2002 Convention in the UK 2017-11-02T19:57:28+00:00


July 1998 to August 2002: Four years of Discworld

So what has happened since the last Convention? Well, to continue where I left off in 1998… Terry is now published and translated or about to be published in 31 languages (if we separate Brazilian Portuguese from Portuguese Portuguese – speakers of each look down on the other): Brazilian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Jugoslav/Serbian, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Welsh (is no one going to translate Terry into Latin?)

Since the last Convention you have been able to read the following novels (dates of publication in brackets), Carpe Jugulum (5 November 1998), The Fifth Elephant (4 November 1999), The Truth (2 November 2000), Thief of Time (3 May 2001), The Last Hero, illustrated by Paul Kidby (18 October 2001), The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (1 November 2001) and in November you’ll be able to read Night Watch, the first adult Discworld novel that does not have a Josh Kirby cover.

Josh’s sudden death, in his sleep, last November was a tragic loss to the world of SF and Fantasy: his work was truly unique, and no one can fill the gap now left. For the cover illustration of Night Watch the publishers had to go to the Discworld’s foremost portraitist and artist (apart from Leonard of Quirm), Paul Kidby who at Terry’s request has produced a magnificent ‘copy’ of Rembrandt’s famous picture ‘The Night Watch’, but peopled with members of the Ankh-Morpork Watch: if he wasn’t so good at portraying the Discworld, Paul could be hoodwinking the British art world as a forger in the tradition of van Meegeren. Anyway, the back cover of Night Watch reproduces the Rembrandt.

On the short writings front, Terry’s ‘The Sea and Little Fishes’ written for Legends (edited by Robert Silverberg and published by Tor in October 1998, with HarperCollins publishing it in the UK) is the only short piece of fiction I know of that has come from him in the last four years. Apart from the general trade edition Tor published 250 copies signed by all the contributors and specially bound in green leather, of which 50 for presentation purposes were lettered, with 200 numbered copies for the trade. Copy P was sent by Tor to Terry in October 1998 but it never reached him. Anyone who comes across this copy should be aware that whoever has it is not the legal owner…

Of interest too was the publication in May 1999 in French of ‘Troll Bridge’ as a separate booklet. Drame de Troll was produced and given away to the book trade in France for publicity purposes: the ploy seems to have worked as sales have increased markedly since then. The illustration is by ‘Jess Tourby’ in a style akin to Josh’s. The artist’s pseudonym and style were a tribute to Josh.

In the same month Transworld published the fourth of the Discworld maps, this time entirely designed by Terry and Paul, Death’s Domain, and was followed in November by Nanny Ogg’s Cook Book, conceived by Terry as a means of raising money for the Orangutan Foundation, and put together through a glorious combination of Terry, Paul, Stephen Briggs and the irrepressible Tina Hannan. Nanny Ogg’s recipes work – mostly: they must be tried to be believed. A number of the signing sessions at the time of its publication had a personal appearance from Mrs Ogg, come to sign her book, in person.

The result of a different collaboration appeared in June 1999, The Science of Discworld, by Terry, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, a revised, undated edition of which, with two extra chapters, was published in May 2002, at the same time as its successor, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe.

In February 2000 in response to demand from the American market, HarperCollins started reissuing the early novels as paperbacks, adding at the end a sixteen page section called ‘The World of Terry Pratchett’ which also appeared in their edition of The Fifth Elephant, which was published at the same time. Now, English language hardcovers and paperbacks are published virtually simultaneously in Britain, North America, and in that other major market, Australia and New Zealand, not forgetting South Africa. Copies are sent out by Transworld and Gollancz to these markets well in advance of publication in Britain so that simultaneous availability (and thereby copyright protection) can be ensured.

Copies of the hardcover edition of The Truth got sent out to a bookseller in Iceland in August 2000 at the same as they left Britain for Australia, and so were on sale in Reykjavik, to the delight of the local English-reading population, nearly three months before they went on sale in Britain.

