At last, Sir Terry, we must walk together
Thursday, March 12th 2015: Sir Terry Pratchett died at home in Wiltshire following a long battle with Alzheimer's. BBC report, 3:26pm GMT
From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
- 1 "Pani Poni Dash"
- 2 "Family Guy"
- 3 "Life on Mars"
- 4 Lindsey Davis' "Falco"
- 5 Cory Doctorow
- 6 Alan Gordon
- 7 Douglas Adams' Shada
- 8 Yrsa Sigurdasdottir
- 9 John Moore
- 10 Dragon Magazine
- 11 Scrapheap Challenge
- 12 Charles Stross
- 13 Ben Aaronovitch
- 14 Girl Genius
- 15 Unravelling the Mystery
- 16 Criminal Minds
- 17 Welcome to his Nightmare
- 18 Sharpe
- 19 Doctor Who Magazine
- 20 The other Night Watch
"Pani Poni Dash"
- In the anime "Pani Poni Dash", episode 15, a class is stuck on a bus dangling off the edge of a cliff. Himeko, a rather hyperactive girl, deludes herself into thinking that her "aura" is what's keeping the bus from falling, hence she's supporting the whole shebang. To illustrate this, she hallucinates a brief vision of the Discworld with her head superimposed on Great A'Tuin.
- In Moving Pictures, during the fight scene with the Ginger-monster, Victor Tugelbend resorts to a mean trick to get the dogs Gaspode and Laddie to leave the wrecked cinema. (Corgi paperback edition, p288) He throws a stick and calls "Fetch!" (Gaspode has enough self-control to shout "You bastard!" as his doggie instinct overtakes his rational mind and he chases the stick)
In the TV animated series "Family Guy", by far the most capable, intelligent, and mature member of the Griffin family is the family dog Brian, an anthropomorphic canine who is clearly an American Roundworld cousin of Gaspode, (but cleaner)
In an episode where Brian ends up improbably married to Lois Griffin after the (presumed) death of ignoramus paterfamilias Peter, Brian becomes suspicious of her absences and suspects she is having an affair. Uncomfortably aware his probing questions are getting too close to the truth, Lois resorts to throwing a ball. Brian, unable to help his fundamental doggy instinct, chases it, but pauses to call her a bitch...
Interestingly enough, a recurring character in Family Guy is Death, who is a skeletal figure in a black robe toting a scythe, but who lacks the essential gravitas of Discworld's Death... well, all lesser Deaths are subjects of Azrael...
(Moving Pictures - published 1990; Family Guy first aired on TV in 1999)
There is also an episode of Family Guy, screened here by BBC3 on 9/12/12, where for reasons too intricate to summarise, an evil robotic version of Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana grabs the evil monkey living in Chris Griffin's closet, and climbs up a very high building with her simian hostage. Somebody on FG's production staff must read Pratchett....
In an episode of the related animation American Dad, aired in Britain during September 2010, ultra-conservative American father of the title, CIA agent Stan Smith, is pursuing his dream of disposing of daughter Hayley's hippie slacker boyfriend. In a conversation that arouses Stan's sympathies, the boyfriend, who is underweight and totes a scraggly beard, discloses that "my mother ran away before I was born" - exactly Rincewind's description of his parentage... Hayley's slacker BF also role-plays a not-very-good wizard on an Internet "World of Warcraft" fantasy game.
Also in American Dad, one episode features a rather Stepford-Wife-ish cooking and baking contest, in which Mother Francine and daughter Hayley are deadly rivals for the prize and acclaim. Both are beaten at the last gasp by a new contender - the rather fey alien Roger, who has taken on a Stepford disguise. The name Roger adopts for his victory as Langley Falls' greatest cook? Emmylou Sugarbean.
"Life on Mars"
- Night Watch - centres on a honest copper thrown back thirty years in time to right a wrong and enable him to return to his present, exactly as he left it. The honest copper is confronted with the slightly primitive policing techniques of the past, and introduces elements of sensitive modern policing on a force not quite mentally equipped to accept it.
