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WOSSNAME -- Main issue -- June 2014

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  • granny_tude
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion June 2014 (Volume 17, Issue 6, post 1) oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo INDEX: 01) QUOTES OF
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2014


      Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion

      June 2014 (Volume 17, Issue 6, post 1)






      04) ODDS AND SODS









      13) CLOSE



      "I have been blessed with good fortune in my life. I've turned a

      passion into a profession."

      – Terry Pratchett, on accepting his first non-European honorary


      "I'm sorry. I know that I am a small, weak man, but I have amassed a large library; I dream of dangerous places."

      – AE Pessimal in Snuff (p. 186, Doubleday hardcover)



      All my life, I've taken my job seriously. Whether the work was paid

      (e.g. career) or unpaid (e.g. WOSSNAME), I always applied myself to

      the best of my ability. That application had much to do with why I

      did well in my former career, and I've continued doing my best to

      *do* my best as editor/publisher of the WOSSNAME newsletter even

      though my physical health is dodgy, my financial situation dodgier,

      and my mental health generally a Don't Arsk. But although I took on

      WOSSNAME as a favour to Joe-the-founder and have kept it going with

      less and less volunteer "staff" since his death a few years ago, my

      promise to Joe isn't the only reason I carry on here – I do

      WOSSNAME as a thank-you to Terry Pratchett, the man and the brand,

      for bringing so much delight and so much satisfaction to my life

      through his writings and for being one of the most awesome and

      influential popular philosophers of our time.

      When I tell people Terry Pratchett ruined me for almost all other

      authors' work, I am not only dead serious but am also making that

      claim on the basis of a vast amount of comparative study: I've read

      many thousands of books over the decades. No, really. I taught

      myself to read at an early age, have ever been a fast reader with

      comprehensive, long-lasting content retention, and truly did spend

      much of my childhood inhaling every library I could get my eyes on

      (most of the rest of my time was spent marathoning and nature-

      watching; I may not have been the world's only child XD runner with

      a rucksack full of books, but I suspect we're a fairly rare

      occurrence), so by my early teens I had all the seminal and mid-

      period science fiction and fantasy "giants", long lists of other

      genre fiction, forests-worth of big-L Literature and vast mountains

      of pulp – not to mention far greater amounts of nonfiction –

      under my reading belt. And unsurprisingly, as the years went on and

      the list of authors sampled grew, my expectations rose with the

      height of my Already Read That pile.

      And then came Terry Pratchett.

      I used to think Wodehouse was the pinnacle of jaunty wit – until

      Pratchett. I used to think Tom Sharpe was the apex of trenchant

      social satire – until Pratchett. I even used to think Robert

      Rankin rather rocked – until Pratchett. And so on. I fell in love

      with the Discworld series and grew more and more wide-eyed as the

      power of Pratchett's writing kept on increasing, as he slipped more

      and more powerful characterisations and observations into the novels

      without ever losing the weirdly innocent charm of the Discverse

      itself. And then he wrote Night Watch, and pretty much blew away all

      the other science fiction writers. And then he wrote Nation, and

      moved me so with its story – and most of all with its

      magnificently real characters – that I cried myself sick on my

      first three readings of it, and yearly re-readings still choke me up

      something rotten. And then he wrote Dodger, and transported us to

      the muck and magic of nineteenth-century London in the most

      rollicking picaresque since Fielding's Tom Jones romped across the

      public imagination some 250-odd years ago.

      Terry Pratchett's ability to draw us a living, breathing character

      in the space of a sentence or two continues to amaze me. Even the

      most secondary characters, from long-ago Mended Drum owner Hibiscus

      Dunelm to minor Agatean bureaucrat Six Beneficent Winds, from "Bill

      Door"'s fellow farm labourers to the least memorable member of the

      Silver Horde, from Tawneee the unworldly stripper to "winkle-stall

      queen" Verity Pushpram, spring instantly into fully realised 3-D on

      the mental screen. Consider Roland's father, dying Baron of the

      Chalk: we hardly got to "see" him in the Tiffany Aching books, yet

      his presence was so vibrant, so *alive* – and his death so filled

      with light and hope and welcome resolution – that it gutted me.

      Consider Angua's mother: sketchily drawn yet real enough that we

      could see in her the sources of so much of Angua's personal

      anxieties and Wolfgang's over-indulged arrogance. Consider goblin

      Billy Slick's great-grandmother, the alcohol-soaked but needle-sharp

      Regret of the Falling Leaf. Consider Brick the foundling troll,

      overwhelmed by life in the big city, drug-addled and none too bright

      yet sensitive enough to recognise the subtle distinctions of moral

      conflict. Consider Mrs Colon, never seen but easily pictured. Or

      Miss Healstether. Or the Smoking Gnu. Or Kelda Jeannie. Or the rat-

      catchers in TAMAHER, real enough to smell and far more menacing than

      any throwaway comedy villains have a right to be. Or... the list

      goes on and on. Pratchett's greatest strength, and many agree with

      me on this, lies in his ability to present all those living,

      breathing, utterly sympathetic characters in a way that feels

      effortless, straight out of his imagination into our hearts.

      And then I read The Long War, and Terry Pratchett's writing brought

      me to tears again, but this time for a very different reason.

      All of the above is my long-winded way of saying that I simply

      cannot, in conscience, write a truthful review of The Long War

      because I can't find anything good to say about it, despite having

      promised last month to include a review in the June issue. I feel

      awful about this. I feel like some kind of traitor. I feel like I'm

      biting the hand that's fed my Happy Reading Place for almost thirty

      years. But I can't squeeze out enough juice to make the proverbial

      lemonade, because The Long War feels nothing like Terry Pratchett's

      writing and nothing like a book I'd wish to recommend to friends or

      strangers. I found it even drier and more lifeless than The Long

      Earth. I found the characters even more cipher-like, with not the

      slightest touch of the *aliveness* that pervades all the rest of

      Pratchett's creations. And no, it's not a matter of different

      genres, as I suggested in my review of The Long Earth two years ago,

      nor is it a matter of time and PCA changing the author's style –

      as far as I'm concerned, Snuff and Raising Steam and all the rest of

      his recent work still fills my world with shining, sparkling


      So I've bowed out of this one, Readers, even though it breaks my

      heart. I've decided to repost my review of The Long Earth, as just

      about every criticism I offered in reviewing the first book of the

      series holds for the second, and have passed reviewing duties for

      The Long War over to one of WOSSNAME's few remaining staff members

      (see item 7).