In December 2000, slightly later than planned due to production difficulties, Graham Higgins’s magnificently illustrated edition of Stephen Briggs’ adaptation of Guards! Guards! appeared, published by Gollancz (and in German, by Manhattan – a division of Bertelsmann – the following year.)

Five playtexts have been published, four by Stephen Briggs – Maskerade (Samuel French in September 1998); Carpe Jugulum (French in November 1999); The Fifth Elephant and The Truth (both Methuen, in February 202), and Irana Brown’s adaptation of Lords and Ladies (French in June 2001). Stephen has two more adaptations appearing: Interesting Times will be published by Methuen and The Amazing Maurice & his Education Rodents by Oxford University Press.

On the audio side, Corgi released the 2-cassette condensed versions of each novel (read by Tony Robinson) simultaneously with the hardcover edition, while Isis caught up with their full length versions, The Last Continent (February 1999), Feet of Clay (September 1999), Hogfather (December 1999), Jingo (February 2000), and Carpe Jugulum (June 2000), all read by Nigel Planer, followed by The Fifth Elephant (December 2000), The Truth (February 2001), Thief of Time (June 2001), Eric (August 2001), and The Amazing Maurice (December 2001) read by Stephen Briggs (Strata, also read by Stephen, will be the next to be recorded). Planer’s success as an actor had made it increasingly difficult for Isis to make bookings for the recordings at times that were convenient to both reader and company, so the decision was taken to try out Stephen Briggs (who lives in Oxford, where Isis are based). This has been a successful transfer, although a number of fans still think of the Discworld novels in terms of a Planeresque accent.

Since losing the hardcover editions to Transworld, Gollancz (who have had a number of owners over the years since the family sold out, and are now owned by Cassell who are now owned by Orion, who in turn are owned by Hachette) have been republishing what they already have, firstly with the individual volumes in the ‘Collectors’ Edition’ to create a standard size for the series and then, following the success of The Witches Trilogy (October 1997) by publishing The Death Trilogy (October 1998) City Watch Trilogy (18 November 1999), The Gods Trilogy (20 July 2000); and The Rincewind Trilogy (17 May 2001). In May 1999 we (I mean Colin Smythe Ltd) had published The First Discworld Novels (containing The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) to fit in with the new Gollancz format, and got Josh Kirby to paint a special illustration for the cover.

Writing of omnibuses, on the other side of the Pond, in June 1999 The Science Fiction Book Club issued Rincewind the Wizzard containing the first four Rincewind novels, and in November the following year Tales of the Discworld. (They had also issued The Bromeliad Trilogy in November 1998 and The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy in November 1999.) And here in the UK, in November 2001 BCA issued de luxe editions (in quarter leather) of the first three Discworld novels in what they have called The Unseen Library, and the series will be continued, with Mort, Wyrd Sisters and Pyramids appearing before Christmas 2002.

In November 1998 Doubleday issued an omnibus of Truckers, Diggers and Wings, as The Bromeliad Trilogy and The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy a year later (both trilogies had been issued in America by the SF Book Club some time earlier (August 1993, and January 1998 respectively), and in the case of the Johnny Maxwell titles this has been their first and only publication in the US to date.

Following the publication of Discworld’s Unseen University Diary for 1998, the series of Discworld related diaries continues, with the Ankh-Morpork City Watch Diary for 1999, the Assassins’ Guild Yearbook and Diary for 2000, the Fools’ Guild Yearbook and Diary for 2001,  the Thieves’ Guild Yearbook and Diary for 2002, and next year’s (Reformed) Vampyre’s Diary – sponsored by the Uberwald League of Temperance (‘Not a Drop’) is due to be published at the time of the Convention.

In August 1998 Steve Jackson Games issued a GURPS Discworld book, authored principally by Terry and Phil Masters, and illustrated by Paul Kidby, the success of which produced a successor GURPS Discworld Also, illustrated by Sean Murray (as by then Paul was already working full-time on The Last Hero).

