Discworld Monthly - Issue 9: January 1998
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
2. Contact Information
4. Discworld Monthly Subscribe Forms
6. Isn't That a Computer Game?
7. Readers' Letters
8. Who's Who on the Discworld - The Archchancellor
10. The Guild of Fans and Disciples
11. Obtaining PTerry's Books
12. Feature: PTerry's Short Stories - Part 6 - "TURNTABLES OF THE NIGHT"
13. The End
This month we have had to reject a couple of news articles about stage productions because the information arrived too late. Please note we need all articles to arrive at least one week before the end of the month.
Were your Hogswatch stockings filled with lots of Discworld goodies? This month we ask do all the spin-offs dilute the Discworld?
... and we still haven't had our Discworld beer samples yet.
*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 ten by Saturday 24th January 1998.
Jason Anthony, (editor)
William Barnett, (deputy editor)
Richard Massey, "no electronic abode" (style guru *NOT*)
Post: J Anthony (DWM), 86 Bruce Road, Woodley, Berkshire, RG5 3DZ
Current circulation ~4493
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Kevin Baxter's Web Site - Terry Pratchett -
Mort is being played at the Progress Theatre, Reading, England from
the 1st to the 10th January 1998 at 7:30pm with matinees on the 1st,
3rd and 10th at 2:30pm.
Tickets can be purchased from the box office on 0118 9606060
Mort as a play is very fast moving and funny. With this is in mind the production team have apparently created some unique effects to enhance the experience and to make the audience feel as if they are really on the Discworld.
This seemed like an excellent idea at the time but now I try to think of something to write, it is difficult to work out what we got so worked up about. Perhaps the most well known Discworld spin offs are the Clarecraft figures. These are all well made, imaginative and completely in the spirit of the Discworld - I've bought one or two myself. The Discworld maps/mappes are also excellent as is the Unseen University Challenge, and the Discworld Companion has certainly made DWM a lot easier to write. Then there are t-shirts and badges, nothing wrong there; an Unseen University scarf, great idea; Hogswatch beer, no complaints (except that we still haven't received our free samples).
I think the problem is when a spin off becomes more well known than the original idea. I remember a time when I had struck up a conversation with someone on a train. The conversation got round to what interests I had and I mentioned "Dungeons and Dragons", to which she replied "What, you mean the bendy toys?" It took some explaining. "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" is far better known from the television series than the original radio. Then, thinking about it, those damn bendy toys only came about as merchandise for the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series.
Television - that's the problem. I love watching TV and my first reaction to the idea of a cartoon adaptation of some of the Discworld books was very positive, but the more I think about it the more convinced I am that it is a very bad idea. Obviously you can't get the subtleties that are present in the books across in six half hour programs so you lose out there; also everyone's idea of what the Discworld looks like will be different so the animators can't keep everyone happy. But the real problem is that TV is such a stupefying medium. Watching television is so easy, and popular (even Channel 4 on Sunday afternoon). Yes, it is possible that some readers will be introduced to the books through the cartoons, but I expect more will dismiss the novels because they're based on that stupid TV program. Worse than that, we may even get bendy Discworld toys in the shops.
So please, no more cartoons. And as for the computer games...
We'll be continuing in this vein next month - in the mean time let us know your feelings on the dramatic expansion in Discworld merchandising.
We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated, including the sender's email address. We may also edit your letters for reasons of clarity or space, or if we run out of time.
Each month the writer of the month's best letter will receive two Discworld badges with PTerry quotes on them from Snapdragon Gifts. You can contact Snapdragon Gifts at or www.snapdragongifts.com. Please mention DWM in any correspondence.
We had a lot of response to the suggestion that 14 year old boys would not fully appreciate PTerry's humour. Here are some of the less indignant replies.
- "Jennie Lees" < >
- "Paul Baalham" < >
- "Barbara Spence" < >
- "Kii Prendergast" < >
- "Ian Scott" < >
- "QuigleyOne" < >
- "Jeff" < >
* From: "Berry Kercheval" < >
For those in the USA wishing to buy UK editions of PTerry's works, I suggest you try "Future Fantasy Bookstore". They are located in Palo Alto CA, and do a smashing mail order business over the Internet as well. I picked up the UK paper Hogfather and Johnny and the Bomb there today. Jingo is in stock.
