Pratchat - a Terry Pratchett and Discworld book club

Splendid Chaps Productions

Join writer Elizabeth Flux and comedian Ben McKenzie on their six(ish) year mission to read every Terry Pratchett novel – not just the Discworld ones! They’ll read one a month, and discuss them with special guests, puns and footnotes. Episodes released on the 8th of each month (Australian time); check pratchatpodcast.com and the end of each episode for notice of the next book, and send in questions to us via social media! The explicit tag represents a fairly average Australian level of coarse language.

All Episodes

Welcome to Pratchat! In this special 10-minute introductory episode, Liz and Ben talk about their first Pratchett experiences, introduce the Discworld, and put forward their cases for which book they should read first, Mort, or Men at Arms, before announcing the winner of the closely contested public poll. If you want to go in not knowing which one it will be, then don't look below! Okay, I think all the spoiler-concerned have looked away now... It was Men at Arms! So get yourself a copy and get reading, as we'll be discussing it on the very first proper episode, which will be released on November 8th. We'll probably even have art and a theme tune and everything by then! In the meantime, you can watch this site for more info about the book itself, and our plans - including some thoughts about our long-term reading order. But if you have thoughts on anything we mention in the intro, please leave a comment and let us know!

Oct 2017

9 min 58 sec

In our first full-length episode, Elizabeth and Ben are joined by comedian Cal Wilson to discuss the winner of our poll - Men at Arms (1993)! The fifteenth Discworld novel, Men at Arms is the second to focus on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, following Guards! Guards! (1989). Captain of the Night Watch Samuel Vimes is only a week away from retirement - so of course "ethnic tensions" between dwarves and trolls are at boiling point, something explodes in the Assassin's Guild, and there's a murderer on the loose. Luckily the Watch has expanded, with three unorthodox new recruits... It's a real smorgasbord of Discworld stuff and a great introduction to the world, especially the quintessential Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork. Guest Cal Wilson is a Melbourne-based New Zealand stand-up comedian and author. You can follow her on Twitter at @calbo. The children's book she couldn't yet name was George and the Great Bum Stampede, illustrated by Sarah Davis. It's the first in a series about George's family, the Peppertons. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

Nov 2017

1 hr 27 min

In our second episode, writer and editor Stephanie Convery joins us as we discuss the runner-up in our poll for which book to read first - Mort! Published 30 years ago, it's the fourth Discworld novel, and the first to put Death in a starring role. Mort (short for Mortimer), a daydreaming farmer's son, is offered an apprenticeship by Death himself. Travelling outside of space and time to Death's home, he finds things aren't what he expects: Death has an elderly manservant, an adopted daughter, and an unusual interest in fly fishing. Mort, left to do the job alone, tries to defy fate in a very human (and teenage) moment  - but can he possibly succeed? And why does an immortal anthropomorphic personification need an apprentice, anyway? Mort is often cited (including by us) as the first book in the series that feels like the Discworld we know and love, so if you're joining us for the first time this episode, this is a great place to start. (And don't worry: we will go back and read the first three books at some point!) Guest Stephanie Convery is deputy culture editor of Guardian Australia, a writer and an author. Her first book, After the Count: The Death of Davey Browne, was published in March 2020 by Penguin Books. You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @gingerandhoney, and find her work on Guardian Australia. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

Dec 2017

1 hr 33 min

In episode three, comedian Cal Wilson is back to discuss the book that started her passion for Terry Pratchett - Sourcery! The fifth Discworld novel, published in 1989, it features the return of the inept wizard Rincewind. Rincewind is very happy to have left his adventuring days behind him, working as assistant librarian at Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork, the Disc's premiere college for wizards. But just as a new archchancellor is about to be named, the young boy Coin arrives. He is the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son - a Sourcerer, a source of raw magic, something not seen on the Disc since the ancient time of the Mage Wars. As he takes over the university and wizards across the world awaken power they've never known, the end of the world draws nigh...and Rincewind just can't seem to avoid getting involved. Rincewind was Pratchett's first protagonist, and this novel exemplifies all the things that make us love him: genre-awareness, unrepentant cowardice, reluctant heroism, lack of any skill at wizardry and fierce self-identification as a wizard. It also sees the return of the Luggage, a living chest which follows Rincewind wherever he goes. It was a delight for us all to see these characters again, and we have grand plans to go back to their beginnings in the very first Discworld novels... In the meantime, when you've finished listening to this episode, get ready for the next one by reading Wyrd Sisters! We'll be recording on January 14th, so get your questions in ASAP if you'd like us to answer them on the podcast. Guest Cal Wilson is a stand-up comedian and children's author. She previously appeared in our first episode, "Boots Theory", and is still on Twitter at @calbo. Her new live stand-up show, Hindsight, will be playing in multiple cities at festivals throughout 2018: this page at comedy.com.au lists a bunch of them. (You can also see the poster she mentions; it really is good!) You can find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

Jan 2018

1 hr 32 min

In episode four, vaudevillian Elly Squires - aka Clara Cupcakes - joins us to discuss one of her first Discworld books, and the start of the witches series proper: Wyrd Sisters! The sixth Discworld novel, published in 1988, it's the second book to feature Granny Weatherwax - but the first to introduce her fellow witches, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Seasoned witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are adjusting to life in a coven with recently graduated apprentice Magrat Garlick when the king of their tiny country of Lancre is murdered, and his baby son escapes into their arms. The murderer, Duke Felmet, is crowned the new, much crueller king, but with the rightful heir off being raised by a troupe of travelling actors, Granny, Nanny and Magrat must contend with rumour, theatre and their own clashing personalities if they are to change their kingdom's story... The witches are one of Pratchett's most beloved groups of characters, and pre-date both the City Watch and the modern faculty of Unseen University - so it's surprising to see them spring so fully-formed from their first novel! We loved meeting them all over again. We'd love to hear what you think of Wyrd Sisters - if you're joining this episode's discussion on social media, please use the hashtag #Pratchat4 so we can all find each other's thoughts! (Big thanks to listener Jodie for this brilliant idea.) Elly Squires can be found on Twitter as her alter-ego @claracupcakes. She's touring her hit 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, The Worst, to various festivals around Australia and the world, including Fringe World in Perth and the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland. Keep an eye out for her tour dates on Facebook or (if you're not afraid of Russian hackers) at claracupcakes.com. You can read the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Our next book, discussed in our March 8th episode, will be 1989's standalone Discworld novel, Pyramids - and joining us to talk about assassins, gods and a very different tiny kingdom will be comedian Richard McKenzie! We'll be recording on February 19th, so get your questions in before then if you'd like us to answer them on the podcast! You can use the hashtag #Pratchat5 to ask them via social media.