      Dear Sir Pterry and Team Pratchett, please don't hate me, 'k? I

      shall continue to do my best to pay respects to that enormous body

      of awesome work. The flame still burns!


      And the flame *does* still burn, in the form of WOSSNAME's review of

      Jack Dodger's Guide to London. It's a bit of a love letter from the

      heart, and no lemons required squeezing in its making. See item 5...


      As an ever greater number of amateur dramatic companies and student

      drama projects choose to present Discworld plays, the quality of the

      productions continues to rise. I normally present Discworld plays

      without concentrating on any particular productions, but I have to

      say that Australia's "Unseen Theatre" company deserves an extra nod

      of appreciation for their presentations, and now, to judge by

      reviews and other reactions, the Lifeline Theatre of Chicago

      deserves a nod as well for their current staging of Monstrous

      Regiment. Do be sure to read the reviews for that production and for

      Unseen Theatre's recent production of Thief of Time, below in

      section 6!

      And speaking of Unseen Theatre, auditions are continuing for their

      forthcoming production of The Last Continent. Many roles were filled

      during yesterday's auditions, but not all of them. Director Pamela

      Munt writes, "Unfortunately we didn't quite fill all of the roles

      that we have for "The Last Continent" at auditions today. So we will

      be holding a second round of auditions next Sunday 7th July. We do

      have enough females. We are now just looking for a couple more

      males. If you would like to audition please contact Pamela by email

      at pamela@... This time you will need to make a specific

      appointment for your audition."

      If you're an aspiring Fourecksian luvvy, and want more details, go




      This seems a good time to remind everyone that the gorgeous Gollancz

      Discworld Collector's Edition reissues of earlier Discworld novels

      are almost all, erm, reissued! Still to come in July are the rest of

      the Lancre Witches books (Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies,

      Maskerade), and in August, the reissues finish with The Colour of

      Magic and The Light Fantastic. These smaller-format hardcovers are

      still priced at £9.99 each, and so worth it – I don't know about

      you, but my own early Discworld paperbacks are now several steps

      beyond dog-eared, foxed, badgered, wolved and Things from the

      Dungeon Dimensions-battered. As these reissues remain unavailable

      for purchase in USA/Canada due to the frustrating niceties of the

      publishing industry, but there's always that handy internet

      whatchmajig that might prove helpful... according to the official

      Gollancz blog, "Many of you are asking whether the series will

      continue after Jingo. The short answer is: we don’t know. The

      slightly longer answer is that we do not control rights in any of

      the Discworld books after Jingo; they are published by Transworld.

      At the moment, we know of no firm plans on their part to continue

      the Collector’s Library, but if that changes we’ll certainly

      note it on the Gollancz blog."

      For a full list of the published and about to be published reissues,

      go to:


      And now it's on with the show...

      – Annie Mac, Editor




      "2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption

      there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum

      Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are

      all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is

      contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original

      Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a

      fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany

      him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has ulterior motives ...

      "Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an

      incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer

      limits of the far Long Earth.

      "For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes

      embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans

      who are beginning to emerge from their 'long childhood' in the

      community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth.

      Ignorance and fear are causing 'normal' human society to turn

      against the Next - and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable

      The Long Mars has been released this week in the UK. The hardcover

      version is priced at £9.00 on amazon.co.uk:


      ...or at £12.99 via the far less morally grey Waterstones:



      "A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread

      across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and

      Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise

      Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth ?

      but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind ...

      "A new 'America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million

      steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the

      plentiful environment of the Long Earth ? and Valhalla is growing

      restless under the control of the Datum government...

      "Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls,

      graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react

      to humanity?s thoughtless exploitation...

      "Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a

      gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth

      into a war unlike any mankind has waged before."

      For more information, and to order:



      By Beth Wyatt on London 24:

      "The Long Mars, the third in a bestselling series by fantasy genius

      Terry Pratchett and science fiction star Stephen Baxter, follows the

      subsequent years through a variety of narrative threads. US Navy

      commander Maggie Kauffman leads her crew along the Long Earth on two

      airships, in an attempt to surpass the Chinese record set five years

      previously of 20 million 'stepwise' Earths. An expedition is also to

      be had for Sally Linsay, who is contacted out of the blue by her

      father Willis, the inventor of the original Stepper device, with a

      tantalising offer to go where none have dared dream of – the Long

      Mars. But will they find anything worth discovering? And what are

      Willis' motives? Meanwhile, Joshua Valiente is alerted to the

      existence of a new civilisation of super-smart humans and becomes

      pulled into the resulting conflict. Each of the threads, which

      eventually begin to pull together at the end of the novel, are

      equally as gripping. The discoveries made on the expeditions are

      jaw-dropping and, as you would expect from a science fiction novel,

      are intelligently explained rather than just shoehorned in...

      Pratchett's trademark playful wit combines with Baxter's science

      fiction expertise later on with creatures such as a dog-human

      species, a murderous crustacean and a flying reptile. Not many other

      writers could introduce such wacky creations and make them

      believable... With a collaborative novel, there is a worry that the

      tale may not flow, but Pratchett and Baxter's voices blend




      Stephen Baxter discusses his collaboration with Sir Pterry on the

      Long Earth books:

      "It quickly emerged that we had quite different writing styles. The

      Long Earth (as it became) is a kind of extended landscape which you

      could map, and as the series went on it evolved a history spanning

      decades, so from the beginning I showed up with sketch maps and

      timelines, all subject to revision but settings for the stories we

      would tell. This was 'hard SF' after all, SF of the kind I'd always

      written, where you stick to the laws of physics (given the odd tweak

      such as the existence of the parallel worlds in the first place) and

      you convince the reader through internal consistency. Whereas Terry

      likes to find his way into a story by following the people: give him

      two characters sitting in a room and the story will come, he says.

