WOSSNAME -- Main issue -- November 2012
Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
November 2012 (Volume 15, Issue 11, Post 3)
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, L.C. Thomas
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 2012 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
01) QUOTES OF THE MONTH
02) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
03) IT'S OFFICIALLY HERRYDE-PTERRY!
04) "CHOOSING TO DIE" WINS INTERNATIONAL BEST DOCUMENTARY EMMY
05) INTERVIEW: DAILY MIRROR
06) INTERVIEW: ONION AV CLUB
07) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
08) ODDS AND SODS DEPARTMENT
09) THE THINGS PRATCHETT FANS SAY...
10) REVIEW: THE LONG EARTH
11) REVIEW: A BLINK OF THE SCREEN
12) DISCWORLD GROUPS MEETING NEWS
13) TERRY AND ROB ON DAVID TENNANT
14) IMAGES OF THE MONTH
15) AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
01) QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"I was surprised that both my editors gave me a thumbs-up on a lot
of the parts of Dodger, saying 'Today's kids know about vampires and
all kinds of stuff.' They aren't the kids that were kids when I was
Pterry, interviewed by the Onion AV Club
02) A LETTER FROM YOUR EDITOR
And here we are with the third post of the month, and it's only
three weeks in! But once again there is a bumper crop of news,
reviews, things, stuff and possibly whatnots. Do check out the trio
of superb new interviews from the New Statesman, the Onion AV
Club, and the Daily Mirror and give a congratulatory nod to the
"Choosing to Die" team for winning the 2012 International Emmy for
Best Documentary (item 4) and a nod of enormous thanks to Sir Pterry
(with vital assistance from Rob Wilkins) for *not* dying yet (item
From Lynsey at Transworld, here be a timely reminder to budding
science fiction authors:
"We are only six weeks away from this years deadline for The Terry
Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Award. Have
you written your submission yet?"
Also from the world of publishing comes the news that the Pearson
and Bertelsmann companies, better known to us civilians as Penguin
and Random House, are merging "to recover ground lost to technology
groups Amazon and Apple, the leaders in the ebook revolution.
Education and media publisher Pearson said the joint venture, which
will bring under one roof fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, 'Fifty
Shades of Grey' author E L James and 2012 Nobel prize winner Mo Yan,
would be named Penguin Random House..."
Penguin Random I like the sound of that! To read all about it, go
And now for the rest of the news...
Annie Mac, Editor
03) IT'S OFFICIALLY HERRYDE-PTERRY!
Interviewed by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman, Sir Pterry tells
the world that Rhianna will continue the Discworld when he's gone:
"Most science-fiction and fantasy authors who become successful must
confront their own politics sooner or later, because inventing a
universe from scratch and inviting millions of readers to join you
there demands a certain moral responsibility. Writers from Ursula K
Le Guin and Robert Heinlein to China Mieville have used the
fantastic as an explicitly political space, imagining other worlds
where humanity might organise itself differently. Pratchett went in
precisely the opposite direction. He began to write like a man who
knows that the most fascinating place in the known and imagined
universe is this one, right here. Pratchett uses nerdy fantasy and
slapstick comedy as tools to tell stories about racism and religious
hatred, war and the nature of bigotry, love and sin and sex and
death, always death, knotted into the ersatz adventures of talking
dogs, zombie revolutionaries, crime-fighting werewolves, tooth
fairies, crocodile gods and funny little men who sell suspicious
sausages on street corners...
"Decades ago, when the internet first opened up to non-specialists,
communities such as alt.fan.pratchett quickly developed for readers
of his books to share stories and meet each other. 'You have to have
a bit of nerd in you to get used to it, of course,' he says. He
sizes me up suspiciously. 'If you're not a nerd I don't want to
speak to you. You must at least have taken the lid off your computer
at some point?' I don't dare say no, because I suspect if I admitted
that I work on a Mac and am worried about voiding the warranty, the
interview really would be over...
"You can't really understand Terry Pratchett without understanding
Rob Wilkins, whose name I keep accidentally writing down as
Willikins, a loyal butler-character with hidden depths who turns up
in many of the Discworld books. Rob is, in many ways, the archetypal
Terry Pratchett fan. He's big-hearted, fizzing with all the nerdy
energy of a first-generation immigrant to the digital universe,
crammed into a badly fitting black T-shirt, and utterly devoted. If
there is a reason why Pratchett's debilitating illness has had so
little effect on his output to date, Rob is it. He's the one who
turns up at the house at any time of day or night to take dictation
or fix a problem, and Terry's wife has resigned herself to the fact
that this is part of the job...
"When he began writing novels, more than 40 years ago, he and his
wife, Lyn, were 'hippies, but hippies with jobs', he says. 'I had a
beard that Darwin would have got lost in, but I worked as a sub-
editor on a paper, and we just had about enough room in our small
cottage to have one child. Rhianna's an only child, which is
probably a good thing. You either go under when you're an only child
or you become a fighter. Rhianna is a fighter.'...
"Pratchett is whip-sharp, and talking to him makes you want to sit
up straight and make sure your shoelaces are tied, yet he is
noticeably frailer than his 64 years might lead you to expect, and
occasionally he drifts off at the end of a sentence. In fact, just
before this interview went to press, Rob contacted me to say that
Pratchett had almost died of what they had thought was a heart
attack, in early November, while in New York on a book signing tour.
The pair were on the way back to their hotel from a visit to Ground
Zero, Rob says, when Pratchett 'took a very bad turn. We were
sitting in the back of a taxi when I noticed his breathing had
become laboured.' A few minutes later, Pratchett passed out. In a
written account of the incident, which he plans to publish, he
claims not to remember much, other than feeling 'simply dreadful,
and very cold, although sweat was pouring down my face, and I
couldn't even focus and just seemed to be slipping away. Rob kept
asking me if I was OK and telling me we didn't have far to go . . .
I have to take his word for what happened next.'..."
