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WOSSNAME -- April 2013 -- News, reviews, and your Discworld horoscope

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  • WOSSNAME-owner@yahoogroups.com
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion April 2013 (Volume 16, Issue 4, Post 2) ******************************************** 01) EDITOR S NOTE 02)
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2013
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      Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
      April 2013 (Volume 16, Issue 4, Post 2)

      01) EDITOR'S NOTE
      08) OOK!
      11) CLOSE



      It looks like Fernando is still playing away, so this month we have
      another noble effort (all right, another *some sort* of effort) from
      the ever-idiosyncratic Kevin. We also have several reviews – some
      sparkly-new, some long overdue – and some late breaking news and
      incidental items to round off the month. And if you happen to be in
      the Isle of Man this evening, do hie yourself over to Peel for the
      Inspiration Theatre Company's production of Wyrd Sisters! See item 6
      for more details about time, tickets and venue.

      Meanwhile, I missed this one earlier: another interview, touching on
      The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day:

      "The Pratchettian premise is that while Discworld is an entirely
      logical entity — 'flat, circular, held up by four world-bearing
      elephants standing firmly on the back of a giant space-faring turtle
      and inhabited by ordinary humans, wizards, witches, trolls, dwarves,
      vampires, golems, elves, the tooth fairy and the Hogfather' —
      Roundworld is a largely incomprehensible and obscure little place
      orbiting one of 200-billion stars in a galaxy that is itself one of
      200-billion galaxies. What is it for? How was it made? Are we —
      its inhabitants — alone? Is there a God? These are the conundrums
      Pratchett and his co-authors explore. 'It's useful to go out of this
      world and see it from the perspective of another one,' says
      Pratchett. 'There's a lot of science in it, and as ­Slartibartfast
      [of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] said: "I
      am a great fan of science, but I cannot do a quadratic equation."
      I've never, ever been able to do one. I remember one occasion at
      Warwick University, when Jack and Ian were at their wits' end
      because I couldn't get it. I felt totally ashamed.' So on top of
      writing the Discworld sections, Pratchett also becomes the
      everyman figure wrestling with difficult scientific propositions..."


      On with the show!

      – Annie Mac, Editor



      by Kevin

      Bon jorno my friends! It's me, Kevin, and I'm your horoscoper again
      this month, cos Fernando is still prisonered by some ole pirate
      queen and her all-girl crew. He's been sending letters to the
      editors telling them that "under no circumstances" are they to pay
      the ransom. That's pretty brave of Fernando, cos I don't reckon that
      it would be fun at all to go pirating with a bunch of girls. Instead
      of having cool adventures capturing gold and jewels from Kythian
      ships and fightin zombies and giant squids and whales and stuff,
      they're probably spendin all their time sailing around the Gulf of
      Brindisi, going swimming by moonlight, sun bathing all day in the
      nuddie, and makin poor Fernando rub lotion on them so they don't get
      burnt. Bor-ring!

      My mum says I have to say sorry for missing last month's horoscope,
      she says I have to be more reliable, now that I'm 16 and a half and
      not a kid any more but it totally wasn't my fault. It was all cos of
      Mrs Cartilage my teacher, she kept me in for detention and made me
      write lines for *hours* just cos she didn't know that the
      Howonderland Hermit Elephant is technicly a type of mollusk. She has
      it in for me cos she's such an ol cow and knows that I'm gonna be
      famous some day. I guess that makes her my nemesis so I thought that
      this would be a good month for me to write a horoscope about your
      nemesises, or nemesi. I asked my mum to buy me a dictionary so I
      could look up the tricky words, but she got me this totally scag one
      that's missing lots of words, including nearly all the rude ones. So
      if anyone knows the right way to spell more than one nemisis, or
      even one of them, can you write to me care of the editor? I'll be
      really grateful and even mention your name next time and then you'll
      be famous too.

      Chow Bela!


      The Currant Bun (formerly The Adamant Hedgehog) 21 Mar – 20 Apr

      Bunnies, your nemesis is the mysterious Hedgehog, who fights crime
      with his tranquilliser quills. So you better not be committing any
      crimes, right, cos nobody wants to be stuck with a bunch of pointy
      quills by somebody dressed like a hedgehog. I reckon you're probly
      okay if you just do a few of the really little crimes, like copying
      the answers to your jommetry test from Zapp when Mrs Cartilage isn't
      watching, so long as you feel real bad about it and won't do it
      again. Unless the questions are really hard and you just need a
      little hint, that's probly okay. Anyway, you know your star sign
      used to be the Adamant Hedgehog, so that's a really weird
      coincidence. But it's even more weird than that cos if you remember
      your horoscopes from last year, the Quilled Crusader is also the
      hero you are most connected to! How ironic is that? I think it's
      really amazing that the stars do that sort of stuff sometimes. It's
      probably got something to do with quantum.


