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well, more notes and observations than annotations

p90 Miss Pickings and her companion... Terry has introduced the idea of a gay subculture on the Discworld in previous books: the gender-ambivalent beauticians who attend to Granny Weatherwax (Maskerade), Mr Harris and the Blue Cat Club ("un-natural acts are only natural..." - Rosie Palm) and the ambiguous Pepe, and Bengo Macarona, in Unseen Academicals. It's nicely done: it accepts and acknowledges there are gay people, and that being gay is never all that defines a person - sexual preference is only part of anyone's makeup. So far, though, he's only done gay men: this is the first time overtly lesbian characters have appeared in a Discworld book. Another barrier falls... (Although in this light you do wonder about Miss Butts and Miss Delcross at the Quirm College for Young Ladies, who have a similar Bloomsbury Group aura about them.) if this can be expanded into an Annotation proper, it might revolve around Miss Picking's, er, companion being described in terms that fit the fairly out bohemian lesbians of the 1920's on Roundworld: social historians have speculated that the boom in numbers and visibility of of gay women in that decade was due to the massive change in öutlook after WW1, and the stark fact that the male population had been so depleted by the ravages of war that there simply weren't enough men to go round. Social liberalisation and the fact not every woman could find a husband, even if she was willing or inclined, led to the opportunity for many women to find a different way of looking at life. (Josef Stalin ordered a crackdown on female homosexuality in the aftermath of WW2, concerned at the perceived threat to the morality of the Soviet Union posed by the fact so many men had died in the war that there were ten women to every eight men in the 18-45 age demographic... this strongly implies Russia went through a similar understated social upheaval, caused by necessity and sudden opportunity).

"A strict-looking lady with short hair and a man's pocketwatch" implies she had a man's pocket to put it in, ie a certain amount of cross-dressing was going on. This brings to mind notorious lesbians and bi-curious women of the period, such as author and poetess Virginia Woolf and dancer Isodora Duncan. Now if Miss Pickings and friend can be demonstrated to be a Discworld version of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West - who shared a cottage in the Cornwall countryside - it's certainly one for the Annotations, but if not, just a general note to go here. After all, Pratchett is dealing with analogues of famous British authors here who choose to live in rural seclusion - he's just done Jane Austen and given her a Discworld makeover, and I suspect Felicity Beedle is a thinly disguised version of eminent childrens' authoress Jacqueline Wilson, a woman who has been criticised for touching on difficult things and writing books the kids really want to read... --AgProv 02:20, 15 October 2011 (CEST)

I would say that Tonker and Lofty are an earlier and more weighted example of lesbians in a DW novel than Miss Pickings.--MrSin 13:15, 14 May 2020 (CEST)

The Colonel

An eminent Victorian author, who lived and wrote in a semi-rural setting, was Charles Makepeace Thackeray. As the opening pages of Snuff are liberally peppered with shout-outs to great British authors and poets over the centuries, is this another one to add to Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf/Vita Sackville-West and Jacqueline Wilson (with a hint of Roald Dahl)... Now wait till I find Thomas Hardy, Tennyson, and the Lakeland poets... --AgProv 04:39, 15 October 2011 (CEST)

There may be a shout-out to Trollope's novels of rural England, the Barchester Chronicles, in Makepeace-Thackeray finding the voice and the resolve to over-rule his domineering wife... this is a feature of the Bishop of Barchester's home life, his wife making his decisions for him, until he finds the resolve to say "no".

Thackeray's great work was Vanity Fair, a satire on the foibles and venalities of the English nobility and monied classes, taking its title from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and its depiction of a never-ending fair in the town of Vanity, where the seven deadly sins are welcomed and celebrated. The shenanigans of the monied and noble classes in the Shires bordering Quirm and Ankh-Morpork appear to be a Vanity Fair all of their own... greed, pride, envy, and anger cerainly get referenced and there may well be direct character correspondences.

