Discworld Monthly - Issue 11: March 1998
Table of Contents:1. Editorial
3. Isn't That a Computer Game? - Part 2 - OI! PRATCHETT! NO!
4. Results of Readers' Survey
5. Readers' Letters
7. Who's Who on the Discworld - The Witches of The Discworld
8. Feature: PTerry's Short Stories - Part 8 - "Hollywood Chickens"
9. The End
1. EditorialWelcome to issue 11. (Nice) We've had a fantastic response to our Readers' Survey. (Cool) After a mere 97 hours work we are now in a position to present the results. (Wow)
I must apologize to the Progress Theatre group (whose production of Mort I reviewed last month) for calling them the Shinfield Players. The Shinfield Players are a completely different group of actors.
You may have noticed our web site disappear during February. This was due to moving accounts and a bit of a "misunderstanding" between our respective ISP's. We are now back up and running on a Global Internet Account. Our apologies to anyone who tried to subscribe during the cross-over.
We have received our first handwritten letter this month. Mrs A Sugden (who doesn't own a computer and claims to be UPGRADAPHOBIC) from Southsea, England gets her computer friendly daughter to print Discworld Monthly for her each month. It makes you wonder how many people get to read each copy of Discworld Monthly...
From this issue we will no longer be including the "Subscriber Forms" section. Please keep us informed about new subscribe forms because we want to keep our web page up to date. discworldmonthly.co.uk/adddwmform.php
*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 twelve by Saturday 21st March 1998.
Jason Anthony, firstname.lastname@example.org (editor)
William Barnett, email@example.com (deputy editor)
Daniel Massey, "no electronic abode" (son of Richard)
2. NewsPTerry's contribution to the The National Portrait Gallery's Postcard Biographies Art and Life series is about the great JRR Tolkien. There are 25 cards sold in a pull-out pack for 5 GBP from the NPG Shop or by mail order (0171-306-0055 x280 or fax 0171-306-0092), carriage is 1 GBP for up to two packs, 1.50 GBP thereafter).
Neil Gaiman, co-author of GOOD OMENS, is Guest of Honour at Tropicon XVII, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from November 13-15, 1998. Those interested can email Shirlene Rawlik via firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at 539 37th Avenue, W. Palm Beach, FL33407 or contact the North American Terry Pratchett group, The Discworld Society, GOFAD, Conterweight Continent Branch, via Joe Schaumburger, email@example.com
Perfect Entertainment who created the games Discworld I & II have
moved website. The new location is:
Snapdragon Gifts, the California company that supplies all our wonderful Discworld badges can now also supply Clarecraft's figures. So there it no excuse for those in the US not to start collecting. They are also hoping to add Waxworks candles later this year. Please mention DWM when you contact Snapdragon on firstname.lastname@example.org
US fans may want to try Future Fantasy Bookstore,
futfan.com/home.html which carries all of PTerry's works (in
English and American editions + games, maps, tapes, Clarecraft
If you want to chat with other Discworld fans, Howard Harkins has
added a chat room at his Discworld website (we hope you get more
chatters that we do).
* PLAYS *
More dates have been added Geoffrey Cush's adaptation of Guards! Guards! we mentioned last month starring Paul "Blake's Seven" Darrow. The full tour dates are as follows:
|w/c 7 March||HMS Collingwood Theatre Club, Hampshire||01329-332240|
|w/c 18 March||Grand Theatre, Blackpool||01253-290190|
|w/c 23 March||Hackney Empire, London||0181-985-2424|
|w/c 31 March||Theatre Royal, Newcastle||0191-232-2061|
|w/c 6 April||Theatre Royal, Norwich||01603-63000|
|w/c 14 April||New Theatre, Hull||01482-226655|
|w/c 20 April||Gordon Graig Theatre, Stevenage||01438-766866|
|w/c 27 April||Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne||01323-412000|
|w/c 18 May||Theatre Royal, Hanley||01782-207777|
|w/c 25 May||His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen||01244-641122|
|w/c 1 June||Kings Theatre, Edinburgh||0131-220-4349|
|w/c 8 June||Hexagon Theatre, Reading||0118-959-1591|
|w/c 15 June||Civic Theatre, Darlington||01325-467743|
Visit www.uktw.co.uk/info/guards.htm for latest information.