[Editor's note: this is an excellent in-depth interview; it's well
worth tracking down a dead-tree copy of the issue it's in, or buying
the digital version.]
04) "CHOOSING TO DIE" WINS INTERNATIONAL BEST DOCUMENTARY EMMY
From the official International Emmys site:
"The 9 International Emmy Award Winning programs and performances
are: Songs of War (Arts Programming), Dario Grandinetti (Best
Performance by an Actor), Cristina Banegas (Best Performance by an
Actress), The Invisible Woman (Comedy), Terry Pratchett: Choosing to
Die (Documentary), Braquo season 2 (Drama Series), The Amazing Race
Australia (Non-Scripted Entertainment), The Illusionist
(Telenovela), and Black Mirror (TV Movie/Mini-Series)... 'The
International Academy is proud to be shining the spotlight on the
world's best television programming and performances, for the last
40 years, and we congratulate tonight's winners for their
outstanding achievements as they enter into Emmy history.' said
Academy President Bruce L. Paisner."
from the Daily Mail:
"After being aired in Britain the controversial television
documentary Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die was criticised by
religious leaders, charities, and politicians of being 'one-sided'
and 'propaganda' for euthanasia. But not every viewer felt the same
and on Tuesday night Sir Terry was honoured with the Best
Documentary gong at the International Emmy Awards in Los Angeles...
Following his win at the glitzy event, a message that read '"I will
accept any award that isn't posthumous"; brilliant!' was posted to
his Twitter page."
from Contact Music:
"Pratchett's documentary was given a hefty amount of criticism from
religious charities and leaders, as well as politicians, who all
considered it to be 'euthanasia propaganda'. Clearly however, the
judges of the awards thought much more highly of the film..."
from the Radio Times:
"On a more serious note, Pratchett's powerful BBC2 documentary
followed patients at Switzerland's Dignitas clinic, who had chosen
to end their lives through assisted suicide, and was prompted by the
author's own diagnosis with Alzheimer's. Last night's award
follows a win for best single documentary at this year's Baftas."
05) DAILY MIRROR INTERVIEW
Well-known journalist and telly presenter Fiona Phillips, daughter
of an Alzheimer's sufferer, interviewed Sir Pterry at length for the
"The Discworld author first said he had [Alzheimer's] in December
2007, just over a year after I'd lost my mum Amy to early-onset
Alzheimer's. It was a particularly bleak period as we were told that
my dad Neville also had it. Until then, I'd felt a bit of a voice in
the wilderness, going on about the lack of understanding and good
care. Terry's honesty was a eureka moment for me. Since then I had
always wanted to meet him and he, apparently, was keen to see me.
But it didn't seem that way when I introduced myself and went to
shake his hand. Dressed from head-to-toe in his trademark black, a
top hat and frock coat, he looked like an authoritarian Dickensian
character from his Oliver Twist-inspired novel Dodger. When he
didn't offer his hand back my heart sank a little. 'He can't see
your hand,' his book publicist Lynsey explained. Terry, 64, has a
form of early-onset Alzheimer's called PCA (Partial Cortical
Atrophy) which affects the part of the brain responsible for visual
"Terry's twinkly-eyed humour made me, by contrast, recall my mum's
constant tears and depression. He has written eight books since his
diagnosis and his doctor has told him he has 'Terry Pratchett's PCA,
which isn't like anyone else's PCA.' He can no longer use a keyboard
but, instead, has a program which enables him to talk to his
computer... His words are very considered, his answers long and
drawn out. If he forgets a word there's a silence as he cogitates,
before returning to the point where he left off and continuing the
anecdote. I try not to ask too many questions so as not to interrupt
his thoughts. You can almost hear the determination to hang on to
facts and to maintain his fluency...
"Does he ever get depressed? 'No, my father was a stoic,' he replies
before asking about my father. I tell him he was killed by the
overuse of drugs for his Alzheimer's. 'Ah, so that was murder,' he
exclaims... So, does Terry have an end-of-life plan? 'Yes, I plan
to die... it's all the rage,' he cheekily retorts. 'I have a living
will and I have friends, and I have money and I have hope. There are
things around and I know where they can be got quite easily but I
quite like waking up to the sunshine. I don't think about the end
game. I've got lots to occupy my mind. It's the rage that keeps me
O6) AV CLUB INTERVIEW
A fantastic interview by Tasha Robinson, who has interviewed Pterry
"TP: Right now, I have, on what I call the naughty shelf, another
one of those things. There is a lovely Discworld one, and a lot of
it is done, and it's got some elegant characters, really infested
ones, and some wonderful things in it. [Whispers.] But there's no
fecking plot. There's no fecking plot! I'm having such fun with the
interactions of these people...
"AVC: It sounds like you're working on four things at once in your
head most of the time. Is it necessary to have that subconscious
help to keep it all straight and to make parts progress?
"TP: Shit knows, I don't. That's just how I do it...
"AVC: Was there a process of preparing to write Dodger? Did you
revisit Charles Dickens, or Henry Mayhew, or any of your other
"TP: Oh, good question. In my early teens, I read every bound volume
of the magazine Punch. Every writer of any distinction in the
English language, and I mean including America and England, at some
time wrote for Punch. Jerome K. Jerome, who wrote Three Men In A
Boat, I loved. I was very impressed when I read a piece by Mark
Twain in Punch, and realized that despite the fact that they were on
different continents, Jerome K. Jerome and Mark Twain had the same
kind of laconic, laid-back, 'The human race is damn stupid, but
quite interesting' attitude. They were almost talking with the same
"AVC: Did you see yourself in Dodger, or did you see your
experiences in what he's trying to do?