The BBC TV series Life On Mars, by stunning coincidence, centres on a honest copper thrown back thirty years in time to right a wrong and enable him to return to his present, exactly as he left it. The honest copper is confronted with the slightly primitive policing techniques of the past, and introduces elements of sensitive modern policing on a force not quite mentally equipped to accept it.
It would appear that the book was released slightly before the TV series was conceived, but there may not be much in it...
Lindsey Davis' "Falco"
- The Roman detective novel Saturnalia, by self-confessed Pratchett-admirer Lindsey Davis, includes in its 26th chapter three witches who would have been at home in Lancre: they dress up to ensure they look like witches, don't suffer fools gladly and complain about the problems of modern witchcraft; the third witch, Daphne, is in fact absent because - Nanny Ogg-like - she has to look after her grandchildren.
Saturnalia feels like a rich seam of Pratchett references! For instance, the character of Zosmio, who flaps around the cemetery in a white sheet pretending to be dead, and "haunting" the place - who else is this but Duke Leonal Felmet in his final insanity?
And the Vigiles of the fourth precinct have a lot in common with the Night Watch of the early Samuel Vimes era. At their Saturnalia party, one watchman dresses up as "a six-foot tall carrot", for instance.
The policing set-up in Vespasian's Rome places the Royal Palace under the control of the Praetorian Guard, a bunch of haughty bullies puffed up with their own self-importance who enjoy throwing their weight around, especially against ethnic minorities and a despised lowly group such as the Vigiles (Night Watch). Compare this to the Palace Guard, two of whose finest want to beat up Vimes just for annoying them (in Guards! Guards!), and Mayonnaise Quirke's Day Watch with its speciesist attitude to trolls and dwarfs.
The Vigile (Watchman) Fusculus is described in terms reiniscent of a rather more intelligent, slightly quirkier, version of Fred Colon. ("Fusculus" may come from a Latin root meaning "to confuse, to bamboozle" - confirmation anyone?) No sighting of an Ancient Roman Nobby Nobbs yet, but I haven't finished reading the book!
"Fishing from the same stream", as Terry phrases it, Lindsey Davis also has the Lord of Misrule at Saturnalia be "randomly" selected by getting the fateful bean in their lunch. Compare this to those earthly avatars of the Hogfather, who were "randomly" selected for sacrifice by getting the bean. And the Roman Saturnalia and Discworld's Hogswatch are, of course, aspects of the same universal midwinter festival.
The resemblance, especially nasally, between Rome and the river Tiber to Ankh-Morpork and the Ankh, is also apparent from the books. Falco is a product of, and still lives in, the Shades of ancient Rome. His landlord is a CMOT Dibbler type who has tried various failed shortcuts to getting seriously rich.
At this point in Roman history, it should be noted, as L.D. explicitly does, that the lowly-born Emperor Vespasian (the first of the Flavian line) is very explicitly not a Patrician. As viewed through the eyes of central character, plebian-born Marcus Didius Falco (who is suspiciously Vimes-like in terms of cynicism), it was the patrician (ie, most illustrious, well-bred, and noble) Claudian line of Caesars who got Rome into the mess it is in today. Such Divine Caesars as Caligula and Nero were, in Falco's eyes, so well-bred as to be inbred. Note L.D.'s use of the word "patrician" in its correct Roman context, as well as the reminder about the extremely insane Caesars who did things such as make a favourite horse into a Senator. (And the Ankh-Morpork parellel is Lord Snapcase, possibly?)
