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150 minutes | 4 days ago
#Pratchat42 – Truth, the Printing Press and Every -ing
Author, editor and journalist Stephanie Convery returns to Pratchat as newspapers and conspiracy hit Ankh-Morpork in the same week! It’s The Truth, the 25th Discworld novel, first published in 2000. William de Worde has made a reasonable living writing a monthly newsletter for notables, keeping them informed of goings on in Ankh-Morpork. But when he’s nearly run over by Gunilla Goodmountain’s new movable type printing press, he soon begins producing a different kind of “paper of news” – one that anyone can buy on the street, full of the important stories of the day. Before long “the Ankh-Morpork Times” – soon employing writer Sacharissa Cripslock and vampire iconographer Otto von Chriek – is a hit…and has ruffled a few feathers. But William has a powerful drive to spread the news, only intensified when Lord Vetinari is found unconscious next to a horse loaded with money after supposedly having stabbed his clerk. The Patrician being arrested for attempted murder and embezzlement is big news, of course – but is it the truth? Pratchett cut his teeth as a writer as a journalist, and had for many years used his work as inspiration – but nowhere as directly as in the 25th Discworld novel, which introduces the Disc’s first newspaper journalists, William de Worde. Apart from William, the novel also brings us the Times’ staff, most notably Sacharissa and Otto, who pop up in many future books, and the unforgettable “New Firm” of Mr Pin and Mr Tulip – plus the triumphant return of Gaspode! The books also draws on sources as broad as Shakespeare, the history of printing, Watergate and Pulp Fiction for inspiration, references and jokes, while still packing in themes as serious as public interest, prejudice, class privilege and…well…the truth. Is it weird seeing Vimes as a secondary character through the eyes of a journalist? Do you wish the staff of the Times had more books of their own? Where do you come down on the debate over public interest vs “of interest to the public”? Share your truth with us via the hashtag #Pratchat42 on social media, and join the conversation! Guest Stephanie Convery is a freelance writer and Deputy Culture Editor for Guardian Australia. Since she was last a guest on this podcast (discussing Mort way back in #Pratchat2, “Murdering a Curry“), Stephanie has published her first book: After the Count, a critically acclaimed “history and interrogation of boxing as art and a cultural examination of sport”, framed around the death of boxer Davey Browne following a knockout in the ring. You can check out Stephanie’s work at Guardian Australia, or follow her on Twitter at @gingerandhoney. We’re planning to be part of the line-up for the Australian Discworld Convention’s online event, The Lost Con, on Saturday 3rd July, 2021. More details on that soon! We’d also love to know if you want us to do an episode about The Watch television series, and whether you’d support Ben making a similar podcast about the works of Douglas Adams. Next time we’re jumping ahead into the future as we continue to spread out Tiffany Aching’s story: yes, it’s time to grab A Hat Full of Sky! We’ll be joined by writer and poet, Sally Evans. Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat43, or get them in via email: firstname.lastname@example.org You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more. This month (April 2021) you can also help raise money for Meals on Wheels in the US as part of the #Reviews4Good initiative! We’ll respond and double the donation, too. Just review the show (or an episode) on Podchaser.
150 minutes | a month ago
#Pratchat41 – The Adventures of Crab Boy and Trouser Girl
Educator Dr Charlotte Pezaro joins Liz and Ben on a trip to the South Pelagic, where they find tsunamis, gods and science in Nation, Pratchett’s standalone young adult novel from 2008. Mau is returning from his rite of passage when a huge wave washes over his island Nation, killing everyone he has ever known. He is all alone, stuck without a soul between the states of boy and man. Lost in his despair and anger at the gods he now isn’t sure he believes in, he’s ready to give in to the dark water until he meets Daphne, the only survivor from a “trouserman” ship flung into the Nation by the wave. As they learn each others’ customs and languages, and other survivors gradually begin to arrive, Mau and Daphne must both reckon with the gods and ghosts of the Nation’s past – and work hard to ensure it has a future… Pratchett’s own proudest achievement, and winner of multiple of awards, Nation presents an alternate universe where things are a little bit different in some ways…and considerably different in others. Pratchett examines his favourite themes of belief, death, imperialism and science through a new lens, in a tale of loss, growing up, and asking big questions. Is this Pratchett’s magnum opus? Does inventing an entire universe next door make it okay for a white Englishman to tell a story about South Pacific Islanders with the serial numbers filed off? Why did he split Australia in half ? Tell us by using the hashtag #Pratchat41 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Dr Charlotte Pezaro is an educator with a PhD in pedagogy and years of science and technology communication experience. Charlotte is also a qualified primary school teacher, and works with other teachers to help them improve their skills. You can find out more about Charlotte at charlottepezaro.com, or follow her on Twitter at @dialogicedu. Next time we’re heading back to Ankh-Morpork for a tale of journalism, vampirism and authoritarianism, the 25th Discworld novel: 2000’s The Truth! We’ll be joined by returning guest, writer and deputy culture editor for Guardian Australia, Stephanie Convery. Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat42, or get them in via email: email@example.com You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
