Book:Thief of Time/Annotations

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These are annotations for Thief of Time. See also the entry for this book in the Annotated Pratchett File.

General Annotations

Annotations about general ideas and concepts in the book, rather than specific passages.

Mr Hopkins, leader of the Clockmakers' Guild
The biggest single reason for his perpetual, and well-founded, expression of worry is the welfare of Jeremy Clockson. A very good reason why Mr Hopkins brings to mind the neurotic and hyper-punctual character of the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (apart from his generally inoffensive and ineffectual rodent-like demeanour), is that he very genuinely has a very important date that he cannot be late for. Note that at key moments, his first action is to flap around ineffectually, whilst consulting a large fob watch in his waistcoat pocket...
Unless he is on time, every time, without fail, to supervise Jeremy's medication, there could very well be another case of "off with somebody else's head"...
Even the name "Hopkins" has rabbit-like connotations. For one thing, rabbits hop, and for another, it brings to mind the icon and exemplar of the rats in The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, Mr Bunnikins...
On the name "Jeremy Clockson"
Another Jerry with an interesting relationship with Time is Michael Moorcock's time-travelling adventurer Jerry Cornelius[1] - also a J.C. (Both Jerry and Jeremy are contracted versions of the name Jeremiah - a biblical character whose name is synonymous with prophecies of woe and general bad news). Jerry Cornelius stars in "The Final Programme" (in which he colludes in building the ultimate supercomputer that brings an end to human history), and three or four other books in the Moorcock portfolio. He is described as seeking sanctuary in different universes of Time in separate private mythologies and as possessing chrono-zones. At the climax of "The Final Programme", Jerry Cornelius is absorbed as one half of a gestalt entity with the scheming Miss Brunner, his anima and female opposite . Miss Brunner has her reasons for wanting to end human history - and by extension, to consign the rest of the human race to a timeless limbo where nothing can possibly happen - compare her name (and character) to the Auditor in human form, Miss Brown...
(It is also very clearly a reference to motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, and shame on you for not noticing.)
On Invar
Mention is made of a mysterious substance called invar, which is apparently of very great worth in the manufacture of clocks and delicate instrumentation. Like many readers of Pratchett, I assumed this exotic name denoted a sort of rare and expensive phlebotinum specific to the Discworld, which only an Auditor could reliably obtain (or call into being) in the quantities desired to go into a Glass clock. exists on Earth and is an alloy of two extremely common metals.
Also known as FeNi36, Invar is an alloy of iron and nickel in the proportion 64:36. It is known as "invar" - invariable - because its thermal coefficient of linear expansion is incredibly low. That is, it hardly expands if heated, a property unique to these two metals in this exact alloy. This makes it a friend to those who are creating extremely accurate scientific instrumentation to a very, very, exacting tolerance. (Science calls this property an "anomaly" In other words, nobody's got a clue as to why this alloy behaves like this). Jeremy Clockson would be extremely excited by its properties and potential.
The Stance of the Coyote
used when a History Monk is plummeting to certain doom and used to gain time and/or a better foothold. Think "Wile. E. Coyote" in the "Roadrunner" cartoons running over a canyon edge, and the moment of stopped time before he realises he's standing on thin air...
Lobsang Ludd
Lobsang's name could be a reference to Lobby Lud, a fictional character once used by a British newspaper which would print a description of the seaside town in which ‘Lobby’ (really a newspaper employee) would next appear, along with a pass phrase, and anyone carrying the newspaper who challenged him with the phrase would receive a cash prize. (Although it's long since the name was widely known, Terry was a newspaper reporter for many years at the start of his career and so might well have known it.)
Connection with Small Gods
The Book of Tobrun has not been considered official church dogma for a hundred years.
Death's statement to the angel seem to confirm that the events of Small Gods occurred well before the rest of the novels. Susan's realisation that the philosophers of Ephebe seem to live a very long time helps to remove the last of the objections to this revised timeline.

Rock music references

Thief of Time appears to be a rich mine of rock music references and allusions. Maybe after Soul Music, Terry couldn't resist the temptation and needed to reprise the theme...

  • In the early scene where Jeremy Clockson has the ability to wake up just before all the alarm clocks go off, just to be sure they're all on time, evokes that moment on side one of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, where clocks are heard ticking away quietly and then, after this moment of false serenity, all the alarms suddenly go off. Another song about a man being driven crazy by the passage of time is Joe Jackson's "Got No Time (Ticking in my Head!)", which may (intentionally?) be Mondegreened as "Kick him in the head!"
  • Lobsang slices time further and deeper than any monk has done before. We are explicitly told that Time slows from blue to a deep purple. Or, indeed, a Deep Purple, as in the British rock band. Their songs might provide further hints that this is what Pratchett intended - is Lobsang a "Child In Time”, and Susan a "Strange Kind of Woman”?
  • Ronnie's constant reference to being the "Fifth Horseman" is similar to various people's claims to being the “Fifth Beatle”. The two most often cited are Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player who left the band in 1961, and Pete Best, the original drummer who was fired and replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962.
  • ""Pleased to meet you," Lu-Tze said. "Let me guess your name."" This is likely a reference to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil".

Specific Annotations

U.S. hardcover page 122
"Master and pupil go out into the world, where the pupil may pick up practical instruction by precept and example, and then the pupil finds his own Way and at the end of his Way -"
"-he finds himself bdum", said the abbot.
Foreshadowing that probably won't be noticed until a second reading of the book.
Doubleday hardcover page 145
The picture Woman Holding Ferret by Leonard of Quirm refers to Lady with an Ermine, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci from around 1489–1490.
Doubleday hardcover pages 239-240
See annotation for the early chapters of The Wee Free Men, noting the similarities between the dream-like surrealist logic of the scene, and the writings of Irish children's author Pat O'Shea. The logic of the scene where Myriad LeJean exploits the orderly minds of fellow Auditors with deliberately nonsensical and self-contradictory signs reflects the bizarre, slightly dream-like, Irish faeryscape O'Shea creates - right down to the same sort of in-line text drawings that punctuate her text.
Check out The Hounds of the Morrigan, particularly the Swapping Fair scenes, to see what I mean here... -- AgProv 13:26, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
Doubleday hardcover page 278
Death's speech to the other Horsemen:
Listen! Do you not feel small in a big universe? That is what they are singing. It is big and you are small and around you there is nothing but the cold of space and you are so very alone.
Death is quoting the lyrics of the song Space is Deep, written by sci-fi author Michael Moorcock (creator of chrononaut Jerry Cornelius) for the spaced-out rock band Hawkwind:
Space is dark, it is so endless;
When you're alone it's so relentless;
It is so big, and we're so small;
Why does man try to act so tall...
Is this the reason, deep in our minds?
Harper-Collins paperback p.210
"four hoofprints glowed like plasma in the air above the museum and faded away" is very evocative of the time traveling Delorean from Back to the Future. See also the annotation for Soul Music P. 54
Harper-Collins paperback p.285
"Gray suit, gray shirt, gray shoes, gray cravat, gray everything" - this description of the Auditors is very much like some descriptions of the Men in Black, supposed alien minders who come to hush up witnesses to supposed alien encounters & are not only dressed in black but dressed exclusively in black, to the point of wearing a black suit with a black shirt & a black tie.