Men at Arms will be brought to the theatre in Melbourne, Australia in May / June. Further information will be published as soon as it is organised. Any interested parties should contact email@example.com
3. Isn't That a Computer Game? - Part 2 - OI! PRATCHETT! NO!William Barnett expresses his disdain at Discworld merchandising in the second part of our series on Discworld spin-offs.
Only Michelangelo could have carved David, right? Only Groening could have drawn the Simpsons. Only Bill Gates could have taken over the world. Only Pratchett could have written the Discworld.
Sure, some other guy could have come up with funny fantasy books. He could even have Josh Kirby covers on them. He could call himself Craig Shaw Gardner. But it wouldn't be the same Discworld. It'd be a crap one, if Craig Shaw Gardner had anything to do with it.
So the world needed Pratchett. Judging by the sales of his books, anyway. Only Pratchett could come up with the particularly brilliant combination of humour, magic and humanity that has touched so many people (of age 15 and up). But then by what right does any other semi-literate clown try and get in on the act?
Ornaments I can just about live with. I don't think they serve any useful purpose - if anything they disappoint you because the sculptor's visualisation of a character doesn't match your own - but at least they don't purport to ENTERTAIN you. To attempt to stuff Pratchett's prose into another medium, though, is appalling commercialisation at its worst.
It's one thing, for example, to write your own theatrical script of the books and put on a play for you and your pals. Fan fiction, too, doesn't hurt anyone particularly. True, most of it's junk, but they don't expect you to PAY for it. To stick drama scripts, quiz books, videos or "Companions" in the shops, though, complete with suitable endorsements from the author of the original works, is so cynical, so insulting and so bloody typical that it, well, it gets on my nerves, that's all.
Okay, I'm well aware that I don't have to buy this stuff myself, but it infuriates me that other people will. The books don't NEED any support, they're so enjoyable in their own right. Why should we even be given the opportunity to line the pockets of a bunch of freeloaders who are riding the coat-tails of a genuinely creative individual? Do they think we're stupid, or gullible, or what? Do your bit for consumer integrity. Don't buy any Discworld merchandise.
Next month Jason Anthony takes the bull by the horns and restores some balance in our continuing view of Discworld spin-offs.
4. Results of Readers' SurveyWe were amazed at the number of survey entries we received. The amount of information was incredible and took us ages to sort into useful results. Thanks for helping to make this one of the biggest surveys (we suspect) of Discworld fans ever.
- Are you male or female?
Male 71.22% Female 28.78%
- How old are you?
10-13 1.66% 14 2.90% 15-20 31.95% 21-30 38.17% 31-40 16.18% 41-50 6.02% 51-60 2.49% 61+ 0.63%
- What nationality are you? - (Top ten results only.)
1 English 40.24% 2 American 13.28% 3 Australian 9.34% 4 German 6.43% 5 Swedish 4.56% 6 Canadian 4.36% 7 Danish 3.11% 8 South African 2.49% 9= New Zealander 2.07% 9= Norwegian 2.07%
- What is your occupation? - (Top ten results only.)
1 Student 51.34% 2 Work with computers 14.02% 3 Teacher 2.27% 4 Unemployed 1.65% 5 Librarian 1.44% 6= Accountant 0.82% 6= Nurse 0.82% 6= Military 0.82% 9= Electronic Engineer 0.62% 9= Chemist 0.62%
Note: After these groups the list split into around 150 separate occupations including a Vicar, a Postman, a managing director and a Dairy Farmer.
- What is your favourite PTerry book? - (Top ten results only.)
