Category Archives: Other

Terry Pratchett on “Desert Island”

Terry Pratchett was interviewed* by Sue Lawley on the BBC radio show, “Desert Island” in 1997. One of the reasons I adore Pratchett’s writing is that it seems to be much like the man appears, down-to-earth and philosophical. Listening to him speak is fun. The entirety of his voice draws me in.

Topics covered by Sue and Terry were “Is the Discworld series literature?” Stephen Fry and I disagree on that. Perhaps you can guess what opinion is held by whom. Pratchett explains what The Discworld encompasses and the two talk about his fans and critics. We get to know everything from childhood experiences, work experiences and how long it took for Pratchett to make enough money for him to work full-time as an author. His interactions with his fans have been frequent and also quite personal. Terry never seemed to become arrogant.

Interspersed in the interview, are clips of Pratchett’s music choices and explanations of why these scores appeal to him. While writing this post I took the opportunity to listen to some of them:

*A transcript of this interview may be found at L-Space

 

Pratchett, Terry: The Discworld

Terry Pratchett: 28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015 (RIP)

Artist: Paul Kidby

Artist: Paul Kidby

 “Sometimes I get nice letters from people who know they’re due to meet him (Death) soon, and hope I’ve got him right.
Those are the kind of letters that cause me to stare at the wall for some time.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Art of Discworld

Feet of Clay Quote

Marc Simonetti's first draft

Lord Vetinari glanced at a piece of paper. ‘Did you really punch the president of the Assassins’ Guild?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Why?’
‘Didn’t have a dagger, sir.’

(Feet of Clay, p. 392)

Discworld reading order

How to read the Discworld books? I have read them all several times, some more than others. Hogfather is a X-mas favorite. When I got into Pratchett, it was due to the Watch series. After having read that, I just read them all in order. Then I read them according to characters. And so on and so on. My reviews are chronological. I strongly recommend that you get the illustrated versions that are out there. I have The Last Hero and it is amazing.

This first list is originally by Krzysztof K. Kietzman. As you can see from the chart, it has been updated by several people.

Latest Krzysztof Kietzman reading order

Here is another suggestion. This one is more complicated than Krzysztof’s, but one needs a little complication in making reading choices. I don’t know who created it, but the link takes you to where I found it.

Discworld reading order

When it comes to the non-chronological way of reading the Discworld, there are great commentaries on the series out there (cannot speak for the ones I do not understand):

This chronological list is from Wikipedia and lets you know how each book fits into the Discworld system.

# Title Pub Groups Notes
1 The Colour of Magic 1983 Rincewind Came 93rd in the Big Read.
2 The Light Fantastic 1986 Rincewind Continues from The Colour of Magic
3 Equal Rites 1987 The Witches, The Wizards
4 Mort 1987 Death Came 65th in the Big Read
5 Sourcery 1988 Rincewind, The Wizards
6 Wyrd Sisters 1988 The Witches Came 135th in the Big Read
7 Pyramids 1989 Discworld Cultures (Djelibeybi) British Science Fiction Award winner, 1989
8 Guards! Guards! 1989 The City Watch Came 69th in the Big Read
9 Eric 1990 Rincewind Published in a larger format and fully illustrated by Josh Kirby
10 Moving Pictures 1990 Miscellaneous (Holy Wood), The Wizards
11 Reaper Man 1991 Death, The Wizards Came 126th in the Big Read
12 Witches Abroad 1991 The Witches Came 197th in the Big Read
13 Small Gods 1992 Discworld Cultures (Omnia), The History Monks Came 102nd in the Big Read
14 Lords and Ladies 1992 The Witches, The Wizards
15 Men at Arms 1993 The City Watch Came 148th in the Big Read
16 Soul Music 1994 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The Wizards Came 151st in the Big Read
17 Interesting Times 1994 Rincewind, The Wizards
18 Maskerade 1995 The Witches
19 Feet of Clay 1996 The City Watch
20 Hogfather 1996 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The Wizards Came 137th in the Big Read; British Fantasy Award nominee, 1997
21 Jingo 1997 The City Watch
22 The Last Continent 1998 Rincewind, The Wizards
23 Carpe Jugulum 1998 The Witches
24 The Fifth Elephant 1999 The City Watch Came 153rd in the Big Read; Locus Fantasy Award nominee, 2000
25 The Truth 2000 Ankh-Morpork, The City Watch, The Ankh-Morpork Times Came 193rd in the Big Read
26 Thief of Time 2001 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The History Monks Came 152nd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2002
27 The Last Hero 2001 Rincewind, The Wizards, The City Watch Published in a larger format and fully illustrated by Paul Kidby
28 The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 2001 Miscellaneous (Überwald) A YA (young adult or children’s) Discworld book; winner of the 2001 Carnegie Medal
29 Night Watch 2002 The City Watch, The History Monks Received the Prometheus Award in 2003; came 73rd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2003
30 The Wee Free Men 2003 Tiffany Aching The second YA Discworld book; also published in larger format and fully illustrated by Stephen Player
31 Monstrous Regiment 2003 Discworld Cultures (Borogravia), The City Watch, The Ankh-Morpork Times The title is a reference to The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women; 2004 nominee for Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
32 A Hat Full of Sky 2004 Tiffany Aching, The Witches The third YA Discworld book
33 Going Postal 2004 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork Locus and Nebula Awards nominee, 2005
34 Thud! 2005 The City Watch Locus Award nominee, 2006
35 Wintersmith 2006 Tiffany Aching, The Witches The fourth YA book.
36 Making Money 2007 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork Locus Award winner, Nebula nominee, 2008
37 Unseen Academicals 2009 The Wizards, Rincewind, Miscellaneous (Nutt) Locus Award Nominee, 2010
38 I Shall Wear Midnight 2010 Tiffany Aching, The Witches Fifth YA book, Andre Norton winner, 2010
39 Snuff 2011 The City Watch (Sam Vimes) Third fastest selling book in first week of publication
40 Raising Steam 2013 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork, The City Watch
41 The Shepherd’s Crown[19] TBA Tiffany Aching