Oh, and the most blatantly obvious parallel between Lindsey Davis and Terry Pratchett is so obvious I missed it: the central character, Marcus Didius Falco, the private investigator, is, socially speaking, a product of the Roman gutter who from time to time goes on ruinous drinking benders. He is a born detective, part of whose pay goes on a sort of "widow's pension" for his dead brother's girlfriend and child. The love of his life (Helena Justina) is a woman from a vastly higher social class - in fact, the nobility - who is independently wealthy and can afford to flout convention. Although there is no record of Helena obsessively breeding any sort of animal, this spookily parallels Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil. (Although for a while Falco had the title of Keeper of the Royal Geese, as a personal gift from Vespasian, their only family pet is an ill-behaved scruffy mutt called Nux).
The rather spiky relationship between Falco and Emperor Vespasian also has echoes of Vimes and Vetinari. Vespasian insists on the minimum of ceremony and puts up with near-insolence from his Imperial Investigator, perhaps because he knows Falco gets results, or perhaps because he likes having somebody around who doesn't refrain from speaking his mind. (Falco is no friend of the Imperial system: he makes no secret, even to the Emperor, that he prefers the more egalitarian set-up of Republican Rome to that of the Empire. Just as Vimes reluctantly serves Vetinari while wanting to overthrow him and replace him with something better, Falco works for Vespasian and gives him grudging respect, whilst pining for something better that doesn't include Emperors or Kings. In both cases, Helena Justina and Sybil Ramkin, as women from noble families who have faithfully served and advised rulers past and present, are on hand to soothe over any little misunderstandings.)
And L.D., in her author's notes, also talks about the concept of tribute plagiarism, of assimilating and paying homage to the best ideas of another author by recycling them in your own work, putting your own mark on them, and seeing if anyone notices.
(March 2009) - Alexandria, Lindsey Davis's latest release in the Falco series, sees the husband-and-wife detective team, Marcus Didius and Helena Justina, travel to North Africa, ostensibly on a family holiday to Egypt.
However, the most prestigious University in the Roman Empire is simultaneously beset with murder among the Faculty. Is it a case of younger, ambitious and status-hungry academics ensuring their promotion by terminally accelerating the retirement plans of the men above them? As an accredited Imperial Investigator with the personal trust of the Emperor, Falco is roped in to investigate. Compare this to Vimes having the trust of Vetinari and being sent out of the City on missions combining policing expertise and a unique diplomatic skill, sometimes requiring the intervention of his socially better-bred wife.
We meet a very aesthetic art expert (Sir Reynold?), two local policemen with a suspiciously Nobbs and Colon aura about them, and members of the Alexandria University faculty who are as quarrelsome, fractious, and incapable of grasping reality, as any in a Faculty we know. Some of whom manifest very familiar vibes - the Head of Philosophy is a big harrumphing bear of a man whose mind runs on fairly rigid rails, for instance, and who isn't especially interested in other people's ideas unless they chime with his.
There is also an issue concerning the Librarian. And a bright young postgraduate with deep ideas. And priests of a syncretic religion with big ideas. Who have access to Sodek the sacred crocodile as an instrument of applied theology.
And all this in the first quarter of the book...--AgProv 23:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
The latest book in the Falco series is called Nemesis.
Spotting LD's tribute plagiarisms is beginning to be fun. But in this latest episode, Falco is forced to go to a spirit medium for help (and he is left slightly spooked where she gets one thing right that she could not possibly have guessed.)
The medium is small, dressed in faded vermilion red, and wears garlands and an item of headwear consisting partly of feathers but mainly reproductions of fruit. She is irascible of temper and insists on making nettle tea before she goes to work, sending pungent vegetable odours drifting across the seance room. Falco, cynical and streetwise, gives credit to her for knowing how people work and putting on an appropriate show. But this lady evokes Madame Tracy whilst looking like Mrs Evadne Cake and gives Falco that one wavering moment of wondering if there's something in it after all...
Falco is also charged with bringing to book a ghastly criminal family, composed of a hideous overbearing monster of a mother and the thuggish sons she has alternately doted on and terrified into submission. The Claudii family come over as a Roman echo of Ma Lilywhite and her sons (although one of them isn't above hitting girls).