There will be less of a shipping charge than BookPages too. 10% discount after $100 in purchases. You can get books signed by the author if he or she is doing a signing, even mail order! I got my Discworld books signed by PTerry at this shop.
Check them out at futfan.com/ I'm not associated with them, (we believe you - Ed) just a VERY happy customer.
* From: "Konholio Flibble" < >
Many moons ago, I saw on the net that Jingo had been released just about everywhere. Everybody was so, so happy and talking about it. You know what? We down-under only just got hold of it. I haven't personally seen any copies, but I have heard rumours. What is it Pratchett has against Australia? Do we get sent the leftover copies when all the other countries are finished with them? There's a two month waiting list to get hold of them at my local library. My friends and I have a conspiracy going, in which we pass them around to each other before returning them. Its that bad!
Secondly, I have a small complaint about the covers. Don't get me wrong, Josh Kirby is a great artist and I could never do any better, but has he actually read any of the books? Example: Twoflower is described in "The Colour of Magic" as having "four-eyes" eg he has glasses. Kirby has a little jester like character which has got four eyes pictured on "Colour" & "Light Fantastic". Rincewind is NOT an old man, as shown on the front of "Colour", "Fantastic" and "Interesting Times", but Cohen is quite ancient. Granny Weatherwax does NOT have any warts, and has got perfect teeth. I feel that this is an important aspect of her personality, but yet again he has let us down. Why not get the illustrator of The Pratchett Portfolio or The Colour of Magic's Graphic Novel. They know what they're doing.
JA replies: PTerry has mentioned on a number of occasions that Josh draws the Discworld characters as he sees them rather then how PTerry describes them. I am also unsure of how much time Josh has between the book being finished to needing to have the completed cover. Maybe he is told what the story is about and asked to get on with it?
* From: "Irene De Los Santos" < >
In reply to Vicky Kingsley's letter in issue 7a. If your Mac is powerful enough, you could try the software program "Virtual PC". It enables you to run PC programs on the Macintosh.
* From: "Aldur" < >
I just wanted to answer Ilana Halupovich's question on Discworld fans. I can't, of course speak for everyone, but I think that the majority of us are not as fixated, as the "Trekkies". I myself enjoy many different reading styles, both fantasy (Robert Jordan, David Eddings and the likes) and others, such as horror books, by Stephen King, thrillers, and many others. I suppose you could call a Discworld fan a "Discworlder", or if you just like Pratchett in general, then you would be "Pratchettologue".
* From: "Iwan Lamble" < >
The Hogfather candle I won arrived today and I'm just writing to say thank you!
When I first saw the adverts for the candles I wondered if they were really going to be worth the money but I can now say that they certainly are - they [Waxworks] must have spent ages getting all the detail into them.
What gets me though is the instructions for burning the candle that are supplied with it - surely no one would ever want to do a thing like that :-)
PS. I'm pretty sure the candle is of Death in a Hogfather outfit - not the Hogfather himself :-)
WB replies: Instructions for burning a candle? What, set fire to the top of it?
* From: "Bridget Doherty" < >
I am writing in response to Ilana Halupovich's letter in issue 7a.
We seem to have a lot in common, I too have read many of the books by the authors mentioned and would recommend them to any Terry Pratchett fan.
I am also an avid fan of Star Trek and the perfect episode would be one where Geordi sets up a holographic program of the discworld on board the enterprise. The main cast would be invited along to visit and, of course, there would be some sort of problem so that no-one would be able to leave. Vetinari would hear about them, be curious and arrange for Vimes to bring them to the Palace after Detritous had arrested them, on the grounds that "everyone is guilty of something"! Ah well, maybe the Doctor on the latest incarnation (Voyager) will come across "Maskarade" when looking for some more opera. (I live in hope).
* From: "Richard Magnier" < >
In Soul Music, the Death Of Rats goes looking for Mr. Scrub (Death). He is found hypnotised by the Music With Rocks In and when DOR tells Death that Albert is dying, PTerry says that Death blinks a few times and snaps out of it. But if Death has only sockets for eyes, and his face is expressionless, how does he blink??