And damn, I remember reading a few lines that were suspiciously like a piece of descriptive dialogue in Orwell's "Animal Farm", but can I find it again to check the reference against my copy of AF to be sure it's not just imagination? Although I would not be surprised, given that farm animals are a background here... it might have been in a dialogue between Vimes and Jefferson, the revolutionary-minded blacksmith...--AgProv 04:59, 6 November 2011 (CET)


I haven't looked but I believe she had a clock featuring an owl which looked left and right with the ticks. I think Death found it odd; he'd be hard to drive nuts. --Old Dickens 01:36, 16 October 2011 (CEST)

The disc moves

And speaking of falling barriers, Sam and Sybil are allowed some fairly adventurous lovemaking, by Terry Pratchett standards, in Mad Jack Ramkin's aphrodisiac bathroom. Hmm... conception of a sibling for Young Sam, or has the biological clock by now ceased ticking?

Ew! Gross! Old people? --Old Dickens 04:15, 16 October 2011 (CEST)
Sam do seem to think otherwise. When he's dreading riding the horse, he's worried of a bumpy ride, and are glad that he and Sybil decided not to have more kids. --Ttias 14:50, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

(Deep resigned sigh) I'm afraid so. You'd think people in their fifties would have the common decency... and Young Sam isn't even of an age to get embarrassed at what his parents get up to. But this will perhaps come, in the difficult teenage years... an endearing feature of Snuff is all the little details that point to Sam and Sybil being such a close couple and enjoying such a happy marriage, of which the goings-on in the bathroom are a minor but very telling point. Of course, they were both late starters, earlier dalliances with Ronnie Rust and Mavis Trouncer being so slight as to be discountable... so both had a lot to catch up on.--AgProv 17:33, 16 October 2011 (CEST)

page 185 and onwards

"Pessimal is talking from actuarial, biological and pragmatic grounds rather than moral or ethical". No. Pessimal is speaking from a consequentialistic perspective. Most likely utilitarian, since he being an accountant and then doing some moral mathematics (very funny joke, up there with the watch training new officers in the old lemonade factory =). The thoughtexperiment with starvation on a ship and canibalism, are probably known by most philosophy students. I can give a source to a swedish book by Torbjörn Tännsjö where he uses almost the exact thoughtexperiment, though I don't know if it'll do much good being in swedish and all. I'm going to see if i can find an english version.

I can't find any good links for moral math.--Ttias 21:34, 24 October 2011 (CEST)

Wow...this one could run and run. Any thoughts on Swift's satire? (And please - any Irish readers of what I wrote must have got the point and appreciated I'm bang alongside Swift on this one?)--AgProv 09:40, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

I think yout bang on, on the way that people have used sugested canibalism as a form of demonisation, and on Swift's satire. --Ttias 10:06, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

Found a real case: A lecture supposedly on the subject (I haven't had time to watch it yet):

--Ttias 23:13, 1 November 2011 (CET)

A worrying thought...

Is it me, or am I the only one who is a little bit disconcerted at what Sam Vimes is apparently turning into? Owing to a past brush with a quasi-demonic entity which has apparently accepted him as its Master, he can now see in the dark every bit as well as any deep-down dwarf, and he can interrogate the darkness itself as to what it saw and receive a complete and factually correct witness statement from it.

Not one super-power, but two. Plus an incredibly powerful "genie" working for him. (how would Mustrum Ridcully take to a "civilian" with such a powerful familar spirit?)

This kind of elevates Sam from an ordinary Joe doing a tough job in trying circumstances - ie, merely human, if laudably so. He has now become what in Marvel Comics would be a superhero, a member of the Justice League. He's had his brush with the bite from the radioactive spider that has turned "Peter Parker" into "Spiderman"... If any of us wrote a character like this, cold, into fanfic, he'd be seen as implausible, a makebelieve Marty Stu. The bit about being able to interrogate the darkness itself could potentially make him more omniscient than Havelock Vetinari. (who will no doubt be really pleased when he sees the implications of this).

And these gifts have come with none of the corresponding drawbacks that would re-introduce human frailty and weakness - which I'd see as an absolute prerequisite for balancing out the character.

His climactic battle with Stratford, for instance, who comes across as sort of Carcer-lite, lacked the dramatic bite of Night Watch - we all knew Sam would come out on top there because of narrativium, but Carcer was the sort of genuine edge-of-the-seat villain who had us all wondering until the end.

