************************************************

      INDEX

      News:

      1) News from Colin Smythe: Books, Videos and Movies
      2) The Discworld Street Cryer
      3) North American Discworld Society T-Shirts Now on Sale!
      4) WYRD SISTERS on DVD
      5) New Issue of Bugarup University Newsletter for Students

      Features:

      6) Review of the First Discworld Game for PC, by Becky Swaney
      7) Review of THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD, by Elizabeth Alway

      Departments:

      8) Competition: Win a Copy of THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD
      9) [Letters] More Mottoes
      10) [Letters] Future Animated Films?
      11) [Letters] Where to Buy Discworld Books
      12) [Letters] Discworld D&D in the Bay Area
      13) [Letters] Where Are You All?
      14) [Letters] Upcoming Conventions
      15) Meetings Calendar

      Business:

      16) Mailing List Information
      17) Klatchian Foreign Legion Resources
      18) Messages from the Editors

      *********************************************************************

      Editor in Chief: Andrew C. Millard
      Staff Writers: Andy Stout, Becky Swaney
      Contributor: Joe Schaumburger

      Copyright 2000 by North American Discworld Society

      *********************************************************************


      1) NEWS FROM COLIN SMYTHE: BOOKS, VIDEOS AND MOVIES

      I see from a HarperPrism advert in the December issue of LOCUS, which
      features Terry on the cover, that "in March, check out the special
      $3.99 price for his first three Discworld novels!" and states that
      THE LAST CONTINENT will be available in paperback in February.

      You might like to know that on Amazon.com's list of top 1999 video
      releases for SF and fantasy, WYRD SISTERS features as no. 10. The
      list is as follows:

      1. The Iron Giant
      2. The Matrix
      3. Labyrinth
      4. The Faculty
      5. The X-Files Movie
      6. The Dark Crystal
      7. Aliens: Special Edition
      8. Star Trek: Insurrection
      9. Soldier
      10. WYRD SISTERS

      Here's their review of it:

      "This British TV miniseries visits Terry Pratchett's successful book
      franchise to create a drolly funny alternative to the usual sword and
      sorcery fare of fantasy, closer to Douglas Adams than J. R. R.
      Tolkien. This animated three-tape set won't cost any of the Disney
      animators sleep, but its wry, storybook visuals (which do evoke some
      of the style of the old Rankin-Bass spin on Tolkien) work with the
      witty script and juicy voice characterizations. The dotty witches of
      the title are typical of Pratchett's antic variations on the usual
      monarchs, knaves, wizards, and monsters of fantasy convention."

      In case it hasn't filtered through to you, there's a statement on
      Terry Gilliam's and Neil Gaiman's newsgroups that's been posted to
      alt.fan.pratchett and elsewhere, to the effect that Mr Gilliam is
      attached to GOOD OMENS. He will direct it, and write it with Tony
      Grisoni, for producers Peter Samuelson, Marc Samuelson and Chuck
      Roven. A studio deal for development is pending --- there are talks
      and negotiations on-going with several studios.

      Gilliam is still waiting for a green light on his Don Quixote
      project, and if all goes well, this should be on track for commencing
      in Spring 2000. In the meantime, so the message went, Terry is
      preparing to start adapting GOOD OMENS for the big screen with Tony
      Grisoni.

      COLIN SMYTHE (England)

      *********************************************************************


      2) THE DISCWORLD STREET CRYER

      The first issue of the new newsletter, the Discworld Street Cryer,
      was sent out last month. It features articles by Bernard (aka the
      Cunning Artificer), Elton of Clarecraft and Steven Dean of The
      Wizard's Knob, a competition and more. To subscribe, just send e-
      mail to cryer@... and say you'd like to sign up!

      *********************************************************************


      3) NORTH AMERICAN DISCWORLD SOCIETY T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE!

      Orders are now being taken for North American Discworld Society T-
      shirts, which feature the brilliant artwork of Rhett Ransom Pennell.
      If you previously expressed an interest in buying the T-shirts, you
      should have received an e-mail about it by now, otherwise why not go
      to

      http://discworld.imaginary.com/discworldsociety/t-shirts.html

      and check them out? The first batch of T-shirts is currently being
      printed up, and orders are currently being taken for the second
      batch. (We also have some other exciting designs in the works,
      including a special one for our Ecksian friends!)

      *********************************************************************


      4) WYRD SISTERS ON DVD

      Exciting news! Acorn Media, who brought out the WYRD SISTERS
      animation in the United States are currently gearing up to bring it
      out on DVD as well. As is commonly the case with DVD recordings,
      they're planning to include extra feature items on Terry, on the book
      and on Discworld in general, and they want to know what extras the
      readers of WOSSNAME would like to see!