"TP: If parallels are there, other people will see them. I don't. I
can see myself in Commander Vimes, because I actually used bits of
myself in him, because I'm a kid from the council houses, the
tenements. So first of all, I get the OBE [Order Of The British
Empire, a high British honor. ed]. Ka-ching! Not too long
afterward, an elderly lady is behind me bringing down a big
swordI got knighted. It's the Queen. She's quite small. When it
was being done, my mother I'm so glad she was alive to see
itshe was in a wheelchair so close to the Queen, with the same
kind of hairstyle. I thought, 'I really hope we don't mix them up
when it's time to go home.' [Laughs.] It would have been much more
interesting for the future of the world. You think, 'How did I get
from there to here? Who am I to have got from here to here? What
happened?' And Vimes is doing all this as well...
"AVC: You mentioned the scene of Dodger fighting a mugger while
wearing women's clothing as being in the book for the movie. Do you
hope to see a movie made out of Dodger?
"TP: One always hopes. And now we've got our own production company.
We might be able to do something..."
07) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
7.1 THE FIFTH ELEPHANT IN READING
The Progress Theatre of Reading will present their production of The
Fifth Elephant (adapted by Stephen Briggs and directed by Chris
Moran) in January 2013.
When: Thursday 17th to Saturday 26th January 2013
Venue: Progress Theatre, Reading, Berks
Time: 7:45pm (with Matinees on Saturday 19th and 26th at 2:30pm)
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions), available in advance from Reading
Arts Box Office (phone 0118 960 6060, booking fee applies) or by
application in person at the Hexagon or Town Hall.
7.2 DODGER IN ABINGDON
The Studio Theatre Club's world stage premiere of Dodger will take
place on 22nd to 26th January 2013!
How to book:
Send your ticket order (with back-up choices if you're after Friday
or Saturday tickets); your cheque (payable to 'STC' £8.50 per
ticket), and a stamped, self-addressed, envelope to:
Studio Theatre Club (Dodger)
PO Box 1486
7.3 REVIEW: GUARDS! GUARDS! IN EMERALD, FOURECKS
Reviewed by Damian Perry
Last Friday night I went to see Guards! Guards! As performed by the
GemCo Players. I was excited, looking forward to seeing a giant
dragon setting things on fire all over the stage, and to see our
Chair, Carmela, playing Sybil Vimes. Well, I got to see Sybil!
If you haven't seen (or read) Guards! Guards! then... well, I think
this review will be almost completely meaningless to you. But
basically, it is the story of Carrot, a human raised as a dwarf,
come to the big city to join the Watch he had heard it would
make a man out of him. And then, there's a bloody great dragon
terrorising the city.
The show was an outstanding success. It is always a bit of a gamble,
watching Pratchett plays on stage. A director with no sense of
humour, or a cast with no comic timing can really destroy the
master's work. This was not the case in this production. The crowd
were roaring with laughter in a number of places, and chuckling for
most of the rest of the show.
The biggest bones my wife and I had to pick with the show were the
length (it started at 8 and the first act finished at 9.30. The
second half dragged a little as the jokes thinned out and the hour
got later) and the Footnote. I get it. The Footnote is a very
difficult plot device to use on stage. It is completely necessary
when trying to put across the essential Pratchett-ness of a show,
but as a completely written device, it often doesn't translate well.
But it was overused in this production. The actor (I'm sorry, you're
probably a fine actor!) wasn't comfortable in the role, was very
forced in her humour and folded her glasses one too many times. The
director could have easily dropped at least half-a-dozen of the
interruptions, letting the cast take some of the exposition, or
letting the audience fill in the gaps.
Apart from that one little '*' the cast were mostly excellent. There
were a wide range of ages involved, but for the most part, age had
nothing to do with talent. Obviously I thought Carmela did a great
job, especially when we first saw her or the heavy dragon armour
that surrounded her. She had a good relationship with Vimes and a
great stage presence.
I was surprised to see that four of the characters were played by a
Grade Four student, but happily, he was one of the stand-out comedy
parts in the show. His Brother Dunnikin especially had me in
stitches as he mumbled about chastised thuribles and the three
dollars he would never see again.
Dibbler was my next favourite. During intermission he mingled with
the audience, selling chocolates (sometimes for double the price)
and assuring us that he was 'cutting his own throat'. He had a real
presence on stage and played three very different characters. My
wife felt that his Thieves' Guild Head was a little over the top,
but I was happy.
The Guards were (again, mostly) well-cast. Colon was very amusing,
Vimes had a great physicality and good comic timing. Carrot took
awhile to get used to because of all of the guards he is the one
that is described the most in the books. But he had a goofy,
innocent expression that was instantly endearing and he played off
against the other characters with a real skill. Nobby was a case of
mis-casting rather than bad acting. He was out of place in the
ensemble, but wasn't a bad actor, just a bad Nobby.
Vetinari and Wonse were both well-cast and Wonse's range of
expression was excellent as the play progressed. He worked well with
his secret brotherhood, who in turn, played a number of bit parts
throughout the play.
Who have I missed? Of course, the Librarian! His costume wasn't the
best, and he forgot that he was a mon- er, an ape, some of the time,
but he was hilarious, especially when playing charades. He made Ook
mean exactly what he wanted it to mean, every time. Apparently he
also doubled as Death a seven foot robed skeleton with glowing
blue eyes and scythe. Very effective.
All in all, I enjoyed myself immensely. My seven-year-old daughter
loved it. My wife loved it. It was definitely worth the drive out to
08) ODDS AND SODS DEPARTMENT
8.1 SNUFF REVIEW
In Fife Today, reviewed by Gordon Holmes
"Even when he doesn't live up to his high standards, he is still
head and shoulders above the vast majority of writers, and when he
is on top form... well, read 'Wyrd Sisters' and you'll soon know
what I mean. This is, incredibly, the 39th Discworld novel and when
you consider his ongoing battle with Alzheimer's, that Pratchett can
continue to produce work so clever and funny, with his on-the-mark
insights into the darker aspects of human nature, is nothing short
of genius... 'Snuff' deals with serious issues and as such has fewer
laugh out loud moments but is still a compelling story..."