149 minutes | 2 months ago
#Pratchat40 – The King and the Hole of the King
Comedian Richard McKenzie returns to get a bit gothic as he, Liz and Ben head to Überwald to discuss The Fifth Elephant in the room…by which we mean the twenty-fourth Discworld novel, published in 1999. As Ankh-Morpork and its neighbours embrace modern semaphore technology, trouble is brewing among the dwarfs. A new Low King is soon to be crowned in Überwald – and not everyone is happy with the choice. The Patrician selects just the right “diplomat” for the job: the Duke of Ankh, Sir Samuel Vimes. He reluctantly agrees to face vampires, werewolves, Igors and dwarf politics in a place where his Watch badge holds no sway. He’s not going alone – though Sergeant Detritus (a troll) and Corporal Cheery Littlebottom (the first openly female dwarf) are not likely to be popular with the traditional dwarfs of Überwald. Luckily he also has diplomatic attaché Inigo Skimmer, and his strongest ally: his wife, the Lady Sybil Ramkin… After exploring one vampire family from Überwald in Carpe Jugulum, Pratchett takes Sam Vimes out of his comfort zone and into the lands of the fabled fifth elephant, while making far fewer references to the Luc Besson film than you’d expect. With Carrot and Angua off on a B-plot, and Colon, Nobby and the rest of the Watch left behind in the C-plot, it’s also a chance for background characters Detritus, Cheery and Lady Sybil to shine. The novel also expands on the culture of vampires, werewolves, Igors and especially dwarfs, building the foundations for many future novels. It’s a great read for a Discworld fan – but would The Fifth Elephant make a confusing introduction to the series? Was this Sybil’s finest hour, or were you left wanting more of her? Does a beloved character do a murder? If so, is it okay? And did Carrot really need to be there, or was he just a Gaspode enabling device? Tell us by using the hashtag #Pratchat40 on social media to join the conversation! Returning guest Richard McKenzie is hopefully back to hosting trivia twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, at the Cornish Arms on Sydney Road in Brunswick, Melbourne. He and Ben devised the Dungeons & Dragons themed impro comedy show Dungeon Crawl, which now usually appears at Melbourne games expo PAX Aus. He also appears in the lineup of ensemble comedy shows The Anarchist Guild Social Committee and Secondhand Cinema Club. A a quick reminder that you can order Collisions, the short story anthology from Liminal Magazine, from your local bookshop! It includes Liz’s story “The Voyeur” and fifteen others. The link also has some online sources if you need ’em. Next time we’re reading something very different: Pratchett’s standalone, non-Discworld young adult novel from 2008, Nation! We’ll be joined by educator Charlotte Pezaro. Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat41, or get them in via email: firstname.lastname@example.org You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
92 minutes | 3 months ago
#Pratchat39 – All the Fun of the…Fish?
We’re kicking off the Year of the Beleaguered Badger with something a little different: an international guest, and a short story! Unofficial Pratchett biographer Marc Burrows joins us from the UK to discuss the third Discworld short story: 1998’s The Sea and Little Fishes! Without much else but the carefully applied annoyances of Nanny Ogg to occupy her time, Granny Weatherwax is ready to win the annual Witch Trial – just as she does every year. But Lettice Earwig, self-appointed leader of a sort of witch committee, has decided this is discouraging new witches, and asks Granny not to participate. She also tells Granny to try being “nice” – and the worst part is, Granny appears to be taking her advice… Very long for a short story, The Sea and Little Fishes delves into the relationship between two of Pratchett’s most beloved characters, and introduces people and concepts he’d later expand upon in the Tiffany Aching novels. In a sense it’s a story in which almost nothing happens, but then that’s largely the point – someone like Granny Weatherwax hardly has to do anything at all to move mountains. Where did you read it? What do you think of the title? And how long can a story be while still being considered “short”??? Let us know! Use the hashtag #Pratchat39 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Marc Burrows is a writer, musician and comic. His articles and reviews about music and culture have appeared in The Guardian and a variety of other publications, but he’s currently best known as the author of the first, unofficial Terry Pratchett biography, The Magic of Terry Pratchett, which you can learn all about at askmeaboutterrypratchett.com. He is also a member of the band The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, and has two upcoming non-fiction books about music. The best place to find Marc online is as @20thcenturymarc on Twitter and Instagram, and you can sign up to his newsletter “The Glom of Nit” via tinyletter.com. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We plan to cover short stories once or twice a year to help us all keep up with the schedule, in part because our original plan – to cover them as live shows – hasn’t worked out this last year. But next month it’s back to the Discworld novels, and the Watch, with The Fifth Elephant – and we’re welcoming back one of our earliest guests, Richard McKenzie! Send us your questions via email, or social media using the hashtag #Pratchat40. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book – and maybe make a few more live episodes like this? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get subscriber bonuses, like the exclusive bonus podcast Ook Club!