--AgProv 12:49, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
From historical whodunnit to science fiction. Cory Doctorow's novel Makers is about a very close future, where a new wave of computer innovation backed by a co-operative capitalism akin to anarchism, brings about something like the replicators of Stargate-SG1. On page 110, Geoff, who defines himself as a "chemist", remarks on drinking some really good (if chemically enhanced) coffee (Splot?). Quote: "Marthter, the creathathure awaketh!" he said, in high Igor.
Later on in "Makers", the two computer inventors, Lester and Perry, create a Cabinet of Curiosities all of their very own.
Alan Gordon (born 1959) is the author of several mysteries, the first of which is based on the characters from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. He writes about jesters as advisers to the king, who actually make up a super-secret spy ring that try to keep peace and control the leaders of different countries. The Fool's Guild of these novels is portrayed as a mockery to the church, and they refer to Jesus Christ as "Their Saviour, the First Fool".
Alan Gordon began writing his novels about fools and jesters as a supra-national spy ring in 1999. This is exactly the same idea TP came up with a year or two earlier to explain the survival of the Fools' and Clowns' Guild into the modern era - that the Guild's graduates go everywhere, end up in some very high places, and periodically report back to Doctor Whiteface. Making him both very rich and very powerful.
Is it possible AG got the basic idea for the seven Fools' Guild novels from Pratchett? 
Douglas Adams' Shada
In the long-awaited novelisation of Adams' Dr Who script, the doctor (his Tom Baker incarnation) is in the captivity of the big Bad, who is demanding he read out a Galiffreyan book of lore containing the innermost secrets of the Time Lords. The Doctor, who genuinely cannot read the heiroglyphics of Ancient Gallifrey, duly does the best he can:-
"Squiggle, squiggle." said the Dosctor, "Squiggle, squiggle, sort of an eye, I think, squiggle, squiggle..." I'm paraphrasing wildly, of course... squiggle, squiggle... ssshsh, this is a good bit! Squiggle squiggle wavy line, squggle squiggle..."
Not assuming Douglas Adams wrote this in the original 1976 script, but his ghost-writer Gareth Roberts might be inserting a homage to Pteppic in Pyramids here?
Icelandic crime fiction writer Yrsa Sigurdasdottir's debut novel Last rituals deals with scurrilous goings-on among postgraduate students at the University of Iceland, who have taken their PhD in Icelandic ritual magic seriously, to the point of practically testing whether the old magic rituals and curses still work in the modern world. She passes on the snippet that a legendary founder of the academic tradition in Iceland was a mediaeval wizard, whose statue still takes pride of place in front of the main University building where everyone can see it. As well as this, there is a visit to a museum of native Icelandic magic, where a minor plot-point concerns whether or not a Viking artefact, a large stone collection bowl used to contain the blood of a sacrifical victim, is the real thing, or if it has been surreptitiously switched with a modern replica and the original stolen for some nefarious purpose... has Terry been translated into Icelandic, or are these two points part of the universal pool of plot-points drawn on for Thud! and the general layout of Unseen University? --AgProv 00:34, 6 April 2011 (CEST)
- In John Moore's Slay and Rescue there's a mention of a shoemaker who made luxury (and impossible to wear) shoes before quitting and becoming the chief torturer for king Bruno of Omnia. (The Czech translation made the reference to Small Gods even more explicit, translating "chief torturer" as "chief inquisitor".)
- The book Bad Prince Charlie by John Moore has a footnote where the author says that it's a good idea to use footnotes because Terry Pratchett uses them and people like his books, after all.
- In Unhandsome Prince there exists a Thieves' Guild and an Assassins' Guild. (Anybody stupid enough to enter one of the buildings to join the guild or to make use of their services will find out that they are fake - a set up by the royal guards.)