1 Mort 11.20% 2 Small Gods 10.22% 3 Guards! Guards! 9.82% 4 Men At Arms 8.64% 5 Reaper Man 8.05% 6 Hogfather 6.09% 7 Wyrd Sisters 5.10% 8 Good Omens 4.72% 9= Feet Of Clay 4.32% 9= Moving Pictures 4.32%
- Who / What is your favourite character - (Top ten results only.)
1 Death 34.79% 2 Granny Weatherwax 8.92% 3 Rincewind 8.74% 4 Librarian 6.29% 5 Sam Vimes 4.37% 6 The Patrician 3.50% 7= The Luggage 3.32% 7= Carrot 3.32% 9 Death of Rats 2.27% 10= Gaspode 1.75% 10= Nobby Nobbs 1.75% 10= Nanny Ogg 1.75%
- What is your favourite part of DWM? - (Top ten results only)
1 Readers' Letters 27.11% 2 News 19.60% 3 Short Stories 9.34% 4 All of it 5.68% 5 Reviews 5.49% 6 Who's Who of Characters 1.47% 7 Competitions 1.10% 8= Editorial 0.92% 8= Articles 0.92%
Note: We have hundreds of other results that we will digest and consider acting on.
- (7a) What is your least favourite part of DWM? - (Top ten results only)
1 None 25.00% 2 The End (ahh!) 11.01% 3 Readers' Letters 2.43% 4 Subscription Forms 1.32% 5 Obtaining Books 0.93% 6 Short Stories 0.75%
Note: Once again we will be spending time collating the responses and making any changes. Like moving all the boring stuff to the bottom of the newsletter, another common complaint was the numbering of this question!
- What other authors do you read / recommend? - (Top ten results only.)
1 Douglas Adams 6.86% 2 J R R Tolkien 3.93% 3 David Eddings 3.40% 4= Robert Rankin 2.34% 4= Isaac Asimov 2.34% 6 Stephen King 2.11% 7= Anne McCaffrey 1.70% 7= Arthur C Clark 1.70% 9 Tom Holt 1.58% 10 Robert Jordan 1.41%
Note: We had over 1700 recommendations for this question, Neil Gaiman only managed eleventh place and he co-wrote "Good Omens" with PTerry. The above list should keep your reading habits (or Hobbits in the case of Tolkien) busy for a while.
We would like to thank Keith Hopwood at Pluto music for supplying the Soul Music CD prize. Copies of the Soul Music CD should be available in the shops or can be obtained direct by sending 15.49GBP (13.99+1.50GBP p+p) to:
Pluto Music Limited, Freepost NWW 15259, Tarproley, CW6 9DJ, England
5. Readers' LettersIf you have any letters / comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 email@example.com or www.snapdragongifts.com. Please mention DWM in any correspondence.
* From: "Dr. Stuart Savory" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
On 8/6/1947 the original radio show about Lassie the Wonder dog was first broadcast. Lassie's owner & trainer was called Rudd Weatherwax. I wonder if PTerry knew that?
* From: "Van Wezermael" < email@example.com >
I would like to add a little comment to the letter of Bart Van Velsen in issue 10. Normally I agree with his statement that translations lose a lot of their original impact, but not in the case of the Discworld novels. I have read both the English and Dutch versions and I must say they did a really great job in translating them. The names of people, places and objects are changed in a way that nothing gets lost. The only negative point is that "Soul Music" is the most recent translated book (about a year ago) and I can hardly wait to read the later published books.
* From: "Elizabeth Alway" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
As a history graduate, I have to take issue with JA's reply to Kirsty's letter of issue 10 - what is this about history students needing to develop a sense of humour? Do you seriously believe that history can be studied without one? There exists within the fandom of Discworld, a strong group of historians and archaeologists - we are charming and humourous folk and we can even work computers and send e-mail.
JA Replies: QED
* From: "Graeme McCutcheon" < email@example.com >
In last month's issue Robert Best said that the last 8 books have just been Rincewind, Death, The Witches and the Watch, and that PTerry's just writing franchise books, and he wants TP to go back to the old days. Well, when Discworld first started out, in the first 8 books, PTerry wrote about...uh...Rincewind, Death, The Witches and the Watch, and Teppic. The "breakaway" stories like Pyramids and Small Gods aren't really that common.