145 minutes | 4 months ago
#Pratchat38 – Moisten to Steal
Writers, comedians, magicians and con-men experts Nicholas J Johnson and Lawrence Leung join us as we meet the distressingly named Moist von Lipwig in his 2004 debut, the 33rd Discworld novel, Going Postal! Con-man Moist von Lipwig (aka Albert Spangler) thinks he’s come to the end of the line when he’s hanged by order of Lord Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. But while the world believes him hanged, the city’s tyrant has actually saved him for something bigger: he wants Moist to revitalise the city’s derelict post office. It seems like a hopeless task with no chance of success or escape, what with the mountains of mail, unsatisfactory staff, golem parole officer, and the communications monopoly of the Grand Trunk Sempahore Company, run by the piratical Reacher Gilt. But every con-man needs a challenge… Pratchett’s first Moist book is a great in to the Discworld at large, with a gripping self-contained story of new technology vs old, capitalism vs the public good, and one man’s lifetime of criminal habits vs his better nature. As well as Moist himself, it introduces such memorable characters as Mr Pump, Stanley the pin collector, and the one and only Adorabelle Dearheart. (Everyone in this book has an amazing name.) It’s not a short book, and we struggle to cover all its themes, twists and turns. Do you love Moist von Lipwig? Could you get over his name? Could you operate a Clacks tower? And just how deep did Vetinari’s plan go, anyway? Join the discussion using the hashtag #Pratchat38. Guest Nicholas J Johnson is an author, magician and expert in scams and swindles, earning himself the nickname “Australia’s Honest Con-Man”. His new children’s book, the “autobiographical” Tricky Nick, features magic and time travel and all sorts, and is available now from Pan Macmillan. Find out more about Nick’s live performances and workshops at conman.com.au, or follow him on Twitter at @countlustig. Guest Lawrence Leung is a comedian, screenwriter and actor, known to Australian audiences from his roles in Offspring and Top of the Lake, and his own shows including Lawrence Leung’s Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and Maximum Choppage, and the feature film Sucker. Find out all the latest about Lawrence, including when you can catch his live-streamed comedy shows, at lawrenceleung.com, or you can follow him on Twitter at @Lawrence_Leung. The full show notes and errata for this episode will be added to our web site later in the month. Our plan to cover Sir Terry’s short fiction was via live shows, but since that hasn’t worked out for us this year, in January we’re going to discuss 1998’s short witches story, The Sea and Little Fishes. We’ll also be welcoming our first international guest: Marc Burrows, author of the Pratchett biography The Magic of Terry Pratchett! Send us your questions via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat39. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
128 minutes | 5 months ago
#Pratchat37 – The Shopping Trolley Problem
Author Will Kostakis returns to face time travel, unexploded bombs and a tangle of timelines in the final Johnny Maxwell book, 1996’s Johnny and the Bomb! When Johnny and his misfit friends look after homeless eccentric Mrs Tachyon’s shopping trolley, they soon discover she has a complicated relationship with time. Johnny, Yo-less, Wobbler, Bigmac and Kirsty travel back to World War II, on the eve of the “Blackbury Blitz”. Johnny knows bombs are meant to destroy Paradise Street – but can he and his friends do anything about it? Do they even have the right? And how will they get back ho- hang on. Where’s Wobbler? Pratchett’s first book focussing on time travel also touches on the worries of teenagers, local history, racism, sexism and the nature of fate and destiny. It might seem weighty for a children’s book, but children think about this stuff all the time! Did you follow all the time travel shenanigans? How do you think Pratchett’s handling of these issues compares to modern middle grade fiction – or even his own previous Johnny books? And if you could go back in time, would you try and change things for the better? Join the discussion using the hashtag #Pratchat37. Returning guest Will Kostakis is a writer and award-winning author. Since we last saw him in #Pratchat18, “Sundog Gazillionaire“, he’s published his first fantasy YA novel, Monuments, and its sequel, Rebel Gods. His new novella, The Greatest Hit, is out now from Lothian Children’s Books as part of the Australia Reads initiative. Find out more about Will at willkostakis.com, or follow him on Twitter at @willkostakis. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. As mentioned at the end of this episode, the fiction anthology Collisions from Liminal Magazine is out now, featuring Liz’s story “The Voyeur”! Order it from your local bookshop. And we also announced that the Australian Discworld Convention in Sydney has had to be postponed from 2021 to 2022. Find out more at ausdwcon.org. Next month we see out the year with a favourite, as we time travel about ten Discworld books ahead to meet Moist von Lipwig in Going Postal! We’ve invited two experts on con artistry to discuss it with us: writer and magician Nicholas J Johnson, and comedian and actor Lawrence Leung! Get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat38. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
145 minutes | 6 months ago
#Pratchat36 – Home Alone, But Vampires