      As it's worked out, the tensions between the two methods have

      basically been constructive... I remember a moment when it came

      together. We sat before his voice-recognition computer system and

      worked through a revision of Terry's early material, as our Daniel

      Boone-like hero Joshua Valiente is summoned to the presence of the

      mysterious artificial intelligence Lobsang for the first time. Terry

      veered off unexpectedly into a flashback to Joshua's past, when he

      was a troubled thirteen-year-old on 'Step Day', the day when the

      Long Earth suddenly opened up for mankind. Terry likes to drill down

      into the heads of his characters; I think young Joshua had something

      in common with Tiffany Aching. We had Joshua saving other, less

      capable kids who got lost in the forests of the parallel worlds –

      and then I took over, thinking of my world mappings, and had Joshua

      go off alone deeper into the Long Earth... I think we became

      confident that this had worked; we had put Terry's characterisation,

      humour and wisdom together with my sense of the hard-SF structure

      necessary for establishing the universe of the Long Earth..."



      04) ODDS AND SODS


      Nice coverage of that newest honorary degree:

      "UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd, who presented the

      award to him in the United Kingdom, says Terry Pratchett is a clear

      example of someone who has stayed true to his passion. 'Terry brings

      his immeasurable talent and intellect to doing what he loves – he

      has produced an enormous body of work that continues to delight and

      inspire millions of readers and writers around the world,' Prof

      Lloyd says. 'His contribution not only to literature, but also to

      the causes about which he is passionate, is enormous and has been

      rightly acknowledged in literary prizes, through sales and in awards

      such as this one.' Prof Lloyd says the University is delighted that

      Terry has accepted the title of Honorary Doctor, his first award of

      this type from outside the UK and Ireland. 'This brings Terry into

      the UniSA community in a more personal way and brings our students

      and the wider University closer to the life of a great writer and a

      great man,' Prof Lloyd says..."



      Reviewed by Kate Padilla on Authorlink:

      "What a treat for a book reviewer to receive a book in a genre not

      normally sought and embark on a literary journey. English author

      Terry Pratchett, who created the Discworld Series (40 volumes with

      sales up to 85 million copies) has just released, 'The Folklore of

      Discworld,' co-written with British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson.

      It is a detailed reference book of legends, myths and customs from

      'planet earth' that Pratchett links to his fantasy world... The

      sensational core of the series are characters who live on Discworld

      — dwarfs, witches, vampires, gods and other creatures... I

      discovered Discworld can lead you along a path of laughter and a

      trip into a joyful magical mystical world."



      Does Iceland need to put up Dancers? They certainly have Lancre's

      gnarly ground...

      "Plans to build a new road in Iceland ran into trouble recently when

      campaigners warned that it would disturb elves living in its path.

      Construction work had to be stopped while a solution was found...

      Surveys suggest that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at

      least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the Huldufolk

      – the hidden people. Just to be clear, Icelandic elves are not the

      small, green, pointy-eared variety that help Santa pack the toys at

      Christmas – they're the same size as you and I, they're just

      invisible to most of us. Mainly they're a peaceable breed but if you

      treat them with disrespect, for example by blasting dynamite through

      their rock houses and churches, they're not reticent about showing

      their displeasure.

      "Iceland's rugged landscape is no bucolic idyll – the very ground

      boils and spits irrationally, the surrounding craggy, black

      mountains fester menacingly and above, the sky is constantly

      herniated by the iron-grey clouds it strains to hold up. It's a

      visceral, raw and brutal beauty which makes Heathcliff's Wuthering

      Heights look like a prissy, pastoral watercolour. "You can't live in

      this landscape and not believe in a force greater than you,"

      explains Professor of Folklore Adalheidur Gudmundsdottir..."



      "We spoke briefly about her father, Terry Pratchett. Did having such

      a famous author as a father influence her at all? 'I'm not sure how

      much he influenced me to go into writing. He certainly didn't

      actively encourage it. I guess it was just in the blood.' Indeed,

      the relationship between Rhianna and her father is much more complex

      than a literary dynasty: 'I'm immensely proud of what my father has

      achieved in his career, but I see him as being my dad first and

      foremost, not 'Terry Pratchett' [the] famous author. He's the man

      who built me Moomin Valley out of papier-mache, taught me how to

      milk goats and who took me out of bed in the middle of the night to

      see glow worms and Halley's comet...'"



      A University of Edinburgh study has shown that learning a second

      language, even in late adulthood, might delay the onset of dementia

      by several years:

      "The findings indicate that those who spoke two or more languages

      had significantly better cognitive abilities compared to what would

      have been expected from their baseline test. The strongest effects

      were seen in general intelligence and reading. The effects were

      present in those who learned their second language early, as well as

      later in life."

      So... hands up, all you over-40s who want to learn how to speak

      fluent Nac Mac Feegle!

      If you wish to read the full article, it's here: 




      By Annie Mac

      I'm not sure what astonished me more about Jack Dodger's Guide to

      London – the realisation that I never got around to posting a

      review of it in WOSSNAME, or the discovery that hardly anyone else

      out in the wider world appears to have reviewed it. Oh, woe! And

      waily waily! And I can't be having with this! So...