What makes the new books using the familiar characters interesting for me is the brilliant way the characters are developed. For instance, I think Feet Of Clay is almost a sort of coming of age for the characters of the watch, as they become very full rounded characters. Also, we become familiar with the watch in the AM scene, but in Jingo PTerry holds our interest by putting them in totally strange situations...Vimes coming up against his butler in the middle of the Klatchian desert; the Patrician leaving AM and going on an undercover mission. We have come to know these characters so well that, until we read Jingo, these situations would be unthinkable, and so hold our interest, as they're so unexpected.
I wouldn't really say that PTerry has fallen into a rut. OK, so he's using the same characters, but he's being more imaginative in the situations in which he puts them, and that's making me more - not less- of a fan.
* From: "Bryan Jeffrey" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
What to do on a wet afternoon in Bridlington (East Yorkshire), two years ago. Wander into the local bookshop, but what to read? Aha this looks interesting, so I picked up a copy of Moving Pictures and was hooked. Since then I have read all PTerry's Discworld books in paperback.
The point being that it was Josh Kirby's art work that attracted me to the book in the first place. I had not even heard of Discworld before seeing the book cover. Josh Kirby's artwork seems to me to reflect the books very well and I feel certain that he must read all the books.
* From: "Caroline Walcot" < email@example.com >
Afraid I am definitely not a fan of the Josh Kirby cover scrawls for the PTerry books.
In fact I was so put off by their ugliness that for years I never even opened one in a bookshop in curiosity until most of them had been published. I cracked at an airport where there was little choice, and so started with "Maskerade", rather than with "The Colour of Magic". A pity, as I really enjoy the books and have to ration myself to one every few days in order not to read the backlog (starting from the beginning) too quickly.
The problem is that the cover "art" is very crude while the books themselves are written with subtlety, and their plots are definitely better constructed than the usual lurid Fantasyland literature which Josh Kirby thinks he is illustrating.
Ah well, too bad. Most authors try yelling at their publishers about the cover "art" imposed on them, but few succeed in changing anything. Inaccuracy in detail is a well-known hazard to which publishers and illustrators are equally blind.
* From: "Pre-installed User" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
In a previous issue Stephen Roberts wrote that he dreads a "live action adaptation of the books". Why? Why should an adaptation with actors be any less worthwhile than an animation or a "graphic novel"? Some works of art transfer effectively between media better than others, but I don't know any way of predicting which will and which won't. There are many second- to fifth-rate novels that have made superb films or TV (EM Forster comes to mind). On the other hand Shakespeare's plays are so firmly rooted in the live theatre that (for my taste and with a few notable exceptions) they rarely work on film or TV (and never, ever on the page) but do, paradoxically, make brilliant radio. Radio might well be an excellent medium for PTerry's work. The live stage seems to be working as a medium for him. I really don't agree with Stephen Roberts that PTerry needs to "keep a tight control over his creation". That way lies the kind of historico-purist sterility that deprived the D'Oyly Carte productions of Gilbert & Sullivan's operas of their vitality for so many decades. A good work of art will stand up to the challenge of re-interpretation by artists in other fields. It will be illuminated by the good attempts and will rise above the lesser ones. This is true of Gilbert & Sullivan, much more true of Shakespeare. I believe that PTerry is more than good enough to stand the test. And so what about Stephen's comments on the ensuing merchandising? He presumably won't buy My Little Binky, and nor will I except, perhaps, as a joke-present for somebody. But he does admit to having bought some of the current spin-offs, which I've not (yet) been tempted to do. And if Fisher Toys were going to produce an alchemy set, why didn't they do so long before PTerry's books? Alchemy's been around long enough : rather longer than printed books. I sometimes think it's still with us : nowadays it just calls itself economics.