8.2 KEEP THOSE LIBRARIANS SMILING!
A study has found that orangutans may, like humans, experience "mid-
An international team of researchers assessed the well-being and
happiness of the great apes. They found well-being was high in
youth, fell to a low in midlife and rose again in old age, similar
to the "U-shape curve" of happiness in humans. The study brought
together experts such as psychologists, primatologists and
economists... 'What we are testing is whether the U-shaped curve can
describe the association between age and well-being in non-human
primates as it does in humans,' psychologist and lead author Dr
Alexander Weiss of the University of Edinburgh told BBC Nature. Dr
Weiss hoped the results would show a similar curve because of the
close relationship between humans, chimpanzees and orangutans. The
study showed that male and female humans, chimpanzees and orangutans
have the same U-shaped curve despite differences in social roles,
and the phenomenon is therefore not uniquely human. The sample
subjects included 508 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and orangutans
(Pongo sp.) of varying ages, from zoos, sanctuaries and research
centres. They were assessed by zoo keepers, volunteers, researchers
and caretakers who had worked with the primate subject for at least
two years and knew its behaviour. The animals were numerically
scored for well-being and happiness on a short questionnaire, which
was based on a human well-being model but modified for use in non-
An older article about happiness and lifespans in orangutans shows
that happiness is a true life-extender for these apes:
"A team of researchers in the UK and US devised a method to measure
the happiness, or subjective well-being, of captive orangutans. In a
follow-up study seven years later, the scientists found that happier
primates were much more likely still to be alive... The team, led by
Dr Alex Weiss from the University of Edinburgh, asked the people who
worked closely with each captive orangutan to participate in the
study. He asked the keepers and carers to complete a questionnaire
about individual animals they knew well; assessing the orangutans'
personalities and attitude. 'The assessment was modelled on
[established] methods of assessing human well-being,' Dr Weiss
explained to BBC Nature. The questionnaire posed four key questions,
including how much time the orangutan in question spent 'happy,
contented and enjoying itself'. It also asked the human participants
to imagine how happy they would be if they were that orangutan for a
week. By working out a happiness score for each of nearly 200
animals, the team was able to see how happiness influenced the
8.3 THE POLITICS OF PRATCHETT
Also in the New Statesman (see Laurie Penny interview, item 3
above), a political analysis by Helen Lewis of the Discworld series:
"One of the commonest misconceptions about Pratchett's books is that
their fantasy setting somehow divorces them from the real world and
its concerns. But as the Discworld series developed, its themes
became increasingly political (with both a big and a small 'p').
Take Feet of Clay (1996), possibly my favourite in the series. It is
an interrogation of power as an ancient vampire herald called
Dragon, King of Arms searches obsessively for the 'true ruler' of
the city-state of Ankh-Morpork while Captain Carrot, the only
living descendant of the last monarch, steadfastly refuses to
acknowledge that he is the heir, preferring to serve in the City
Watch... Similarly, Going Postal is about capitalism. It tells the
story of a notorious conman given a second chance if he promises to
revive the Post Office. This is a shambolic bureaucracy, but one
that offers steady jobs to the old and the slightly simple
unlike the rival 'clacks', a semaphore system where equipment is run
into the ground and profit is put before the workers' safety... The
moral cores of the series are Vimes and the witch Granny Weatherwax,
characters to whom Pratchett has returned again and again. Both are
feared Weatherwax's nickname from the trolls is 'She Who Must Be
Avoided' and to the dwarves she is 'Go Around the Other Side of the
Mountain' but they are also unbending in their principles..."
09) THE THINGS PRATCHETT FANS SAY...
Alex Leung said...
My copy of the Ankh-Morpork cityguide just arrived in the mail
today!!! So very happy! As a cartographer AND someone who works in
the guidebook publishing industry can I just say thank you! You have
done an absolutely amazing job. Love it!
Rachel Matalon said...
Hello. I just want to say thanks to Patrick Couton, the man who
translate T. Pratchett's books in french. Thanks to his work, french
people can appreciate T. Pratchett's humor. It was not easy.
Tanya McIlwraith said...
I met a man in Berlin who recognised us as Scottish because we
sounded like the Feegles! He told us he learnt English by reading
Discworld novels when held in an "institution"!
Bill Howard said...
At work we have several bulletin boards, one of them being "books".
This post made me laugh out loud: The other day I got home from work
to a rather irritated significant other. She's been reading the
Watch (Sam Vimes) books from Discworld, on my insistence, and
finished Snuff about two days before. Since then she's tried to read
three different books Mills and Boon or what I'd call penny
dreadfuls and even an attempt at Twilight. Now she hates me because
she can no longer stand poor authors. I've pointed her in the
direction of Peter F. Hamilton for her sci-fi fix, and suggested she
read the rest of the Discworld books before trying any other fantasy
authors, but the hilarity of the situation made it impossible but
that I had to recount the event here. An (almost) direct quote:
"You've ruined bad writers for me. I hate you."
Rick Hippy (or possibly Gaspode, to judge from the spelling) said...
i remember the 1st time i ever went on hoilday by plane, in the gift
shop i purcased "reaper man", i giggled all the way there... after
checkin in2 my hotel i desided an explore was in order and came
across a an open area were people were possing 4 photos with a man
dressd up as death!.. long story short, i demanded he drop what he
was doing and come 4 a drink with me, my treat. what followd was 1
of the most entertaing nights of my life. me on the piss with
death(real name pablo) in amsterdam. and its all thanx 2 u. :)
10) REVIEW: THE LONG EARTH
By Ian Nichols in The West Australian:
"Make no mistake, this book is an entertaining read, filled with
oddness and laughs and one or two tears, plus the usual acerbic
Pratchett insights and Baxter plot intricacy. The trouble is, it's a
bit too full, and it is very obviously the beginning of a series,
right up to the teaser at the end. So many plot elements are left
unresolved, so many characters crying out for further development
that the book becomes a jumble sale of orphans. The immense threat
from the other worlds makes an obligatory appearance, driving all
before it in waves of creatures that can step naturally. Then
there's the the unforeseen disaster for which Lobsang had prepared
comes and goes. The necessary love interest. The sub-plot of the
colonists and their ambitions. And all the other sub-plots that are
simply tossed in and seem to be forgotten about until the next in
the series. The idea is big, an immense tapestry which can contain
just about any story you wish to tell, and that's the problem.