Feb 2018

1 hr 40 min

In episode five, comedian Richard McKenzie joins us to discuss that rare beast, a Discworld tale that stars no wizards, witches, watches or Death, and isn't part of any of the ongoing storylines: Pyramids! The seventh Discworld novel, published in 1989, it's chock-full of jokes, footnotes, gods and characters - but we'll see almost none of them ever again... Pteppicymon XXVIII - Teppic for short - is heir to the throne of the ancient river kingdom of Djelibeybi. But the kingdom is broke, having spent its money on pyramids, and in order to give him a profession, Teppic is sent to the best school on the Disc: the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork. Seven years later he's just taken his final exam when his father dies. Teppic is now King (and God) of Djelibeybi earlier than planned - and after so long away, he finds the ancient traditions of his homeland stifling. Can even the King challenge the authority of the kingdom's high priest, Dios? Though it features none of his most beloved characters, Pyramids is nonetheless a favourite among Discworld fans - not least because the first quarter of the book takes us into the classrooms of Ankh-Morpork's most famous guild. What do you think of this tale of tradition, family and mathematics gone wrong? Let us know! Use the hashtag #Pratchat5 on social media. Guest Richard McKenzie is a comedian best known for his storytelling style. Though he rarely performs standup anymore, he hosts trivia twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, at the Cornish Arms on Sydney Road in Brunswick, Melbourne. Make sure to use a Pratchett pun in your team name if you go! You can read the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Our next book, for our April 8th episode, takes us outside the Discworld - and indeed the fantasy genre - for 2012's tale of Victorian London: Dodger! Joining us to talk about toshers, geezers and peelers is a man who's no stranger to fancy words, and better known by his initials: crypto-cruciverbalist and former Letters & Numbers dictionary master, David Astle! We'll be recording on March 24th, so get your questions in before then if you'd like us to answer them on the podcast. You can use the hashtag #Pratchat6 to ask them via social media. (And check out the Episodes page if you want to see a bit further into our future schedule!)

Mar 2018

2 hr

In episode six, word nerd and crypto-cruciverbalist David "DA" Astle joins us to discuss our first non-Discworld novel: Dodger! Published in 2012, it's set in Victorian London and is heavily inspired by the work and style of Charles Dickens, and also that of Punch magazine co-founder Henry Mayhew, author of London Labour and the London Poor - both of whom appear as characters! In the first quarter of Queen Victoria's reign, a young woman falls from a carriage during a London storm - followed by two threatening men. Out of a nearby sewer grate springs Dodger, street orphan and accomplished "tosher" (sewer scavenger), who fights them off before Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew happen by and take the woman to safety. Dickens enlists Dodger's aid in investigating their mysterious charge, who is clearly on the run but refuses to speak of herself or those coming after her. Dodger will need to be sharp as a razor and to have all the luck the Lady of the Sewers can give him in this adventure - but will he be the same Dodger when it's over? In a spot of time travel, we leap forward to one of Pratchett's last books. More serious than many of his other works, though still light in tone and written in a very Dickensian style - including chapters! - Dodger is quite a departure for Pratchett in many ways while still remaining essentially Pratchetty. (Pratchettesque?) What do you think of Dodger? Let us know! Use the hashtag #Pratchat6 on social media to join the conversation. You can find David Astle online at davidastle.com, itself a haven of word puzzles and anagrams, and he's on Twitter as @DontAttempt (a joking translation of his cryptic crossword-maker initials, DA, which some see as proof of difficulty!). His latest work is David Astle's Gargantuan Book of Words, which is available now through publishers Allen & Unwin, but watch out for Rewording the Brain and 101 Weird Words and Three Fakes, appearing in 2018. You can also catch him on the wireless on ABC Melbourne. You can read the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We return to the Discworld for our May 8th episode, though we are going slightly out of order to read Eric, the first illustrated Discworld book! And who better to discuss it than an illustrator? So we'll be joined by Adelaide-based artist and comic book creator, Georgina Chadderton (aka George Rex)! This one is recorded hot on the heels of our April episode, so by the time you read this we may have already asked for your questions, but even if you missed that callout you can still join in on social media with the hashtag #Pratchat7.

Apr 2018

1 hr 51 min

In episode seven, comic book creator and illustrator Georgina Chadderton, aka George Rex, joins us to discuss the ninth Discworld novel: Faust Eric! Published in 1990 - alongside four other novels, making it one of Pterry's most prolific years - it's a shorter novel, originally published in a large format with lavish illustrations by Discworld cover artist Josh Kirby. (Also, fair warning to the pun-averse: Elizabeth really goes to town in this one...) Eric Thurslow is surprised to find that the demon he has summoned looks suspiciously like a wizard - but not as surprised as the inept "wizzard" Rincewind is to have been summoned. Freed from the Dungeon Dimensions, he now finds himself compelled to grant wishes to an adolescent demonologist - and to his even greater surprise, he's able to do it! Meanwhile, following along behind him across space, time and dimensions, Rincewind's faithful Luggage is catching up to its master - and just as well, because the Prince of Hell isn't too pleased that his plans for Eric have gone awry...   Eric is the fourth book to feature Rincewind - last seen in Sourcery - and like his previous appearances it's a romp across the Discworld to places (and in this case times) previously unseen. Sometimes regarded as a bit of an addendum to the main Discworld series because of its short length, Eric wears its parody - and its classical allusions - proudly on its sleeve. Did you like Eric? Did you read an edition with the illustrations? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat7 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Georgina Chadderton (aka George Rex) is a comic book creator and illustrator based in Adelaide. You can find her delightful autobiographical comics online at georgerexcomics.com, and at @georgerexcomics on Instagram. George was in Melbourne for a residency with 100 Story Building, where Ben works facilitating creative writing workshops for young people. George's Etsy shop is full of cool comics, postcards, badges and prints. We skipped ahead to make sure we could chat with Georgina while she was in Melbourne, so we're going back a step for our June episode, where librarian Aimee Nichols will join us to talk about the very first City Watch book: Guards! Guards! We'll be recording soon, so if you'd like us to respond to you on the podcast, get in quick! Ask your questions via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat7A. (What, you expected us to actually use the forbidden number?) You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

May 2018

1 hr 54 min

In this, the next episode after our seventh one, writer, performer and librarian Aimee Nichols talks with us about the ninth-but-one Discworld novel: Guards! Guards! Published in 1989, it kicks off the longest-running and arguably most popular Discworld sequence: the adventures of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The Night Watch has seen better days: the Thieves' Guild has made them all but obsolete, and with the recent death of Herbert Gaskin, their company has dwindled to just three: career Sergeant Fred Colon, former street urchin Corporal Nobbs, and perpetually drunk Captain Samuel Vimes. They're shaken up by new recruit Carrot - a human raised (as far as possible) by dwarfs - who not only volunteered to join, but actually tries to uphold the law. But they'll need all the help they can get as a secret cabal of resentful men are manipulated by a charismatic leader for an incredible purpose: to bring a dragon to Ankh-Morpork... Vimes, Colon, Nobby and Carrot all make their debuts here, as do Lady Sybil Ramkin (in her biggest role), Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, Detritus the troll and the concept of L-Space, and both the Librarian and the Patrician feature prominently. It's also the first Discworld novel set entirely in Ankh-Morpork, though after appearances in all of the previous novels it already feels like home. Even nearly 30 years later, Guards! Guards! feels incredibly relevant and funny, but it's also weird to go back to Sam Vimes' beginning when he still has so much evolution and redemption ahead of him. (If you'd like to head straight to his next book, just go back in time to Pratchat#1, "Boots Theory", when we read Men at Arms with Cal Wilson.) We'd love to hear what you thought of Guards! Guards! - use the hashtag #Pratchat7A on social media to join the conversation! (If you use the...er...other number we'll probably find you too.) Guest Aimee Nichols is not only a librarian, but also a writer and performer. You can follow her (and by proxy, her dog Winston) on Twitter at @wordsandsequins, or check our her web site at aimee-nichols.com. You can also find Aimee's wonderful piece about the passing of Sir Terry on Medium. It's time to step out of the Discworld again when we return from L-Space next month, when author Amie Kaufman will join us to talk about the first book of the Nomes: Truckers. As usual, if you want us to answer your questions on the podcast, get them in as soon as you can! Ask them via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat9. You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

