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February 2000 WOSSNAME Part II

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  • Andrew Millard
    10) MY LIFE AS A PRATCHETT FAN There s something gratifying about watching something you enjoy become a world-wide phenomenon. People s tastes seem to vary so
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2000
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      There's something gratifying about watching something you enjoy
      become a world-wide phenomenon. People's tastes seem to vary so
      widely that very few things become popular at the global level, and
      so maybe you're entitled to feel good when it turns out that you're
      one of the earliest riders of a particular bandwagon. Of course,
      sometimes being from the right country helps. (There's nothing to
      say that you have to stay there, though.)

      I first read one of Terry's books in 1986 (yes, I've spent half of my
      life being a Pratchett fan), when a friend in school lent me THE
      COLOUR OF MAGIC. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy for
      myself, along with THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, those two being the only
      Discworld books out at that time. I immediately resolved to make
      more use of the word "bugger", which turned out to be not very
      difficult when you manage to whack yourself on the knees, elbows and
      head as often as I do. EQUAL RITES was purchased as soon as it
      appeared, making the rounds of the house common room, followed by
      MORT and SORCERY. For ten years afterwards I felt bad about not
      buying WYRD SISTERS as soon as it came out in hardback (that being
      the first hardback Discworld book I saw in the shops), up until last
      year when Joe very kindly gave me a copy of it, and on receiving the
      hardback of PYRAMIDS as a present from my father when I went to
      university, not to mention buying the poster-sized versions of the
      Josh Kirby cover art, I realised that I was the sort of devoted
      reader who would buy the books both in paperback and in hardback ---
      the paperbacks to lend to friends and the hardbacks to keep safe on
      my bookshelf. I even got to go to a signing on the tour that Terry
      and Neil Gaiman did to promote GOOD OMENS.

      Up until 1992, I was a passive fan, buying and reading and rereading
      the books, but that summer, my family (for some reason I've never
      understood) spent a week at a French ski resort, and with little else
      to do (as is generally the case, I imagine, at ski resorts in the
      summer), we played a lot of card games. We worked through all of the
      usual ones until we'd had enough of them, at which point I thought of
      WITCHES ABROAD (which had come out the year before) and Cripple Mr
      Onion, and I had a go at reconstructing the rules. I didn't have the
      book with me, so I didn't do a very good job of it at first, but once
      we got home, I went through all of the sections describing the game
      Granny Weatherwax played on the way to Genua, and came up with
      something that fit pretty well. At the end of the summer, I moved to
      the United States for graduate school, where I discovered the
      Internet... and newsgroups... and alt.fan.pratchett.

      A neighbour of mine in college, named Terry Tao, was from Australia,
      and he read Pratchett too. We played Cripple Mr Onion and for a
      while it was a regular event in the evenings, with many games having
      the full seven players. I made a number of improvements to the rules
      and Terry (Tao) and I developed the modifiers which make the game
      more unpredictable and financially dangerous, and we posted these to
      alt.fan.pratchett for the delight and confusion and other fans. (At
      some point they made their way into the new member pack of the Guild
      of Fans and Disciples, which was how I made the acquaintance of Phil
      Penney. The rules have since continued to be corrected and grow, and
      now there's an entire Web site, at http://jump.to/cmo, on all things
      Cripple-Mr-Onion-y.) From the newsgroup I heard about the Discworld
      MUD, and I ended up being a "creator" there, learning to code (since
      I don't count knowing F*RTR*N as knowing how to code), adding to the
      areas of the game (including trying to make the MUD's version of Ankh-
      Morpork closer to its depiction in THE STREETS OF ANKH-MORPORK),
      trying to take the emphasis off the traditional hack'n'slash approach
      of MUDs and generally being a thorn in the side of the higher level
      players who liked that sort of thing. At some point, though, I had
      to write my thesis, graduate and look for a job, so I retired from
      the MUD.