      The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr – 21 May

      Did you know that Sandies are specially suited to be priests and
      monks and stuff like that? I'm glad I'm not a Sandie cos I wouldn't
      be any good at shaving my head and waking up at 3 in the morning to
      sacrifice some ol goat to some ol god. I dunno why the gods can't
      just get their own goat. Anyway, I haven't forgotten your nemasis,
      I'm getting to that. Your nemisis is Mrs Cake. And you better watch
      out what you say, cos she came around last week to complain about
      what I wrote about her, which is kinda cool cos now I have to call
      her an ol cow otherwise if I don't there'll be one of them tempera
      paradoxes and she'll get a headache, so I'm actually doing her a
      favour and she ought to thank me and not complain to my mum.


      The Knotted String (formerly Herne the Hunted) 22 May – 21 Jun

      Knotties, your nemesous is the Revenoo. My grandad's always going on
      about the Revenoo, and how they're always taking a man's hard earned
      money wot he earned fair and square. Well, since grandad retired ten
      years ago and now lives comfortable on a pension from the Palace, I
      reckon grandad hasn't worked out where the Palace makes the money
      for the pension. See, it isn't just about the teams of tax
      collectors and their trained Lipwigzers what come around asking you
      what've you got in your pocketses, it's really about the trained
      teams of accountents who spend all their time figgering out how
      *much* you've got in your pockits so even if you hide your money in
      your old socks the Revenoo knows where to look for it. Those trained
      Lipwigzers are really cool though, I bet they don't have nemmasises
      at all cos no nemasis would dare nem at them.


      The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun – 22 Jul

      Staffies are well-known for being magically inclined, which means
      they're often wizards and witches. Even if you're not a wizard or a
      witch, you've probably got uncanny magical powers, like my dad's
      friend George who's got this occult power that he's always broke
      whenever its his round down the pub. At least that's what my dad
      says. Anyway, that means that Staffies' nemisises are the Things
      From The Dungeon Dimensions. Well technicly, the Things From The
      Dungeon Dimensions are *everybody's* nemisises but they're
      especially your nemisissess. Nemesuses. Whatever they're called. So
      watch out for mysterious things making chittering noises from the
      shadows. I'm not sure what chittering sounds like, I always thought
      chittering was a kind of food from Genua but watch out anyway.


      Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul – 23 Aug

      Bilians, your nemesice is MADAM, Mothers Against Drink And
      Merriment. Not that you Billys have that much merriment but all the
      drink makes up for it I guess. Anyway MADAM are the ones who
      complain to the Watch any time somebody in their street is having a
      noisy party where it sounds like people having fun, and theyre the
      ones who picket outside of the better sort of pubs, probly because
      even loony mums know better than to picket outside the worse sort.
      They picket outside breweries too. They even picketed one of the
      Patrician's garden parties once. Only once though. So beware your
      nemysises if you want to have a really smokin party, but I spose you
      could practice drinking an laffing really quietly.


      My Uncle's Nose 24 Aug – 23 Sept

      Nosers, your nemisi are ramblers. Nearly everyone's heard of the
      famous rambler Eric Wheelbrace, who wrote "100 Walks In The
      Ramtops", he's nearly as famous as that Wandering Wanda
      Stomppelotz what writes that Clacks log on rambling, and twice as
      annoying. Eric Wheelbrace disappeared while walking through the
      Dancers in Lancre on Midsummer Eve and only his shoes were ever
      found, frozen solid half a mile away. I reckon he got caught in some
      secret militry experiment by the Lancre Army which went wrong, at
      least that's what it says in Mister Dibbler's book "The Bad Ass
      Experiment". Did you know that the Lancre Army discovered how to
      turn invisible? They've got thousands and thousands of invisible
      soldiers camped out in Quirm gettin ready to invade any time now
      and the only one you can see is Shawn Ogg who says he's on holiday.
      I reckon that would be so cool, when they invade I'll join up with
      the Librarian fighters and learn how to make booby traps and stuff,
      although I don't know why they want to catch birds with blue feet.
      Anyway, even though Eric Wheelbrace is gone, doesn't mean the
      ramblers will stop climbing through your window and claiming the
      ancient Right Of Way through your living room.


      The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept – 23 Oct

      Boring'uns, your nemesuses are, well, nearly everyone. I'm really
      sorry, but don't blame me cos I'm just the horoscoper, if it's
      anyones fault it's the gods fault but you're not allowed to blame
      them cos the priests get mad and if the gods hear about it they'll
      send a plague of weasels or a rain of pianos or something. But
      anyway, you already know that life is hard as a Boring'un, and now
      you know why. Like my uncle, who is a Boring'un, last weekend he
      wanted to stay home and fold laundry, but his boss insisted that he
      had to go away for a "team-building exercise". That's cos his boss
      is his nemesis. And when Mr Johnson from Accounts accidently hit him
      in the face with a file full of invoices and broke his nose? Also
      his nemesis. And Miss Pensill, who somehow managed to spill an
      entire pot of hot tea down his trousers? Nemesis.


      Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct – 22 Nov

      Andies, your nemesissi is clowns. Those horrible clowns with their
      white faces and big red noses and buckets of whitewash are as
      nemmissy as it gets like ever. The jesters aren't too bad though,
      sometimes they're even funny, if you've got the sense of humour of a
      six year old like my mate Zapp. He reckons that the jestors are
      really funny when they're capering and dancing through the street
      ringing their bells, especially when somebody empties a guzzunder
      over them. But watch out for the clowns, cos it doesn't matter
      whether they're laughing on the outside and crying on the inside, or
      the other way around. Deep deep down, what they're really doin is
      plotting to get you.


      The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov – 21 Dec

      Spooners, your nemisass is the Turbulomancy Fairy. I know what
      that's like, cos that's my nemusis too. One of my nemisises, I have
      a lot, like Stinky Bob who lives a few doors down, and Lozza's
      stuck-up sister Scarlatina. But the Turbulomancy Fairy is one of the
      worst. Sometimes my mum will complain about the mess in my room, and
      even though I explain that it's not my fault and it's totally the
      Turbulomancy Fairy she'll still make me spend hours tidying up. I
      don't see the point, cos she knows the Turbulomancy Fairy is
      especially attracted to freshly tidied rooms! Sometimes I've barely
      walked out the door to call my mum to come and look at how much
      tidier things are when just like magic there's books and dirty socks
      all over the floor again.


      Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec – 20 Jan

      Hokians, your nemisous is Miss Maccalariat at the Post Office.
      Everybody knows that Hokians are famous for their sense of humour
      and for their jokes jollies an japes. Well, Miss Maccalariat is also
      famous for her sense of humour, cos it's like hen's teeth or snakes
      legs. Only I reckon that it's a lot more rare than snakes legs, I
      once saw a pickled snake in a jar that came from Empirical Crescent
      an it had three legs growing out of its head, how cool is that? I
      reckon that it would take a lot more than magic to make Miss
      Maccalariat laugh. My mate Zapp told me he once saw her throw a man
      out of the post office for funning because he started a sentence
      with "I say, I say". So you better watch out, Miss Maccalariat is a
      nemisuss an a half.


      The Big Chicken 21 Jan – 18 Feb

      Squawkers, your nemoses is the Smoking Gnu. Nobody knows whether
      that's one person or lots of people or maybe even a real gnu,
      whatever that is. Zapp reckons it's some sort of cow, but I reckon
      that's stupid cos how can a cow get on the clacks? It's probly some
      sort of ferocius Klatchian assassin. My dad was reading the Inquirer
      and they say that the Smoking Gnu are secret Agatean warriors who
      can sneak through the clacks system and steal all the govamint
      secrets and take all your money and then horribly murder us all in
      our beds, and why isn't Lord Vetinari doing something about it?
      Maybe he's a Squawker too, and they're his nemises. Nemusis.


      Hyperopia's Buckle (formerly Lesser Umbrage) 19 Feb – 20 Mar

      Bucklers, your nemesus is Igor the Mad. He's the Igor deep in the
      Uberwald mountains who became his own mad doctor when he
      transplanted his own body onto a mad doctor's head. The other Igors
      don't like to talk about him cos he's been driven like *totally*
      mad, even madder than Achmed The "I Just Get These Headaches" from
      Klatch, but you can't keep stuff like this secret. I've got this
      amazin book about great mad doctors of Uberwald, and there's like a
      whole chapter about Igor the Mad, but my mum says I'm not allowed to
      go round tellin people about him cos of what happened when I told
      Scarlatina, it wasn't even three months after I told her that she
      had to wear bigger size bodices around her you know whats and I
      reckon it was Igor the Mad that done it.




      The official WOSSNAME review, by Annie Mac

      "Character-driven" is a term I would never have expected to use when
      reviewing a Science of Discworld book, but that was before I read
      The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day.

      To be honest, I was expecting another pleasant but possibly less
      than Disc-shaking instalment in the franchise, and I admit to
      feeling a bit "ho-hum, here we go again" when I read the opening
      pages. But to my astonishment – and delight – I soon found
      myself seeing the characters as living, breathing *people*, and
      caring about what happened to them. The third Science of Discworld
      (Darwin's Watch) had been my favourite of the series, but tSoDIV has
      now taken the top spot in my estimation. Who'd'a thunk it, but there
      you are.