      Features that have already been suggested include: interviews with
      Terry, as well as with cast members Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield and
      Annette Crosbie; storyboards from the animations; screen savers and
      some of the quotes as sound files that can be used by computers; and
      biographies of the characters. So, what would you like to see? Just
      write to us at WOSSNAME-owner@onelist.com and let us know!

      *********************************************************************


      5) NEW ISSUE OF BUGARUP UNIVERSITY NEWSLETTER FOR STUDENTS

      Ho there all members of the KFL!

      This is the Dean of Bugarup University down here in XXXX just
      advising you that the BUNS (Bugarup University Newsletter for
      Students) December edition is now available on-line at:

      http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Village/4108

      Just follow the link to the BUNS.

      The new issue discusses BU's new technology, gatherings in XXXX and
      re-annual confectionery.

      NATHAN CLISSOLD, Dean O' BU (Australia)

      *********************************************************************


      6) REVIEW OF THE FIRST DISCWORLD GAME FOR PERSONAL COMPUTER

      The first Discworld game to any lover of Terry Pratchett has to
      be one of the most brilliant pieces of PC/Playstation history that
      has ever come off the shelf. The actual game layout is full of
      intricate details and many places for you to roam such as Unseen
      University and the Mended/Broken Drum. However, for all the non-
      Discworldians the game may be found lacking, considering they won't
      understand any of the inside jokes, punch lines or the humor of the
      characters.

      The game is laid out in chapters or acts. Your guide,
      Rincewind, and the Luggage roam across the Disc, collecting objects
      to give to someone or something as may be the case. To guide
      Rincewind you have a small star cursor that resembles a mouse cursor.
      You simply point and click and Rincewind will move in that direction
      or will pick up objects. Another amazing feature is that you are
      allowed to talk to a vast range of characters (my personal favorite
      being Windle Poons) using different topics (such as sarcasm) that are
      depicted by icons. Through talking, occasional new icons will sprout
      up allowing you to talk about one subject in depth. (At least in-
      depth for the normal Ankh-Morporkian.)

      The main idea of the game (and you may remember quite a bit from
      different books) is that a dragon has invaded Ankh-Morpork and some
      people don't like this. (Pertaining that a hero would have to come
      fight the dragon... which would lead him into being king and
      receiving vast amount of riches.) So through an only Rincewind-like
      bungle he attempts to stop a cult from destroying the dragon. He
      does this by traveling through the infinite L-space with the help of
      the Librarian, learning how to pick pocket and learning how to make
      corn that pops!

      For any Discworld fan I recommend getting the game as soon as
      you can. (Even though I've heard they can be hard to find... but you
      can get them over the Internet.) You'll get no end of enjoyment from
      the game. However if you're not an avid Discworld patron (yet...) I
      recommend picking up some of the earlier books so you'll be able to
      catch the humor of the parodies.

      BECKY SWANEY (Ohio)

      *********************************************************************


      7) REVIEW OF THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD

      For those who require their regular fix of newly published and unread
      Discworld and also for those who have been demanding something just a
      little different, THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD arrived in British book
      stores last spring. Written by Terry in collaboration with Messrs.
      Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart, it is published by Ebury Press. I don't
      think many of you will whiz through it in one sitting --- I certainly
      didn't.

      If you don't know the works of Cohen and Stewart, Ian Stewart is
      professor of mathematics at Warwick University and a prolific author
      of over sixty books. Jack Cohen is a biologist of international
      reputation and has written many books and papers, some of them in
      collaboration with Prof. Stewart.

      A story of the Unseen University wizards alternates in chapters
      through this book with the science bits. Ridcully and colleagues
      watch the creation of a Universe as the familiar cast of faculty
      characters set up an experiment in the High Energy Magic Department.
      This experiment accidentally brings the Universe into being, but
      conveniently on a small enough scale to be confined in a container.
      They see the "Big Bang" take place and the development of Earth and
      also the beginning of life on the small, insignificant planet.

      In juxtaposition with the fantasy chapters of the story, Cohen and
      Stewart --- the real scientists --- drop in to explain the scientific
      facts behind what is taking place in front of the wizard's collective
      eyes.

      The book is a fairly seamless journey through time and space,
      explaining what probably happened according to the most currently
      held scientific theory. But the evolution of "Roundworld" is
      interfered with and observed by a bunch of fictional/fantasy
      characters in the Discworld chapters.

      When I first received my proof copy, I was much relieved to see that
      it wasn't a 'Science of ...' book along the lines of those popular
      cult TV tie-ins --- the ones that try to tell us how we'll soon have
      the technology to travel by Scotty's transporter or why exactly they
      don't have to turn on the lights in the X-Files. Perhaps the fans of
      Discworld were expecting that kind of book and hoped that a rational
      explanation of Disc magic was on the cards. Alternatively, you may
      have thought that Messrs. Cohen and Stewart fancied turning their
      hands to a bit of cleverly worked-out fantasy with the UK's number
      one best-seller in that field. I don't know what I expected either,
      but I know I enjoyed this dip into a subject I rarely read, and this
      time it came with the added bonus of previously unread reports of
      Unseen University life.

