2004 Convention in the UK 2017-11-02T19:57:28+00:00

CR2004

Two Years of Discworld

So what’s happened since the last Convention? I hope I am not missing out anything, and if I am, tell me and I’ll include it in the report in the 2006 convention programme, but this time I will stretch the report to cover the month following the Convention and a few other matters.

First, on 16 July 2004 Terry received his fourth honorary doctorate, this time from Bristol University – last year he received one from Bath, and of course, his winning the Carnegie Medal for The Amazing Maurice should be common knowledge.

Now, the novels: in chronological order, Night Watch was published on 7 November 2002. It was the first of Terry’s novels since 1983 – the first edition of The Colour of Magic – not to have had a Josh Kirby illustrated cover: instead we were presented with a magnificent cover by Paul Kidby, based on Rembrandt’s “The Nightwatch” (which appeared on the back cover), with everyone in the right place, and a portrait of Josh where Rembrandt appears in the original. May 2003 saw the publication of The Wee Free Men, which recently won the Locus Award for the Best Young Adult Novel of 2003, with the appearance of a new Pratchett heroine, Tiffany Aching. It was followed in October by the adult novel Monstrous Regiment, Terry’s take on the folly and futility of war, and women fighting as men in war – over 300 women are known to have done so during the American Civil War, for example. This May we saw the publication of A Hat Full of Sky, the second of at least three novels about Tiffany which, while it does not seem to have generated many column inches of reviews in the UK, has certainly been noticed in the US. Kirkus Reviews, one of the most influential of reviewing journals describing it as ‘By turns hilarious and achingly beautiful, this be just right’, and The Horn Book, another major reviewing publication, has called it ‘an astonishing novel’. Bound proofs of Going Postal, which is due for publication in October, appeared at the end of June. While the published edition will have a Kidby cover, the proofs have one specially designed by the Cunning Artificer (who is also going into the postage stamp business in time for publication) and at least one copy will be available as a prize in the Convention raffle and another, for the better-off collector will be included in the auction. Going Postal is I assure you is a joy to read, and having now read it four times, I can vouch for its rereadability.

But what of The Art of Discworld, originally scheduled for autumn 2003? It is, I am reliably informed, appearing in September. Paul has been working on it to the exclusion of (almost) everything else, which is one reason why there hasn’t been a diary this year – though he has been able to do some illustrations for Pratchett & Pearson’s Discworld Almanak for the Year of the Prawn [2005] in the Century of the Earwig, due for publication on 1 October at the same time as Going Postal. The Discworld Calendars continue, each with illustrations by various artists, including Paul Kidby and David Wyatt (whose illustrations now adorn the new Corgi covers of The Amazing Maurice, Truckers, Diggers, Wings, and The Carpet People).

The first collection of Terry’s short stories, Divadlo Krutosti (Theatre of Cruelty – described as ‘the first complete file of short stories’) appeared in Czech by Talpress last February, while during the Worldcon (Noreascon 4) in Boston in September, a larger collection of short writings – fiction and non-fiction – Once More* with Footnotes, edited by Sheila Perry and Priscilla Olson, will see the light of day. This will include Terry’s first published short story, ‘The Hades Business’, which is being republished for the first time for nearly 40 years, and much else.

Isis have now issued all the Discworld novels including The Last Hero on CD and cassette (as well as Strata, and these are now normally released almost simultaneously with the hardback publication of the book. Stephen Briggs’ reading of Monstrous Regiment for Isis (issued in States by Harper Audio) featured among the 2004 Audie Award winners, in the Science Fiction category. The Audies are the annual awards handed out by the (American) Audio Publishers Association, so this award was listed as going to Harper Audio. Isis released Truckers last May, and are also scheduled to issue Diggers and Wings, and later Good Omens.

Book Club Associates continue to issue three Discworld titles each November in their Unseen Library series, while earlier this year Corgi reissued the novels for young readers with new covers, and making them available in two formats, the usual A format and the larger B format. And to get the general readers interested in Discworld, Corgi as also proposing to issue the Discworld novels with photographic covers.

To date I think a reasonably accurate figure of Terry’s sales throughout the world is in the region of 36 millions copies, of which Transworld’s editions alone account for over 20 million (sold in Britain, Europe, the Antipodes, and throughout the world excluding the US). Terry’s books have now been published or licensed in thirty-three languages. As usual, they regularly appear in the no. 1 position in best-seller lists.