      Pratchett has always excelled at creating strong female characters,
      and in the redoubtable Miss Marjorie Daw we have one of his best.
      She is not the Miss Maccalariat kind of redoubtable, however: no,
      this Thoroughly Modern Marjorie is a far more layered, perspicacious
      and critically-thinking character and all the more believable for
      it. When we learn her backstory – expertly parcelled out in small
      yet powerfully affecting dribs and drabs – she becomes, for this
      reviewer at least, even more real and human than Lady Sybil or Adora
      Belle Dearheart or Gytha Ogg or even Tiffany Aching. And that's
      saying a lot.

      Marjorie Daw is a librarian, one who takes her job very seriously
      indeed and will go to vast and fiscally terrifying lengths to
      protect and preserve her beloved library in the London borough of
      Four Farthings. We first meet her, wearing some shall-we-say
      Seriously Branded shoes, as she's been transported – whilst on her
      way to battle with her local Council about funding – to the
      premises of Unseen University's High Energy Magic department, and we
      are immediately treated to an example of her sensible librarian-

      "She stared at him, the words 'planet' and 'multiverse' rocketing
      into her brain, back out again and then – because she *was* a
      librarian – pulling out an index card or two and settling in again
      for a nice bit of research. Then she crumpled gently downwards
      towards the lawn..."

      And yet, in true Pratchett tradition, we are also given hints that,
      despite being single, Marjorie Daw does not necessarily tuck herself
      in alone at night with a hot water bottle and a nice book. She is
      also a rather elite sort of librarian who holds "three degrees, a
      doctorate and could *think* in Greek". Oh, and she's very much the
      sort of librarian who's not afraid to go into the stacks, even long
      after closing hours... and we know where the stacks ultimately lead,
      don't we?

      We also get to look more closely into the personality and
      motivations of Mustrum Ridcully. The Archchancellor has come a long
      way from the seemingly one-dimensional shouter of early days; in The
      Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day, we get to see even more of
      the urbane, experienced, unexpectedly perceptive man behind the

      "Fortuitously, Mustrum Ridcully was the very Archchancellor they
      needed, because for one thing he knew how to soothe, but he also
      knew when to twinkle and – more importantly perhaps – he also
      knew when *not* to twinkle."

      It is Ridcully who guides Marjorie through her interdimensional
      orientation and helps her stay grounded. They develop the sort of
      mutual respect we've not seen since the back end of Equal Rites, and
      this time that respect is more maturely written and less played for
      comedy. In fact, the Discworld chapters have surprisingly little
      old-Discworld-novels-style gags and pun(e)s: what they do contain is
      engaging warmth and a wealth of charm. There are some familiar
      characters apart from the usual cast, though I won't spoiler too
      much by naming them all. The Archchancellor Formerly Known As Dean
      is back, and on his best behaviour; we get to see Rincewind –
      *Professor* Rincewind these days, of course – through a stranger's
      eyes, which I found interesting; there are some lively turns from Mr
      Slant, and even Mrs Whitlow is humanised to a satisfactory degree.

      The action begins when Lord Vetinari ceremonially turns on the
      Challenger Project, Discworld's version of the Large Hadron
      Collider. Science of Discworld books have never been hugely strong
      on plot: more than a few readers over the years have described the
      story portions of each book as a mere way to get from one popular-
      science chapter to the next. In The Science of Discworld IV:
      Judgement Day, the story centres on a legal battle between Unseen
      University and a newly-risen sect of fundamentalist Omnians for the
      ownership of Roundworld (which, you'll remember, was accidentally
      created by the Dean waggling his fingers about thoughtlessly in "raw
      firmament"), presided over by the Patrician. The trial (or hearing,
      or debate...) is great fun to read, and features some top-quality
      snarking from Lord Vetinari, some cringe-inducingly realistic mouth-
      foaming from the plaintiff (one Reverend Stackpole, of the Church of
      the Latter-Day Omnians), and possibly the most surprising surprise
      witness in the history of court proceedings. There is also the
      introduction to Discworld canon of a new element – librarium. And
      a sentence, from the science section, that may well be my favourite
      of the month:

      "World-bearing elephants are probably snakes that got lost in

      Now then, about the "science of" sections. Most of these covered
      areas with which I am already familiar – for a civilian value of
      familiar, so I don't feel qualified to comment apart from saying
      that all the science chapters seem well-worded and easy to grasp.
      Various chapters take on, in no particular order, the
      anthropocentric worldview; creation myths (including world turtles,
      of course); left-ear-staringly determined agenda of flat-earthers
      through the ages; dualism; origin-of-life theories; origin-of-
      universe theories; reality and magic and what distinguishes one from
      t'other; why Roundworld is (as it were) round; the scientific
      method; critical thinking; evolution (well duh), not only biological
      but also socio-cultural and even technological; belief (and
      disbelief) systems; and a few other bits and bobs.