WB replies: I think there are one or two instances when Death wants to wink, for example, and does so by letting one of his "eyes" flicker briefly.
* From: "Bill Daley" < >
I was somewhat surprised to find the extent of peripheral [merchandising] products that are mentioned in DWM. Discworld books are almost obligatory in Australian book stores but I have not found any associated products. If anyone knows of any Discworld products/events in Australia perhaps they could let me know.
Of most interest were the readers letters which demonstrated a huge cross section ages, views and interests. One the most impressive was from Heleanor Feltham, although it did puzzle me as to why she criticises Pratchett for the Unseen University's policy on women. Pratchett has obviously done this for the same reason that the writers of Alf Garnet, Archie Bunker and Ted Bullpitt have made these character's bigots. So that they can be ridiculed. Besides this, the UU policy is beautifully mirrored by Granny Weatherwax's less formal but undoubtably more rigid policy of not allowing men to practice witchery.
Liana Halupovich asked for feedback on what other fans read. Well anything from Adams (Douglas or Richard - Ed) to Zelazny and sometimes nothing till I get bored. Then I find I have nothing to read but an old copy of New Scientist and sometimes in desperation the daily newspaper.
There was some mention of Pratchett running out of idea's. I don't believe it. With a brain as obviously convoluted his, there will be something else that will crawl out and metamorphoses before he can prevent it. The changing style and emphasis that has occurred throughout the series is undoubtably a sign of living development, not a sign of limitation as some people appear to interpret it.
* "Gerry Dillon" < >
The American "Lord's and Ladies" is of note for the brief description of the book on the back cover. It appears that after reading it 13 or 14 times I have totally misunderstood it, as it's really all about Granny Weatherwax kicking ass, and Nanny Ogg slapping ass, (the word ass is used more times in this brief description than I think Mr. Pratchett has used said word in all his books). I remember the book having Granny hit one elf, and slap the elven queen, but I am not sure about the kicking ass thing. As for Nanny, God knows where, (possibly the long man?) but when she had time to go slapping ass, (it doesn't say who's)?
RM replies: I bet you're a big fan of Olaf Quimby II
* From: "Ben Warsop" < >
Re: Who's Who on the Discworld - Ankh Morpork's Beggars
Is the message of the books really that the world isn't such a bad place?
You certainly feel better for reading one, (I am about to go to bed nursing a cold and a copy of Wyrd Sisters); but that doesn't mean that PTerry is telling us that the world is ok. The discworld is probably a fairly unpleasant place to live if what happens to minor characters is anything to go by. Think of the people incinerated by the dragon in Guards Guards! leaving nothing but their shadows on the wall behind them, where for a fraction of a second their bodies had protected it from the blast. This did happen to some of the people in Hiroshima, and the one is as unpleasant as the other.
More than that: consider characters like Vorbis in Small Gods; the original Patrician in The Colour of Magic; the Fairy Godmother in Witches Abroad; oh yes the Duchess in Wyrd Sisters; and all the Lords and Ladies in Lords and Ladies: they actually are that bad. Deep down bad. Evil in their effect, (and most of them are also evil in their intent), to those around them. It is easy to miss, because of the jokes.
So why do the books make us feel that the world isn't so bad? Because they certainly do. Partly it is because we know that in Hiroshima it was real people, and the Discworld is abundantly and joyously fiction. We give up even trying to suspend our disbelief. More realistic fiction does not give us that sense of distance and safety that is the result of the almost cartoon effects PTerry creates. We can tell it's not real, and that helps to make it ok.
But I think there is more to it than that. My guess is that PTerry is a good humoured person. It shows in the good nature of his jokes, and in the fact that the Discworld has become a nicer place as the series went on. For example Carrot would never have cut it in the Ankh Morpork in The Colour of Magic. The later books are less Noir, though the comments and the by-play in them are more thoughtful. The later books are also more coherent, but that is a different discussion. The most interesting of the later books is Hogfather: thoughtful and Noir. The good humour is endemic throughout all of the Discworld books; and my guess is that this is probably PTerry's take on this world too. He has invited us into his universe, and it isn't such a bad place.