Stratford... well, lacked. Sam effortlessly out-thought, out-manoevred and out-fought him at every turn without breaking sweat. The dramatic tension was there, but very much muted. (Although having an equally nasty person inhume him at the end, outside the constraints of Law, was a neat touch).

Sam needs a defeat or a setback or some sort of check or correction to restore him to human again... things are coming to him just too easily. We know he's pretty much incorruptible, but these new powers are surely going to strain that? --AgProv 09:40, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

I totaly agree. One thing that strikes me is that Sam really don't encounter anything of a real obstacle. He is in charge all they way through. Solving all problems easily eventhough they seem bad, until Pterry let's Sam encounter them. The character assassinationatempt, beeing arrested twice, all fights, even the fear of riding a horse. I personaly think it's even more suprising since I was expecting a police procedure/thriller type of book, where setbacks are not to uncommon. Maybe it's a joke on some books where the protagonist is a "superhero". My girlfriend reads really silly books like that where the cop is good looking, knows all kinds of martial arts, can cook, arange flowers, have excelent marksmanship, you name it. --Ttias 10:17, 25 October 2011 (CEST)

IMHO it's an unsettling trend that already started in UA, with the introduction of the infallible orc. We were presented with a character who is nigh-immortal, superstrong, hyper intelligent (at least the text says so, personally I can't agree), picks up skills extremely fast, is loved/respected by everyone at the end of the story (except for the deisgnated villain), etc. In fact the orc is a full-blooded Marty Stu (Black hole Stu and God Mode Stu at that) without any saving grace. Quite frankly, UA as a whole read like a bad fanfiction, with all the borderline characterbashing, character derailment etc. It's a weird trend in the books that actually can't be explained by Alzheimer's (as some people try). Trust me, I did do my research here before claiming that. It's plain odd what is going on with the stories.--LilMaibe 17:57, 25 October 2011 (CEST)
All agreed, with the additional niggle about Stinky: how did he survive the stomping? No explanation seemed to be provided and I wondered if he were supposed to be a magical entity, perhaps the book-cover illustration come to life, but there was no more on that either. On the other hand: Sir Terence probably has a nagging thought that he might not be allowed many more books. He's experimenting, varying the style a little, working on a sci-fi book...working on the Bucket List. I have a little trouble predicting my own reaction to that situation, so I don't think I'll complain (much) any more. --Old Dickens 00:31, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
I sort of got the fealing that Stinky is (in one way or another, not clearly explained) connected to the summoning dark. He does scratch Vimes on his arm. The Summoning Dark mentions a unspecific connection to goblins as well as to dwarfs. And Stinky does seem to be clearly supernatural at times, and the only goblin in the shire that seems prone to act in any way. --Ttias 20:08, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
TP said he didn't know what to do with Granny Weatherwax after six books, but this makes eight for Sam Vimes. I wonder why he wouldn't do another book featuring Agnes or some new Witch in the Ramtops milieu, or a Watch book around Carrot and Angua (lots to resolve there) or a new Watchman. I don't know. That's the difference: he writes `em and I read `em. --Old Dickens 01:21, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
What also wondered and bothered me is why he never introduced new parts of the Disc that could stand on their own ever since MR. Vimes role there could have been fulfilled by a complete new character, no need for AM to provide the sorta-happy-ending. Yes, there were the clacks, but still. That is another, to me, unsettling trend ever since MR: Other nations being not allowed to work without AM basically 'dictating' how. As for your question: It might, might, be pressure from the publisher demanding books with fan-favourites in order to sell more. But I am not going to say that that is the reason.--LilMaibe 02:48, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
And another thing: I find it a bit odd to see this gap of roughly four years between UA and Snuff. This feels rather as if the story adjusted around an idée fixe (Sam Jr.'s 'hobby'/him becoming friends with the goblins or something, perhabs?) instead of tweaking an idea to fit into a story or throwing it out entirely. Four years without any story being worth the telling is a very long time for the disc on which so much used to happen. I know the magic is said to be going away, but that is just plain off--LilMaibe 03:05, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
I was thinking that he might be saving some of that for Raising Taxes if he ever writes it. --Zdm 03:11, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
Would be another 'break' with 'traditions'. The stories told usually came out in the order they happened (maybe some happening at the same time even) but, except for maybe one-shots like SG, they were always in quasi-chronilogical order.--LilMaibe 03:16, 26 October 2011 (CEST)
Yes that is true but I can't see a many year break between Making Money and Raising Taxes, also with the number of breaks in tradition recently it wouldn't be all that odd. --Zdm 03:59, 26 October 2011 (CEST)

