When only Death will do

Posted on 30 June 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

What happens when Death takes an apprentice? Thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett you can find out. Mort by Sir Terry Pratchett is the story of Death and his apprentice, Mort.

Mort is not very good at anything, he tends to think too much about things and his father takes him to the hiring fair on Hogswatch Eve in the hopes someone would pick him up as an apprentice, as it turns out that someone is Death. There are very few books where Death is an active participant and this is one of them. He talks slowly, in capitals and is trying to understand humans with very little success. On this night he comes down to the hiring fair and hires Mort. Everything is okay for a while until Death gives him a chance to work on his own for one night when his feelings get the better of him and he ‘kills’ the wrong person. History must be given an chance to work and so chaos ensues.

I love this book. I can see why my friends aren’t so excited about it as everything seems to work out for the best with Death manipulating time and the Gods to make certain. I have to admit to a certain amount of bias as I really like Death, he has a heart of gold and really means well, in this book we see him trying to understand fun and what it is we do in order to enjoy ourselves; it’s a nice unbiased look at people and questions why we do these things.

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

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Teaser Tuesday: Mort by Terry Pratchett

Posted on 29 June 2010. Filed under: Teaser Tuesday | Tags: , , |

I’m just joining Teaser Tuesday.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“They clustered now around The Mended Drum in Filigree Street, foremost of the city’s taverns. It was famed not for its beer, which looked like maiden’s water and tasted like battery acid, but for it’s clientele. It was said if you sat long enough in the Drum, then sooner or later every major hero on the Disc would steal your horse.”

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Villechaize/Casanunda any relationship?

Posted on 5 June 2010. Filed under: reading | Tags: , , |

I was happily working my way through my blogs today and found Tony Martin had dropped some names in his blog. A bit careless of him and I hope one day he’ll pick them up again but for the moment I’ll just link to his post so you can see which names he dropped. The Scrivener’s Fancy is a lovely blog written by four different people and I drop in a couple of times a week to read Tony Martin’s entry.

I was delighted to read about one of my favourite actors from Fantasy Island, a programme from the 1970s about a man and his dwarf assistant who owned an island and charged people exhorbitant amounts to fulfil their fantasies. It had Ricardo Montalban as Mr Roarke and Hervé Villechaize as his assistant. Martin wrote a brief passage about Hervé Villechaize and it made me realise that whenever I read about Giamo Casanunda, a character from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of books, I always thought of Hervé Villechaize, very strange. Villechaize described himself as a ladies man and with some quick research I found that information elsewhere, he apparently continually propositioned women on the set of Fantasy Island.

Why did I always think of Villechaize when reading about Casanunda? Well, there’s the height for a start. Villechaize was 3′ 11″ (1.19 m) and Casanunda was 3′ 9″ in his high heels. I always felt Villechaize was into the ladies and Casanuda definitely was, he described himself on his business card as The World’s Second Greatest Lover and propositioned Nanny Ogg at every opportunity. Those are the only two facts I have, the rest is just my leap of intuition and my family know my leaps of intuition.

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The Last Continent – Squid Ink

Posted on 3 June 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , |

Squid Ink - The Last Continent

We give our grateful thanks to Terry Pratchett for being such an understanding man and letting us get away with creating cartoons from his works.

P.S. Is that enough grovelling?

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Doctor Who

Posted on 23 May 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , |

Doctor Who, is it science fiction, fantasy and does it matter?

I was reading a slightly aged article today written by Sir Terry Pratchett about Doctor Who and why he keeps watching. Doctor Who is one of those love-em or hate-em programmes, I haven’t found anyone who is in-between. The original series until they were revived with Christopher Ecclestone had very dodgy sets and incredibly cheap special effects, one of the episodes had monsters covered with bubble wrap that had been sprayed green, you can’t get much cheaper than that. The science was always there and you knew a lot of it was possible, but in the current series the science is very much out there in the realms of the totally impossible, that assumes that it’s actually based on real science and not just made up.

Pratchett talks about the laws of narrative and that if there’s an axe in the room in an obvious place then it will be used at some point. He also talks about deus ex machina and how the Doctor really has become a god from the machine. Now I’m not entirely happy with that as one of the appeals of Doctor Who is that he was always very much human and he generally pointed out he wasn’t human by mentioning his two hearts. Now, his behaviour is very much alien and very bizarre. He doesn’t listen, at all, in Tom Baker’s day you knew he was listening and then pretending it was his idea, but at least he was listening. Now, these companions are just there to be talked at and that irks me, most especially as I still believe Karen Gillan would make a fantastic Doctor Who, she has so much potential just waiting to be tapped and she’s being kept sitting around with her mouth covered so she can be a sounding board.

