Discworld Monthly - Issue 5: September 1997
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
2. Contact Information
4. Back issues & web pages
5. Discworld Monthly Subscribe Forms
7. Ultimate PTerry Interview
8. Readers' Letters
9. Who's who on the Discworld - The Patrician
10. Obtaining PTerry's books
11. Feature: PTerry's Short Stories - Part 3 -
"TWENTY PENCE WITH ENVELOPE AND SEASONAL GREETING"
12. The End
Isn't Email a wonderful invention: it makes this newsletter possible for a start. With only a few clicks of the mouse we can send this newsletter off to you wherever you are in the world in seconds. Actually it takes a lot longer than that - it currently takes around an hour to send out an issue of the newsletter, with each month taking a bit longer due to extra subscribers. Eventually it will take so long to send them all out there won't be time left to write it.
In this month's issue we include the Ultimate PTerry Interview, more Readers' letters and part 3 of Phil Penny's series on PTerry's short stories.
Due to time limitations we are unable to bring you our competition this month. Hopefully we will be able to include it in next months issue.
Discworld Monthly has recently been named a site of the month by Total Internet magazine, volume one issue nine. If we can get permission from the magazine we will include the review on our website.
*Request for input*
We need your input: please send us any articles, book reviews, details of events or anything else that other PTerry fans might enjoy. We need to receive all articles no less than a week before the next issue is due. We should receive all submissions for issue six by Tuesday 23rd September 1997.
Jason Anthony, (editor)
William Barnett, (deputy editor)
Richard Massey, (office junior)
Post: J Anthony (DWM), 86 Bruce Road, Woodley, Berkshire, RG5 3DZ
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Robert Crivei's Discworld Page -
Azid's Discworld Page -
The Luggages World -
DWM: Most (if not all) of the discworld stories contain unwilling leaders of some kind. Is being a leader something YOU have avoided / would avoid?
TP: Not avoid if it was necessary, but I'm not a natural leader.
DWM: Is the fact that Rincewind (your original main character) and Susan Sto Helit (one of your present ones) are so different, one being a professional victim and the other a control freak, anything to do with a change in your attitudes back here on terra firma?
TP: Er...they're more to do with the fact that a novelist should be able to write a range of characters!
DWM: Which of your novels are you least happy with? Would you do anything to improve it?
TP: I'm not saying. I was happy with all of them when I wrote them. Over the years I have -- I think -- become a better writer, and some of the earlier books would have been written differently if I'd done them now. But you can't go back. The Carpet People was different -- I really would not have been happy to see it re-released as it was. Shessh, I was in my teens when I did it.
DWM: Do you like being famous?
TP: I'm not sure that I am.
DWM: Some of your books, particularly Small Gods, give mixed messages about your position on religion. Do you have a considered opinion that you are putting across? How would you characterise it?
TP: I don't think Small Gods gives mixed messages, but you may think that there are messages in various books that are different. Personally I think there's a simple 'position' that's common to all the books, but it's there to be found, not for me to expound here.
DWM: Is there any conscious resemblance between Death's name in Reaper Man, Bill Door, and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates? If Death had looked the other way, might he have seen a gate instead?
TP: Who knows? But as far as I am concerned, he chose Bill because it was a name Miss Flitworth had mentioned and Door because he saw a door. Quite honestly, I had no other aim in mind.
DWM: What are some of your favourite authors / greatest influences / favourite books?
TP: Too many too mention!
DWM: Your earliest works seem to be packed with new ideas while the later ones rely more on developing plot lines and characters for effect. Is this a conscious move?
TP: Not really. I'm probably more sure of my material now. And in the early books I could invent wildly -- now DW is beginning to fill up. A lot of it is already established. I have to say that reader feedback here seems to rate FoC and MAA highly, so maybe I'm on the right track.
DWM: Do you feel you have to worry about consistency in the light of the development of the series, the maps and associated miscellany?
TP: Major consistency, yes -- I couldn't turn a plot on a point that contradicts a major fact in a previous book. But some 'inconsistencies' are merely, shall we say, upgrades -- think of how the 'look' of Red Dwarf, say, changed over the series as they got better budgets. The same thing happened with the Trek universe. Later DW books have got a better writer. I don't think there are huge, enjoyment-spoiling consistency problems in them.
DWM: What can you tell us that you haven't told anyone else?
TP: Dunno. What did you want to know?
We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated including the senders e-mail address. We may also edit your letters for reasons of clarity or space, or if there's too much swearing in them.
* * From: Lord Vetinari *For the short stories can you write them on your page and maybe put a link to that page for when you review it? I for one want to read "Night Dwellers" but would have no way of finding it besides you :(
About the survey: I read in the "Definitive" Pratchett interview on LSpace that it has been said that "the only people who read his books are 14-year old boys", which I think I should take affront to because I AM a 14-year old boy?
JA Replies: Most of the short stories are still copyrighted to various magazines and books, which means we cannot reproduce them. I would also like to read some of the short stories. I have heard PTerry say in an interview that the 14 year old who read the original books is now a parent of a new generation of 14 year olds.
* * From: Greg Rogers *You said that Death has appeared in every Discworld book. Not true - he didn't make it into Feet of Clay (though the Death of Rats did)
JA Replies: Well someone had to try to prove us wrong! I've checked my trusty copy of FoC and have to say Ner,Ner,Ner,Ner,Ner! Death appears in FoC, just after the owner of the Dwarf Bread museum is murdered with an exhibit.