      As we sit in our comfortable homes with all the "mod cons" we take

      for granted now – well-caulked roofs, good insulation, hot and

      cold running water, mains gas and electricity, working flush toilets

      – and our easy access to effective medical treatment, fresh food

      and clean clothing (and let's not forget the vital work of the

      refuse collectors, street-sweepers and all the other municipal

      toilers who make even relatively low-income neighbourhoods far more

      salubrious places to be in than anywhere anyone but the richest,

      most powerful people could manage two centuries ago), it can be hard

      to imagine just how dirty and dangerous London life was in the days

      of Dodger and his contemporaries. Jack Dodger's Guide to London,

      filled with historical facts, legends and anecdotes and enlivened by

      frequent quotes from Sir Jack Dodger himself (based, it says on the

      cover, on his "original notes"), goes a long and entertaining way

      towards showing the differences between then and now. The book's 138

      pages and twenty-four chapterlets cover many areas of everyday life

      amongst the high and low of Victorian London: coin of the realm,

      street vernacular, the Ragged Schools, the Royal Family, underwear

      and outerwear; details of shopping and housekeeping, crime and the

      law, and what it was like to live in the slums; transport, public

      works, entertainments of the time; and various other aspects of

      Victorian London – including of course the lives of sailors,

      Seamstresses, dock-workers... and toshers. Special highlights for me

      were extracts from the actual works of the real Henry Mayhew, and

      reprints of news items of the time (none of them, sadly, written by

      Charlie Dickens).

      Apart from its oodles of info, Dodger's Guide is a visually

      delightful piece of art in its own right, styled to match the

      previous entry in the series that now includes Where's My Cow? and

      The World of Poo. From the old-fashioned, gilt-decorated matte

      covers and equally old-fashioned-looking (and Greenpeace approved)

      renewably sourced paper to the new illustrations by Paul Kidby plus

      a wealth of reproduced 19th century images and beautifully varied

      layouts and fonts – as it says at the front of the book,

      "Considered trifles courtesy of The Discworld Emporium, Wincanton,

      Somerset... Text design by Lizzy Laczynska... Picture research by

      Liane Payne" – the book is worth owning for its aesthetic

      qualities alone, never mind the fun and cheerful faux-Victorian

      stylings of its content.

      The penultimate and final pages of Jack Dodger's Guide to London

      offer a bibliography and list of internet sources for those of you

      who might like to take your 19th-century London researches further.

      I would also recommend some books I own and websites I visit, that

      provide contemporary-to-us sources of London images and information

      that fit in nicely with the theme of Dodger's Guide – particularly

      Geoffrey Fletcher's exquisite short book The London Nobody Knows,

      which was first published at the end of the 1950s and gives a very

      good picture, via Fletcher's descriptions and sketches of the

      remnants of Victorian and Edwardian London, of what life was like in

      times closer to Dodger's era; Paul Talling's Lost Rivers of London

      (Talling also runs the excellent if heart-rending, at least to us

      former London residents, website Derelict London); the website http

      ://the-east-end.co.uk/and its Twitter account, @The_East_End; and

      Catharine Arnold's very engaging factual histories of London,

      including "Necropolis (London and its Dead)", "City of Sin (London

      and its Vice)", and "Bedlam (London and its Mad)". Another related

      group of interest is the Ragged Victorians, a sort of social-history

      Peeled Nuts who assemble in costume, "Using original resources, and

      the works of Henry Mayhew and Charles Dickens..." to "achieve the

      most authentic impression, of what life was like in the 1840/50s";

      their website can be found at http://www.raggedvictorians.co.uk/

      Jack Dodger's Guide to London is a Small but Perfectly Formed(TM)

      gem of the first water. It shines like golden sovereigns embedded in

      a tosheroon. If you haven't read and collected it yet, I suggest you

      do so without delay!


      Here be a review of Dodger's Guide on SFF World, by Mark Yon:


      ...and one at concatenation.org by Peter Tyers:





      "Our next play, (by popular vote) will be a return to "The Last

      Continent" which was a world premiere for us back in 2009... It's

      actually quite appropriate as it turns out that we are doing a play

      about Ecks, Ecks, Ecks because Terry has been awarded an honorary

      doctorate from UniSA."

      When: 19th September through 4th October 2014

      Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide, South 

      Australia 5000

      Time: TBA

      Tickets: Pricing TBA



      More reviews of Unseen Theatre's latest production...

      By Benjamin Orchard for Adelaide Theatre Guide:

      "Pamela Munt, in adapting the novel for the stage, provides newbies

      like myself with just enough world-building exposition to get by…

      but only just. I found the first ten minutes or so of this play to

      be a bit of a jumble, and I would have appreciated a somewhat more

      detailed explanation as to the intricacies of this world.

      Fortunately, once the main plot kicks into gear, the play becomes

      somewhat easier to follow and Munt's script captures Pratchett's

      greatest strength as a writer, namely his gift for dialogue that is

      at once gleefully absurd and bitingly witty. This sublime wordplay

      is buoyed by an impassioned cast, ensuring that many scenes are

      hilariously entertaining to watch, even if they don't completely

      make sense and serve no purpose in driving the narrative forward.

      "The talented ensemble assumes multiple roles, Monty Python style,

      with chameleonic finesse, but a few performances stand out more than

      others. Leighton James is endearingly adorkable as both the naive

      clockmaker, Jeremy, who is unwittingly recruited by malevolent

      otherworldly beings to construct a doomsday device and as novice

      monk, Lobsang, who is entrusted with the daunting quest of

      preventing the apocalypse. Philip Lineton has laconic charm to spare

      as Lobsang's aging mentor, Lu-Tze, whose sage wisdom is often

      filtered through bizarre 'Karate Kid' style housework metaphors.

      Hugh O'Connor is surprisingly amiable as Death, and together with

      the other Four Horsemen (Lewis Baker, Tony Cockington, Daniel

      McInnes, Samuel Creighton) generate an off-kilter chemistry

      reminiscent of an over-the-hill rock band on a reunion tour. Amelia

      Lorien is deliciously snarky as Death's granddaughter, Susan, and

      the filmed narration by Melanie Lyons is a hoot, her relaxed, casual

      tone adding an extra layer of humour to many life or death

      situations in the story..."