* From: "Niclas Wellsten" < email@example.com >
I've just read a book by Will Cuppy, called the "Decline and fall of practically everybody", and I am almost certain that PTerry has read it as well. In a very funny way it deals with the kings and queens of our history. If it wasn't written in '33 I would almost suspect the man for doing something on the side. The book is highly recommended to all fans of the truth and the banality of it.
* From: "Robin Halligan" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
If has been rumored in the news group and in L-Space that PTerry will be finishing writing Discworld stories when the next few are done. If this is true (who believes roamers) I would urge all fans to NOT!!!!!! start a petition or mail/e-mail campaign to keep him writing, I have heard 1 or 2 people mention this type of thing. He knows how his fans feel about the Discworld and I doubt he would like lots of letters saying "Don't stop please" or "we want more". I would rather he dropped it for a time to pursue other things knowing we would love one when he writes another one.
Any one who has read the last Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy book can see what happens to something when the author is pressured into writing something he doesn't want to do.
JA Replies: Robin gets this month's Letter of the Month for this sensible and relevant piece.
* From: "Tom Cleghorn" < email@example.com >
This is the first issue of Discworld Monthly that I've received, and an intriguing thought has come to me - am I the only person around who reads Terry Pratchett books for relaxation? I'm not trying to insult him, but Robert Best, in his letter in issue 10, says that "PTerry's the best author I've ever read..." - I would have thought that someone who, regardless of the quality of the humour, writes what are essentially novels of light entertainment (in fact, I seem to remember that the "About the Author" bit in some of the Discworld novels say that PTerry is "sometimes accused of literature") is not quite as appropriate as, say, Joseph Conrad or F. Scott Fitzgerald for this accolade. As I say, I'm not getting at Robert personally, but I feel that the Discworld books are dangerously close to anorak territory - maybe I'm an anorak for subscribing to this newsletter, but I'd say that, without at all denigrating the enjoyment I and many other people get from them, the Discworld novels are little more than quick books to fill in spare time and make the reader laugh. Just airing my thoughts...
6. DiscTriviaHi peoples! I'd just like to introduce myself as the NEW Disc-trivia thingie guy!!! Yes, the punctuation is right - you're dealing with yet another insane mind!!! (but hey, join the club!) From now on, I'll be taking you on a tour of the most trivial, tedious and mind-numbingly useless things you never needed to know about the Discworld. From Ankh-Morpork to the Ramtops to the mysterious Counterweight Continent even to Death's Domain, XXXX, Klatch...., and that place that sells curry! - Danu Poyner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Queensland, Australia
So, without further ado, here they are - the questions!!!
- What is the Patrician's first name?
- Which wizard did Mort ask help of?
- Which of the two Ptaclusp's was the accountant?
- What is the fastest thing on the Disc according to Ly Tin Wheedle?
- Who is Imp y Chelyn meant to be?
This month's answers can be found in section 9.
7. Who's Who on the Discworld - The Witches of The DiscworldThis month Taetia Zysshe < email@example.com > provides us with a in-depth view of three of the Discworld's best know crones. Our original piece about the witches will appear in issue 3 of the Discworld Chronicle the Discworld Convention's newsletter. We have an archived copy of our who's who on the Discworld Monthly web site.
Terry Pratchett is unusual among fantasy writers for his ability, indeed inclination, to portray strong, credible female characters instead of resorting to unidimensional stereotypes. The three witches challenge the traditional historical roles allotted to women: those of the maiden, the wife and mother, and the crone.
Magrat Garlick is shy, virginal and soft-hearted. Her inexperience and optimism condemn her to junior status by her fellow witches, who are alternately amused by or contemptuous of her romantic nature.
Pratchett consciously defies the maiden stereotype because Magrat is a great deal more than just a romantic virgin who dreams of marriage. She is practical and capable (even when limited to producing pumpkins by the technical vagaries of her equipment), and can be headstrong in following her own course of action instead of that determined by others. She teaches self-defence and natural childbirth methods to the Lancre village women. Her most obvious repudiation of the maiden role is when she marries King Verence in Lords and Ladies, but her real escape into individualism is her self-transformation into the warrior queen, saving herself, her husband and her future subjects from the elves. Pratchett conveys the restrictions of the maiden's role through Magrat's frustrations with her lot.