- In Issue 293, an article on minor deities appears, titled "Small Gods." To further drive home the reference, the first illustration is of a not particularly bright looking man stranded in the desert being approached by a robed figure with the head of a bull.
- In Issue 271, in the comic strip "What's New? With Phil and Dixie", a poster on a wall reads "Visit beautiful Ankh-Morpork".
- On the second episode of the engineering game show Scrapheap Challenge (called Junkyard Wars in the US), the Orange team named their bodged-together Power Puller "The Great A'Tuin". It lost the challenge, winning only one out of three rounds of tug-of-war against the Yellow team's "Eat My Shorts".
- In Charles Stross's near-future technothriller 'Halting State, a character enlivens a bus ride through Edinburgh by using Augumented Reality to turn it into Ankh-Morpork.
- Ben Aaronovitch's New Doctor Who Adventures novel The Also People features, at various points, reference to a suspicious yellow dip at parties that no-one ever eats, the Doctor having octagons in his eyes to see things others can't, a cocktail called a Double Entendre, a market trader called C!Mot and a chapter headed "A Better Class of Recurring Dream".
- Aaronovitch has stated on his blog that part of the inspiration for his Rivers of London urban fantasy series was a throwaway line in The Science of Discworld that if there were rules of magic in our world, Newton would have discovered them.
- In one episode of the "gaslight fantasy" webcomic "Girl Genius" by Phil and Katja Foglio, the "clanks" (steampunk robots) attacking the Baron include large wooden chests with sharp teeth and mechanical legs. In case anyone thinks it might be a coincidence, the lead chest has the name of its owner written on it: "The Amazing Pratchett".
Unravelling the Mystery
It all started with a Big Bang. (Bang!) Think The Science of Discworld. The Wizards of Unseen University create a pocket universe, made real and tangible inside a glass-like protective sphere allowing full three-dimensional views. The wizard tasked with making sense of it all is relatively young, rather geeky, wears glasses, and affects something not unlike a shapeless grey-green parka. Meanwhile at Caltech University in Pasadena, CA, there is a youngish research physicist who is geeky in appearance, wears glasses and a shapeless grey-green parka. Knowing about holograms, he darkens the room and projects a series of hologrammatic pictures of Earth and the solar system and the Milky Way, into the air to enchant his girlfriend. This looks a lot like the enduring image of The Science of Discworld - a world-globe hanging in the air, supported nowhere. Especially when he speculates about whether the Universe and all in it might have been created to provide information for a remote intelligence, for its own ends...See The Hologram Excitation episode of American geek-science sitcom The Big Bang Theory. TBBT depends on fantasy, comic-book, sci-fi and geek cultural references to power the scripts. This would appear to be the first and so far only Discworld reference, as yet. The Science of Discworld co-authors Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart are both well-known in American academic circles and hold American academic positions; both have written for the academic trade press. This could be a case where Cohen and Stewart are more famous, to a very specialised readership, than Terry?
In The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, Jack Cohen ruefully describes a bad experience he had whilst working as an academic and going on lecture tours across the USA. He was heckled by a tough audience to whom he was trying to explain why evolution is the accepted scientific truth and Creationism doesn't have a leg to stand on. This was in East Texas, a part of the world where evolutionists tend to be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail, if not burnt at the stake as agents of Satan. In TBBT, lead character Sheldon Cooper is from East Texas and views having moved to California as intellectual liberation. His greatest fear is losing scientific credibility and being forced to return home to teach High School science. specifically, having to teach Evolution to Creationists. (His mother is a true believer in Christianity and a Creationist.)
There is also a tantalising scene where the guys have dressed up as Planet of the Apes characters and Raj ruefully says he'd have preferred to wear the orang-utan costume but the others voted him down... a bit tenuous, but you wonder if another reference was intended here.