Pratchett and Baxter have tried to tell too many stories and
introduce too many plot elements in one middling-sized volume...."
11) REVIEW: A BLINK OF THE SCREEN
By Harry Ritchie in The Guardian:
"This year's fourth Pratchett is a collection of his short works. It
kicks off with 'The Hades Business', a story about the devil's
attempt to mount an ad campaign to boost hell, which for some reason
has been languishing unvisited for the last 2,000 years. Clever,
neatly constructed and funny, this is an amazingly precocious work,
written when Pratchett was 13. In a sign of things to come, what
started as a homework assignment (marked 20 out of 20 by the young
Pratchett's lucky English teacher) was published in the school
magazine and then in a proper fantasy magazine, earning the
schoolboy a £14 fee, which he invested in a typewriter... There
follow a few more school-mag storyettes, then some pieces from his
apprenticeship on local newspapers children's stories written as
'Uncle Jim' for the Bucks Free Press and some satirical journalism
for the Bath Evening Chronicle. Eager Pratchettians will note that
one of those early Uncle Jim pieces features a storyline that would
later be expanded to form the basis of Truckers and a gnome called
Rincemangle, whose name prefigures that of Discworld's rubbish
wizard Rincewind. Similarly, the idea of countless, easily accessed
parallel worlds in 'The High Meggas' would turn up again a quarter
of a century later as the basis for The Long Earth... The real
surprise of this book is that there are so few standalone stories in
it. 'Short stories cost me blood,' Pratchett admits. He reckons he's
written fewer than 15 of them in his career a paltry return by
his own preposterously prolific standards. As a result, this book,
subtitled on the dustjacket 'collected shorter fiction', is more
accurately labelled 'shorter writings' on the contents page, and the
conventional stories are accompanied by all manner of bits and
12) DISCWORLD GROUPS MEETING NEWS
The City of Small Gods is a group for fans in Adelaide and South
Australia. TCoSG have regular dinner and games nights, plus play
outings, craft-y workshops, and fun social activities throughout the
year. For more info and to join their mailing list, go to:
The Broken Vectis Drummers meet on the first Thursday of every month
from 7.30pm at The Castle pub in Newport, Isle of Wight. The next
meeting will probably be on Thursday 4th December, but do email (see
below) to check. All new members and curious passersby are very
welcome! For more info and any queries, contact:
The Wincanton Omnian Temperance Society (WOTS) meets on the first
Friday of every month at the famous Bear Inn from 7pm onwards.
Visitors and drop-ins are always welcome! The next WOTS meeting will
(probably) be on Friday 7th December.
The next meeting of the Broken Drummers, London's original Discworld
meeting group, will be from 7pm on Monday 3rd December 2012 at the
Monkey Puzzle, 30 Southwick Street, London W2 1JQ.
"We welcome anyone and everyone who enjoys Sir Terry's works, or
quite likes them or wants to find out more. We have had many
visitors from overseas who have enjoyed themselves and made new
friends. The discussions do not only concern the works of Sir Terry
Pratchett but wander and meander through other genres and authors
and also leaping to TV and Film production. We also find time for a
quiz. The prize is superb. The chance to set the quiz the following
For more info, contact BrokenDrummers@...
The Northern Institute of the Ankh-Morpork and District Society of
Flatalists, a Pratchett fangroup, have been meeting on a regular
basis since 2005 but is now looking to take in some new blood
(presumably not in the non-reformed Uberwald manner). The Flatalists
normally meet at The Narrowboat Pub in Victoria Street, Skipton, N
Yorks, to discuss "all things Pratchett" as well as having quizzes
Details of future meetings are posted on the Events section of the
Discworld Stamps forum:
Drummers Downunder meet on the first Monday of every month in Sydney
at Maloneys, corner of Pitt & Goulburn Streets, at 6.30pm. For more
information, contact Sue (aka Granny Weatherwax):
Perth Drummers meet on the traditional date of first Monday of the
month, from 6pm at The Vic Hotel, 226 Hay St, Subiaco. The next
meeting will be on Monday 3rd December 2012. For more information
Daniel Hatton at daniel_j_hatton@...
13) PTERRY AND ROB AND THE DOCTOR...ISH
From pop-culture blog Across the Pond TV comes a transcription from
some amusing video footage...
"Today at B&N at Union Square, NYC, Terry Pratchett and Rob Wilkins
had a discussion about Terry's new book Dodger. The conversation was
wonderfully derailed several times, and they got to share other
Pratchett news about The Watch TV series and Nation and so on (I'll
be sharing those on this blog in forthcoming posts), as well as
tangents about things like Doctor Who. Below is the transcript and
video of Sir Terry's opinion on the casting of the Doctor.
"Rob: David Tennant could play anyone. He could play Moist von
"Terry: I was there for the first episode of Doctor Who. The thing
about Doctor Who, if you are a real Doctor Who fan, you might know
that when the BBC put it out, not many people watched the first
episode, but those that did were telling people about it. So, on the
next Saturday, they repeated the first one so that people could see
what it was all about. Just a piece of trivia, but there it is,
because I was there, hiding behind the settee.
"Rob: William Hartnell was no David Tennant, though, I'm sorry.
"Terry: No, but David Tennant is a definite David Tennant. He is the
best Doctor Who of ever because he is an actor. The best of them
are..funny, the modern ones are just bloody clowns. A bit like you
[Rob], but nevermind.
"Rob: That's okay. I'll audition for the part.