Nanny Gytha Ogg represents the wife and mother in the trio of female stereotypes. She fulfills this role in some respects as she is indeed the matriarch of a large brood, idolising her sons and grandchildren while paying little attention to her daughters and making life quite miserable for her daughters-in-law; she is more concerned with the lives of her family than the activities of the outside world. The Ogg family, however, comprises a large part of the small outside world of the Kingdom of Lancre, and when Nanny meddles with village concerns it is most likely that a child or grandchild is directly involved. Nanny departs from the wife and mother stereotype because she is an outspoken woman who lives exactly as she pleases instead of sacrificing her own life for those of her husband and children. She has buried three husbands and, well into her seventies, is still sexually active with a healthy libido and a shocking reputation. She washes only once a year, compels her long-suffering daughters-in-law to do her housework and sings songs so dirty Pratchett declines to write them down in full.
Granny Esmerelda Weatherwax is as old and curmudgeonly as any village crone, but beneath the black hat and cloak is a very handsome woman who still enjoys the power to attract her past lover Ridcully. She meddles relentlessly in the affairs of others despite claiming that to do so is inherently dangerous. She is quick to take offence and to retaliate against any perceived injury to her pride, like the traditional witch, but her strong sense of justice prevails and she demonstrates mercy against those she has vanquished. She appears reluctant to use magic when simple psychology, or headology in her own term, will suffice; she wins back all the money Nanny has lost to the professional gamblers by her acute assessment of human nature rather than casting spells or fashioning a voodoo doll. The stereotypical witch and crone is selfish and preoccupied with her own situation in life, whereas Granny is concerned with global affairs.
Pratchett is not self-conscious or artificial in his treatment of female characters; there is no suggestion of forced "political correctness" or explicit moralising about the value of women's individuality. Discworld women are as fallible and flawed as the men, and it is this equality, rather than an equal nobility or heroism, which makes them credible characters.
8. Feature: PTerry's Short Stories - Part 8 - "Hollywood Chickens"In the eighth part of our Short Stories series, Phil Penney tells us about "Hollywood Chickens". Phil runs the unofficial Discworld fan club "The Guild of Fans and Disciples" which now has branches in Germany, South Africa, USA, Australia and New Zealand. For more information email Phil on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
'Peck peck. Scratch. Scratch. Cluck?'"
And thus begins PTerry's 1990 short story, "Hollywood Chickens".
The tale concerns the efforts of the chickens to escape from their verge onto the other side of the highway. Their attempts become increasingly elaborate as the story unfolds and PTerry parallels human & technological evolution as the chickens use items discarded from passing cars to build their contraptions.
It's a clever piece of writing which I found surprisingly thought provoking. Like many of PTerry's short pieces, it isn't riotously funny, just gently amusing. It doesn't lecture (something that many of the Discworld novels are accused of), but puts across points in a nicely subtle way.
It was written for the anthology "More Tales from the Forbidden Planet", edited by Roz Kaveney and published by Titan. It is probably the best of PTerry's short stories that is not currently in print and I would suggest that it is almost certainly going to be re-printed in a future anthology.
Copies of the book are fairly common in second-hand book shops and should cost about 15 to 20 UK pounds in its hardback form. There were also a limited edition of 250 numbered copies in an embossed slip-case and signed by all the contributors. These sold for 45.00 UKP, so they'll be worth hundreds now.
And in case you're wondering why the birds are trying to escape the verge, then you're not the only one. Why *did* the chickens cross the road?
9. The End* Contact Information *
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If you live in the UK you can go to most book shops and pick up PTerry's books without problems. Other countries may find it more difficult. You can order any of PTerry's books over the Net from Amazon.co.uk (they even provide an on-line currency converter for anyone outside the UK). www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/87
* Answers to this month's DiscTrivia questions *
- Ptaclusp A
- Buddy Holly
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: firstname.lastname@example.org .