Just had a thought, on the Marvel Comics theme. The essence of a Marvel superhero is that there is an apparently and outwardly human character with a latent or hidden super-power. This can be a normal human sense enhanced to a supernatural degree, a totally new and different ability (ie, flight) or a shape-shifting power enabling the superhero to transmute into something else. Or indeed a combination of all these. The clssic team of all-American superheroes are the Fantastic Four. This was even originated and drawn by a man called Jack Kirby (does the name "Kirby" confer artistic originality?).

I looked at the artwork on the wiki article. The Thing has to be Detritus. Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, has a certain Angua-quality about her. Richard Reed, Mr Fantastic (the Elastic Man), embodies the long and certain reach of the law. Something about his face and posture suggests Vimes. Not sure what the Watch correspondent to Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is, though. But you wonder. Is TP knowingly referencing the world of the Marvel super-hero here? This might explin the transformation in Vimes - after all, like Peter Parker he was bitten by a sort of radioactive mutant spider...which conferred superhuman power.

A few short ones, maybe to obvious, maybe speculations

  • The part of the river called fender's bend. Fenderbender's an other word for car accidents.
  • "Seeing the elephant" is also an expression meaning; been around the world.
  • The chicken laying a square egg at least reminds me of a classic disney comic!
  • Dark Clerks = Black ops? or Men In Blacks? There have been speculation on an alien invation to the disc, a little foreshadowing? (comment: Generally taken to be retained Assassins who are directly employed by the Palace and directed by the Patrician: a combination of bodyguard, politically trained scribe/civil servant, and occassional, er, fixer, as required--AgProv 22:23, 27 October 2011 (CEST)).
  • Turns out Colon is smoking pot, he turns weird and it turns out that it's dangerous. The subplot with troll narcotics make me think that it's not accidental. Pterry might not just be against slavery with images resembling the old slavetrade. Gobbos shiped similarly to africans to america. But also sugest a connection between slaveworkers in current drugtrades? --Ttias 19:57, 26 October 2011 (CEST)

I'm interested. The bit about an alien presence or visit to the Disc. I've used this in Fanfiction (Slipping Between Worldsand a cross-over with h2g2, where Arthur Dent, Trillian, Zaphod and Ford Prefect drop by the Mended Drum). So I know it's an idea with legs. But where is this speculation happening? It'd be interesting to see who's saying what and evaluate the information!--AgProv 22:23, 27 October 2011 (CEST)

It's something I've read in an interview I think. Googling on Pratchet, discworld and "Alien Invasion" however ended up with 793 000 results. Lost in information. --Ttias 17:57, 28 October 2011 (CEST)

So... where's Buggy Swires?

So when a situation arose in Snuff where one might reasonably have expected Buggy Swires' particular expertise to be central, he's nowhere to be seen, and the Air Police duties, not to mention doing the crawstep, have been taken over in their entirity by Wee Mad Arthur.

We can infer the events of Snuff are some years on from the previous Watch book - Young Sam is now six or seven and no longer a babe in arms - so in the intervening period, Buggy might have left the Watch, or other things might have happened to him. But this is not stated explicitly - it's as if Buggy never was and everything about him has been subsumed into Wee Mad Arthur, who in his origins was a maverick ratcatcher with no temperamental inclination to enlist in the Watch. Just bad continuity? --AgProv 17:03, 21 November 2011 (CET)

Shout Outs?

I'm not sure if you can say a mention of a previous Discworld book is a shout out, you could just as easily say that any mention of Great A'Tuin is a "shout out" to Colour of Magic. "Seeing the Elephant" could be just using a phrase twice... Marmosetpower 19:49, 25 May 2012 (CEST)