      In closing, I would just like to say "ook ook oook eek!", which
      translates from Ape to Human as "I enjoyed this book very much and
      have no hesitation in recommending it."



      A long review of one iconic author's work by another:

      "We look for origins because we arrange our world into narrative
      strings with beginning, middle and end. Stewart, Cohen and Pratchett
      set out to puzzle us and make us think differently... The writers
      discuss creation myths – including a number of myths about cosmic
      turtles and scientific ideas about origins, including the Big Bang.
      They discuss the evolution of ideas about evolution, recent thoughts
      about the relation of RNA to DNA and the idea of the curvature of
      space. They also consider neural networks and decision theory, and
      the strong and weak anthropic principles – ideas about how the
      physical universe is uniquely suited to the existence of human
      beings. Pratchett and co also explore the psychology of belief and
      disbelief. They describe one way of coming to conclusions – the
      brain taking in new evidence, and fitting it to the knowledge and
      beliefs it already holds...

      "One of the most pleasing things about Pratchett, Stewart and
      Cohen's book is the way the authors demonstrate that we don't
      understand even what we think we understand. I realised, reading
      their account of the complex relations between RNA and DNA, that I
      had been guilty of holding a belief. I was very excited in the late
      1970s by ideas about the 'selfish gene', and particularly by the
      points made by John Maynard Smith about the immutable nature of the
      inherited and eternal germ cell. Now the New Scientist is full of
      articles about newly discovered 'orphan DNA'... Pratchett, Stewart
      and Cohen use their method of complicating descriptions and
      explanations to examine several problems with things I have trouble
      with believing myself, because they feel to me like human stories
      that tidy up our relation to the universe – the Big Bang, the
      existence of dark matter, entropy and the 'anthropic principle'.
      They discuss conflicting views of the expanding universe and the
      steady state and cast doubt on the existence of dark matter. They
      are not propounding or supporting any particular theory of the shape
      and origins of the universe, but are rather considering evidence
      that complicates the explanations we have become used to..."




      By Annie Mac

      We need elves. Lots of elves.

      No, not the deadly Lords and Ladies kind. It's the studious and
      dedicated Q.I. variety that was needed for the making of Turtle

      Before I go any further, let me just say a couple of things. All
      right, three things. One, "Turtle Recall" is a pun so excellent that
      I'd seriously suggest you purchase the book as a tribute to its
      title alone. Two, I do appreciate the time and effort (the hours
      spent trawling through Discworld novels and all the ancillary
      Pratchett-created and/or Pratchett-approved printings, almanacks,
      diaries and such) that was obviously put into this project. Three
      – like its two preceding Discworld Companion volumes, Turtle
      Recall is a vital compendium of Discworld facts and figures, odds
      and sods, personae and Jograffy that deserves a place in every
      Discworld aficionado's book collection, so I have no qualms about
      commending it. I just wish it had been done better.

      It's taken me several months to write this review. Not by reason of
      writer's (or reviewer's!) block, not out of any manifestation of
      laziness or disinterest, but simply because I kept hoping to find
      some way to give Turtle Recall the glowingly enthusiastic review it
      should have deserved.

      (All right, four things: I hate having to come across as dissing
      Stephen Briggs, because the man is unquestionably multitalented and
      has done so much over so many years to raise the profile of
      Discworld. So look – this is not an attack on Mr Briggs, or on the
      credited team of Pratchett and Briggs. It's simply my way of saying
      that this very important book suffers for want of a much *larger*

      One of my favourite nonfiction books is The Meaning of Everything, a
      "biography" of the OED. This history, brought dazzlingly to life by
      author Simon Winchester, recounts the vast army of volunteer
      philologists and decades of person-hours that went into creating the
      world's most revered dictionary. Discworld may not be quite as
      monolithically important as the total compendium of English words
      and their definitions, by by Io it *is* important and thus does
      deserve at least an appreciable fraction of that army and those
      hours! Anything less is, in my opinion, short shrift. Turtle Recall
      does indeed have entries going up through Snuff (latest Discworld
      novel at the time of compilation), and some entries that needed
      updating have been to some extent, but there are far too many
      entries that seem to have been copy-pasted without inspection from
      the earlier Companions, not to mention instances of what I can only
      call strange imbalances, and some shocking omissions. And the
      standard of proofreading and editing is not what it should be. To
      cite a few examples of the far too many available:

      * In the entry for Pepe, Madam Sharn is called "Madam Sharm" (a
      mistake thankfully not repeated in the haute, or should that be bas,
      couturieuse's own entry).

      * Mistress Slightly, Samuel Vimes' childhood teacher, is incorrectly
      labelled as "Miss Slightly" in her entry heading, and the entry
      itself includes a repetition that should have been caught long
      before print: "Mistress Slightly wore red and white spotted drawers.
      She certainly had a mob cap and a laugh like rainwater going down a
      drain. She may even – underneath the endless layers of petticoats
      – have worn red-and-white spotted drawers."