Jun 2018

1 hr 58 min

For our ninth episode we leave the Discworld again as author Amie Kaufman joins us to discuss Truckers. One of four novels Pratchett published in 1989, it introduces the Nomes - Pratchett's second group of tiny folk living at the edges of the human-sized world. Masklin is the young hunter in a group of Nomes: four-inch tall fast-living people struggling to survive on rats and the scraps they can scavenge from the human world. After two Nomes are killed by a fox, Masklin convinces the group to hitch a ride on one of the humans' enormous vehicles, and they find themselves in the Store: Arnold Bros (set 1905), a wondrous place filled with food, warmth - and more Nomes than they have ever seen. As they try to adjust to the peculiar ways of life in the Store, its electricity revives "The Thing", an ancient Nome artefact handed down for generations. It reveals to Masklin that Nomes were stranded on Earth millennia ago, but there's hardly time to understand what that means before The Thing warns of immediate danger: the Store will be demolished in just fourteen days...  Truckers is a middle grade book - it has chapters and no footnotes! - which is nonetheless charming for "adults of all ages", as Sir Terry liked to inscribe copies. In Masklin, Grimma, Granny Morkie and the other Nomes are echoes of Pratchett characters we love, and it's perhaps surprisingly sophisticated in its satire, social commentary and love of wordplay. It forms the first part of "the Bromeliad" trilogy (a name explained by the sequels), but is also a complete and wonderful story all on its own. We'd love to hear what you thought of Truckers: use the hashtag #Pratchat9 on social media to join the conversation. But do try to use small words... Amie Kaufman is on social media, but if you really want to keep up with what she's up to, we recommend hitting her web site, amiekaufman.com. Her novels include the The Illuminae Files YA sci-fi trilogy, co-authored with Jay Kristoff, and for younger readers Ice Wolves, the first in a new middle grade fantasy series. We'll head back to the Disc next time when we grab a bag of banged grains and take in a few clicks in Moving Pictures! We haven't currently confirmed our guest, but we'll be sure to tell you who they are when we can lock in a date! You can still ask questions to be answered on the podcast by sending them in via social media; use the hashtag #Pratchat10 so we can find them! 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 subscriber bonuses, like the exclusive bonus podcast Ook Club!

Jul 2018

1 hr 49 min

For our tenth episode it's back to the Discworld - and Ankh-Morpork - as academic, writer and broadcaster Dr Dan Golding joins us for Moving Pictures. The tenth Discworld novel, Moving Pictures was published in Pratchett's most prolific year: Good Omens, Eric and both sequels to Truckers also came out in 1990! Student wizard Victor Tugelbend has been happily failing exams at Unseen University for years...but when alchemists suddenly invent "moving pictures", Victor finds himself drawn to Holy Wood, the mysterious coastal home of this new entertainment industry. He's not the only one: hopeful actors, ambitious producers and even talking animals have all been caught up in the glamour of the "clicks". It's not magic in the wizard sense, but there's definitely something unnatural going on - and it'll take Victor, fellow star Theda "Ginger" Withel, Gaspode the Wonder Dog and the faculty of Unseen University - including new Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully - to solve the mystery of Holy Wood. Bringing modern world concepts to the Disc had always been a feature of the series, but Moving Pictures really kicks off the tradition of "X comes to the Discworld" plots. Pratchett takes broad aim at Hollywood in a mix of homage and parody, referencing everything from the pre-talkie era to the Golden Age and 1980s blockbusters. It also features the first major roles for Detritus and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler (both introduced in Guards! Guards!), and is the first appearance of Gaspode the Wonder Dog (who returns in Men at Arms) and the stable, ongoing cast of Unseen University wizards. There's so much happening in Moving Pictures, and we'd love to hear what you thought of it! Use the hashtag #Pratchat10 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Dan Golding is an academic, writer, composer and broadcaster. His next book Star Wars After Lucas will be released on May the 4th, 2019, but you can see his ABC series What is Music? with co-host Linda Marigliano right now! Check it out on ABC iView or the triple j YouTube channel. He also co-hosts the podcast Art of the Score with Andrew Pogson and Nicholas Buc, which you can find online at artofthescore.com.au or on Twitter at @ArtoftheScore. Dan is also on Twitter at @dangolding. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. In our next episode we'll be joined by television captioner and Discworld mega-fan Sarah Pearson as we reunite with Death for the eleventh Discworld novel, Reaper Man! If you have questions you want answered on the podcast, send them in by  via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat11.

Aug 2018

1 hr 56 min

For our eleventh episode we welcome Pratchett fan Sarah Pearson to the mic to discuss a Discworld novel of two halves: Reaper Man! The eleventh Discworld novel, published in 1991, Reaper Man is the second book to focus on Death and the newly stable faculty of Unseen University. The faceless bureaucrats of the multiverse have decided Death is sentimental and inefficient, and he's been fired! While he heads off to live among humans for his remaining time - until his replacement comes to claim him - his absence means those who die sort of...don't. That includes Windle Poons, 130-year-old wizard of Unseen University, whose return as a zombie gives him a new lease on life - much to the horror of his fellow faculty members. But Death's absence is having other weird consequences: objects spring to life, non-human species spawn their own Deaths, and strangest of all, a warehouse in Ankh-Morpork mysteriously fills with small glass orbs... Reaper Man's two mostly separate plots - Death's forced retirement, and the wizards' investigation of the alien lifeforms - bring back not only Death but also Windle Poons and the faculty of Unseen University, both introduced in Moving Pictures, alongside cameos by familiar faces like CMOT Dibbler and Fred Colon. Plus we meet a bunch of new and memorable characters: the Death of Rats, the Auditors of Reality, Mrs Cake and her daughter Ludmilla, and undead activist Reg Shoe and his friends from the Fresh Start Club. It's a big cast, but then with two separate plots there's plenty for them to do! We'd love to hear what you thought of Reaper Man; use the hashtag #Pratchat11 on social media to join the conversation.

Sep 2018

1 hr 59 min

For our twelfth episode we're joined by Jackie Tang discuss Witches Abroad! The twelfth Discworld novel, published in 1991, Witches Abroad is the second to star the Lancre witches, who return only two books later for Lords and Ladies. Witch Desiderata Hollow has died and passed on her fairy godmother wand to Magrat Garlick, the youngest of the Lancre witches, along with a note telling her to go to the distant kingdom of Genua to stop a servant girl from marrying a prince - without Granny Weatherwax. Which of course means Granny - and Nanny Ogg - are definitely coming. As they make their way across the Disc by broomstick and riverboat, experiencing all that travel has to offer, they find themselves increasingly drawn into warped stories - and Granny may not be letting on all that she knows about what they'll face when they arrive...  As well as providing an extended parody of the English travelling abroad, Witches Abroad is mostly about stories - where they come from, how they influence us, and what they really mean when you stop to think about them. As well as traditional fairytales, Pratchett lampoons everything from The Wizard of Oz to Disney princesses and even Middle Earth. So what did you think of Witches Abroad? Use the hashtag #Pratchat12 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Jackie Tang is an editor and bookseller who works at Neighbourhood Books in Northcote. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. In our next episode we'll be going back amongst the Nomes for book two of the Bromeliad - Diggers! As usual we'd love to get your questions for the podcast; send them in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat13.