      By Peter Bleby on aussietheatre.com.au:

      "Pamela Munt and The Unseen Theatre Company are to be commended on

      even attempting to bring this world premiere to the stage. It is not

      their first either, but this 26th novel in the Discworld series is a

      particularly difficult one, perhaps especially if you have not read

      several of its predecessors. Pratchett's writing, though very

      popular, is not necessarily everybody's cup of what-you-will. But

      there is always genuine humour, serious inquiry, and crazy fantasy,

      and these elements are well portrayed in this adaptation...

      Naturally, this play is surreal, disjointed, quirky and full of

      non–sequiturs, which must have made learning the lines a bigger

      challenge, which this cast has mastered well..."


      By Stephen Davenport for Indaily:

      "As usual, the production combines all the best elements of the

      company to produce a satisfyingly paced piece that ranks among

      Pamela Munt's, and her players', best episodes. It is an enjoyable

      romp. Discworld fans – and many round-world patrons – will find

      it an absolute treat. This is an impressive play with a good deal of

      aptitude in the troupe; and each performer is truly striking. It's

      surprising what substance in presentation can do to bring complex

      plots, entire continents, and even the whole of space and time, to

      life. Of course, the play is a quest with comical heroes, sagacity,

      and satire, but this time, it comes with an unusual philosophical

      outlook, that fortunately doesn't detract from the hilarity. Much of

      the success is due to the hearty direction by Munt who's adaptation

      gives the piece a suitable depth and yet doesn't ignore the essence

      of Pratchett's humour. She delivers a fairy-tale for adults,

      utilising the author's astonishing work of imagination to yield

      fastidious absurdity and soul in every particular, impeccably

      produced scene..."



      Rave reviews – and quite savvy ones as well!

      Kelsey Jorissen in the Chicago Reader:

      "Hainsworth has done a fine job of translating Pratchett's amiable

      cynicism into sharp theatrical language. His adaptation is witty on

      its own account and only slightly overlong at two and a half hours.

      But it's Theis's ensemble that bring even the undead to vivid,

      entertaining life. Starting out jet-set smooth and uber-vampire

      confident, Michaela Petro suffers amusingly when severe caffeine

      deprivation brings Maladict this close to breaking his blood-

      temperance oath. Justine Turner acts her way through thick layers of

      gray foam costuming to create a droll troll. And Katie McLean

      Hainsworth steals a whole slew of scenes as Igor the, uh, Igor.

      Robert Kauzlaric builds an engagingly clueless lieutenant out of air

      quotes, while Christopher M. Walsh supplies unexpected nuance and a

      large measure of heart as the squad's tough, genial NCO. Sarah

      Price's Polly is as plucky as she needs to be — and yet her main

      virtue isn't heroism or even likability, but the way she invites us

      into her adventure..."


      By Barbara Vitello in the Chicago Daily Herald:

      "Taking its title from John Knox's 16th-century tirade against

      female sovereigns ('The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the

      Monstrous Regiment of Women'), in which he argues gender makes women

      unsuitable leaders, the play satirizes gender roles. It also serves

      as a caustic rebuke of war, blind patriotism and persistent

      stupidity – all of which make this 'Regiment' resonant... Facing

      defeat and with their ranks depleted, army recruiters seek out young

      soldiers willing to enlist in Borogravia's latest struggle against

      neighboring Zlobenia. Among them is Polly Perks (Sarah Price, a

      winningly winsome waif), who cuts her hair, dons a pair of breeches,

      changes her name to Oliver and joins the army to find her wayward

      brother (also a recruit) and bring him home. She's assigned to a

      ragtag regiment, whose recruits are as green as she is. Among them

      is aristocratic vampire Maladict (Michaela Petro, all refined

      menace), who swore off blood in favor of coffee; Igor (great work

      from Katie McLean Hainsworth), a hunchback medic with a talent for

      stitching together bodies; and the slightly dim troll Carborundum

      (the affable, amusing Justine C. Turner), who enlists under the

      army's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. This motley band of

      "brothers" includes Melissa Engle's pious Wazzer, a Joan of Arc-like

      character who hears the voice of Borogravia's revered Duchess...

      Rounding out the regiment dubbed monstrous is the self-contained

      Lofty (Mandy Walsh) and the defiant Tonker (passionately played by

      Kim Boler), who expresses in simple terms the frustration of the

      powerless... Leading the untrained, poorly outfitted regiment is the

      gruff, battle-hardened, unfailingly decent Sgt. Jackrum, played with

      equal parts compassion and ruthlessness by Christopher M. Walsh.

      Walsh brings real pathos. Also on hand is Jackrum's weaselly

      corporal Strappi (John Ferrick) and their commanding officer, the

      dapper, befuddled Lt. Blouse (the hilarious Robert Kauzlaric), a

      dandy eager for glory... At two and a half hours including

      intermission, the play is overly long and needs trimming. But that's

      a minor point in what is a major delight from a company renowned for

      its page-to-stage translations..."


      By Kerry Reid in the Chicago Tribune:

      "I've yet to get my literary passport stamped for Terry Pratchett's

      "Discworld." But after seeing Lifeline Theatre's marvelous

      production of "Monstrous Regiment," the 31st novel in Pratchett's

      hugely popular series about life on a flat planet whose inhabitants'

      foibles are suspiciously similar to our own, I'm ready to book

      passage on the S.S. Pratchett... As I've not read the source novel,

      I can't vouch for how much adapter Chris Hainsworth had to leave on

      the cutting-room floor, but from reading online summaries, my guess

      is 'a lot.' My judgment is that it doesn't matter. As a Pratchett

      newbie, I had no problem entering into this topsy-turvy world for

      two-plus hours and following the ins and outs of its backstory...