Star of the stage Gillian Cosgriff joins Liz and Ben to cower in fear before that most horrifying of beasts: the magpie! Yes, it’s time for the twenty-third Discworld novel, 1998’s Carpe Jugulum. The new princess of Lancre has been officially named! But all has not gone well: new priest Mightily Oats took Queen Magrat’s notes on the naming a little too literally. King Verence has been a little too liberal with which nobility he invited. And most worryingly of all, Granny Weatherwax – supposed to be the baby’s godmother – is nowhere to be found. As the forward-looking Count de Magpyr and his family effortlessly dominate the wills of all about them (with the notable exception of two-minded Agnes Nitt), can the fractured witches pull together a full coven and save the day? And what on the Disc is going on in the mews? The fifth and last of the books to star the original coven of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and now-Queen Magrat Garlick shakes things up even more than its predecessors. Young witch Agnes Nitt’s inner voice is now a fully independent personality, while Nanny and Granny clash over their roles and responsibilities, and Magrat brings her child along to coven meetings. Pratchett also takes aim at every vampire tradition and cliche from curtain-twitching to shying away from holy symbols, pitting the modern vampire against his more monstrous predecessors. And on top of that, he introduces two enduring fan favourites: the first of many Discworld Igors, and the tiny “pictsies” of the Nac mac Feegle! What did you you think? Does Carpe Jugulum make beautiful music? Is Pratchett’s ongoing need to make fat jokes too distracting? When he came up with the idea of vampires who turn into and control magpies instead of bats, do you think he realised how horrifying that would seem to Australians? Use the hashtag #Pratchat36 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Gillian Cosgriff is an actor, singer and cabaret star most recently seen as part of the Australian cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Gill’s career has included musical comedy, musical theatre and – as mentioned briefly in our Maskerade episode – opera! Find out more about her talents at gilliancosgriff.com, or you can look up some of her music on Youtube or buy her albums on Bandcamp. (Do so on a Bandcamp Friday if you want to make sure all your money goes to supporting the artist!) You can also follow Gill on Twitter at @gilliancosgriff. Next time, we finish off Pratchett’s other children’s trilogy as Johnny and his gang go out with a bang in Johnny and the Bomb. Joining us is returning guest, author Will Kostakis! Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat37, or send us an email at email@example.com. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
122 minutes | 7 months ago
#Pratchat35 – Great Balls of Physics
Liz, Ben and science communicator Anna Ahveninen have the weird sensation of being a specimen in a jar as they discuss 1999’s The Science of Discworld, co-written by biologist Jack Cohen and mathematician Ian Stewart. By bribing the Unseen University faculty with the promise of cheap heating, research wizard Ponder Stibbons gets permission to try splitting the thaum, the magical equivalent of the atom. The experiment is a success, but fills the University with dangerous raw magic. To use it up, sentient thinking machine Hex initiates “the Roundworld Project”, the creation of a reality devoid of magic. The universe in a bottle that results has no narrative imperative, only one kind of light, and not a single star turtle. What it does have are rocks, flaming balls of gas and rules. This all seems very unnatural to the wizards, so there’s only one thing to do: poke it with a stick and see what happens… After reading one too many “Science of Star Trek” books, science writers and Pratchett fans Jack and Ian joined forces with Sir Terry to write a book in which they would use the wizards’ exploration of a bottle universe to explore our own, and the science that explains it. The concept was a bit of a gamble, and no-one wanted to publish it at first, but it proved a big hit, spawning three sequels and a major revision to this first volume, three years later. The Science of Discworld concentrates on the beginning and evolution of the universe and the history of life on Earth, with plenty of asides about the nature of science and how it is taught (including the now famous concept of “lies-to-children”). In between these essays, the Unseen University wizards poke our own “Roundworld” with a big stick and try to make sense of a world without magic – in part by forcing Rincewind into the role of virtual astronaut. What did you learn from The Science of Discworld? Do you enjoy the alternating fantasy and science chapters? How does it compare to the other “The Science of” books? And does the science still stand up, eighteen years after the revised edition of 2002? Use the hashtag #Pratchat35 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Anna Ahveninen is a science communicator, writer and (ex) chemist who currently works at the Australian Academy of Science. You can follow her on Twitter at @Lady_Beaker. Anna also wanted to give a shout out to the STEMMinist Book Club (the second M is for Medicine), who you can also find on Twitter at @stemminist, and on Goodreads. Turns out we jumped the gun a little with Collisions – the Liminal magazine fiction anthology won’t be published until November! We’ll remind you in a couple of episodes. Next month it’s back to the Ramtops for our favourite coven’s last hurrah, as Lancre is invaded by vampires in Carpe Jugulum! We’ll be joined by actor, singer and cabaret star Gillian Cosgriff. Get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat36, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
126 minutes | 8 months ago
#Pratchat34 – Only You Can Save Deadkind
Liz and Ben (who suffered from microphone issues this episode) introduce children’s author Oliver Phommavanh to the world of Pratchett with Johnny Maxwell’s return, in 1993’s Johnny and the Dead. Twelve-year-old Johnny Maxwell is enduring Phase Three of the Trying Times between his parents, which involves living with his Mum at his Grandad’s place. His shortcut home from school takes him through an old rundown cemetery, where he knocks on a tomb door – and discovers he can see dead people. As Johnny gets to know them, the dead discover the Council has sold their cemetery for development – and they want Johnny to put a stop to it. While the gang delve into the history of Blackbury and discover a whole new side to their boring hometown, the dead begin to wonder if there might be more to life after life – earning the disapproving scowl of Mr Eric Grimm… Content note: this episode contains discussion of (fictional) suicide, from around 1:34:00 to 1:40:00. If you or anyone you know needs help, use the Wikipedia list of crisis lines to find one local to you. Johnny Maxwell and (most of) his friends are back, this time dealing with the mundane as well as the fantastical. Touching on themes of history, tradition, belief and capitalism, Pratchett makes a very different