Oct 2018

2 hr 6 min

In episode thirteen, Marlee Jane Ward joins us to talk Diggers! Published in 1990, it picks up where Truckers left off, splitting the story of the Nomes in two. (You can catch up on Truckers in #Pratchat9, and join us for the end of the story in #Pratchat20.) The Nomes, having fled the destruction of the Store in a stolen lorry, have spent six months - something like five years in Nome time - making a new life in an abandoned quarry. But as humans start to take an interest in their new home, Grimma must hold the quarry Nomes together - no easy task when Nisodemus, the acting Abbott, is trying to convince them all to return to the old ways of the Store. Meanwhile Dorcas, the engineer who made the Long Drive possible, has made a secret discovery in one of the old quarry sheds - a mighty beast, known only as Jekub... With many of the main characters from Truckers exiting the novel quite early on, Diggers focuses on Grimma and Dorcas, with the books' events happening concurrently with those in the third book, Wings. Among its many themes are Pratchetty commentaries on religion, faith, community and responsibility, as well as many new jokes about the ways in which Nomes misunderstand humans - or, perhaps, understand humans perfectly. Have you read Diggers? What did you think? Use the hashtag #Pratchat13 on social media to join the conversation. We particularly want to see your original drawings of Nomes (see the original description from Truckers in the notes below), and to hear what you think about the exciting news of the The Watch TV series being officially greenlit by BBC America!  Guest Marlee Jane Ward is an author and writer, best known for the YA sci-fi novella Welcome to Orphancorp, which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Young Adults in and it's sequel Psynode, both published by Seizure. A third and final book in the series, Prisoncorop, was published in 2019. Marlee also has a podcast of her own, Catastropod, in which she discusses apocalyptic fiction with a variety of guests. You can find out more about Marlee at her web site, marleejaneward.com, or by following her on Twitter at @marleejaneward. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. November 24, 2018 marks a special Pratchett anniversary - 35 years since the publication of the very first Discworld novel! That's right, we're going back to the very beginning to read The Colour of Magic and find out if it really is a very good place to start, with help from fantasy writer and freelance editor, Joel Martin! We're sure you have loads of questions, so please send them in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat14.

Nov 2018

1 hr 47 min

In episode fourteen we celebrate 35 years of the Discworld by going all the way back to the beginning! Writer and podcaster Joel Martin joins us for a bumper A’Tuin-sized discussion of the very first Discworld story, adventure, chronicle, tale...The Colour of Magic, published in 1983! Rincewind, a wizard unable to cast spells, makes a living of sorts in the mighty city of Ankh-Morpork through his gift for languages. But his gift gets him more than he bargains for when he becomes the guide to the Discworld's first tourist. Fresh off the boat from the distant and obscenely wealthy Counterweight Continent, naïve Twoflower has come armed with a phrasebook, a demon-powered picture box and his magical Luggage full of enormous gold coins, determined to see the barbarians, brawls and beasts he's read about in stories back home. But seeing them is the easy part - surviving to talk about them is another matter entirely... Though we've often talked about the differences between the earliest books and those that came later, The Colour of Magic introduces Ankh-Morpork, Rincewind, Death and of course Great A'Tuin and the Disc itself with varying degrees of familiarity. Split into four sections - The Colour of Magic, The Sending of Eight, The Lure of the Wyrm and Close to the Edge - it manages to be both homage and parody of multiple beloved fantasy genres, while at the same time trying to establish its world - and author - as something new. Do you think it succeeds? Did you start at the start? Use the hashtag #Pratchat14 on social media to join the conversation and tell us! We'd also love to see some fan art of the Luggage based directly on the text, rather than Kirby's ubiquitous, fleshy baby-legged version. Guest Joel Martin is a fantasy author whose several novellas and novels include his own take on classic sword-and-sorcery, The Broken World (whose protagonist is not Kane, but Karn). For more about him and his work, visit his web site, thepenofjoel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @thepenofjoel. He also hosts the writing discussion podcast The Morning Bell with Luke Manly and Ian Laking; find it at themorningbell.com.au. You can find full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. This is our final episode for the Year of the Justifiably Defensive Lobster (aka 2018), but we'll be back in January, when we'll fire up Queen's Greatest Hits and kick off proceedings with one of Pratchett's most celebrated novels: Good Omens! Yes, we're getting in to cover Pratchett's collaboration with Neil Gaiman before said co-author and Amazon Prime bring their version to subscribers' screens in 2019. (Don't worry, it'll be on the BBC at some point too.) With twice the authors, we're expecting twice the questions (though we'll try and stick to our usual running time of under two hours), so send them in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat15.

Dec 2018

2 hr 23 min

We kick off the Year of the Incontrovertible Skunk with our fifteenth episode, heading not to the Discworld at all, but to Earth, 1990! Two guests - academic Jen Beckett and writer Amy Gray - join us as to tackle a book written by two authors: Good Omens, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman! The time has come for Armageddon: the End of Days, the Final Battle between Good and Evil. Which comes as rather a shock to the demon Crowley and angel Aziraphale, who've been more or less friends for centuries, and rather enjoy Earth the way it is, thank you very much. But can they really do anything about it in the face of the ineffable plan of God? Or when everything that happens has been foretold by a 16th century witch - as interpreted by her descendant, Anathema Device? And has anyone asked the Antichrist himself what he thinks? Well no, of course not. They don't know where he is. Good Omens was Sir Terry's first collaboration with another author, and Gaiman's first novel, written while he was still working on his biggest comics success, Sandman. In part a parody of The Omen, but joking about everything from motorways to computers and the Greatest Hits of Queen along the way, it's an epic tale of Armageddon soon to arrive on the small screen via Amazon Prime and the BBC - adapted by Neil himself. Did you come to this as a Pratchett fan, or a Gaiman one? Did you cross over and start reading the others' work? And how different do you find it to the rest of Pratchett? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat15 on social media to join the conversation. Dr Jennifer Beckett lectures at Melbourne University in Media and Communications. Her specialist areas as a researcher include Irish cinema and cultural studies, social media, and transmedia world-building. (Jen's basically an expert in all the cool parts of popular culture.) A current focus for Jen is the connection between social media and trauma, as explored in her most recent article for The Conversation: "We need to talk about the mental health of content moderators". Amy Gray has written for The Age, The Guardian, the Queen Victoria Women's Centre and many other publications and organisations. She's currently working on her first book, hopefully to be published in 2019. You can find out more and support her independent writing via her Patreon. You can also find her on Twitter at @_AmyGray_. You can find full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We love bringing you Pratchat every month, but in order to make sure we can stick it out to the very end - and cover every one of Sir Terry's books - we need your help! We've started an optional subscription service via Pozible which will help us keep making Pratchat for you, and even let us do it better; find out all about supporting Pratchat on our new Support Us page. Next month we'll continue the religious theme as we're joined by the Reverend Doctor Avril Hannah-Jones for an examination of faith, Discworld-style, in Small Gods! Send in your questions about gods (big or small) via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat16.