The Light Fantastic page 188 (omnibus)

http://jesskat-art.deviantart.com/art/The-Light-Fantastic-36207307

Artist: Jessica Gädke

“Rincewind had been generally reckoned by his tutors to be a natural wizard in the same way that fish are natural mountaineers.”

 

The Colour of Magic page 175

Below, the whole Universe twinkled at Rincewind. There was Great A’Tuin, huge and ponderous and pocked with craters. There was the little Disc moon. There was a distant gleam that could only be the Potent Voyager. And there were the stars, looking remarkably like powdered diamonds spilled on black velvet, the stars that lured and ultimately called the boldest towards them …

The whole of Creation was waiting for Rincewind to drop in.

He did so.

There didn’t seem to be any alternative.

Trixie/Rincewind fanart by Shaadorian

Turtle mythology

“In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part …

See …

Great A’Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters. Through sea-sized eyes that are crusted with rheum and asteroid dust He stares fixedly at the Destination.

In a brain bigger than a city, with geological slowness, He thinks only of the Weight.

Most of the weight is of course accounted for by Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose broad and star-tanned shoulders the Disc of the World rests, garlanded by the long waterfall at its vast circumference and domed by the baby-blue vault of Heaven.” (Page 3 of The Colour of Magic)

The World Turtle or the idea of the Earth being carried on the back of a turtle is not an idea that is unique to Terry Pratchett. At the very least, the Chinese, the Hindu and the Iroquois have creation mythology that places turtles/tortoises at their center.

Hindu mythology

Hindu mythology has various account of World Tortoises, besides a World Serpent (Shesha), Kurmaraja and world-elephants.

The most widespread name given to the tortoise is Kurma or Kurmaraja. The Shatapatha Brahmana identifies the earth as its lower shell, the atmosphere as its body and the vault of heaven as its upper shell. (Wikipedia)

Hume’s “Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant” suggests that that the story was already widely known at the time. The first known reference to a Hindu source is found in a letter by Jesuit Emanual de Veiga (1549-1605), written at Chandagiri on 18 September 1599, in which the relevant passage reads

Alii dicebant terram novem constare angulis, quibus cœlo innititur. Alius ab his dissentiens volebat terram septem elephantis fulciri, elephantes uero ne subsiderent, super testudine pedes fixos habere. Quærenti quis testudinis corpus firmaret, ne dilaberetur, respondere nesciuit.
“Others hold that the earth has nine corners by which the heavens are supported. Another disagreeing from these would have the earth supported by seven elephants, and the elephants do not sink down because their feet are fixed on a tortoise. When asked who would fix the body of the tortoise, so that it would not collapse, he said that he did not know.” (Wikipedia)

Chinese mythology

For the Chinese, the tortoise is sacred and symbolizes longevity, power, and tenacity. It is said that the tortoise helped Pangu (also known as P’an Ku) create the world: the creator goddess Nuwa or Nugua cuts the legs off a sea turtle and uses them to prop up the sky after Gong Gong destroys the mountain that had supported the sky. The flat plastron and domed carapace of a turtle parallel the ancient Chinese idea of a flat earth and domed sky. For the Chinese as well as the Indians, the tortoise symbolizes the universe. Quoting Pen T’sao, “the upper dome-shaped part of its back has various signs, which correspond with the constellations on the sky, and this is Yan; the lower part has many lines, which relate to the earth and is the Yin. (Wikipedia)

A character in the lore of many Indian tribes. This character is usually regarded as the animal on the back of which the world is carried. Occasionally known as Turtle, Tabakea, Tabakea or Turtle. (Mythology Dictionary)

The creation myth of the Iroquois peoples combines elements of the Earth Diver story with the image of a creator who descends from the heavens. Creation begins when a sky goddess named Atahensic plummets through a hole in the floor of heaven. This Woman Who Fell from the Sky lands in the primeval sea. To support her and give her room to move about, the animals dive deep into the sea for bits of earth. The goddess spreads this earth on Great Turtle’s back to create the land, and the daughter she bears there becomes known as Earth Woman. (Native American Mythology)

Good Omens: Newt meets UFO

And I can’t even tell Shadwell, because he’d probably bawl me out for not counting their nipples.

Good Omens, quote from page 53

Anyway, she had not written it for the sales, or the royalties, or even for the fame. She had written it for the single gratis copy of the book that an author is entitled to.

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