* * From: "bobbi" *I thought I'd let you know how much I am enjoying reading the Discworld Monthly, keep it up, It's getting better all the time. My brother makes me copy it onto a floppy so he can read it at home, hooked from a distance :)
Secondly, I'd like to thank whoever picked my name out of the hat in order for me to win the Clarecraft Competition, having being a loser at everything I've ever entered, it was absolutely topper to find out that I'd actually won something. Can't wait to find out what :) Also, thanks to Clarecraft for donating the prize, hope they do the same again soon.
A suggestion for the mag: How about some Fan Fiction?
JA Replies: The prize in question was a model of Death dressed as the Hogfather. Which just goes to show that we didn't make up the whole competition. If you have written some PTerry style fiction send it to us and we may include it in a future issue.
* * From: *I'm a BIG PTerry fan, but living in the US is a disadvantage when trying to procure one of his books, especially the new ones. We don't even get the nice covers. This is of course due to the fact that a different publisher is used in the States and has to publish the American English version of the book. After spending a year in Wales, where I got to know the series, I prefer the British versions. I like the British English.
My question is simply: are there any UK folk out there who like American authors who would exchange books with me? I would really love it if someone could do that. Technically the cost should be equal.
Thanks... ***FROM A FAN ACROSS THE SEAS*** Ann
* * From: Alastair Taylor *How about a section about the times when TP nicks bits out of books and films eg. "Where on a mission from Glod" in Soul Music
JA Replies: I think the annotated Pratchett files on L-Space have already got this covered. www.lspace.org/
The Patrician looks after the city, making sure all the wheels run smoothly and applying whatever pressure is necessary. He is credited with introducing the Guilds into the city and these are probably the best example of the Patrician's approach to government. By legalising things such as assassination and theft, there is now a legal limit on the number of times a person can be robbed. The Thieves' Guild surely began as a direct parody of the classic Thieves' Guilds of RPG's and modern fantasy novels. It becomes symbolic of the whole Ankh-Morpork mindset: stoic, pragmatism in the face of the utterly ludicrous, if you like. Thieves even have to give a written receipt. Some of the more wealthy families in Ankh Morpork arrange to get mugged near the start of the year so they are then free to go about their business for the rest of it. The Guilds are self regulating and take a dim view of freelancers, who are often found floating (rather slowly) along the river.
Vetinari is a musical fanatic; he loves music in its purest form, written on the staves. He feels that trying to make sounds with instruments made from bits of dead cats spoils the music.
His pet hate, on the other hand, is mime artists. Anyone suspected of miming is hung upside down in the scorpion pit looking at a sign that says "Learn the words".
William - My top quote is: "I shall deal with the matter momentarily," the Patrician said. It was a good word. It always made people hesitate. They were never quite sure whether he meant he'd deal with it now, or just deal with it briefly.
Jason - I like this line from Soul Music: The Patrician was a pragmatist. He never tried to fix things that worked. Things that didn't work, however, got broken.
Richard - I don't really like the Patrician that much.
In the third part of our Short Stories series, Phil Penney tells us
about "TWENTY PENCE WITH ENVELOPE AND SEASONAL GREETING". Phil runs
the unofficial Discworld fan club "The Guild of Fans and Disciples".
For more information e-mail him on
After PTerry's first two short stories were published, he moved into the world of journalism and worked for local newspapers for over 10 years. During that time, he got his first three non-Discworld books published, but little is known of any short stories he produced. We are reasonably sure that he wrote fiction for the newspapers he worked for - The Bucks Free Press, The Western Evening Mail and The Bath Chronicle. Apparently, he had a tradition of writing a Christmas story for whatever paper he worked for - he even contributed to The Western Daily Press last Christmas (1996).
Since local libraries tend to keep an archive of newspapers, it wouldn't be too difficult to hunt down these rarities. If you live in the Bristol or Beaconsfield area and fancy having a go, please get in touch with me and I'll point you in the right direction. I really must plan a holiday in those regions soon...
"Twenty Pence with Envelope and Seasonal Greeting" first appeared in the London arts and entertainment guide, Time Out issue 904/905 in 1987. At the time, PTerry had just resigned his post at the CEGB to devote himself completely to the Discworld and "Mort", the fourth Discworld novel, had recently been published.
"Twenty Pence..." is in the style of a Victorian ghost story, written at the end of the 19th century and it tells the tale of a coach party who encounter strange phenomena in the remote, desolate hills west of Silbury. They come across parodies of Christmas cards - a giant robin, carol singers, enormous kittens, shepherds, etc - and as madness takes over, they scream out the sort of banal messages that you find in cards these days.
The narrator tells of his encounter with the coachman:
The story is more cynical than amusing and it demonstrates PTerry's dislike for the tacky commerciality of Christmas. It's certainly very different from his more familiar style of writing and is probably only of interest to die-hard Pratchett fans. To be honest, I don't like it.
Getting hold of a copy of Time Out 904/905 is next to impossible because it isn't the sort of magazine that people hold on to. It's the only known story that I've been unable to locate, but fortunately it was reprinted in 1995 in the collection "Shivers for Christmas" (Michael O'Mara, 1-85479-919-3).
Next time, I hope to include the entire text from a short story PTerry wrote in 1988. All 100 words of it...