Jan 2019

2 hr 10 min

Episode twice-the-number-which-must-not-be-spoken (i.e. sixteen) takes us inside the Church of Om for a story of faith, religion and truth as we're joined by the Reverend Doctor Avril Hannah-Jones to discuss the 1992 Discworld novel, Small Gods! Brutha is a lowly novice in the Omnian Citadel, dismissed by his superiors as a simpleton whose only notable talent is an extraordinary memory. He's the last person expecting to hear the Voice of the Great God Om, though Brutha has his doubts: Om is supposed to manifest as a mighty golden bull or pillar of flame, not a one-eyed tortoise. Om's not happy either: this isn't how he planned his return from the celestial realm, and no-one but Brutha can hear him. Before god or novice can figure out what's happening, Brutha is recruited by Deacon Vorbis - head of the feared Quisition - for a mission to nearby Ephebe: a nation of heretics, democracy and philosophers, one of whom has dared to pen a treatise describing the world as a flat disc which travels through space on the back of a turtle... One of the few truly standalone Discworld novels, Small Gods focuses on how humans of the Disc create gods, rather than the other way round - for good and for ill. Drawing on the best and worst traditions of monotheism, Galileo's defiance in the face of Catholic censure, and big philosophical questions, Small Gods still manages to be full of Pratchett's trademark humour and humanism, and a long-time favourite for many fans. Do you rate it amongst the best Discworld novels? Would you recommend someone start with it? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat16 on social media to join the conversation. Our guest, the Reverend Doctor Avril Hannah-Jones, is a Minister in the Uniting Church and an all-round wonderful human being. Always a geek, Avril rose to fame in 2011 via Adam Hills' ABC comedy show In Gordon Street Tonight with the foundation of the Church of the Latter Day Geek, which for some reason got more attention than any of the work she has done advocating for LGBTIAQ+ rights or asylum seekers. Avril also appeared in the "Seven/Religion" episode of Splendid Chaps (mostly in part two, but you may also want to listen to part one), and on Doctor Who and the Episodes of Death. You can read about her adventures at her blog, Rev Doc Geek, follow her on Twitter at @DocAvvers, or head along to a Sunday service at Williamstown Uniting Church. You can find the show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. It's been a big year already for the Pratchat crew: we've launched our subscription service - a huge thank you to all our supporters! - and Liz and Ben will be appearing at both Speculate 2019 in mid-March, and Nullus Anxietas 7, the Australian Discworld Convention, in mid-April! Plus Ben will be performing a new show, You Chose Poorly, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 1-7. Next month it's back to the Ramtops as the witches return home in Lords and Ladies with writer, critic and editor Nadia Bailey! ! We're recording that episode hot on the heels of this one's release, so get your questions in via social media before February 16th using the hashtag #Pratchat17.

Feb 2019

2 hr 10 min

In our seventeenth episode we join everyone's favourite dysfunctional coven - and guest, writer Nadia Bailey - as we return to Lancre for the 1992 Discworld novel, Lords and Ladies! The Lancre coven have returned from their trip abroad, but despite the impending royal wedding of Magrat and King Verence, all is not well in the Ramtops: it's circle time, when the walls between worlds are thin, and in the witches' absence someone has been toying with powers beyond their understanding. As usual Granny Weatherwax thinks she can sort everything out herself: facing down a young witch wannabe and keeping the Gentry at bay. But Granny is off her game. Is it the arrival of an old flame? Or is her time as a witch of Lancre nearly up? She'll need Nanny and Magrat's help to see off the threat of the Lords and Ladies... Bringing us back to the witches after only one book away, Lords and Ladies is a particularly Pratchett take on the ancient Celtic stories that inspired modern ideas of fairies and elves. One of the few novels to cross the streams between the witches and wizards, it also gives us more of a glimpse into Esme Weatherwax's past, hints at the future of witchcraft (and royalty) in Lancre, and introduces the infamous "Trousers of Time". Is this your favourite witches novel? What do you think of the parallel universes, other dimensions and alternate timelines it describes? And is this the best take on elves since Tolkien? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat17 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Nadia Bailey is an author, journalist and critic whose work has appeared in The Australian, The Age, The Lifted Brow and many others. The Book of Barb, an unofficial celebration of the surprisingly popular supporting character from the first season of Netflix "kids on bikes" drama Stranger Things, was her first book; it was followed by The Stranger Things Field Guide in December 2018. In between Nadia wrote The World's Best BFFs, a book of profiles of celebrity best friends. All three are published by Smith Street Books. You can find Nadia online at nadiabailey.com, and she tweets at @animalorchestra. You can find full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Don't forget that you can see Liz and Ben at both Speculate 2019 on March 15 and 16, and at Nullus Anxietas 7, the Australian Discworld Convention, on April 13 and 14! Plus Ben's new show, You Chose Poorly, plays at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 1-7. Next month, to tie in with our appearance at Speculate, we'll be leaving the Discworld and blasting off into outer space as we discuss one of Pratchett's early sci-fi novels, The Dark Side of the Sun, with writer Will Kostakis! We'll likely be recording around the time of Speculate 2019, so get your questions in via social media before March 15th using the hashtag #Pratchat18.

Mar 2019

2 hr 4 min

For episode eighteen we go back to Pratchett's science fiction beginnings as - in the evening between the two days of the 2019 Speculate festival - author Will Kostakis joins us to talk about the 1976 standalone novel, The Dark Side of the Sun! Dom Sabalos is about to become Chairman of the planet Widdershins when he is messily assassinated. Well...mostly. When he survives against all odds, he discovers his death had been predicted using probability math. The same science also predicts he will discover Joker's World, the mysterious home of the vanished ancient species thought to have laid the foundation for all intelligent life. Dom sets out to fulfil his destiny with his alien mentor Hrsh-Hgn, his new robot, Isaac, and a strange, lucky creature from his homeworld's swamp. Filled with references and homages to prominent science fiction authors like Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert, The Dark Side of the Sun is the first of Pratchett's two early science fiction novels. It features the first appearance of many names and concepts he would later come to reuse in various forms in the Discworld. It's a short, fast-paced book with big ideas - not least Pratchett's own take on the classic sci-fi trope of a vanished, ancient precursor species known only through mysterious artefacts. But does it work? Is this an early sign of genius, or a run-up for someone who needed more time to come into his own? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat18 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Will Kostakis is a writer and award-winning author. He's written many short stories and four novels, all for young adults, including The Sidekicks and The First Third. As mentioned in the episode, his first fantasy YA novel, Monuments, will be released in September 2019. You can find out more about Will and his work 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. (This episode was released just before Liz and Ben appeared at Nullus Anxietas 7, the Australian Discworld Convention, on April 13 and 14 2019! You'll find the bonus live episode they recorded at the convention in the podcast feed.) Next month it's back to the Discworld as we crank up the volume and rock out with Death! Yes, we'll be reading Soul Music, so get your questions in via social media by mid-April using the hashtag #Pratchat19.

Apr 2019

1 hr 38 min

In our nineteenth episode it's back to the Discworld as we join Death, and meet his granddaughter Susan, as writer and illustrator Fury joins us to talk about the 1994 Discworld novel, Soul Music! Susan Sto Helit doesn’t have time for anything silly – not for grief, not for tiny skeletal rats who are here to inform her of SQUEAK, and most definitely not for this new craze sweeping the disc. But music with rocks in has other ideas, and doesn’t care who gets swept up in the swell. With her long lost grandfather (the one with the bony knees) missing in action, Susan has no choice but to take on the family business and try not to....erm...rock the boat. Pratchett is never one to shy away from the big themes and Soul Music packs a lot of punch into a deceptively simple plot. Exploring the complexities of grief, and the idea that family is more than just genetics, the 16th Discworld continues the story from where Mort left off, and introduces us to some new (sadly one-off) names that we quickly grow to love. Packed with more music references and jokes than one could shake a stick with bells at, this is one that was Imp-possible to put down. Got a favourite Discworld band name? Or an idea as good as My Little Binky? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat19 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Fury is a writer and author based in Naarm/Melbourne. Their book, an experimental graphic novel memoir titled I Don't Understand How Emotions Work, is available here. You'll find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. As mentioned this episode, keep an ear out for our first live show, recorded at Nullus Anxietas VII, where we discuss the short story Troll Bridge with author Tansy Rayner-Roberts! It'll show up in the podcast stream soon. Next month we head to the skies and cling on for dear life as we finish the Bromeliad trilogy with Wings! Get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat20.