      * There is some dodgy phrasing in places – for example, in the
      entry for Time (the anthropomorphic personification, that is), we
      are informed that "She has a relationship with Lobsang Ludd and
      Jeremy Clockson." Erm, someone was asleep at the wheel there – a
      relationship *with* is so disturbingly not the same as a
      relationship *to*!

      * Despite the entry for the Post Office running to nearly ten pages,
      the entry for Stanley Howler doesn't give his surname (although it
      notes that his rank changed from Apprentice Postman to Head of

      * There is no entry for the Chalk. There's not even any *mention* of
      the Chalk! Not even in the entries for Tiffany herself and those of
      assorted other characters from all four of the Tiffany Aching
      novels. Huh?

      These and the many other ball-drops leave me feeling frustrated
      every time I pick up Turtle Recall. And yet, and yet, it *is* an
      invaluable resource for Discworld minutiae, and it's the best we've
      got so far.

      So, Discworld fans, the onus is on you now. Remember the painstaking
      (and often worryingly obsessive) work that went into researching and
      creating the Annotated Pratchett File? Maybe the time is right for a
      new Roundworld-spanning fan project: nothing less than The Nice and
      Accurate Absolute Discworld Companion. But in the meantime, buy
      Turtle Recall, 'k? Because it certainly doesn't suck. In fact, it's
      really rather indispensable. And oh, that awesome title...



      By Annie Mac

      "Take the past and make it right
      Travel in time with me
      Firebombs rip up the sky to set the street alight
      But no one has to die tonight
      Travel in time with me..."

      Having adapted The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents into a
      children's-level musical with stunning results, teacher and musician
      Matthew Holmes turned his hand to Johnny and the Bomb, the final
      instalment in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy. Once again there are seven
      songs, all of superb quality, but in my opinion the adaptation
      itself is more uneven this time around.

      The problem for me is that Johnny and the Bomb is one of my
      favourite Pratchett books, boasting a beautifully crafted storyline
      that tackles important social issues and is in many ways almost as
      noteworthy as Nation – and for whatever reason, be it perceived
      overcomplexity or a simple matter of running time or something else,
      Holmes chose to abridge and condense in a way that de-claws or
      glosses over some of the most striking parts of the original story.
      Gone are the original novel's subplots about the difficulties faced
      by a young, modern, feminist female (Kirsty) and a young, modern
      black schoolboy (Yo-less) in the far more conservative and
      intolerant era of World War 2; likewise for the subplot about the
      Blackbury Pals Brigade; we are left with only Mrs Tachyon, the
      accidental abandoning of Wobbler, and the race to save Paradise
      Street (and Wobbler's grandfather) from history-changing
      destruction, and I feel the story is far the poorer for it.

      But ultimately the most vital part of a musical is, yes, the music,
      and Matthew Holmes has proven once again that he is a far better
      writer of stage songs than most of the West End big names. "Put the
      Lights Out", the opening number, is a gloriously rendered piece of
      big-band swing that sets the tone for the era (1941, remember) where
      most of the action takes place:

      Street was nice
      Till those bombers came,
      Last night – turned that
      Street to rubble. What a shame!"

      The feel of "Mrs Tachyon" transported me to an imaginary cinema in
      the early 1940s, sitting inn the dark watching a contemporary
      cartoon, and features appropriately visual lyrics:

      "With her wrinkly socks and trainers
      And her crinkly ra-ra skirt
      And a dozen woolly jumpers for the cold
      As she steps from the shadows
      There's a sound on the wind
      A shopping trolley with a squeaky wheel..."

      "Home Guard" is a march reminiscent of those old "chorus line"
      pieces – found myself waiting for the Radio City Rockettes to
      appear, then George Formby, even though I'm not old enough to have
      seen either. "Evacuee" offers cheerful, finger-snapping jazz with
      prominent walking bass lines to counterpoint its plaintive lyrics
      ("On the train, don't know when I'll be home again... suddenly I'm
      an evacuee, no one cares about me..."). "When I Close My Eyes", a
      poignant ballad sung by Sir John, is more Harry Styles than Harry
      Connick, but the lyrics work well:

      "Jetset livin'
      Chauffeur driven
      Built an empire from these
      Days I was given
      But when I close my eyes
      I see my friends in a thousand mem'ries
      When I close my eyes
      I'm just the frightened child
      Who cried himself to sleep..."