      This is not a manual to explain how the wizards' magic is easily
      reduced to probability theory and simply achieved with quantum
      whatever. In fact, this book doesn't explain anything about
      Discworld, but it explains a lot about our Roundworld. The familiar
      cast of characters, alongside the serious science, will probably keep
      the non-scientist reading and learning about the origins and
      development of our "real" world.

      I think that this book is aimed at non-scientists like the majority
      of us and I discovered a lot that is more up to date than when I was
      at school. It brought home to me that life exists by pure chance on
      this tiny blue planet, and may not exist for much longer. The book
      is a fascinating read, and the great advantage it has over school
      textbooks is that I wasn't going to be tested on what I had read! As
      I have said, some of it wasn't easy but if you are the sort who has
      vaguely heard about Schroedinger's cat but nothing further, you may
      be fascinated too. You may understand quantum theory in the future
      --- you may already know more about cats in boxes and quantum theory
      than I --- and I am certain that a lot of Discworld readers are much
      wiser than others, but no author writes to a market of one.

      What really seized my attention is that the most current theories of
      science are included and I think Messrs. Cohen and Stewart were
      wisely chosen, as they appear to be the sort of guys who write their
      science with a light hand. It isn't possible to decide just what is
      written by whom, although I think it unlikely there was a great deal
      of three-way collaboration in the actual Discworld sections.

      The approach of this book reminded me of the way the Royal Institute
      Christmas Lectures provoke my interest. There are many of us who
      need loud explosions, funny smells and fascinating experiments to get
      us drawn into science as a topic. We need to have our interest
      stimulated and not smothered by incomprehensible jargon and
      mathematical theorems. However, THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD can leave
      the reader feeling insignificant, in the same way that staring at the
      night sky can make us feel a mere smudge in the cosmos! This book
      reminds us just what we are and how little we affect the great scheme
      of things. I think the idea that our civilisation will leave not a
      single trace of itself --- at least, not a single trace that could
      last for a million years --- was a bit of a shock. Reading this made
      me realise that we don't think in the long run; we think in terms of
      a generation. Will there be a planet remaining for our children? Or
      even for our own lifetime? Science thinks on an altogether larger
      time-scale, where the human is merely a blip on a graph. We may not
      be as vital to this planet as we might once have believed, but one
      sentence shone out to me as I struggled with new thoughts:

      "The fact that nature deals the occasional death blow
      doesn't hand us an excuse to imitate it. [...] Our
      environment is sufficiently buffeted by various forces
      that the last thing it needs is humanity throwing extra
      spanners in the works."
      THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD, p.301

      ELIZABETH ALWAY (England)

      *********************************************************************

      This article first appeared in the June 1999 issue of RAMTOP TO
      RIMFALL, the newsletter of the Guild of Fans and Disciples.

      An interview conducted by Amazon.co.uk with Terry, Ian Stewart and
      Jack Cohen may be read at

      http://www.us.lspace.org/about-terry/interviews/amazon.html

      Also, NEW SCIENTIST, the British popular science magazine, has a
      commentary about THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD, co-written with Doctors
      Stewart and Cohen. You can read the article at

      http://www.newscientist.com/ns/19990710/theworldof.html

      Pictures of Terry in his doctoral robes, receiving his honorary
      degree from Warwick University, can be found on Colin Smythe's Web
      site via

      http://www.colinsmythe.co.uk/authors/tp/pratch.htm

      and on Warwick's site at

      http://www.warwick.ac.uk/news/pr/133

      *********************************************************************


      8) COMPETITION: WIN A COPY OF THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD

      We don't yet know when THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD will be published in
      North America, but in the meantime, here's your chance to get hold of
      a copy by taking part in this month's competition. We're giving away
      one copy each to *two* randomly selected readers who correctly answer
      the following three questions.

      1) In what place did the video of WYRD SISTERS come in
      Amazon.com's list of top 1999 video releases for SF
      and fantasy?

      2) Who is the Cunning Artificer?

      3) Who are the main protagonists of the first Discworld
      game for PC?

      Just send your answers by e-mail to

      WOSSNAME-owner@onelist.com

      or write them on a postcard and send it to

      North American Discworld Society Competition,
      c/o Andrew C. Millard,
      8659 Via Mallorca #110,
      La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

      (All entries received via postcard will receive a complementary set
      of North American Discworld Society and Klatchian Foreign Legion
      badges.)

      Entries should be received by 21st January for consideration. Good
      luck!

      *********************************************************************
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