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May 2019

2 hr 14 min

For our twentieth episode we finish our first Pratchett series! Elizabeth and Ben are joined by writer Dr Lili Wilkinson to discover the final fate of Masklin, Angalo, Gurder and the rest of the Nomes in the 1990 conclusion to the Bromeliad: Wings! (If you need to catch up, you can find Truckers in episode 9, and Diggers in episode 13.) When Masklin arrived in the Store, he learned that the Thing - an ancient artefact handed down for thousands of generations - wasn't just a useless box, but could speak. It warned him of the destruction of the Store, helped him escape with all the Store Nomes in a truck to the quarry, and revealed that Nomes came to Earth from a distant star. Masklin knows the Nomes can't run from humans forever. It's time to find a proper home of their own. So with the help of the Abbott Gurder and explorer Angalo, he's going to sneak onto a Concorde and go to Florida to hijack a satellite so the Thing can talk to their starship and fly them to another planet. Not that Masklin understands what most of those words mean... The Book of the Nomes concludes with a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that doesn't shy away from some big questions about identity, religion, philosophy and taking risks to do what's right. Picking up from where we left them at the start of Diggers, Wings follows Masklin, Angalo and Gurder as they travel vast distances, meet their own gods and eventually have a close encounter of the Nome kind. Did you find the ending satisfying? How does the mix of fantasy and sci-fi tropes sit with you? Do you wish there'd been more stories of the Nomes? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat20 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Dr Lili Wilkinson is an author based in Melbourne. She's written a dozen books for young adults and middle grade readers, including The Boundless Sublime (about a girl who gets sucked into a cult), After the Lights Go Out (in which a girl is prepped for the apocalypse by her Dad...and then it happens), and Green Valentine, a romance featuring shopping trolleys, a lobster costume and a whole lot of gardening. Lili also started insideadog.com.au, an online community for bookish teens, and the Inky Awards, Australia's only reader's choice award for YA fiction. Watch out for her new picture book Clancy the Quokka in October 2019. You can find Lili online at liliwilkinson.com.au and on Twitter at @twitofalili. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Last month we had to delay the release of our live show from Nullus Anxietas VII, discussing the short story Troll Bridge with author Tansy Rayner-Roberts, but it will be released in between this episode and the next one. And speaking of the next one...in July we're visiting a distant part of the Disc and finally catching up with everyone's* favourite inept wizard, Rincewind, as we'll be joined by David Ryding of Melbourne City of Literature to return to the Discworld series with Interesting Times! Get your questions in via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat21. * Well...all right. Ben's favourite inept wizard. Though Catweazle, Ergo the Magnificent and Meredith are all up there as well.

Jun 2019

1 hr 58 min

Back in April, Liz and Ben attended the seventh bi-annual Australian Discworld Convention, Nullus Anxietas VII! They enlisted fellow convention guest (and friend of the podcast), author Tansy Rayner Roberts, to discuss the earliest Discworld short story: 1991's Troll Bridge! Cohen the Barbarian has led a long life, but his greatest glories and biggest adventures seem far behind him. It's time to tick a few items off his bucket list - starting with facing a troll in one-on-one combat. But when he and his annoying talking horse reach one of the few troll bridges left on the Disc, things aren't as straightforward as they were in the old days... With the Snowgum Films adaptation of Troll Bridge being screened at the convention, it seemed only right to cover the source material in this, our first ever live show! Like a lot of Pratchett's work, Troll Bridge is by turns silly and deep, drawing on the traditions of Tolkien and Howard while at the same time pointing out that their worlds couldn't stay the same forever. Did you find it poignant? When do you think it happens in Cohen's timeline? And is a short story enough for an entire podcast? We'd love to know! Use the hashtag #PratchatNA7 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Tansy Rayner Roberts is an award-winning writer and podcast host. She's written fantasy novels, short fiction, feminist essays and much more; of particular interest to Pratchat listeners is Pratchett's Women, a collection of essays about the women in the Discworld novels. She co-hosts the podcasts Galactic Suburbia (about sci-fi and writing in Australia) and Verity! (about Doctor Who), and has her own fiction podcast Sheep Might Fly. You can find Tansy on the web at tansyrr.com, on Patreon at patreon.com/tansyrr, and also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We'd like to extend our warm thanks to everyone who attended the convention; you all made us feel so welcome, and it was such a special experience to be among so many Discworld fans, speaking on panels and chairing debates and meeting you all! Especially big thanks to those of you who came to be in our first live audience, and to the massive team of hard-working volunteers at Nullus Anxietas, without whom fan conventions like this just couldn't happen. That goes eig- er, one more than sevenfold to Suzie Eisfelder, Lisa Lagergren, Steve Lewis and all the other members of the committee, who organise such a massive undertaking every two years. We hope to see you all in Sydney in 2021 for Nullus Anxietas 7A! We hope to do some more live shows in the future, probably as bonus episodes like this one. Regular episodes will continue to be released on the 7Ath of each month...and in episode 21, coming up next in July 2019, you can find out what Genghiz Cohen did next as we discuss Interesting Times. 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!

Jun 2019

1 hr 29 min

Twenty-one today! In this episode, Elizabeth and Ben are joined by David Ryding of Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature as we rejoin Rincewind and some of his old friends in the 17th Discworld novel: 1994's Interesting Times. Rincewind, the worst student Unseen University ever had, has been quite literally to hell and back. But when a summons arrives in Ankh-Morpork requesting the presence of "the Great Wizzard", his old faculty bring him home, then send him to the far-flung Agatean Empire. All is not well on the Counterweight Continent: rebels are (gently) questioning centuries of enforced order, inspired by the revolutionary pamphlet "What I Did on My Holidays". The ruthless Lord Hong plots to change the Empire forever. The walls have failed to keep out a horde of barbarian invaders - seven of them, in fact. And it's about to be visited by a very special kind of butterfly... Pratchett revisits characters from his first Discworld novels, as Rincewind is reunited with Cohen the Barbarian in Twoflower's homeland. But in 2019, twenty-five years after it was first published, his depiction of a comic fantasy Asia leaves a bit to be desired. There's plenty going on, and some stirring speeches, but it's also hard to ignore that nearly all the main characters are white folks "saving" a nation inspired by real-world Asian countries from itself. Is there a clear message in the book? How does this sit on the evolution of Pratchett's work from parody to satire? And were you glad to see such old favourite characters return, or could you have done without them? We'd love to hear from you! Use the hashtag #Pratchat21 on social media to join the conversation. Guest David Ryding has been Director of the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature office since its establishment in 2014 (though Melbourne has been a City of Literature since 2008). Prior to that he was director of the Emerging Writers Festival, then executive director of the NSW Writers Centre (now know as Writing NSW). You can find out more about what he does at the City of Literature office at cityofliterature.com.au, and they're also on Twitter at @MelCityofLit. If you're looking for other great literary podcasts made in Melbourne, you can find some listed on their site here. You can find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We hope you enjoyed our first ever live show, recorded at Nullus Anxietas VII, where we discussed Cohen's previous adventure in the short story Troll Bridge! We hope to record more bonus episodes in future, and you can help us do it by supporting Pratchat. In August we leave the Discworld and indeed the land of fiction to read one of Pratchett's oddest books: The Unadulterated Cat, a 1989 collaboration with cartoonist Gray Joliffe in which he makes the case that the only "real cat" is one that destroys gardens, eats wildlife and makes a thorough nuisance of itself. If you have questions, send them to us via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat22.