Season Eight saw character evolution in the initially awkward and somewhat aloof character of Amy Farrah-Fowler. She is a neurobiological doctor who performs behavioural and surgical/chemical experiments on animals, principally simians. She is a moderately skilled animal handler who knows how to get the best out of her subjects, even keeping experimental animals as semi-pets in her home. For the five or six seasons - over a hundred and twenty episodes - in which she is a core character, she is casually inaccurate in her terminology, classing everything simian as a "mere monkey". But from the very end of Season Seven and into the current Season Eight, she very abruptly began to make the correct distinction between "monkeys" and "apes". This came out of nowhere. Indeed, she even rebukes Sheldon for calling an orang-utan a "monkey". Where did this suddenly come from.... could it be that one TBBT character has discovered Terry Pratchett and is playing safe around her simian co-researchers?
"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." was quoted at the start of season 4 episode 20 "Conflicted" by Reid in a much more sinister way than TP used it and referring to good and evil, unlike the original, unsurprising concidering that Criminal Minds deals with serial killers as a matter of coarse. TP was acknowledged as the originator of the saying.
Welcome to his Nightmare
Outrageous singer and performance artiste Alice Cooper's 2011 album Welcome 2 My Nightmare contains a song called The Congregation. This line made me stop and wonder.
"And here in the fiery pit of boiling death, the lawyers, pimps, and mimes."
An intelligent and well-read chap of a Gothic inclination cannot have failed to have stumbled on the works of Terry....
- In Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe tales, about a proto-commando in the Napoleonic Wars, the huge and hulking Sergeant Harper totes a fearsome seven-barreled musket, originally designed for close-quarter naval use with the express intention of bringing down a battleship's mainmast and rigging. This failed as a naval weapon because sailors tend to be smaller and wirier men whose talents lie elsewhere. Besides, to fire a weapon like this from the deck of a rolling and pitching ship could be... something of an own goal. But the huge Harper, who has a suspiciously Detritus-to-Vimes relationship with Captain Sharpe, takes to it like a troll to a siege weapon. Like Carrot and Detritus, the enduring friendship and mutual respect of the two men began with a fist-fight, which, against the odds, was won by Sharpe. Sharpe is a heavy-drinking outsider who rose to officer's rank from the Regency London equivalent of the Shades (the Rookery) and made his way up from the ranks, against the odds. Lord Wellington is portrayed as a devious Vetinari-like figure (who eventually entered politics and was a most effective Prime Minister). Sharpe also exposes political corruption by his social betters and both annoys them - and gets their respect. The Rust-like disposition of many British senior officers is explicitly dwelt upon. Sharpe eventually marries to a far higher social level and his wife has enviable Sybil Ramkin-like characteristics. (Memo: Cornwell may be a Discworld fan?)
Doctor Who Magazine
- In the DWM comic strip "Fire and Brimstone", the Eighth Doctor's companion Izzy describes the book she's reading as featuring "This mad city called Ankh-Morpork, and an old hag called Granny Weatherwax, and the whole world, right, is a disc and sits on the back of a turtle." She asks the Doctor why they can't visit somewhere like the Discworld and he replies "Izzy, I've been. It was flat."
The other Night Watch
- Sergei Lukyanenko's fantasy novels about the detente between Light and Dark magic users in present-day Moscow have a Pratchett homage in book five, The New Watch. Day Watch member Anton Gorodetsky (Higher Light Magician) is passing a fatherly eye over his daughter Nadja's reading choices. Being a magical policeman and loving father is not easy, especially when she's ten and showing clear signs of being a magic-capable Other. He reflects that her initial ecstasy at learning she is to be sent to a school for young magicians is going to turn into crushing disappointment, when she realises it's nothing like Hogwarts. Or indeed Unseen University. Anton then muses on how Rincewind might have got it more right than Terry Pratchett ever believed, with his strategy of using no magic at all and running like Hell when confronted with peril. As he is about to become last line of defence for the Day Watch against an un-known magic user of immense ability which far outstrips his own, he ruefully wishes he had the Rincewind option....