On the games front, Gibsons Games produced one more jigsaw, of ‘Reaper Man’, but because of lack of support from their chief outlet, by name of W.H.Smith, they will not be issuing any more for the foreseeable future. However, the Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Company have issued Paul Kidby’s ‘The Librarian’ (which appeared on the front cover of the third edition of The Discworld Companion – now retitled The New Discworld Companion, published in 2003) as a 250 piece jigsaw. (And on the renaming front, in response to retailer demand, GURPS Discworld has been renamed Discworld Roleplaying Game.)

On the modelling front, Clarecraft have reached over 150 designs, and among their recent offerings has been the magnificent model of Twoflower and Rincewind on Ninereeds the dragon, available in two colours – your choice – together with many more miniatures in pewter. Bernard, the Cunning Artificer, and Aurient Traders, have been going great guns with Thud, their war-game between trolls and dwarves, and Aurient have also been producing a series of full-sized Nac Mac Feegles, in bronze and resin versions.

The erstwhile Chairman of this Convention has ventured into the world of alcoholic beverages, and under cover of BursarVixen Enterprises has succeeded the ill-fated Wallbro, producing two new beers, ‘Bonk Beer’ and ‘Old Kingdom’, bringing back ‘Ridcully’s Revenge’ for the discerning drinker, and provided the scrumpy-minded fans with a new version of ‘Nanny Ogg’s Scumble’ which is more in tune with the Creator’s view of what it should be. I should add that when the Cunning Artificer’s adopted town Wincanton was twinned with Ankh-Morpork, forty bottles of a special beer, ‘Winkles Old Peculiar’ brewed by Glastonbury Ales, was put on sale to mark the event, and one of these will be in the Convention’s auction.

For the first three weeks of this month (August) Sarah Broadhurst’s production of Only You Can Save Mankind, with music by Leighton James House and book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna has been appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in June and July BBC Radio 4 broadcast a four-part radio adaptation of Mort, dramatised by Robin Brooks and directed by Claire Grove.

One thing that has reared its ugly head recently has been the increasing piracy of Terry’s works. The last couple of years has seen the appearance of models illegally based on Paul Kidby’s designs, Zippo lighters and cigarette boxes with Kirby and other ‘official’ images used without permission which have been emanating from the Far East, principally from Thailand (although vendors claim to be based in Singapore), and also worryingly, the appearance on eBay and probably in car boot sales and elsewhere, of CDs containing scanned texts of all the novels – and some short stories – or illegal copies of the Isis recordings. We are extremely lucky that responsible-minded fans alert us when they see these appearing for auction and we can then take appropriate action with eBay who now will suspend or expel would-be vendors whose activities are brought to their notice. A good number of the sellers honestly believe that they’re doing nothing illegal, so they have to be told the facts and be warned that if they continue to produce and/or sell them, then under the terms of the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 as revised in 2003 (see Section 198), they can, if the copyright holder decides to take action against them, face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to ten years in prison. Similar legislation now exists throughout the EU and North America. It has to be clearly stated that none of Terry’s works are yet available as e-books, and none of the audio books have been issued in true MP-3 format, so any sellers of discs containing more than one novel can only be piratical in nature and should be reported to me – cs@colinsmythe.co.uk – or emma.higgs@isis-publishing.co.uk so we can take appropriate action.

Finally, a personal note: I have given my collection of Terry Pratchett books and material to the Senate House Library of the University of London (which is now taking on some of the activities previously carried out by the British Library), where the intention is that once it is all catalogued to librarians’ standards (and 1,500 items have been so far), a portion of it will be on display, in due course there will be a website devoted to it, and the material will also be used for travelling exhibitions. This is the intention. A small teaser exhibition was held in the Library earlier this year, but I think it looked more impressive on the University’s website. I very much hope that changing policies at the University Library do not jeopardise these plans.

Colin Smythe,  30 June 2004

Update: My optimism with regard to the display of a section of the collection in the Senate House was misplaced. Cutbacks in library services mean that the display area no longer exists. The collection is catalogued at
https://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/search/?searchtype=Y&searcharg=terry+pratchett&searchscope=1&Submit.x=0&Submit.y=0

 

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