kind of “boy sees dead people” story as Johnny tries to save the local cemetery. There’s lots of Pratchett philosophy in here, like his well-known positive attitude towards death as a part of life. It’s also full of his trademark little jokes and asides, some of which feel very, well…early nineties. So what do you think? Has this aged well since 1993? Do the lessons about the past and present, living and dead still ring true? Do the trials and tribulations of a small English town translate to 2020 and wherever you live? Use the hashtag #Pratchat34 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Oliver Phommavanh is a children’s author, teacher and stand-up comedian based in Sydney. He’s written ten books, including the semi-autobiographical Thai-riffic and Con-Nerd, both of which have sequels. His next book the short story collection Brain Freeze, due out in September 2020. (Please consider supporting your local bookshop by ordering his books from them!) You can find out more about Oliver at his web site, oliverwriter.com, and find him on Instagram and Twitter as @oliverwinfree. Next month we’re celebrating National Science Week in Australia by reading Pratchett’s collaboration with science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld! We’ll be joined by science communicator and chemist Anna Ahveninen of the Australian Academy of Science! Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat35 by science week, which starts August 15, 2020. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
115 minutes | 9 months ago
#Pratchat33 – Cat, Rats and Two Meddling Kids
Liz, Ben and writer Michelle Law go on a surprisingly dark ride in Pratchett’s skewed take on the “Pied Piper”, 2001’s Discworld for Younger Readers book, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Everyone knows that the best way to get rid of a plague of rats is to pay the Piper. Even Maurice, and he’s a talking cat. So when he met a Clan of similarly smart talking rats, all he needed was a stupid-looking kid who could play, and he had the makings of the perfect con. But the rats (and the kid) are smart enough to decide that what they’re doing is unethical. Maurice convinces them to pull one last scam in a tiny Überwald town. But all is not well in Bad Blintz: the mayor’s daughter immediately sees there’s something odd about Maurice and the kid, and the town is convinced they already have a plague of rats – but the Clan can’t find a single one… After two trilogies of children’s books set in our own world, and before he invented Tiffany Aching, Pratchett tried getting kids into the Discworld with a story of talking animals, plucky kids…and unspeakable evil. The Amazing Maurice explores some weighty ethics, punctures the safety of Enid Blyton, questions the lessons taught by the Brothers Grim, and goes to some very dark places, metaphorically and literally. All born out of a jokey footnote he wrote for Reaper Man a decade before! Is this really a children’s book? Would you let your kids read it? Is it a terrible mistake, or is it maybe the greatest book Pratchett ever wrote? And most importantly: what’s your rat name? Use the hashtag #Pratchat33 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Michelle Law is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and actor based in Sydney. Her work includes the 2017 smash hit play Single Asian Female, the SBS TV series Homecoming Queens and contributed to numerous magazines and books. Michelle’s next play will be Miss Peony for Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre, and she has a story in the anthology After Australia from Affirm Press. You can find out more about Michelle at her web site, michelle-law.com, and follow her on Twitter at @ms_michellelaw. Next month we complete our hat-trick of Pratchetts for younger readers by returning to the English town of Blackbury to catch up with Johnny Maxwell in 1993’s Johnny and the Dead! We’ll be joined by children’s author Oliver Phommovanh! Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat34 by July 21st 2020. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
140 minutes | 10 months ago
#Pratchat32 – Meet the Feegles
Liz, Ben and librarian Meaghan Dew come down from the mountains to a land of sheep, chalk and tiny blue warriors, and meet the youngest witch ever, in Pratchett’s 2003 Discworld for Younger Readers book, The Wee Free Men. Nine-year-old farm girl Tiffany Aching lives on The Chalk, a lowland area famous for its sheep and…er…sheep products. It’s not famous for attacks from mythical river monsters, so when one turns up she lures it with her brother as bait and hits it over the head with a frying pan. Searching for answers, she meets the very real witch Miss Tick, and realises that’s what she wants to be. In her first truly witchy move, she disobeys Miss Tick’s advice and tries to take on the Queen of the Fairies, who has kidnapped her baby brother. Luckily she’s already met and impressed the Nac Mac Feegle – a clan of tiny blue “pictsies” with a love for fightin’, stealin’ and drinkin’… After the end of the Witches series in Carpe Jugulum*, Pratchett launched a new protagonist destined to become one of his most beloved characters. Tiffany Aching is practical, serious, thoughtful and wilful, with a steely gaze and a mind so sharp she might cut someone else (she certainly knows which bit to hold onto). Pratchett weaves the story of a young girl stepping into some big – and tiny – shoes with themes of grief, family, community, belief and the stories we tell…oh, and a tiny blue and red whirlwind of swearing, violence and other Scottish stereotypes known as the Nac Mac Feegle. Do these two things mesh well for you? Is this Tiffany’s finest hour, or just a taste of what’s to come for her? And was Granny Aching a witch, a shepherd, or something else entirely by the end? Use the hashtag #Pratchat32 on social media to join the conversation! * Carpe Jugulum is coming soon(ish) to a Pratchat episode near you! Guest Meaghan Dew is a librarian and podcaster. For around seven years, Meaghan hosted and produced the podcast for Australian arts and culture magazine Kill Your Darlings. Meaghan currently works as a librarian in Melbourne, and produces her library’s podcast program. Ben was reading the The Illustrated Wee Free Men, the 2008 hardcover edition of the book with full-colour illustrations by artist Stephen Player – and a few extras from Terry. Player advises that the colours are off in the book, but you can see many of the original illustrations on his web site. Next month we travel to an entirely different rural area of the Disc for more younger readers adventure, in 2000’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. We’ll be joined by writer and screenwriter Michelle Law! Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat33 by June 20th 2020. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