14) IMAGES OF THE MONTH
French artist Boulet's stylish interpretation of *those* Four
From Spike Livingstone, an interesting ballot:
Pratchett fan Mila Puhakka's fine drawing of the Grim Squeaker:
From Jesse Bates, a photo of Pirate, who is a very believable
The excellent Broken Drummers logo:
B. Alex Frain noticed a sign that would please Susan:
...and finally, the obligatory Humorous Vegetable:
15) AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
In a long, well-constructed and articulate review, blogger Random
gives Dodger high marks:
"Pratchett's homage to Charles Dickens, a story he has probably
wanted to write for a long time, is very much interested in this
toshing business, literally and metaphorically. From the very start
we get a strong sense of that... The approach to imagery is
obviously Dickensian but identifiably Pratchettian at the same time.
Come to think of it, Pratchett donning the mantle of Dickens is an
alignment of literary traditions that makes a lot of sense. Their
works are compatible in terms of social and ethical themes, wit and
tableaux (the city, mostly). Not to mention sheer volume and
popularity. In Dodger these similarities are amped up, and Pratchett
has made considerable efforts to mimic the sentimentality and
pathetic fallacy typically found in Dickens...
"Admittedly, Pratchett's Victorian London could be more vivid and
detailed, but even as it is the tour is worth the time spent. Mostly
because of Dodger, a guide that can take you from the smelliest
nooks to the poshest crannies. He is a decently-imagined and written
character, but in addition to that he is Pratchett's primary
focusing lens in this novel..."
...and so does blogger Fyrefly, on hearing the audio version:
"This book's got everything one might expect from a Pratchett novel:
sympathetic characters, a smart sense of humor, and a down-to-earth
perspective on the world and on growing up. It was maybe not as
sharply satirical of some of the other of Pratchett's books that
I've read, although it made its points quite clearly about choosing
who you want to be, and the way in which perception is not truth,
particularly the perception of who someone is, and even if it were
truth, truth can be shaped and manipulated and looked at from
different angles. Sometimes, perhaps, it makes those points a little
too clearly; there were times when it seemed like Dodger was
repeating himself, having the same revelation he'd had a few
chapters ago. But they're smart revelations that maybe bear
repeating, so I didn't mind too much. There's also enough action to
keep the readers busy, and a surprising depth of character, not only
for Dodger, but also for a number of the secondary characters as
well... Stephen Briggs yet again does a wonderful job with the
audiobook narration; his dry tone is just a perfect match for
Pratchett's sense of humor..."
...whereas blogger OmniRambles, an apparent self-declared wit, hates
it with a passion; an unsurprising reaction since this blogger seems
to fail to get any of the book's elements:
"This book was an unpleasant surprise from one of my favourite
authors... In most respects, Dodger is the opposite of what I have
come to expect from reading dozens of Pratchett novels. Usually,
Pratchett's stories have multiple, complicated plot lines but this
effort has only one very thin, predictable one. Usually, the
characters are surprising and unique but Dodger's are relentlessly
cliched (including racial stereotyping). Usually, Pratchett is
hilarious and satirical but this book is not very witty and provides
only a minimum of social commentary on Victorian London..."
USA Blogger Chris Gladis, left cold by sport in general, had a bit
of hard going with Unseen Academicals:
"If my attitude seems kind of lackluster or disinterested, keep in
mind that it's probably not Sir Terry's fault. The book, you see, is
about football. Not the sissy-pants American kind where the guys are
so afraid of grievous bodily harm that they wear protective armor
all the time, but the good, old-fashioned British kind, wherein
people get their heads cracked open by cobblestones and die on the
streets... Seriously, I couldn't care less about football. The
book's not really even about football, to be honest. It's about
identity and self-image, two things that are inextricably tied up in
sports and sports fandom. The book is a lot less subtle than usual,
pretty much hitting you over the head with a mallet and saying, 'You
are who you choose to be!!' over and over again...
"It's hard for me to filter through the sports aspect of this book,
which is disappointing because it's something that a lot of people
will probably enjoy. There's something about the devotion to a sport
or to a team that is very important to most people that I just don't
get, and so my general lack of interest in this book is entirely my
fault, and not Terry's..."
...but blogger Matt, who thought it would be a hard 'un to enjoy,
felt the love:
"To be perfectly honest, I ended up putting it down the first time
that I tried to read it. The business with the Megapode within the
first handful of pages was a bit of a turn off for me. This second
time around, I soldiered on past the silliness (which was actually a
rather coy set-up for a satire that I completely missed on the first
go around) and I was completely blown away. Unseen Academicals is
pure Pratchett. Love, the importance of family, social tolerance,
sportsmanship... All of these themes written into the rich tapestry
that Pratchett has created with the birth of Discworld nearly 30
...and blogger Joe Praba gave it a short but enthusiastic thumbs-up:
"Rating : 5 of 5 stars An absolute pleasure and joyful read this!"
Blogger Edouard Stenger enjoyed Jingo:
"Ankh Morpork is at war against Klatch and Terry takes the occasion
to show how wars are preposterous and completely unnecessary. As
always, Pratchett offers a great caricature of our world and how
utterly stupid we can be. I had a huge laugh at the bits hinting on
H.P. Lovecraft works as there is a Dagon Street and curious Squids.
(Yes, I read The Call of Cthulhu and a few other unmentionable H.P.
Lovecraft's novels). This book is a good opus of the Discworld
series. Strongly recommended if you liked the others!"
...as did blogger leftoverrecipes:
"While I loved this book, this shouldn't be your first book in the
series it would be better to read at least one more of the Night
Watch books (Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Night
Watch) first. Jingo captures perfectly the absurdities of war, while
at the same time mourning war's inevitability. Jingo makes you
think about politics and war in a different way than you did before.
Jingo also looks at racism and preconceived ideas about different
cultures. And Pratchett achieves this while making you laugh. In my
opinion, this is one of his best books. Highly recommended..."