I did start off with an actual goal in mind with this article, but that was several hours ago and I’ve managed to watch another episode since then. I’m beginning to not want to watch Doctor Who any more. It’s crossed the border and is mostly in the realms of fantasy, the science is rather scarce, the fantasy is rather dubious and the new Doctor just doesn’t excite me. The writing has ventured beyond the border of fandom and has stopped being the Doctor that I knew and loved, it seems to be more about the special effects and less about the story and the characters. I do understand that the Doctor has always been a little different but I think they’ve taken that interpretation way too far.

Next week I’ll be asking myself if I really want to watch this episode. That’s always a challenge as my computer gives me a decent view of the TV so even if I’m not watching it I’ll still be able to watch it…if you see what I mean. I have three other people in the house who will watch it.

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Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett

Posted on 11 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Polly Perks needs to find her brother, he had enlisted in the army and hasn’t been heard from for a while. The best thing for her to do is to join the army but it’s an offence for women to wear trousers or be in the army so she cuts off her hair and pretends to be a boy. I won’t tell you if Polly finds her brother, but she finds herself and a whole lot more during her sojourn in the army.

I was reading this as part of the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge. I couldn’t help remembering The Second Australian Discworld Convention Nullus Anxietas 2. Some of our members got together and created costumes so they could become The Monstrous Regiment. They were talking about it on the forum and my two daughters were part of it so I knew all about it. Two weeks prior to the actual convention we were still scratching around for an opening ceremony and I had an idea. Some people cringe when I have an idea but this one seemed to strike a chord (probably an A flat) and I was given the go ahead. I wrote a rough script and the lady who was doing Sergeant Jackrum just happened to be on our committee and sort of in charge of the Regiment so she was charged with asking her team and keeping it all hush hush. They all agreed and the idea took hold. We actually had a man playing Lieutenant Blouse and he’s pretty good with a script so he took my rough script and fleshed it out a bit. Fast forward to the actual opening night and they march in on cue and take a turn around the tables. Unfortunately, my planning didn’t include a video camera to capture it for posterity which is incredibly sad as it was just so good. They also took out the prize for their costumes on the Saturday night.

I do actually have a few words to say about this book. It does have a message about religion and how sometimes they can be really strict with no reasoning behind the strictness. There is also a message about women being just as capable as men and sometimes needing to be twice as good in order to prove themselves. I think the biggest message is about war and how silly it really is. I really enjoyed this book, certainly I got more enjoyment out of it this time round. Having seen the costumes I was more able to visualise them in the forest and see how silly they were.

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The Truth – Terry Pratchett

Posted on 6 February 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

How did the first newspaper come about? Was it something that people actually decided to do or was it accidental? The Truth gives a possible starting point and is very entertaining at the same time.

William de Worde was writing a letter to some people outside of Ankh Morpork for the princely sum of $5 per letter. He was previously getting an engraver to make a woodblock and then the printer would print a few copies so he could fill in the names of the recipients and send them off. He was making a nice little living on this until he was hit by part of a new printing press. As part of compensation the dwarves printed off a number of copies of his letter and an idea was born. In next to no time he was employing people as journalists and sellers, but I won’t spoil it by telling you who the sellers were. One thing led to another and he was in deep trouble with the opposition. Some people wanted Lord Vetinari taken care of without actually assassinating him and William de Worde was covering the story as any good journalist does. He uncovered the truth.

Anyway, this is my second book in the Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge 2010. It’s been on the shelf for some time and I just assumed I’d already read it and was delighted to find myself totally wrong. I don’t often read a new Pratchett book. I really enjoyed it, it was good to get some insight into de Worde, we’ve seen him very briefly in other books and it’s always good to have him fleshed out, so to speak. Pratchett writes his characters in 3D and it’s certainly interesting to see each character from someone else’s viewpoint. Commander Vimes is a a good case here as he’s one of my favourite characters, he’s so well drawn and is constantly fighting his foibles. Lord Vetinari was also shown in good light here, some of the characters look on him as being a despot who doesn’t do the right thing for Ankh Morpork but in this book he is shown to be doing some things which help keep the city on an even keel.

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Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge

Posted on 14 January 2010. Filed under: reading | Tags: , , , |

Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge 2010

As some of you know I’m rather excited by Terry Pratchett and his writing. So imagine my excitement when I found this reading challenge. The Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge hosted by ReadingAdventures. Of course, I’m going to join and the way to do that is to blog about it and then go back to ReadingAdventures and comment. And this gives me an excuse to tell you about Nullus Anxietas 3, the third Australian Discworld Convention which has been scheduled for the 8th to the 10th of April 2011 at Penrith Panthers. Where is the Penrith Panthers? Somewhere in Sydney, Australia. All sorts of fun will be happening and you can keep up with the impending excitement at the NA3 website.

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books – Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books – Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books – Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books – Member of Granny Weatherwax’s Coven
10-12 books – Death’s Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.