138 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat31 – It’s Just a Step to the West
In episode 31, Liz, Ben and returning guest Joel Martin step sideways into the infinite earths of Pratchett’s 2012 collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth. In 2015, plans for a strange but simple box-shaped device called a “Stepper”, powered by a potato, are posted online. Kids all over the world build them and discover that the boxes let them step “East” or “West” into other Earths. There are thousands of such worlds – perhaps millions – all subtly different. But they do have one thing in common: there are no humans on any of them. Fifteen years after “Step Day”, human society is irrevocably altered, and experienced far-stepper Joshua Valienté is offered a new job: to step further from Earth than even he has ever been, and explore the mysteries of the Long Earth in the company of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as a supercomputer… Based on ideas from Pratchett’s 1986 short story “The High Meggas”, written before the popularity of The Colour of Magic led him down a particular leg of the trousers of time, The Long Earth is the first in a series of five novels set in a near future world forever changed by the existence of limitless worlds next door. An epic journey across millions of worlds, Pratchett chose to work with his friend Stephen Baxter, a prolific science fiction author whose work encompasses hard future sci-fi, speculative evolution, alternate history and sequels to classic novels by the likes of H. G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke. That all seems quite a distance from comic fantasy – but the pairing just works. So – it’s five years since Step Day. Would you visit another Earth? Could you pick which bits were Pratchett, and which Baxter? And what kind of potato is in your stepper box? Use the hashtag #Pratchat31 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Joel Martin is a writer, editor and podcaster who previously appeared on Pratchat in episode 14, discussing the book that derailed the Long Earth back in 1986, The Colour of Magic. Joel is also the director of the Speculate speculative fiction festival (specfic.com.au). His latest work is the short story Hunting Time in Strange Stories Vol. 1, scheduled to be published this month by 42books. Joel’s writing podcast, The Morning Bell, is currently on hiatus, but you can find the full back catalogue at themorningbell.com.au. Find out more about him at thepenofjoel.com. Next month we’re stepping back onto the Disc to meet adventurous nine-year-old Tiffany Aching, in 2003’s The Wee Free Men! Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat32 by around May 23rd. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
119 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat30 – Looking Widdershins
For our thirtieth episode, Liz and Ben take a break from reading books and instead read your comments and questions, looking back on both Pratchett’s work and their own. Which one of Dibbler’s schemes would you fall for? What’s your least favourite Discworld novel? Are there any good Pratchett-inspired games? What line would you quote to sum up Pratchett’s style of humour? We want to hear your answers to all the questions you asked us! Use the hashtag #Pratchat30 on social media to join the conversation. You can find Elizabeth on Twitter as @elizabethflux, where you will find links to her articles and some very good puns. (Ben is flinching already.) You can also find her (and her impractical outfits) on Instagram as @elizabethtiernan. You can find Ben and his projects via his web site benmckenzie.com.au, on Twitter at @McKenzie_Ben and Instagram at @notongotham. For creative story-based activities, check out the social media of 100 Story Building; they’re on Twitter at @100StoryB. Next month’s episode we’re returning to our original plan for this month: we’ll be reading Pratchett’s 2012 parallel universes collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth, the first in a series of five novels. Get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat31 by late April! You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
2 minutes | a year ago
A Thirtieth Announcement
We’ve made a change in our schedule! Our next book will indeed be The Long Earth, as announced last episode, but we’ll be postponing that to May. Our thirtieth episode, #Pratchat30, will instead feature Liz and Ben answering your broader Pratchett questions. Listen or read on for more information. If you’re new to Pratchett, this is your chance to ask how or why to get into his work, and of course to invite the inevitable argu- er, discussion about where to start. If you’re new to Pratchat, this is your chance to ask more questions about books we’ve already covered – see our Episodes page for a list! We also welcome comments and feedback on our previous discussions: what did we get wrong? What do you want more of? And for everyone, this is a chance to give us your questions and comments about Pratchett’s work as covered so far on the podcast: questions that aren’t tied to a specific book, or span many of them. We want to hear them all! But please, no spoilers for books we’ve not yet covered. Check the Books page if you’re not sure. We’re recording on April 3rd, 2020, so get your questions in by then via social media (use the hashtag #Pratchat30) or by email to email@example.com. We hope you understand our need for this change in the schedule, but we’ll still see you on the 7Ath! And as always, a big thanks to all our listeners, and especially to our Pozible supporters. Your help means more right now than usual, and we’re very grateful for it. If you’d like to support the production of Pratchat, find out more on our Support Us page.