      The best thing about Hainsworth's script and director Kevin Theis'

      crackerjack staging is that it manages to fully inhabit the realm of

      the ridiculous while tipping its hat to Pratchett's essentially

      humanist/feminist concerns. Somehow, as Iraq falls into even greater

      sectarian violence, a play rife with grotesque absurdity (soldiers

      dining on horsemeat and clothed in the blood-soaked uniforms of dead

      comrades) about a never-ending war waged on behalf of the probably-

      dead duchess of the aforementioned Borogravia seems wholly

      apropos... The anti-war and anti-violence sentiments in the script,

      updated by Hainsworth with references to 'shock and awe' and 'don't

      ask, don't tell,' are handled with offhanded aplomb that keep them

      from feeling like cheap sloganeering... If there has been a more

      accomplished comedic ensemble on a Chicago stage this year, I've not

      seen it..."


      By Mary Shen Barnidge for the Windy City Media Group:

      "Those familiar with the literary career of Terry Pratchett (who

      commands his own yearly international conference in the UK) know to

      expect sly social commentary in the guise of a mock-epic fantasy

      structured with the slapdash glee of a Dungeons and Dragons

      tournament. For those encountering the exhaustive Discworld series

      for the first time (like me), Chris Hainsworth's adaptation deftly

      avoids becoming bogged down in arcane backstories from previous

      volumes to locate us firmly in the present, the Balkanesque

      conflicts providing a canvas for discussion of war's eternal

      stupidity. This is no windy allegorical polemic, however. Under

      Kevin Theis' direction, this motley band of, uh, brothers emerges as

      a gang of live-action cartoons, with smart, slapstick antics always

      grounded in individual personalities... The wordplay likewise brims

      with the delight of an author who obviously loves his language,

      replete with puns and allusions inserted so unobtrusively as to

      register without stopping the flow of the action, as well as a dry

      humor ('I've starved before,' Sgt. Jackrum warns his troops,

      'There's no future in it') refreshingly devoid of the juvenile snark

      too often infecting sword-and-sorcery satire. The swift physical

      pace would mean nothing without verbal agility as well, but

      Lifeline's dream-team ensemble never misses a step..."


      Also, a piece about the genesis of the production, by Myrna Petlicki

      for Sun-Times Media:

      "Kevin Theis had never heard of Terry Pratchett's Discworld fantasy

      novels when Lifeline Theatre asked him to direct 'Monstrous

      Regiment.' 'I only became a fan of the series as a result of working

      on this play,' the Oak Park resident said. Theis read the source

      novel and one other book in the series and was drawn to the author's

      humor. 'He's a really, really funny writer,' Theis said. 'The world

      he's created is so freeing to an author. He basically says there are

      no rules. In Discworld if you believe in something strong enough, it

      comes true... Chris Hainsworth, who did the adaptation, is a big

      fan,' Theis noted. 'He has read all the Discworld books and is a

      repository of all Discworld knowledge...' Theis believes that this

      satire on war is especially relevant to our situation in America.

      'We're about to come to the end of our longest war in history,' he

      said of the combat in Afghanistan. 'And the idea that we must stop

      this war is a huge theme of 'Monstrous Regiment.' Satire is an

      important element in the books of Discworld and there's lots of

      humor in this play but Theis insists that the show goes deeper than




      The Monstrous Regiment production has created such a sensation that

      its season is being extended into August due to demand! Read all

      about it in Broadway World:

      "To accommodate extraordinary ticket demand, Lifeline Theatre

      announces ten added performances of its Jeff Recommended,

      critically-acclaimed world premiere adaptation of Terry Pratchett's

      Monstrous Regiment, by ensemble member Chris Hainsworth, directed by

      Kevin Theis (two-time Non-Equity Jeff Award nominee)... Monstrous

      Regiment now runs through August 3 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N.

      Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Performance

      times are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8

      p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Note: there is no performance on Friday,

      July 4."


      When: now, and up until 20th July 2014

      Venue: Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL, 60626

      Telephone 773-761-4477

      Time: evenings at 7.30pm on Thursdays and Fridays and at 8pm on

      Saturdays; matinees at 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The production

      runs two and a half hours with one intermission. The book will be on

      sale in the lobby.

      Tickets: $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for seniors, $20 for

      students (with I.D.), and $20 for rush tickets (available half hour

      before show time, subject to availability). Group rate for 12 or

      more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the

      Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting



      A review of Mort at The Little Theatre by the Park, Chesham, by Rita

      Carpenter for the Bucks Free Press (Sir Pterry's old workplace):

      "With a great many fairy tale characters, some superb costumes and

      strong performances the play went along at a cracking pace. Produced

      by Katherine Coburn and directed by Jonathan Coburn the group is

      very family orientated and this was evident by how many family

      members were taking part. The lighting and sound effects were superb

      and with 26 scenes it was amazing how well everything flowed. With a

      minimalistic set the scenes were depicted by clever lighting and

      props which appeared and disappeared swiftly adding to the magic of

      the production. There were not many youngsters in the audience

      indeed there were more on stage and I would have liked to have seen

      more but the ones I spoke to during the interval all agreed that

      they were really enjoying the play..."



      Last month's Jadis Shadows production of Wyrd Sisters at Old Joint

      Stock, Birmingham, reviewed by Selwyn Knight on The Public Reviews:

      "As with many of Pratchett's stories, themes from this world are

      skilfully placed into the Discworld to provide entertainment and

      comic effect. In The Wyrd Sisters, there are several Shakespearian

      themes, most noticeably from King Lear, Hamlet and Macbeth, though

      Pratchett superbly debunks the witches' scenes as the older, more

      experienced witches play down any need for melodrama when invoking

      magic... This is quite a wide ranging story and there are some

      potentially questionable directorial decisions: it's made clear that

      all female characters in the travelling players' troupe are

      traditionally played by men, but it's not obvious what the director

      hoped to achieve by casting a male duchess alongside female witches.