For a full list of the Discworld books in publication order, check out this page on Sir Pterry’s website or his page at Fantastic Fiction. The number of books either written by Terry Pratchett or about his work is a bit mind boggling really.

Each month, ReadingAdventures will put a Mr Linky up so that you can link your reviews or Pratchett posts if you want to do more general posts say on individual characters, places, events etc.

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Nullus Anxietas

Posted on 17 September 2009. Filed under: Conventions I've attended | Tags: , , , |

There’s always something to talk about in the book world and sometimes it’s just a matter of making a decision. Today was no exception. In my yearly planner I have a note to tell me I missed Agatha Christie’s birthday yesterday (it does help if I actually look at the yearly planner), she would have been 119. Actually, looking at her age I think next year is a good year to plan something special. There’s something special about an age ending in zero even if the birthday recipient isn’t actually alive.

There’s numerous posts I’ve started so I don’t forget to write them and I could have chosen any of them including another book list, but today I’m going to say a few words about Nullus Anxietas.

For those who attended either Nullus Anxietas or Nullus Anxietas 2 you will know exactly what I’m talking about instantly. Unfortunately, there are many who didn’t have the pleasure and those people will need a slight explanation. Some years ago someone suggested an Australian Discworld Convention and the person they were speaking to said ‘good idea’ and then found himself head of a committee. Pat is a lovely, unassuming person and he was guiding the committee towards a weekend in 2006 when I found them. With a few ups and downs and a change of date to February 2007, the first Australian Discworld Convention: Nullus Anxietas happened. We had a wonderful time and managed to bring the author of the Discworld books,Terry Pratchett, from England for the weekend. Maybe that sentence should be written the other way round but it’s hard to choose which concept to put first when they’re as important as each other to me.

There was enough excitement and commitment to form another committee and run Nullus Anxietas 2 in February of this year. We were unable to bring Terry out to Australia for a second time due to his health challenges. I’m very excited to be able to announce that there was enough excitement and commitment to form another committee for Nullus Anxietas 3. This time it will be with a totally new committee as the enthusiastic people volunteering their time are in Sydney. Now, it’s very early days and the committee is still in the process of being formed but it does look very promising. Should you be in the Sydney vicinity and want to volunteer for the committee or volunteer for any of the numerous little jobs that will need doing you can email Tania. If you live elsewhere in Australia (or anywhere else) I’m sure they’ll be looking for people to help with publicity and they’ll certainly be looking for topics and presenters.

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Terry Pratchett – Explained

Posted on 22 June 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I made a cryptic comment in my last post Who Writes Like. I guaranteed I chose the first author that came to mind and that there were reasons it was Terry Pratchett. I’ll do my best to explain why that happened. No, I’m not explaining about Terry Pratchett, I’m only explaining why his name was the first that came to mind. Should he choose to read this blog he can explain himself or not as he chooses, he’s certainly capable.

Terry Pratchett is the author of a series of books about a place called Discworld. He has also written other novels including my favourite, The Bromeliad Series. I came to read Terry quite by accident. My kids were little and we used to watch the ABC together. They were screening a wonderful little series about Nomes called Truckers. The series was delightful with a fabulous storyline, great characters and some wonderful ideas. I loved it so much that when a book of the same name sprang out at me from the bookshelf of my favourite bookshop I bought the whole series. I was delighted with the books. They all had the same things I liked about the series except for the visuals, I had to imagine the visuals. I was so taken with these books that I bought another book by the same author on the very next time I was in the bookshop. That book was Sourcery and I must confess I wasn’t quite so enamoured of it. I’ve re-read it and I’m still not that excited by it. That put Terry off my reading list for several years.

I’ve always been very involved with my kids and their reading. I’ve always tried to read everything they read before they read it. At least until they got to about 15 or 16, now I read more for me than for them, but in those days I read for them. They have always been very good readers and my youngest reads twice as fast as I do so I was struggling to find the time to read enough to keep ahead of her. I visited the library, found audio books and started listening to them in the car. I found Hogfather. I listened to Hogfather and subsequently forgot to turn it off when the kids got into the car. They stopped talking to listen and started laughing. I figured this was a good thing as the series was very well written with no swear words and with concepts I was happy letting them read. Fabulous, another series they could read!!

Fast forward a couple of years to when I was bored. Browsing the web and newsgroups to find something to do and I came across a reference to a Discworld Convention in Melbourne. I whizzed across to the website and had a good look around. They seemed like nice people and I thought “I can do this, I can help on this committee”…famous last words. After a few emails I finally got to a committee meeting. Truly, I did help and I had a wonderful time and made some fantastic friends. That convention was such fun I ended up as the Vice President of the committee for the Second Australian Discworld Convention and am now retiring from convention committees in order to focus on family and business.

So, there you have it in a rather large nutshell. That’s why the first author that came to mind was Terry Pratchett.

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