      "Change the Story" – sung as the young time travellers try to
      reach the broken air-raid siren in time to prevent tragedy – is
      the climactic piece of the play, featuring a moody intro that leads
      to an almost Jim Steinman-esque production. Of all Holmes'
      offerings, this song feels the most like it comes from a modern
      stage musical. Not that this is a problem, as it's *good* stage

      "Take the past and make it right
      Travel in time with me
      Firebombs rip up the sky to set the street alight
      But no one has to die tonight
      Travel in time with me...
      Here and now the world turns round
      For Johnny Maxwell
      To change the story..."

      And then when the day is won and time is no longer out of joint, we
      come to the final song, "Walk Down a Street I Know". This one is
      rightly very modern, an up-tempo 12/8 that rocks along joyously:

      "We're back, we're back
      On a Tesco trolley time machine
      We're back,from far and long ago
      ...it's paradise to find a way back home
      And walk down a street I know..."

      In the end, I cannot recommend this one quite as highly as I do the
      Maurice adaptation, but I imagine that for people who are
      unfamiliar with the source material this is probably as cracking
      good play.

      As with the TAMAHER performance pack, the cast list, a production
      overview, staging suggestions, costume ideas, and of course the book
      and lyrics are included, plus a CD with all the instrumental backing
      tracks, sound effects and incidental music for the performance, and
      demo versions of all seven songs with guide vocals.

      Johnny and the Bomb performance pack (ISBN 978-1-4081-6560-7): stage
      adaptation, original music, music arrangements and incidental music
      by Matthew Holmes; cover art by Howard McWilliam; internal
      illustrations by Akbar Ali. The performance pack is priced at
      £26.99, available for purchase from Bloomsbury:


      Sadly, the publishers A C Black don't seem to have Johnny and the
      Bomb listed on their website any longer – only TAMAHER – but
      here is an earlier listing that might work, where the performance
      pack is priced at £29.99:


      Or if you must, there's always Amazon:





      The Inspiration Theatre Company of Peel, Isle of Man are putting on
      their production of Wyrd Sisters this weekend! Directed by Kate
      Radcliffe, the company views the story as "seen from the skewed
      perspective of the three alarmingly human and dysfunctional

      When: 27th April 2013
      Venue: Centenary Centre, Atholl Street, Peel, Isle of Man IM5 1HQY
      Time: 8pm (doors open at 7.30 pm)
      Tickets: £10, available from Celtic Gold (Peel), Peter Norris Music
      (Douglas) and Shakti Man (Ramsey)


      Another review of February's production of Going Postal, attended
      – as you may remember – and much loved by The Author himself:

      "Terry Pratchett's novel, adapted by Stephen Briggs, is lovingly
      brought to life by director Alistair Faulkner and Studio Theatre's
      skilled company of actors. Most of the dialogue is taken up by
      details of the plot, as is usual with Pratchett. Roguish con artist
      Moist von Lipwig (Stew Taylor) finds himself in charge of reviving
      Ankh-Morpork's decayed post office, with the aid of Lord Vetinari
      (Tim Greathead), Junior Postmaster Groat (Faulkner himself), some of
      the town's golems (mostly Kevin Murdoch), Adora Belle Dearheart
      (Caroline Walford), daughter of the founder of 'clacks', an
      alternative communications service that has become a corrupt
      corporation run by the villainous Reacher Gilt (Richard Clarke), and
      numerous others. The parallels with our own time are obvious, but
      here our loveable antihero is allowed to triumph. Costumes, make-up
      and special effects are very good, the story full of incident."




      Read all about it! The Daily Mail's feature pages aren't *always*
      just about gossip and scaremongering. here is an image-heavy article
      about the restoration of a supercentenarian wheeled shepherding hut:

      "Craftsman Richard King spent 12 painstaking months refurbishing the
      weather-beaten shed which is 113 years old, in Suffield, Norfolk.
      But its new owners wanted the hut to remain authentic and reflect a
      bygone age of farming rather than restored to pristine condition.
      Inside, the original woodwork remains with marks which show where
      the shepherd slept on a bed above a cage of poorly lambs. There is
      also a cosy stove, table and scratched 'witch marks' on the wall to
      ward off evil spirits. The only modern luxury it has is double
      glazed windows. When Mr King took on the project the hut, dating
      back to about 1900, was complete but very fragile. The cast iron
      wheels were falling off and the metal bolts in the oak chassis had
      rusted away. But Mr King has replaced the floor and pitched roof and
      managed to keep 80 per cent of the original structure. Instead, its
      rusty metal skin has been mended and wax-oiled to preserve and
      weatherproof it. 'You can imagine the shepherd sitting in here, with
      the stove going, tending his lambs with the elements lashing
      outside,' said Mr King, who is the son of a steam engine maker..."