142 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat29 – Great Rimward Land
In episode 29, Liz, Ben and guest Fury join Rincewind on a journey to a strangely familiar land in Pratchett’s 1992 loving Discworld parody of Australia, The Last Continent. (A quick content note: this one has more swearing than usual, but we bleeped the c-bombs out.) The Librarian of Unseen University, long ago turned into an orang utan, is suffering from a magical illness. Archchancellor Ridcully and his faculty could help him – if only they knew his original human name. Unfortunately the only person likely to remember is former Assistant Librarian Rincewind, and the wizards sent him to Agatea – and then accidentally propelled him across the Disc. He ended up in XXXX – aka Fourecks, aka the Last Continent, aka “that place far away full of deadly animals” – but he’s managed to survive. The locals out in the desert seem friendly enough, at least until he asks when it will rain. But something isn’t right. The land needs a hero. What it’s got is the Eternal Coward… Pratchett came to Australia many times, and his experience of the country seems to have rubbed off. Fourecks affectionately parodies Australian music, slang, politics and culture, including Mad Max, The Man From Snowy River, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, thongs, corks on hats, the cultural cringe, Vegemite, pie floaters and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. It’s quite the ride for the Australian reader… Rincewind is moulded into the stereotypical “bush hero”, but his touchstones aren’t entirely post-invasion – Pratchett also tries for a nuanced and deep Discworld interpretation of Aboriginal culture and beliefs, even if he doesn’t include any actual Aboriginal characters. Do you think he makes it work? Could you follow all the Australian references? Is there enough of a plot, or is it just an excuse for a bunch of jokes? Use the hashtag #Pratchat29 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Fury is a writer, illustrator and performer who previously appeared on Pratchat in episode 19, discussing Soul Music. They were recently seen in Gender Euphoria, a touring multi-disciplinary show celebrating trans experiences which has played in Melbourne and Sydney. Fury’s book I Don’t Understand How Emotions Work is available online now. You can also find out more about them at their web site furywrites.com, or follow them on Twitter as @fury_writes. Next month’s episode was going to cover Pratchett’s 2012 sci-fi collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth, but we’ve had a change of plan! Instead, we’ll be taking a month off from book discussion to answer your questions about how to get into Pratchett, about past episodes, and about his work in general. Listen out for a special announcement with more information, and get your questions in via the hashtag #Pratchat30 by April 3rd. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
122 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat28 – All Our Base Are Belong to You
In episode 28, players Liz, Ben and guest Steve Lamattina press start and blast away at Pratchett’s 1992 novel of kids, war and videogames, Only You Can Save Mankind. Twelve-year-old Johnny Maxwell isn’t the best at computer games, but he loves them all the same. While playing Only You Can Save Mankind, a space combat simulator, he’s taken by surprise when the Captain of the enemy ScreeWee fleet offers to surrender. After he accepts, the game starts to invade his dreams, and the aliens disappear – from everyone’s computer. Something weird is going on – but at least it’s a distraction from the war on TV and the Trying Times at home… Only You Can Save Mankind – dedicated to Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna, now a renowned videogame writer – is explicitly about the first Gulf War (1990-1991), at a time when games looked more real and televised war looked more like a game. In early 2020, many themes of the book seem alarmingly current – even as the experience of computer games it describes is very firmly rooted in the past. Did you connect with Johnny’s experience? Do you like videogames? Does this episode contain too much Pokémon and Freddi Fish? Use the hashtag #Pratchat28 (and maybe #DeliciousPokémon) on social media to join the conversation! Guest Steve Lamattina is a writer and editor who has worked in film, music, education and tech. He was also CEO of youth publishing company Express Media, and has written about food, events, movies, games, social media and much much more. You can find him on Twitter as @steve_lamattina. Next month it’s back to the Discworld, and close to home – more or less – as we catch up with Rincewind in 1998’s The Last Continent, and welcome back a returning guest: Fury! We’ll be recording in late February, so get your questions in before then via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat29. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
125 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat27 – Leshp Miserablés
In episode 27, Liz and Ben are joined by guest writer and psychologist-in-training Craig Hildebrand-Burke to discuss the depressingly relevant yet uplifting 1997 Discworld novel of war and prejudice, Jingo. In the middle of the Circle Sea, halfway between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch, the ancient and slightly eldritch island of Leshp has risen from the waves. Of course both nations want to claim it as their own, what with the other nation being filthy foreign devils, and almost immediately the threat of war is in the wind. An attempt on the life of a visiting Klatchian prince kills peace talks before they can even begin, and the Patrician is deposed – leaving Sir Samuel Vimes, Lord Commander of the City Watch, with a crime to solve. Can bringing a murderer to justice stop a war? Jingo sees the Watch swell in size, gives a great deal of airtime to the Patrician, and also shines the spotlight on the Disc’s greatest inventor, Leonard of Quirm! And of course we spend more time in Klatch, now inspired more by Lawrence of Arabia than Arabian Nights. It’s a story of nationalism, racism and war – both of the regular kind, and between the classes. Jingo was not only still relevant when we recorded this, but has suddenly and awfully become more relevant since. Can Pratchett help us do away with ideas of Us and Them? Can he flesh out the previously cartoony city/nation/continent of Klatch? And how great are submarines? Use the hashtag #Pratchat27 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Craig Hildebrand-Burke is a writer who has recently completed a psychology degree. He’s written fiction, non-fiction, reviews and commentary for publications including Tincture, Writers Bloc, ACMI and SBS News. You can find him on Twitter as @_CraigHB. Next month we leave the Discworld and head into outer space – and inside a computer – in 1992’s Only You Can Save Mankind, the first of the Johnny Maxwell books for middle grade readers. We’ll be recording in late January, so get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat28. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We recorded before the current Australian bushfires reached their peak, and so barely mentioned them in the episode; if you’d like to help the firefighters, wildlife workers or those affected by the fires, this JJJ article has some good places to start. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