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Jul 2019

2 hr 1 min

Episode 22 - released, by pure coincidence, on International Cat Day - features Elizabeth, Ben and resident Pratcat Asimov for a look at one of Pratchett's oddest books: 1989's humorous examination of all things feline, The Unadulterated Cat. Cats these days just aren't a patch on the ones you used to get: untameable aloof outdoor beasts who are more likely to trap you in a neighbours' house with a broken leg (long story) than to sit nicely on your lap and purr. The Campaign for Real Cats has had enough of modern, "fizzy keg" cats, with their bows and bells and posing. This is the Campaign's guide to identifying, understanding and appreciating honest-to-Bastet real cats. Pratchett teams up with cartoonist and illustrator Gray Jolliffe to give us a tongue-firm-in-furry-cheek guide to the world of cats in one of his rare non-fiction works. It's the kind of thing you buy the cat lover in your life for Christmas, full of chapters detailing the types of cats, their names, the games they play and "advice" on how to deal with them. Are you a cat lover? Did this ring true for you? We'd love to hear from you - and to hear your cat stories, and any real cats you've identified in fiction! Use the hashtag #Pratchat22 on social media to join the conversation. Guest Asimov lives with Liz and is our resident "Pratcat". He was previously audible in the background of #Pratchat10, "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Broomstick" and #Pratchat18, "Sundog Gazillionaire". No doubt he'll crop up in future episodes too. You can follow his adventures on Instagram at @asimovthecat. You'll find the full show notes and errata for this episode on our web site. In September we return to the Discworld - and its most real of cats, Greebo - as we head to the opera for Maskerade, the 1994 book which brings the witches to Ankh-Morpork! Our guest will be teacher and opera singer Myf Coghill. We'd love your questions - send them to us via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat23. As mentioned in this episode, we'll soon be releasing our first bonus episode just for subscribers! All bonus episodes will be available to anyone who subscribes, so if you're interested, jump over to our Support Us page for details.

Aug 2019

1 hr 16 min

For episode 23, Elizabeth and Ben are joined by opera singer Myf Coghill on a trip to Ankh-Morpork's opera house in 1994's Discworld novel of witches, phantoms and experimental cookery: Maskerade! Nanny Ogg's coven with Granny Weatherwax is short a witch. She decides young Agnes Nitt - last seen dabbling in the craft while wearing black lace and calling herself "Perdita" - is just the person to fill the position. But Agnes has run off to Ankh-Morpork and joined the opera, where a mysterious "Opera Ghost" has turned from good luck charm to demanding, dangerous and possibly deranged. Can "Perdita" find out the identity of the Opera Ghost before the bodies start stacking up - and before Granny and Nanny stick their noses in and do it for her? Pratchett delves into a world hitherto unknown to him and takes Granny and Nanny to the big city for their penultimate book, heavily influenced by The Phantom of the Opera, and about much more earthly matters than their previous adventures. We learn a lot about opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the world of publishing, and delve into Pratchett's treatment of Agnes, a beloved character whose unflattering portrayal was the subject of many questions and comments. Did Maskerade bring out the opera fan in you? Do you think Agnes deserved better? And despite being a bit of a downer, is this one of the best Discworld books we've discussed so far? Use the hashtag #Pratchat23 on social media to join the conversation and let us know what you think! Guest Myfanwy Coghill is an opera singer, soon-to-be qualified teacher, and Dungeon Master (of the Dungeons & Dragons variety). You can follow her on Twitter at @_merlenoir_. You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. We're staying in Ankh-Morpork for Feet of Clay in October before heading back in time to explore the origins of Granny Weatherwax in November with Equal Rites. Plus our subscriber-only bonus podcast, Ook Club, has launched! You can subscribe for as little as $2 a month to check it out. You'll find all the details on our Support Us page.

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Sep 2019

2 hr 18 min

In episode 24, meteorologist Nate Byrne joins Elizabeth and Ben for a Discworld tale of murder, golems and nobility in 1996's Feet of Clay. Two old men have been murdered in Ankh-Morpork, but they're not the worst of Commander Vimes' woes. His best Sergeant is six weeks from retirement; his worst Corporal might be the Earl of Ankh; his newest recruit is an alchemist with some pretty strange ideas for a dwarf; and someone has poisoned the Patrician, though he's damned if he can figure out how. And somehow, the golems are involved... Following on from Men at Arms (from way back in episode one!), Feet of Clay evolves the Watch - and its leader - even further, and introduces some of Pratchett's most memorable supporting characters: Cheery Littlebottom, Wee Mad Arthur and Dorfl the golem. It gets a bit deep on questions of artificial life, gender expression and identity, and is a heck of a mystery novel to boot. Did you figure out "whatdunnit"? Who's your favourite new character? And what do you think the Pratchat coat of arms and motto should be? Use the hashtag #Pratchat24 on social media to join the conversation and let us know what you think! PS - we recorded this just before the casting announcements for The Watch television series, so don't be disappointed when they don't come up! We'll find a place to discuss them in the near future. Guest Nate Byrne is a meteorologist, weather presenter and science communicator. He presents the weather for ABC News Breakfast, which means he gets up very early and had been awake for around 14 hours when we recorded this episode, making his jokes and insights even more impressive! You can find Nate's writing for the ABC here, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Next month we're joined by author Claire G Coleman as we head back to the early days of Discworld with Equal Rites. Plus our subscriber-only bonus podcast, Ook Club, has launched! You can subscribe for as little as $2 a month to check it out. You'll find all the details on our Support Us page.

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Oct 2019

2 hr 14 min

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. 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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Nov 2019

2 hr 7 min

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 (#Pratchat1 and #Pratchat3); 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.

Nov 2019

9 min 26 sec

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.

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Dec 2019

2 hr 10 min

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.

Jan 2020

2 hr 5 min

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.

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Feb 2020

2 hr 2 min

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.

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Mar 2020

2 hr 21 min

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 chat@pratchatpodcast.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 subscribers. 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.

Mar 2020

2 min 1 sec

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.

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Apr 2020

1 hr 59 min

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.

May 2020

2 hr 17 min

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.

Jun 2020

2 hr 19 min

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.

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Jul 2020

1 hr 54 min

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.

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Aug 2020

2 hr 6 min

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 chat@pratchatpodcast.com. You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

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Sep 2020

2 hr 1 min

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 chat@pratchatpodcast.com. You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

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Oct 2020

2 hr 24 min

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.

Nov 2020

2 hr 7 min

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.

Dec 2020

2 hr 24 min

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!

Jan 7

1 hr 32 min

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: chat@pratchatpodcast.com You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

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Feb 7

2 hr 29 min

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: chat@pratchatpodcast.com You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

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Mar 7

2 hr 29 min

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: chat@pratchatpodcast.com You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site. 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.

