Short Story:A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices

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A short story by Terry Pratchett that first saw the light of day in the Times Higher Education Supplement.

Since then it has been reprinted twice as part of the Discworld canon: once as an "extra" in some editions of Snuff, and most recently in the new anthology of short stories and ephemeral writings, A Blink of the Screen.

The story concerns a meeting of the Faculty of Unseen University to urgently discuss the threat posed by an inspection of the University precipitated by Lord Vetinari. The Patrician has deployed no less an individual to this task than the exceedingly thorough A.E. Pessimal, which is perhaps a strong indication that the University has done something to upset him.


An author Terry Pratchett is suspected to have read is the master humorist and writer of farces, Tom Sharpe. The faculty meeting has more than occasional echoes of the dismal faculty meetings Henry Wilt is forced to attend at the Fenland College of Technology, where academics prove to have much the same grasp of reality and bureaucratic doggedness as their counterparts at UU.

In A Blink of the Screen there is a discrepancy between the length of the story in the different versions of the book. In the Doubleday hardback version the story is slightly shorter compared to the Corgi paperback, which features some extra dialogue between Ponder Stibbons and the Archcancellor about an animals ethical committee.