Finnish blogger mervih is back with a review of Men at Arms:
"The new recruits are really the stars of the book along with
Carrot... Also, Gaspode the talking dog steals pretty much every
scene he's in... As usual, Pratchett has strong themes in the book:
racism (or rather speciesism since Discworld has different species)
and the way that power corrupts..."
...and also reviews Guards! Guards!:
"Lady Sybil Ramkin is a significant secondary character... in
defiance to the fantasy traditions of small and young and delicate
little princesses, Lady Ramkin is big, fat, middle-aged, and tends
to wear rubber boots. Along the way Pratchett makes wry observations
about dwarven culture, the nature of libraries, and the nature of
humans. Oh and the discussions near the end about how one chance in
a million will always succeed is priceless..."
Blogger Dave Brendon gets to grips with The Long Earth:
"The Long Earth takes the parallel-Earth idea to an entirely wide-
spread level, because instead of 'the world next door' being opened
to a select few scientists and marines, 'the worlds next door' have
been opened to practically all of humanity, to anyone who can 'step'
from our world, the Datum, to the worlds 'beside' it... There were
also some character-spotlights, I'll call them, that served to
explain what kind of effect the emergence of the Long Earths had on
people and I ended up really enjoying these spotlights because
they showed, to a much greater degree than with Joshua, how the Long
Earths affected people who saw it as an opportunity to move
toward a better way of life; who saw it as a new way of exploiting
the environment; who became so captured by the Long Earths that they
just couldn't settle down anymore because there was suddenly so much
more within stepping distance. I actually wouldn't have minded at
all if the entire book consisted of these spotlights, that's how
much I enjoyed them. :-)
"Plot-wise, The Long Earth unfortunately disappointed me... when the
'climax' came I felt a bit let-down, almost cheated the idea of
the climax, and the danger that Joshua and Lobsang have been trying
to find out about, is an interesting one, but it just didn't have
the impact I was expecting. Also, there was another, smaller climax
in the novel that had, confusingly, a bigger impact than the 'big'
climax at least, that's my opinion... Don't get me wrong The
Long Earth is entertaining, pacey, surprising and interesting and it
seems to me that both authors did a brilliant job of balancing what
they both brought as individual writers to the table (there are
plenty of genuinely funny moments), but I just can't shake the
feeling that The Long Earth as an idea is just too big, almost too
chaotic, to have made the novel work has it should have..."
...while it's a bit of a labour of strained love for blogger Zoe
"I know it's a co-authored work (which has been done well before
with Gaiman) and I know it's not Discworld. And that's fine, because
an author should always be trying something new. And I admire that,
and I admired the plot of Long Earth. It involves lots of delicious
what-ifs and timey-wimey stuff. Yay for that. But what happened to
Pratchett? The absence of the beloved author was made glaring by the
moments in the book that were pure Pratchett, the moments that shone
amongst the general pabulum of the book itself. It took me two weeks
to finish this, and I had to force myself through the first 100
pages. It was like a dear friend had invited me to a party, and I
was really excited to go, but then I got there and the wine was
cheap, the snacks dry and the company less than stellar. And for the
first two hours of the party, I wanted to fall upon a knife. But
eventually it got sort of better and it didn't feel too wasteful..."
...and photographer and blogger Paula Kamysz was definitely not
impressed, but devoted plenty of time and textspace to reviewing
fairly and to highlighting her chosen hits and misses:
"It was so mediocre that I'm not sure what to say; it's hard for me
to believe that Terry Pratchett had a hand in this. .. The authors'
dichotomy was so apparent that I could have highlighted who wrote
what, split the sections out, and written two different books... I
recommend it for people who aren't so jaded by formula scifi that
they'd rather jump legs-first into a stump grinder than read more
trash. I recommend it for those people, too, but with the caveat
that you put on blinders and use it as down-time reading so that it
doesn't become toilet paper..."
The mysterious datbookreviews neither loved nor hated Making Money:
"I felt like I was waiting for things to kick off through most of
the book. They did, mind you, but not to an epic level. I think that
a lot of things were 'bigged up', such as the invention of bank
notes, but never really used... It was all a bit samey really, and
without the subtle rivalry between Lipwig and Reacher Gilt... Mr
Lipwig is still Mr Lipwig of course, but he seems to have lost some
of his charm. Or at least, we see less of it. There is less of his
wit and intelligence in devising solutions to all the problems of
the bank, and more focus on.. nothing, really. I still enjoyed
Vetinari's persona in the book, his style is still crisp and unique,
so we're all swell there..."
A post about the Discworld witches novels by Filipina blogger Lala
"A few months ago, I have finished reading all of Sir Terry
Pratchett's Witches novels. There are 10 in all so far, including
the three Tiffany Aching series. I loved every single one of them.
And I have never laughed so hard reading as when I'm reading
Pratchett. He has found my funny bone. I just get him. Or he gets
Media Studies student The Rambling Wanderer offers a 500-word essay
on why Pratchett is "my favourite author":
"I have great admiration for Terry Pratchett, and this has impacted
me greatly. All of the characteristics I listed above have impacted
me profoundly. The first time I read Terry Pratchett was in grade 3
in the school library. I'll admit I chose his book because the
cover looked interesting, but I am glad it caught my attention. His
books have been a companion to me while growing up. He provided the
worlds to which I could escape and never begrudged me for it. His
books and worlds had many levels. You could just escape into the
world for a short time, and that would be all, or you could study
his books, pick up the hidden messages and themes and still be able
to escape into the books. He blended pastime with study and
instilled in me a sense of enjoyment in writing. He wrote for
himself, and he wrote fantasy because it was a way to portray a
world he sees. To him fantasy is a perspective, and his books show
this with the relatively average and normal going-ons becoming
fantasy with just a dash of the unexplained or special..."