      About a year and a half ago, then, I moved to California, and
      apparently feeling a Discworld-shaped hole, I got involved with the
      North American Discworld Society. Joe Schaumburger had written me an
      e-mail asking me to write an article about Cripple Mr Onion, which I
      didn't do, as I discovered that the truth was much less interesting
      that fiction. (Hopefully there are at least some of you who are
      still awake while reading this...) So, straight off the bat, I
      managed to be guilty of writing the only piece of fan fiction to have
      appeared in WOSSNAME, not knowing that Terry was on the list of
      readers. Whoops! Thankfully, so he's since said, he realised what
      it was in time and didn't read it, so I managed to avoid getting into
      too much trouble. (Terry has since stopped reading the newsgroup,
      not because of any fan fiction, which was always frowned upon, but
      because some of the ruminations there came uncomfortably close to his
      own ideas, and he didn't want things to get messy, in the legal
      sense. Thankfully, though, he's continued to read WOSSNAME; or, at
      least, he's still on the subscriber list...) Somewhere along the
      way, Joe trick... er... appointed me as Editor, and that's what I've
      been doing for the last year and a half, extending my duties to
      include running competitions, making badges and producing T-shirts.
      (Maybe one day WOSSNAME will be a full print newsletter since,
      believe it or not, there are people who don't have e-mail, and when
      it is, I hope that it will be liberally illustrated with Rhett Ransom
      Pennell's excellent artwork. He's definitely on a par with Josh
      Kirby and Paul Kidby, so, Terry, if you and HarperCollins are looking
      for someone to do covers for the American editions...)

      Unfortunately, everything ends sooner or later, and with this issue
      I'm retiring as Editor in Chief of WOSSNAME. I'll continue doing
      competitions and T-shirts for the moment --- so please continue to
      enter the competitions and buy the T-shirts!! --- but once this issue
      goes out, I'll be handing over the big red pen (or at least the idea
      of a big red pen) to Joe.

      My thanks go to Phil and Joe and Rhett and to the staff, past and
      present, of WOSSNAME for putting up with me, and *big* thanks go to
      Terry for letting us all be fans. Thanks also go to you for reading
      this... and don't forget: The Turtle Moves!

      ANDREW MILLARD (California)



      North American Discworld Society members interested in joining
      regional groups, please send an e-mail to Joe Schaumburger at
      jschaum111@..., who will coordinate the names and put those
      interested in touch with each other.

      Please send your name, e-mail address, city, state or province, and
      approximate age.

      We will compile state/province lists and circulate them to those who



      We are pleased to report that the first batch of North American
      Discworld Society T-shirts, featuring the brilliant artwork of Rhett
      Ransom Pennell, have been printed and shipped. Ecstatic noises have
      been heard from around the country as their new owners have gone into
      a frenzy of package opening, donning their new garments (in some
      cases, both T-shirts at once, not to mention the three free badges)
      there and then. In fact, in some cases, poetry is breaking out.

      Received mine today,
      So I'm only a wash away
      from everyone seeing why
      my mind it does stray!

      (What do you expect in free verse?)

      Thank you!

      DAVID WEYERS (Nebraska)

      Why not join these deliriously happy Pratchett fans by going to


      and placing an order? Go on, you know you want to. (Plus, if you
      take advantage of a new way to pay for your T-shirts by credit card,
      you'll effectively get $10 off the price!)



      Just before Christmas, I was in a Bargain Books store (not sure if
      that's a national chain or not) and I found CARPE JUGULUM
      (UK/Canadian? version) in hardcover for only about $7! Even though I
      had the Sci Fi Book Club version, I figured I needed a Christmas
      present for myself. It was the only copy I could find in the store,
      so maybe it was just being in the right place at the right time.

      BARRY SOUTHWOOD (Michigan)



      Kali Steele of California asks: "Is there any Mac-compatible
      Discworld stuff (i.e. computer games) out there?"

