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14 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 0 replies · +2 points

Ah, I see.

If you don't know about it already, I've done well out of Fancake's crowdsourced recommendations. Each rec is tagged for fandoms, themes and tropes, and length, so you can filter for things like Discworld works or works over 80,000 words.

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 2 replies · +2 points

I'm not sure what tone of voice I should be reading that in, but what's coming across is a certain amount of trepidation (as opposed to, say, "Oh, it's long! Good!", which I'd have read as more enthusiastic).

In case it's trepidation about the idea of a long fic about death, I should clarify that it's long because death is not all it's about: there is also quite a bit about life and joy and suchlike in it too.

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 1 reply · +3 points, that was amazing. Thanks so much for the rec!

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 0 replies · +2 points

You also have to avoid putting brackets around it, because the widget that automatically turns addresses into links is not very bright and thinks punctuation is part of the address, and then the link doesn't work.

So here's a version of the link that does work:

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 0 replies · +13 points

Relatedly, here's the one quote on Terry Pratchett's writing process that I always know how to find on short notice:

"I save about twenty drafts -- that's ten meg of disc space -- and the last one contains all the final alterations. Once it has been printed out and received by the publishers, there's a cry here of 'Tough shit, literary researchers of the future, try getting a proper job!' and the rest are wiped."

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 1 reply · +21 points

Mark suggested in the last video that one of the things we could talk about is the books that Terry Pratchett never wrote.

On that subject, I have a story:

The one time I got to see Terry Pratchett in the flesh was when he was touring to promote The Last Continent. At the event I went to, he talked about how he'd written the novel, and about Discworld more generally, and about what he was planning to do next.

He'd written a short story a few years earlier, based on the story of the young King Arthur and the sword in the stone, but with the twist in the end that after the old king's lost heir does the prove-my-identity-by-pulling-out-the-sword thing it turns out (to the surprise of Merlin, who had skimped on his research because he assumed his supernatural knowledge would be accurate) that the old king's lost heir is a girl, not a boy. That's where the short story ended, but he said at this event that he'd been thinking about going back to that idea and doing a whole novel exploring the idea of King-Arthur-but-a-girl, and possibly giving her a mentor that was less like Merlin and more like, say, Granny Weatherwax, and seeing what changed as a result.

He never did write that novel. I don't know why, but I did notice that a few years later we got the first Tiffany book, and I wonder sometimes if what happened was that when he got to work on this idea of a girl coming into her inheritance with Granny Weatherwax as a mentor, it stopped being about Girl King Arthur and turned into the story of Tiffany Aching instead.

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Finishes 'Discwor... · 6 replies · +5 points

I knew somebody would get in before me with a recommendation for "Mister Vimes'd Go Spare"! instead I'm going to recommend another of my favourite post-series Discworld fics, The Brain Thief by hollimichele.

It was written during the period of time after the announcement of The Embuggerance but before Terry Pratchett died, and in a way that's what it's about, too; though in the story, it's Lord Vetinari whose death is approaching and causing everyone to wonder what the world will be like without him in it.

But apart from that, it's an entertaining (if occasionally rather gruesome) case fic for the next generation of the Ankh-Morpork Watch, with some familiar guest appearances and a fun bit of sustained dramatic irony. It does a good job of capturing Pratchett's narrative voice (and his anger at the injustices of the world). And there are lots of footnotes.

(Content notes: death of various kinds, some violent and some self-inflicted; related discussions of grief and coping)

15 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Shephe... · 1 reply · +8 points

There are parts of this book I have been dissatisfied with, but I have no hesitation in saying: that was a good ending.

Oh, also:

some things her mother had decided she needed

Boy, I remember what that was like, when I moved out of the family home.

16 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Shephe... · 0 replies · +14 points

"They don't like it up and over 'em!"

Reference to the TV comedy series Dad's Army, about a group of old men in the Home Guard during WW2. "They don't like it up 'em!" was one of Lance Corporal Jones's catchphrases, usually connected to a reminiscence of his military service in the days of rifle bayonets.

those who had ridden into battle on yarrow stalks

Yarrow is a flowering plant with various useful properties. It has slender straight stalks which can be dried to produce slender straight sticks with a variety of applications (one that's not relevant here but might ring a bell is that yarrow stalks are used as a divination tool in association with the I Ching). According to some folklore, elves ride yarrow stalks the way witches ride broomsticks; I'm not sure why, unless it's to show off about not needing something more sturdy.

"This lady is not for turning"

A motto of the British PM Margaret Thatcher, a woman who, whatever else you might say about her, had an iron-hard self-confidence to rival Mrs Earwig's. Originated in a 1980 speech: "To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the 'U-turn', I have only one thing to say: 'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!'"

It's also worth noting, since this is a Witch Book, that the speech writer is believed to have been making a pun on the title of the play The Lady's Not For Burning, in which the female protagonist is accused of being a witch.

16 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'The Shephe... · 3 replies · +14 points

"So cry 'Crivens' and let loose the clan Mac Feegle!"

Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar: "cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war"

the other witches, who were for the most part en déshabille, stared at her with wild surmise

A familiar phrase from Keats's "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer", where he compares his feelings on reading the eponymous work to a group of explorers who "look'd at each other with a wild surmise" as they stood on a mountain peak and saw unsuspected new lands ahead of them. I don't see any particular resonance, so I think it's just being used as a familiar phrase.

I do have two further things to note about this moment, however. The first is that, despite Tiffany feeling bad about not thinking to sleep in her clothes, most of the more experienced witches seem not to have thought of it either. The second is to wonder what, exactly, the subject of the wild surmise was. One obvious reading is that they're wondering what it says about the fight ahead that Magrat is coming to it dressed in a suit of armour. Another possibility, suggested by the juxtaposition with the rest of them still being in their sleeping arrangements, is that some of them are noting that Magrat came out of her bedroom dressed in a suit of armour, assuming that that meant she was already wearing it, and making assumptions about her home life.

"We shall fight them on the mountains. We shall fight them on the rocks. We shall fight them over the hills and down in the valleys. We shall never surrender!"

Paraphrases the most famous bit of a famous inspirational speech given in WW2 by the British PM Winston Churchill just after the Battle of Dunkirk, affirming that despite the massive setback they would keep fighting.

(Incidentally, that was on the 4th of June 1940, almost exactly 80 years ago.)