In a review of a review, blogger Carolyn Pollard reviews AS Byatt's
review of Snuff in The Guardian last year. A fascinating little
piece of deconstructing deconstruction:
"I personally have never before read a review in which the title
itself has been broken down, and so this makes a pleasant change.
These small bits of detail are what make for a good review, and it's
refreshing to see other similar snippets, such as the referral to
past works of Pratchett's... It appears that Byatt herself may not
be the master of humour, but she has skilfully overcome this matter
in quite a clever way instead of making her own jokes about the
book, she instead directs us to the humour to be found within... You
will find that Byatt may not be the best reviewer you will ever come
across, but she has not failed to deliver an insightful detailed
The latest blog review from Cheryl Mahoney is a solid prop for
"There's no Fagin, but there is Solomon, a wise old Jewish
watchmaker who gives Dodger a place to sleep and helps him stay on
the straightish and somewhat narrow path. There's no Oliver Twist,
but there is Simplicity, a young woman Dodger rescues from a couple
of thugs a young woman who turns out to have crowned heads of
Europe intensely interested in her... All in all, I didn't love the
book, but there is a great deal here to like very much. There's
enormous fun in the various historical figures Dodger's path
crossesfrom Fleet Street journalist Charlie Dickens to up-and-
coming politician Benjamin Disraeli, and a host of others I didn't
have enough historical grounding to recognize (but there's a helpful
afterword). We also wander into fictional territory when Dodger
meets Sweeney Todd, more sad than demonic and a powerful lesson
about the tendency of the world to create the story they want to
"My favorite things are a couple of character quirks. First,
especially near the beginning, Dickens has a tendency to make a
remark, get a look in his eye, and hastily jot something downas
when he made a reference to 'our mutual friend.' I would have loved
even more Dickens quotes sprinkled throughout though there may
have been more that I just missed. Second, I love Solomon's
religious life. He frequently explains situations to God, perhaps
when someone is doing something a bit, well, dodgy. But Solomon will
make matters clear to Him, in a lightly humorous and never offensive
way. It has much the same feel as the beginning of the song 'If I
Were a Rich Man' in Fiddler on the Roof..."
Pratchett newbie Oscar AzAl loved Making Money:
"Terry Pratchett fuses fantasy and reality in perfect harmony making
the mixture genuinely natural. The reader's perception is that of a
likely story with bits of plausible unreality... This has been my
first book by Pratchett and I loved it. Some friends and bloggers
speak wonders of this author and I've been given several of his
books as presents. It was about time I read any and I'm definitely
going to read some more..."
Blogger Eric on Eleventh Stack enthuses about the Bromeliad trilogy:
"Even though Pratchett is probably best known for his Discworld
series of books (which are excellent, by the way) I'm interested in
telling you, dear Eleventh Stack blog reader, about The Bromeliad
Trilogy. These are three novels (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) that
Pratchett wrote for a YA audience that are as accessible for older
folks as they might be for younger folks. Yes, the book is about
nomes, and yes, some of these nomes live in a department store for a
time (see...describing it sounds kind of dreadful!) but the
overarching ideas of discovery, of attempting to come to grips with
the nature of belief and the evolution of those beliefs, and the
conflicts of having to come to grips with all of this while dealing
with other people are also present and are excellently discussed. In
addition, it's funny. It's REALLY funny. And it's a good story. It's
a REALLY good story..."
Blogger Ash is back with an overview of the Tiffany Aching series:
"The Wee Free Men introduces the notorious Scottish pictsies, the
Nac Mac Feegles and sets the context of their meeting Tiffany... I
could say with conviction that this is yet another beautiful story
amongst the Discworld books. It turns hilarious at points where
readers are introduced to the simple world of the Nac Mac Feegles
and their famous gonnagles...
"A Hat full of Sky... The book explores Tiffany's frustrations with
the craft and the fact that witches live a second-hand life compared
to the wizards. She is put to test constantly having to choose
between what's cool and what's the right thing to do...
"Wintersmith... Tiffany finds herself drawn to the dance and
inadvertently treads the danger zone catching the interest of
Wintersmith, the anthropomorphic personification of winter. What
follows is an interesting courtship...
"I Shall Wear Midnight The last book of the series serves more
of a coming of age story for Tiffany who is busy juggling her
personal and work life. It also explores the challenges Tiffany
faces in the wake of being accepted as a Witch and her relation with
And finally, blogger Carol Wuenschell's long and respectful literary
"love letter" to Sir Pterry:
"The addressee is Terry Pratchett, a writer whom I first discovered
decades ago, one who grew on me steadily until by now I can't
imagine the world without his books in it. He's a writer whose books
I have read and in some cases, re-read to my children during
their formative years. Over the years, I've become so intimately
acquainted with Terry's prose, that I find myself thinking about him
on a first-name basis this despite the fact that I have never
met the man and don't expect to. My children got used to having
their mother stop after a particularly delicious passage and say,
'Oh Terry!' and then re-read the passage aloud just to savor
"Yes, I do love Terry Pratchett. He's a master of humor (of course)
but also of story-telling, of characters, and of the well-turned
phrase (those Oh Terry's). There is often a seriousness underlying
the humor. (Check out the Terry Pratchett Quotes link, below. His
wit and wisdom are just boundless.) And the thing that most endears
him to me is his keen observations of humankind both as
individuals and in aggregate. In the earlier Discworld books, the
observation is sharp and biting. In the more mature works, the
sharpness is not lost, but there is also something I can best
describe as a subtle affection..."
Do remember that there's still a week to run on the Cult Classic
Theatre's Kickstarter appeal for their 2013 exclusive premiere stage
production of Good Omens:
And that's it for the moment, but who knows, we may yet be back
before the month is out especially if Fernando remembers to cast
your monthly horoscope. WOSSNAME wishes a very happy Thanksgiving to
all our USA readers, and we'll see you again soon!
The End. If you have any questions or requests, write:
Copyright (c) 2012 by Klatchian Foreign Legion