      Anyone know? Write to WOSSNAME@onelist.com and tell us and you'll
      get a free set of North American Discworld Society and Klatchian
      Foreign Legion badges!



      Here in the UK, Channel 4 (for it was they who broadcast WYRD
      SISTERS) broadcast a 30 minute programme the week before the first
      WYRD SISTERS broadcast. It was called (I seem to recall) TERRY
      PRATCHETT --- A TV ROM and included interviews with 'fans', Steve
      Dean (Editor of The Wizard's Knob), the L-Space Web and so on.

      It would make a really neat 'extra' for a DVD.

      BOB MASSEY (England)



      Charl Johan Prak of South Africa wrote in to correct us, saying that
      the incident with the candle-maker Arthur Curry features in FEET OF
      CLAY, not CARPE JUGULUM. However, the motto (under Mort) of the
      Duchy of Sto Helit, NON TIMETIS MESSOR does indeed translate as Don't
      Fear the Reaper not as No Time, Master. (According to the copy of
      the Cassell's Latin dictionary I have, "messor" means reaper or
      mower, while master would be "dominus" or "magister". There was
      actually a typo in the motto as originally written in the January
      issue, in that it is TIMETIS (not TEMETIS) from "timere", to fear or
      dread, but time would be "tempus".)



      Well, the response to last issue's competition was overwhelming, so
      it seems that a lot of North American fans are keen to get their
      hands on THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD. (Hint to HarperCollins: publish
      it here!) First, here are the answers to the questions we asked"

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

      Answer: WYRD SISTERS came in tenth.

      2) Who is the Cunning Artificer?

      Answer: The Cunning Artificer is also known as Bernard Pearson

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

      Answer: They are Rincewind and the Luggage.

      And the winners of brand spanking new copies of THE SCIENCE OF
      DISCWORLD are... *drum roll* James Childress of California and Carrie
      Favela of Illinois! Congratulations!!

      Those of you who sent in your entries on a postcard will also be
      receiving a set of North American Discworld Society and Klatchian
      Foreign Legion badges.

      Finally, a special prize for most interesting (i.e. unusual) entry
      goes to Bernard g:

      Er right, now then, er, this question thingy.

      Number 1. Buggered if I know.

      Number 2. Er well, me actually. One Bernard the stout, maker
      of things, and sometime guest of the great man himself. The
      nomenclature 'Cunning Artificer' was awarded to me for services
      to Discworld and big dinners. I tend to make odd objects that
      litter Terry's home, studio, and garden. In fact almost all
      of what I make is a direct result of deep and meaningful
      discussions with the man over several glasses and huge steaming
      platters. If there is anyone who knows how to entertain royally
      it's Terry and Lyn, what joy, and I get to make bits of the
      books as well.

      Now then you one time colonial lot, my son Tom thinks it might
      be a good idea for us to offer the odd bit of sculpture as a
      prize for some mind-bendingly difficult competition or some
      such. If you like the idea have a look at our Web site, and
      see what you fancy. Let me know, and I'll give you a signed
      Library plate regardless. I can be found at


      Right that's it then. Oh. The real answer to number 3 was
      Terry and the game people, but it was all put right in the end.

      Best wishes to you all,


      So, keep an eye out in a future issue of WOSSNAME for a chance to win
      one of Bernard's excellent pieces of artificing!



      FRIDAY 14th -- SUNDAY 16th JULY

      Gateway SciFi/Media Con 2 (Saint Louis, Missouri)

      Author Terry Pratchett will be appearing in the United States in the
      summer of 2000 as Author Guest-of-Honor at Gateway SciFi/Media Con 2!
      Additional guest will be announced as they are confirmed, featuring
      authors, artists, stars of your favorite movies and TV shows, and
      many more! Extensive Discworld programming is planned, with more
      still to be added. The Hospitality Room will be done up as the
      Broken Drum all weekend, and it'll host filking in the evenings.
      There'll be a Cripple Mr Onion tourney (with a teaching session), as
      well as a Discworld GURP and a Discworld themed costume ball. A Live
      Action game with a Discworld theme is in the works too!