David Langford’s second Discworld quizbook, The Wyrdest Link, featuring on the cover Josh’s last picture completed before his death – a painting of the Librarian with suspicious echoes of an acerbic lady not unconnected with a certain quiz show [Anne Robinson, for those who don’t remember that far] – was published in May 2002. A series of bookmarks and bookplates were issued by bookMarks of Distinction in September 1998, mostly using details of Kirby pictures, but no more were issued after that.

PJSM Prints has a number of Paul Kidby bookmarks for sale that were issued in 2000, together with coloured greetings cards (of Greebo, the Silver Hoard, ‘The Science of Discworld’ and the Four Horsemen), and various in monochrome. Paul has also added more prints to his collection, including Leonard of Quirm, Goodboy BindleFeatherstone of Quirm (Errol), the Bursar, and The Death of Rats (with a ‘customer’ nibbling one of Mr Downie’s Humbugs).

The Ink Group issued 1999 (Josh Kirby) and 2000 (Kidby) wall calendars, and a 2000 mini-Kirby one, together with deskpads illustrated by Kidby, the 1999 one containing ‘365 invaluable facts for the discerning Discworld traveller’ taken from The Discworld Companion, while the 2000 version contained ‘366 days of drawings and dialogue’, taken from Discworld novels. Following the termination of the Ink Group licence, Gollancz have been issuing the wall calendars since then; the 2001 one containing pictures by Kirby, Kidby, Higgins, and two new artists, Colin McNeill and Jay Hurst (who has since issued a number of prints of scenes from the Discworld novels), and the 2002 edition being entirely of Josh Kirby’s paintings, including one for Small Gods, and ‘The Battle on the Tower of Art’, both painted for this calendar, and one commissioned by the German publishing firm Wilhelm Heyne for the cover of their translation of The Science of Discworld, and so rather unfamiliar in the English speaking world.

The 2003 calendar has a cover by Kidby, and month pictures by Kidby, Kirby and a host of new artists whose Discworld pictures as being seen in print for the first time – (in order of appearance) Les Edwards, Jim Burns, David Wyatt, Fred Gambina, Jon Sullivan, and John Howe.

Here I must specifically record the unexpected death of Josh Kirby in November 2001: the zest and energy of his unique vision of the Discworld, as well as his retiring but friendly personality, will be sorely missed. No artist can have produced so many published paintings of one author’s work as Josh has of Terry’s: by my count about eighty pictures, including those commissioned by overseas publishers and not published on books in Britain – the Johnny Maxwell covers for the Dutch firm of Het Spectrum, and those for Heyne, for Good Omens, and The Science of Discworld.

At the time of the last Convention Perfect Entertainment were developing the third Discworld computer game, Discworld Noir, but due to the collapse of one of their customers in Japan, owing them something in the region of £100k, Perfect also went bankrupt and the game was completed by their related company – Teeny Weeny Games (TWG) and issued by GT Interactive Software in July 1999. GTI was subsequently taken over by the French company Infogrammes who were also granted a licence to reissue the first two games after those with Psygnosis expired, and I’m still trying to sort out the legal matters resulting from the various take-overs and collapses, and am hoping that all three will once again be available. People seem to vanish without leaving forwarding addresses…

Spears Games had issued four 1,000 piece jigsaws in 1995, but they were evidently not profitable enough, and it was only in 2000 that two were issued by Gibsons Puzzles (Josh’s ‘Maskerade’ and ‘Carpe Jugulum’), who then issued two more the following year (‘Mort’, which has originally been issued by Spear’s, and ‘Equal Rites’). The release of further puzzles has delayed by the hiatus caused by Josh’s unexpected death.

There was also a pirated jigsaw produced in Korea for the US market which used the image of Eric invoking a wizard and getting Rincewind and the Luggage, from Eric, a few hundred copies of which were imported into Britain without the importer being aware of the breach of copyright. It was titled ‘Wizard’ and issued under the name ‘The Art of Toya’. All had been sold before I heard of the piracy and was able to track down the importer.

Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music are now available on video and DVD in the US from Acorn Media and in Britain from Vision Video (originally Astrion, but now part of Universal). Sadly, while Wyrd Sisters is a seamless whole on the DVDs, divided into a dozen scenes, for some incomprehensible reason Soul Music has been kept as seven very separate episodes so that one has to watch the opening titles, recaps, and credits of each, and start each episode separately. Bloody irritating.

Clarecraft’s model collection has continued to expand with over sixty models over the last four years, including the the Ankh-Morpork beggars (DW112-114), members of the Silver Hoard (DW116-122), ‘Death and the Swan’ (DW111) and ‘Death and Granny Weatherwax’ (DW90) (both from Maskerade), as well as numerous other Discworld characters, as well as a superb pair of bookends, featuring Carrot and Errol and the head and tail of the Dragon (DW109-110), and not forgetting more coats of arms.

There have been far too many models to mention all here in the space at my disposal, so Trish will, I hope forgive me if I mention only a few of my favourites. The latest models now have real metal weaponry and this makes them much more effective, as well as allowing Clarecraft’s artists greater freedom. Many of the figures are now available as pewter miniatures, and now the chess set is also available in pewter: very impressive it is too.

The Cunning Artificer’s collection also grows, and includes Lancre Castle, the Guilds (Assassins’, Alchemists’, Fools’, Seamstresses’ and Thieves’), the plates (Death’s Study, Hex, the Library, Hogfather, and now Igor) and the trolls and dwarves for Trevor Truran’s game of Thud, which recreates the Battle of Koom Valley, and also requires an eight-sided board (also available from said Artificer).

Apart from the abovementioned Igor plate, also on display at the Convention will be the New Watch House (the one in Treacle Mine Road) and a three foot high puppet of Rincewind – there’s no knowing what Bernard’s going to produce next. Death’s Clock was completed by Mark Ayling, and his Iconograph is also available too, but I’ve yet to see it ‘in the flesh’ – production was much more complicated than he foresaw, hence the delay in completion. The Doorknocker has yet to see the light of day.

TWK has unfortunately ceased publication, losing out to the web monthlies, Wossname (the Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion and its affiliates, including the North American Discworld Society, edited by Joseph Schaumburger, just reaching vol. 5, no. 6) and Jason Anthony’s Discworld Monthly (which has just sent out its 63rd issue), but the Guild of Fans and Disciples (GOFAD)’s From Ramtop to Rimfall and Clarecraft’s Discworld Collectors’ Guild Newsletter continue in printed form.

On a personal level, Terry has received honorary doctorates in Literature from the Universities of Warwick (1999) and Portsmouth (2001), he’s been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for the best young person’s book in 2001, for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, and while the results will not be announced until 12 July, a fortnight hence, I feel quietly confident (as they say) that he will win, and you’ll know the result by the time you read this. On the writing front Terry is deep into the next young Discworld novel, The Wee Free Men. All I can say about it is that what I’ve read so far is a joy.

Dreamworks have announced that they’re optioning Truckers, Diggers and Wings, and from the evidence, it looks as if this might really appear. All being well, I’ve heard they’re thinking of producing it after Shrek II. Sarah Broadhurst, whose forcasts about what books are going to be bestsellers appear regularly in that organ of the book trade, The Bookseller, has optioned the musical rights for Only You Can Save Mankind. Anyone who thinks it would be hard to imagine this as a musical has only to listen to the music already written by Leighton James House to be convinced that it can. Unfortunately it is impossible to predict when it will appear on stage.

So there’s my overview of the last four years, squeezed into the same space as the report I wrote to cover two years for the 1998 convention programme. I hope I have covered everything worth noting, but if in error I’ve missed anything of importance, I crave your indulgence.

Colin Smythe,  30 June 2002

STOP PRESS! – 12 JULY 2002: I’m delighted to report tbat Terry has won the 2001 CILIP Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. The Award was announced at a ceremony at the British Library today. He was given the award by the Special Guest Tony Hart, whose painting skills have delighted viewers of  BBC TV for nigh on fifty years, and who also gave the Kate Greenaway Award for the best illustrated book to Chris Riddell as illustrator of Richard Platt’s Pirate Diary.


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