      Our intrepid Newshound Asti – geekess extraordinaire, software
      wrangler, UU-scarf-wearing mountaineer and Bletchley Park enthusiast
      – sent in some topical Hexomancy news from the ACCU 2013 Conference:

      "I was attending and speaking at the Conference last week and was
      quite surprised to see the attached Michel Grootjans presentation
      [see link below – Ed.] done as a 5 minute lightning talk. Even
      more surprising is when, afterward at the bar, I went bouncing over
      to Michel flashing my shirt, he didn't twig that I was trying to
      show off my Unseen University t-shirt (rather than trying to draw
      attention to... other assets). It turned out that he'd never
      actually read any Discworld books but that has now been rectified
      and I have started him off with Guards! Guards! and a brief list of
      which books in what order to get started. In other Discworld news
      from the conference, I think that I heard 'turtles all the way down'
      at least once per day."

      To view or download the presentation in the form of slides (in PDF
      format), go here:


      Asti also says:

      "If folks are interested in joining a coffee shop style developer
      organisation with a top notch annual conference, please go to
      www.accu.org and you can join the accu-general mailing list for free
      to get some idea what we are about."

      About ACCU (a non-profit software development collective):

      Ponder Stibbons would this a thumbs-up, we think!



      Melvin Pach-Mon's excellent "Ankh-Morpork city dwarf" costume:


      From Brian Heath, Millennium Hand and Shrimp!:


      Good news for Music with Rocks In lovers – Jon Bon Jovi is
      apparently a Discworld fan:


      According to one Martin Walker, CMOT Dibbler has opened a stall in





      "Sir Terry Pratchett, who is best known for penning the Discworld
      fantasy series, has been unveiled as this year's author for the
      Brighton and Hove City Reads festival. Organisers have selected the
      eighth book from his epic series – Guards! Guards! – as the
      official read for this year's event... Bookworms will read, discuss
      and celebrate Pratchett's novel during the three-week City Reads
      event in September. The main festival activity takes place at Old
      Market Arts Centre in Hove but other events are set to be held in
      libraries, community centres, pubs and bookshops. Sarah Hutchings,
      the artistic director of City Reads, said: 'We are so excited that
      Sir Terry, one of the most iconic writers of our time, has agreed to
      be part of this year's City Reads, which I think will bring a whole
      new audience to his work. Brighton has always had the reputation of
      being a bit bohemian and we think he'll fit right in. We're looking
      forward to welcoming him to our city later in the year.'..."

      For more information on City Reads 2013, visit cityreads.co.uk.



      The Discworld Emporium is offering a pair of superbly decorative
      posters. Lynsey of Transworld says: "To celebrate 30 years of some
      of the most cruel and unusual monikers known to the written word,
      DiscworldEmporium.com have produced the 'Discworld: A cast of
      Thousands' typographic poster featuring the names of hundreds of
      Terry's most beloved creations."

      Details from the site:

      "There's no denying that Terry Pratchett has a knack for names – In
      who else's universe could the likes of Bestiality Carter, Drum
      Billet, Windle Poons and Snorey Littlebottom exist alongside the
      likes of Sir William Blunt-Instrument, Simplicity Garlick, Sidney
      Lopsides and Lettice Earwig? This stylish poster is a veritable
      who's who of Discworld, with hundreds of Pratchett's wonderfully
      expressive and eccentrically named characters appearing together on
      one splendid typographical image. Produced using fade-resistant inks
      on 200gsm silk finish paper. All posters are sold unframed and sent
      rolled in a robust postal tube."

      There are two different finishes and sizes:

      Large Traditional Finish (370 x 700mm), priced at £15.00
      To order, go to:


      Medium Contemporary Finish (325 x 610mm), priced at £13.50
      To order, go to:


      Image of a framed sample poster:



      From a piece in Locus Magazine:

      "Many of us, fans and authors alike, play the dream casting game
      where we imagine who should star in film or television adaptations
      of our favorite books. But not all stories were meant for live-
      action, or even animation. Some stories require the warmth,
      creativity, and downright fun of puppetry... The early Discworld
      books featured the bumbling wizard Rincewind and, more importantly,
      the Luggage. The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood, and is
      characterized as 'half suitcase, half homicidal maniac.' It's nigh
      invulnerable, and makes a habit of devouring whatever gets in its
      way. This is the character puppets were made for! Discworld also
      includes one of the best librarian characters ever, a wizard who was
      accidentally transformed into an orangutan, but liked his new form
      and decided to keep it. While his vocabulary might be rather limited
      ('Ook!'), imagine what a good puppeteer could do with the facial
      expressions. Pratchett has such brilliant, well-developed, more-
      than-real characters that it's unfair to expect mere humans to do
      them justice..."



      11) CLOSE

      And that's it for the merrie month of, erm, April, apart from the
      business of once again wishing Sir Pterry a very!happy!birthday! for
      tomorrow. We'll be back with more news, views and reviews in the
      merrie(r) month of May. See you then!

      – Annie Mac


      If you have any questions or requests, write:
      Copyright (c) 2013 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
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