      "Play the part of denizens of the Discworld in a 36-hour live
      game, featuring wizards, witches, trolls, and possibly animate
      travel accessories. The game is free form, allowing you to step
      out to get an autograph or listen to a speaker, and step back in
      at your leisure. Space may be limited, so please e-mail Josh
      Jeffryes at jspektr@... for advance registration if you
      are interested. (There is a small charge to participate in the
      LARP, paid when it begins. Pre-registration is for intent to
      play only; it does not require advance payment.)"

      Also planned is an evening dance with a Discworld theme --- come as
      your favorite Discworld character and win prizes!

      Gateway 2 will be held July 14--16, 2000 at the Henry VIII Inn and
      Lodge in Saint Louis.

      Get your membership now for a special discounted pre-registration

      Browse our Web site for more information:


      or contact us at:


      FRIDAY 28th -- MONDAY 31st JULY

      MillenniCon Hand and Shrimp (England)

      The MillenniCon Hand and Shrimp Convention Committee would like you
      to know that the Discworld Convention 2000 will be happening on 28th -
      - 31st July 2000 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel (near Heathrow),

      E-mail enquiries should be sent to:

      queries@... for general enquiries
      hotel@... for hotel queries
      membership@... for memberships
      volunteers@... to offer your services
      programme@... for programme items

      Membership applications, and other information, can be obtained from:

      The Discworld Convention,
      PO Box 189,
      BS32 8YE,

      More information, and printable application forms, can be found on
      the L-Space Web site at:



      Are you planning a Discworld meeting, large or small? Just let us
      know the details, by e-mail to WOSSNAME@onelist.com, and we'll be
      happy to announce it in WOSSNAME!



      Each month (well, usually), as well as WOSSNAME going out by e-mail,
      the plain text of the newsletter is embellished with fantastic
      graphics and put up on the Society Web site,


      As well as the full text of WOSSNAME going out by e-mail, there is
      also sent out a much shorter e-mail announcing that the new version
      of WOSSNAME is available on the Web. So, if you'd prefer to receive
      this shorter notification, rather than the whole text of WOSSNAME,
      just let us know!

      The announcement list will also be used by other groups in the
      Klatchian Foreign Legion, such as by the Bugarup University Students'
      Guild for announcing BUNS (see above), so you may want to join that
      list anyway, even if you still want to receive the whole text of
      WOSSNAME by e-mail. To subscribe to the announcement list, just go


      or send an empty e-mail to


      Also on the subject of the Legion, the Klatchian Foreign Legion
      Webring has recently started. A Webring, in case you don't know, is
      a group of Web sites that share a common interest or theme, and have
      links to one another such that by following the link, you travel all
      the way "around the ring", visiting each site in turn. In the case
      of the Legion's Webring, the sites are those of groups like the North
      American Discworld Society, the Guild of Fans and Disciples and the
      Bugarup University Students' Guild, as well as any other Web site
      with an emphasis on regional Pratchett fandom, at anything from the
      local level up to the continental level. To visit the Webring, or to
      add your site to it, just visit




      Please send all submissions via e-mail to the editors at


      All submissions will be gratefully received. Letters and notices of
      events in your area are especially welcome. We like to attribute
      articles with a *full name* and a *location* (either a state or
      province within North America, or a country if elsewhere), so please
      include this information with your submission or letter. Editing of
      material may prove necessary, but you will be consulted before major
      changes are made. Should a submission be too similar to an already
      received submission, a delay in its appearance may occur. In an
      effort to keep WOSSNAME on track as a regular publication, the
      deadline for receipt of materials will be the 21st of the month.

      Lastly, WOSSNAME is available in all its glory on the World-Wide Web


      with a more basic text-only version at:



      Copyright 2000 by North American Discworld Society
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