131 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat26 – The Long Dark Mr Teatime of the Soul
In episode 26, Michael Williams of The Wheeler Centre joins Liz and Ben to get into the holiday spirit with the very Christmassy 1996 Discworld novel Hogfather. It’s Hogswatch, and the Assassins Guild of Ankh-Morpork has accepted a very unusual assignment, and Lord Downey has given it to the very unusual assassin Mr Teatime. But who would want to kill the Hogfather? And how would you even accomplish such a thing? As Death fills in for the Fat Man delivering presents, his granddaughter Susan is reluctantly drawn to investigate, teaming up with the newly created Oh God of Hangovers. But much more than the joy of children is at stake – for without the Hogfather, will the sun even rise tomorrow? Hogfather brings to life a character previously mentioned only in passing rather paradoxically by replacing him with Death, who gets a sort of working holiday. It’s our second and final adventure with Susan, and the wizards get heavily involved – as does their arcane thinking machine Hex. It’s full of not-quite-Christmas cheer, black humour, true pathos and a pure expression of many of Terry’s most deeply held beliefs. Could this be the ultimate story of Christmas? Do its themes of belief and justice hit the mark? And what kind of creature would you call into existence if there were excess belief sloshing around? Use the hashtag #Pratchat26 on social media to join the conversation and have your say! Guest Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. They have a year-round program of talks, interviews, panel discussions, podcasts and writing. Find out more about what’s happening at @wheelercentre on Twitter and Instagram, or check out videos of past talks on YouTube. You’ll find all the Wheeler Centre’s upcoming events at wheelercentre.com, as well as a collection of Michael’s writings and events. You can also find Michael on Twitter at @mmccwill. The Sci-Fight comedy debate over the topic “Santa is Real” features a great line-up of comedians and scientists, including previous Pratchat guest Nate Byrne (episode 24). It’s on at Howler in Brunswick on Thursday December 12, 2019. Details and tickets via scifight.com.au. Next month we continue through the Discworld with 1997’s Jingo, a tale of nationalism, war, racism and greed, which also has a submarine in it. We’ll be recording in the week or so before Hogswa- er, Christmas, so get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat27. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more.
9 minutes | a year ago
Bonus Episode – The Pratchatters’ Guide to the Night Terrace
Have a surprise bonus mini-episode of Pratchat! We’ve mentioned Night Terrace a few times, but not gone into too much detail. So, outside of our usual schedule, Liz asks Ben all about this time travel radio comedy series from Splendid Chaps Productions. What’s it about? Who are the main characters? How would they fit into the Discworld? You’ll also get a bit of behind the scenes info and hear some excerpts from the first two seasons. If it sounds good to you, hop on over to the Night Terrace crowdfunding campaign before November 22, and help get a third season made! You’ll hear excerpts from the Night Terrace episodes “Sound & Führer”, “Moving House” (both by John Richards), “Time of Death”, “Ancient History” (both by Ben McKenzie), “Sense & Susceptibility” (also by John Richards) and “The Outsourcing” (by David Ashton). Anastasia Black is played by Jackie Woodburne; Eddie Jones by Ben McKenzie; Sue Denholm by Petra Elliott; the Vraxnols by Toby Truslove and previous Pratchat guest, Cal Wilson (episodes one and three); and Carole by Cate Wolfe. We hope you enjoyed this little diversion! If you want more excerpts and info about Night Terrace, look up the hashtag #NightTerrace on social media, or visit nightterrace.com. If you listen to the series, you may also enjoy the companion podcast On the Terrace.
128 minutes | a year ago
#Pratchat25 – Eskist Attitudes
In episode 25, Elizabeth, Ben and Noongar writer and poet Claire G. Coleman go back to the early days of the Discworld to Granny Weatherwax’s debut in 1986’s Equal Rites. Drum Billet, wizard, travels to the village of Bad Ass high in the Ramtop mountains, where at the moment of his death he hands over his wizard’s staff to the newborn eighth son of an eighth son. But Eskarina Smith isn’t the eighth son of anyone, and it falls to the witch Granny Weatherwax to watch over her. As Esk comes into her powers, Granny realises she needs training in the ways of wizardry lest she pose a danger to everyone around her. So the pair set off to distant Ankh-Morpork on a quest to enrol Esk as the first ever female student of Unseen University… Equal Rites is a book of contradictions: it doesn’t feel quite like the Discworld, but it’s vital and beautifully written. It’s not full of jokes or footnotes, but is consistently funny. And even after more than thirty years, it feels entirely relevant. Do you recognise Esk’s struggle? Did Granny feel like Granny yet? And why do think it took so long for Pratchett to revisit some of these characters? Use the hashtag #Pratchat25 on social media to join the conversation and tell us your thoughts! Guest Claire G. Coleman’s novels are the multi-award winning Terra Nullius, and her new work The Old Lie. She also writes short fiction, poetry and non-fiction and has been published in numerous publications. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @clairegcoleman, or visit her web site, clairegcoleman.com, for more info. Next month we’re joined by the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, Michael Williams, as we celebrate Hogswatch by discussing – what else? – Hogfather! We’re recording on November 13, so get your questions in by then via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat26. You’ll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book? You can support Pratchat for as little as $2 a month and get access to bonus stuff, including the exclusive supporter podcast Ook Club! Click here to find out more. And if you enjoy Ben’s work here on Pratchat, please consider the Kickstarter campaign for Night Terrace season three – as endorsed by Neil Gaiman!
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