      The set is also very busy with unused items littering the back wall,

      some of which only make a single appearance, but remain in vision

      throughout. Indeed, the scene changes lack fluidity, and, unless it

      is mentioned in conversation, it is rarely obvious in which location

      we find ourselves. This lack of fluidity is a factor in the show's

      main weakness – it is simply too long... The finest performances

      come from the three witches, with Granny Weatherwax maintaining her

      sardonic demeanour exceptionally well throughout, Nanny Ogg giving

      every indication of enjoying the drunken life of loose morals and

      Magrat remaining idealistic and naive, even as she and the Fool take

      their first tentative steps towards romance. Indeed, the Fool is a

      lynchpin of the whole piece and clearly rather more intelligent than

      first meets the eye..."





      By Annie Mac

      A few weeks ago, I went to see The Avengers, the Joss Whedon-

      scripted and directed superhero film. I like superhero films as a

      rule, I grew up reading and loving Marvel comics, and I have been in

      awe of Joss Whedon's writing and directing skills for many years

      now, so my expectations were fairly high. And here's a funny thing:

      I said, as my friends and I watched the closing credits, "That may

      well be the definitive superhero movie"; I was sufficiently

      impressed to go back to see it again (with mostly different

      companions) two weeks later; I intend to buy the DVD of it and watch

      it repeatedly over the years... and yet my one-sentence summary of

      The Avengers was "Joss Whedon is such a genius that he *almost*

      managed to make a silk purse." – because for all its clever

      writing, fantastically witty dialogue and exquisite direction,

      cinematography, editing and special effects, it simply did not touch

      my heart as completely as the X-Men films have done.

      So what has this to do with The Long Earth? 

      Well. In a brief mention in last month's issue, shortly after my

      first reading of the book, I described The Long Earth as "a fast,

      exciting piece of storytelling" containing "fascinating ideas, great

      imagery, and some very memorable characters". All of that is true,

      but The Long Earth also is not without its flaws, and those flaws

      mean that this unquestionably well-crafted and clever novel

      ultimately failed to lift and fill my heart in the way that Terry

      Pratchett's other work always does.

      Before I go any further, Reader, I'll stop right here and

      acknowledge that some things I perceived as flaws may not be

      considered flaws by some of you – read on to the section about

      characters – but no, it isn't a matter of The Long Earth being in

      a different genre. There has been much trumpeting here and there

      along the lines of "Terry Pratchett's writing is taking a new

      direction: he's doing science fiction now!"; but for many of us,

      this announcement sounds daft, because we know that Terry Pratchett

      has been writing – and releasing – some fine, fine science

      fiction novels and shorter pieces for decades, among them The Dark

      Side of the Sun and Strata (early-career but promising), the Johnny

      Maxwell trilogy (especially the first and third books), Night Watch

      (science fiction plus Literature-quality sociopolitics and

      psychology, cleverly disguised as a fabulous Discworld novel), and

      one of my own all-time favourite science fiction short stories,

      *#ifdef DEBUG + "world/enough" + "time"* (which I rate at least as

      highly as Robert Heinlein's classic "By His Bootstraps").

      Let's be honest: there's no way to critique a new Pratchett novel,

      in any genre, without comparing it to his extant body of work –

      or, for that matter, without comparing it to any previous Pratchett

      collaborations – and by that yardstick The Long Earth doesn't

      quite measure up to most of the author's previous brilliance. But

      given what we already know of Terry Pratchett's mighty writing-fu, I

      cannot help but lay the blame this time at the feet of co-writer

      Stephen Baxter.

      Baxter's strong suit has always been the Big Idea, most notably that

      of a technological advance that effectively rewrites human society

      at a fundamental level, and he does it well, but he suffers from the

      typical science fiction writer's weakness when it comes to putting

      flesh on the bones of the story. A good example would be The Light

      of Other Days, another collaborative novel (written, or at least co-

      created, with Arthur C. Clarke): fabulous ideas set down masterfully

      but let down somewhat by flat, poorly realised characters. In the

      case of Baxter and Clarke, you have two bone-dry ideas men with

      little grasp of how to create living, breathing characters, so this

      is unsurprising. In the case of Baxter and Pratchett, you have a

      bone-dry ideas man and a master of character depth, character

      motivation and sparkling dialogue exchanges – and yet the end

      result lacks that depth and sparkle that I expect from anything

      Terry Pratchett has a hand in.

      But that doesn't mean this review is a negative one. It really

      doesn't. So let's start with the general and the positive, shall we?

      To wit:

      The Long Earth is a science fiction novel, very much so, well into

      the realm of ideas-driven "hard" science fiction, and it delivers

      the aforementioned fascinating ideas and great imagery. It gives

      excellent new twists to well-trodden speculative concepts. It also

      presents what has to be one of the most, if not the most, bizarre

      accoutrements to interuniversal travel and demonstrates likely

      social and political changes in a well-thought-out manner. The

      actual wordcraft is miles above almost all other science fiction

      (not that we would expect any less here). In short, it does what it

      says on the tin, and on that level it works very well indeed.

      Plot is not a particularly strong point, but this is often the case

      with ideas-driven fiction. As most of you already know from The Long

      Earth's long promotional run-up, the story revolves around a

      homemade device, freely and anonymously released on the internet,

      that allows its user to "Step" to and from alternate Earths in

      alternate universes, and the ways this simple technology changes,

      well, everything. We are shown the chaos, terror and joy of "Step

      Day", the attempts of various nations' authorities to deal with the

      opening of this ultimate frontier, the ways in which human nature

      asserts itself in the same old manner even in the face of the new,

      and the desolation of those who for unexplained reasons are

      physically unable to Step. Beyond that, The Long Earth is the story

      of two entities who set out together on an exploring trip to the

      furthest reaches of the "High Meggas", a million or more Earths

      beyond our own "Datum Earth" – Joshua, a hyperintelligent,

      talented, methodical and rather obnoxious young man who was born

      under very unusual circumstances, prefers his own company to the

      extreme, and craves the Silence (no, not what you Doctor Who fans

      are thinking), and Lobsang, an even more intelligent, talented,

      methodical and rather obnoxious AI who is legally human (and yes, he

      has a certificate of sorts to prove it; now where have we read that

      one before, hmm...) – and whom and what they find along their way.