But there is also the serious by-play in the books as well. Perhaps the reason why Foul Ole Ron and his gang touch a nerve is the same reason that the people incinerated by the dragon touch a nerve. PTerry is pretty hot on cause and effect. Is the message that in his world, and in this world, if you cut your hand it will really bleed? And that good-humour does make a difference?
Anyway, I am going to bed with my cold and my book.
JA replies: Your choice of Hogfather as the "most interesting" of the recent books seems a little unusual - I was under the impression that a number of readers liked it less than most of the other titles, not least BECAUSE it's a bit more sinister than usual. Anyway, Ben gets this months "Letter of the Month" but we promise to stop awarding it for cerebral treatises in future.
The current and possibly longest running Archchancellor is Mustrum Ridcully. Ridcully is a behemoth of a man who doesn't smoke (a rare case where wizards are concerned) and enjoys hunting. Ridcully also spends a lot of time swearing, which caused more than a few problems in Reaper Man where his swear words spontaneously popped into existence as large insect type creatures.
Presumably because of the pressures of his high office, Ridcully suffers from severe mood swings, or possibly mild schizophrenia. He oscillates from a boorish, overbearing sportsman in one book, to a fatherly, insightful leader carrying the fate of the Disc on his shoulders in the next. The change is often reflected by his speech: "You better fetch 'em" or "You tellin' me ants can count?" are straight out of the Sybil Ramkin school of comedy upper class accents. I feel he's at his best in the paternal leader guise, for example when he meets Susan in Soul Music, but he's usually more entertaining in his other role, particularly in his incomprehension of Hex and dismissal of the HEM students' conceits: "Big. Mad. Drongo. That's your name, is it? That's what you've got sewn on your vest?"
Of all the long running characters, Ridcully seems to be one of the most apt to be distorted for comic effect, which doesn't sit well with what we've come to expect from the series. His youthful infatuation with Esme Weatherwax was a crucial plot device in Lords and Ladies, but it's been swept under the carpet in subsequent books. That said, Ridcully's presence is a huge improvement over the procession of undistinguished Archchancellors the series began with.
- Give the name of the swamp dragon which Edward D'eath caused to explode.
- What are the Unseen University main gates made of?
- Name the ancient bell in Unseen University's Clock Tower.
- In what way are the Disc's Ice Giants similar to Earth's snowmen?
- What is Mrs Gogol's cockerel's name?
- Why was Black Aliss given that name?
This month's answers can be found in section 13. Jacqui Goosen runs her DiscTrivia column from Cape Town, South Africa and can be contacted at .
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In the sixth part of our Short Stories series, Phil Penney tells us
about "TURNTABLES OF THE NIGHT". Phil runs the unofficial Discworld
fan club "The Guild of Fans and Disciples". For more information
email him on
In 1989, Terry wrote "Turntables of the Night" for an anthology of short Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories called "Hidden Turnings". This excellent collection, aimed at the "young-adult" market, was edited by Diana Wynne Jones and published by Methuen (0-416-11272-2).
It is not unusual for Terry to use ideas from the Discworld in his short stories, and in this piece he bases the story around Death. Wayne is an obsessive record collector who tries his hand at DJ-ing to raise some money. He's helped in the venture by the story's narrator, whose name we don't learn, but who provides the van for the equipment.
Our narrator is making a statement to the police in which he describes events that led to Wayne's disappearance during a fire at the previous night's Disco. Death turned up in a black silk suit with rhinestones, flared trousers and a huge silver medallion, but at first only Wayne could see him. Our narrator observed a strange space that people were unconsciously leaving on the dance floor, so he decided to investigate...
This is one of Terry's better short stories, although it's more likely to make you smile than laugh out loud. Like all Terry's best work, it contains some lovely wry observations on life.
"Hidden Turnings" may be out of print, but second hand copies don't hold a great deal of value and are fairly common. But the easiest way to read the story is to buy the recently published "Flying Sorcerers" (Souvenir Press), edited by our old friend Peter Haining.
A3) Old Tom
A4) Their eyes are lumps of coal.
A6) Because of her black fingernails and teeth.
Thanks for reading this issue of "Discworld Monthly". We hope you enjoyed it. If you have any comments or suggestions for the future of this newsletter please email: .