      There is humour, though much of it feels slightly out of place and

      does not meld as well as it could have with the rest of the "feel"

      of the narrative. There is drama, though precious little of it. Some

      guns of the Chekhov variety (Anton, not Pavel, in case you wondered)

      are drawn but never fired – though in fairness, this is the first

      of a multi-volume tale, so the reader has no way of knowing whether

      the unfired guns are an oversight or merely a long-term, teasing

      set-up for later parts of the story arc. Oh, and the book ends on a

      cliffhanger. A big cliffhanger. A really big cliffhanger. Argh!

      Speaking of guns, there aren't any on the alternate Earths, at least

      not until settlers construct the necessaries to mine and refine

      metals. But guns are hardly the only source of danger amongst

      humans. The Long Earth seemed to have an unrealistic dearth of

      violence – yes, the idea of having one's own unspoilt and possibly

      untenanted (by humans, at any rate) planet would charm many, but

      human nature is illogical at best and "I was here first!" would

      surely take precedence, with people preferring to fight for *this*

      or *that* Earth rather than to move along to the next empty planet.

      There are mentions of crime at first, but not many; instead, we get

      a "room and privacy solve everything" scenario that rings a bit

      false for me.

      When it comes to fiction reading, I expect – demand! –

      characters I can take into my heart, or at the very least

      figuratively invite home for a cuppa, whether they are likable

      people or not. The Lancre witches, the various Watchpersons and

      denizens of Ankh-Morpork, Johnny Maxwell and his cohorts, Maurice

      and the Clan, Mau and Daphne, almost all the characters in Good

      Omens... I cared about them all. The characters in The Long Earth,

      on the other hand, *should* have engaged me but never did. Creating

      characters worth caring about can be done in science fiction. Larry

      Niven did it, in his Known Space stories and even more so in his

      tales of the Warlock and decline of magic as a natural resource.

      Neal Stephenson does it almost all the time. I tried to find a

      reason to care about any of the characters in The Long Earth, but

      did not succeed, and this lessened my enjoyment of the story.

      On a side note, Pratchett readers are already familiar with the

      humble potato as an object of power (as seen in The Truth). This

      time around, having your potato doesn't help you safely reach the

      next life... or no, wait, it does. The easy to assemble Stepper is

      strangely personal. Each would-be traveller has to finish assembling

      their Stepper with their own hands; otherwise the device will not

      work, unless you are one of the small but measurable number of

      people who can "Step" without mechanical assistance (again, a teaser

      that is not resolved in this first volume). Any sort of potato will

      do, apparently – which to this reviewer's mind is itself a

      figurative can of worms that could have been addressed or at least

      mentioned. For instance, does the freshness of the potato count?

      Does it matter if it's cooked? Is it possible to travel to an

      alternate Earth with a Stepper powered by, say, a nice hot bag of

      chips? Did the authors gather around a pub table at some point

      discussing exactly those questions? Enquiring minds want to know,

      for after all, science fiction is all about enquiring minds... also,

      I think we finally know who came up with the weird nuns in Good

      Omens. That part (weird nuns in The Long Earth) worked, even though

      we never actually met the most unusual of them.

      In summation:

      Is The Long Earth a good book? Certainly! Am I looking forward very,

      very eagerly to the next instalment? Definitely! The Long Earth does

      disappoint in some crucial areas, but that doesn't change the fact

      that, when it comes to hard science fiction – or what-if fiction

      – created in collaboration, The Long Earth is as good as it gets.

      Final verdict 1: it's not a Discworld novel, but we already knew

      that, so don't expect it to be.

      Final verdict 2: a very good book that I feel should have been a

      great one.

      Final final verdict: flawed but compelling, and therefore highly



      By Steven D'Aprano

      In "The Long War" (TLW), Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter pick up

      ten years after the events of "The Long Earth". In that time, many

      significant changes have taken place, any one of which could have

      been the major plot of a novel: Datum USA is controlled by a mildly

      fascist government hostile to the steppers; at least two more

      intelligent species have been discovered, the humanoid kobolds and

      the dog-like beagles; the Long Earth colonies have not only

      established peaceful relations with the trolls, but have become

      dependent on their labour; Joshua and Lobsang have fallen out, and

      the protagonist Joshua is married and has a son of school age. I was

      greatly disappointed that the authors failed to show us any of these

      events, instead they just told us they had happened, violating one

      of the most important rules of good fiction: show, don't tell.

      I normally don't like to give away significant plot points when

      reviewing books, but from time to time I come across something so

      remarkable that, spoiler or not, no responsible reviewer should fail

      to mention it. In TLW, Pratchett and Baxter set up the possibility

      of no fewer than three possible wars: Datum USA versus rebellious

      stepper colonies, Datum Earth extremists versus the steppers, and

      humankind versus assorted non-humans. And then... nothing. There was

      no Long War at all, not even a Long Battle, or a Short Police

      Action. There was a detachment of Marines who took a firm-but-

      friendly stroll down the main street of one of the colonies to show

      the flag, but it was over in eight pages without any real sense of

      tension or jeopardy, and the chapter ends with "the Long War was

      over". One might have added "without ever starting, or even being


      I cannot help but contrast this unfavourably with Pratchett's

      "Jingo". When the threatened war between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch is

      averted at the last minute (but not before a few clashes between the

      opposing forces), it was because the protagonists struggled hard to

      avert the war. There was a real and ever increasing sense of tension

      due to the the near-certainty of war. But in TLW, the threat was

      nothing more than a mild sense of trouble brewing as the story

      progressed, just one of many things going on, and barely noticed by

      the characters. If not for the novel's title, it would have been

      barely worthy of a mention, just another of the oh-so-many

      disconnected and minor events taking place.

      I find it difficult to believe that an author of Pratchett's stature

      could have such an inappropriate and misleading title foisted on h

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