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Apr 7

2 hr 29 min

Poet and writer Sally Evans joins Liz and Ben as they rejoin Tiffany Aching for a trip up into the mountains to meet the next generation of witches in A Hat Full of Sky, the 32nd Discworld novel, first published in 2004. Note that while this episode discusses a book for younger readers, it does contain swearing and we discuss concepts only appearing metaphorically in the book, including puberty and (briefly) masturbation. Parents may wish to listen first before listening with their big wee ones. Tiffany Aching's life is all change: she's off into the mountains to apprentice with Miss Level, a research witch who even other witches find a bit weird. She's left behind her home, her family, and everything she's ever known. Even the Nac Mac Feegle - the drinking, fighting pictsies who've become her fierce protectors since she was briefly their Queen - aren't coming with her. Tiffany soon finds that fitting in among other new witches, and learning the craft, are far harder than anything she's done before. And that's before the one bit of magic she knows brings her to the attention of a hiver - a bodiless, mindless, invisible creature looking for someone with power to inhabit... While a certain other magical young person was attending a school of magic and magic (as the copyright lawyers insist we call it), Pratchett's own Tiffany Aching sets out on a very different journey of discovery. While only 11, she must grapple with her own burgeoning powers (barely under her control), new social dynamics, the affections of someone who is merely less annoying than he used to be, and all the perils of growing up, including the monster in your own head... Is this book too grown up for 11-year-olds? Are we on the money about the metaphors? How great would it be to have an ondageist? Is it just the younger Earwig devotee witches who are into appearances, or are the hats and black dresses of other witches a sign that it's important to all of them? Are the Feegles still fun, or has Tiffany already outgrown them? Er...so to speak. Phew! So many questions this month. Use the hashtag #Pratchat43 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Dr Sally Evans is a poet and researcher based in Melbourne, Australia. As part of her PhD, Sally created four chapbook-length sequences of poetry, including a modern reworking of The Odyssey by Homer, and giving Fifty Shades of Grey the blackout poetry treatment. You can hear Sally talk Mad Max: Fury Road on the apocalyptic fiction podcast Catastropod, hosted by previous Pratchat guest Marlee Jane Ward, and follow her on Twitter at @SalacticaActual. Next episode we fulfil our stupidest promise: yes, two and half years after we discussed The Colour of Magic, and around 35 years after its first publication, we finally resolve Pratchett's most literal cliffhanger. Join us as we read the second ever Discworld novel, 1986's The Light Fantastic! Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat44, or get them in via email: chat@pratchatpodcast.com You'll find the full notes and errata for this episode on our web site.

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May 7

2 hr 19 min

Welcome to a new tradition: the Pratchat Eeek Club! Each year, on the Glorious 25th of May, we will release a bonus episode discussing topics selected by our Eeek tier subscribers. This year, the topics are: How would Ankh-Morpork deal with COVID-19?What would happen if Granny Weatherwax was head of Unseen University - or if Angua commanded the Watch?Are golems alive? (For that matter, is fire alive?)How has Pratchett and/or the Discworld informed our personal philosophies?If Pratchett had kept writing the Discworld series, would it have evolved into science fiction? A big thank you to all our subscribers for making Pratchat possible, but especially to our Eeek Club contributors: Karl, Catherine, Soren, Jess and David, and Frank! You'll find detailed notes and errata for this episode on our website. Want to make sure we get through every Pratchett book - or even choose a topic for next year's Eeek Club? You can support Pratchat by subscribing 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.

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May 24

1 hr 39 min

We've waited two and a half years for its 35th anniversary, but finally Joel Martin rejoins Liz and Ben to resolve the Discworld's first (and most literal) cliffhanger in The Light Fantastic, the second Discworld novel, first published on the 2nd of June, 1986. When we last saw them, failed wizard Rincewind, Twoflower the tourist and Twoflower's magical Luggage - a living chest on legs - had fallen over the Rim of the Discworld. But instead of tumbling forever through space, they mysteriously find themselves in the Forest of Skund, surrounded by talking trees, gnomes and gingerbread cottages. The senior wizards of Unseen University - including Chancellor Galder Weatherwax, and the second of his Order, Ymper Trymon - soon discover what's happened: the Octavo, the Creator's book of spells, wants to keep Rincewind alive. One of its spells is inside his head, and all eight need to be read to avert an impending apocalypse heralded by an ominous red star... While the usual story is that Pratchett only returned to the Discworld because The Colour of Magic proved popular, he did set himself up for a sequel by dropping his protagonists off the edge of the world. Unlike its predecessor, The Light Fantastic has a pretty straightforward plot about averting the end of the world - but that doesn't stop Pratchett from parodying everything from fairytales to druidic sacrifices and the conventions of fantasy writing. Plus this book introduces some concepts, and especially characters, who will come back later, including a certain no-longer-human Librarian, Death's adopted daughter Ysabell, and octogenarian barbarian Genghiz Cohen. (The rest of the supporting cast are less fortunate...) Does this feel like a "real" Discworld book yet? How do we reconcile these versions of Death and Ysabell with the ones we come to love later? Is it really a bad idea to start with the early books - or is it fun to begin with the early versions of ideas Pratchett would later develop more fully? And what on the Disc happens to Rincewind between this book and Sourcery? Use the hashtag #Pratchat44 on social media to join the conversation! Guest Joel Martin is a podcaster and writer who has joined us twice before: way back in #Pratchat14 to discuss The Colour of Magic, and then again in #Pratchat31 for The Long Earth. While his podcasts are currently on hiatus, there's soon to be exciting news regarding his speculative fiction writers festival, Speculate! You can watch for Speculate news on Twitter at @SpecFicVic, and join the festival's mailing list via specfic.com.au. Find Joel online at thepenofjoel.com or on Twitter at @thepenofjoel. As usual, you can find notes and errata for this episode on our web site. Next episode we go back to another second book of a series, as we take a little break from the Discworld. Yes, it's book two of Pratchett's five novel collaboration with Stephen Baxter, The Long War! Send us your questions using the hashtag #Pratchat45, or get them in via email: chat@pratchatpodcast.com

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Jun 7

2 hr 18 min

For the second time - and coincidentally for another of the books in The Long Earth series - we've made a change in our schedule! Our next book will still be The Long War, as announced in #Pratchat44, but we're postponing that until August. Our forty-fifth episode, #Pratchat45, will instead discuss Pratchett's 1987 short story, "Twenty Pence, With Envelope and Seasonal Greeting". Listen or read on for more information; and we've included a short (silly) out-take from an old episode as a little thank you treat. Please get your questions in for the short story using the hashtag #Pratchat45, or for The Long War using the hashtag #Pratchat46. As usual you can send them via social media, or by email to chat@pratchatpodcast.com. Because Ben can't help himself, here are a few brief episode notes: The Long War is probably Pratchett's second or third longest book. It's 500 or 512 pages, depending on the edition - we don't have a word count - but using the page count as a rough guide his longest novel is Unseen Academicals, which clocks in at 514 or 533 pages in its paperback editions. This is considerably longer than his earlier works, which are short by comparison to most fantasy novels. (You can find some amazingly detailed stats on the earlier Discworld books up to The Amazing Maurice on The L-Space Web; and yes, Ben is now very keen to try and complete this work for all of Pratchett's novels. Stay tuned...)Melbourne's latest lockdown lasted two weeks, from May 28 to June 10, 2021. Many restrictions remain in place at the time of recording, including limits on the number of visitors to private homes.You can get information about and tickets to The Lost Con, which is happening online on Saturday July 3rd, 2021, at the Australian Discworld Convention website.The out-take is from #Pratchat12, "Brooms, Boats and Pumpkinmobiles", featuring guest Jackie Tang and discussing Witches Abroad.Echidna spines are not actually hair, but they are made of the same protein, keratin. We previously mentioned this in #Pratchat36, but there are two kinds of keratin: alpha-keratin, which is found in all vertebrates, and beta-keratin, found only in reptiles and birds. Echidna's spines are made of a harder form of alpha-keratin, similar to the keratin in human fingernails - and surprisingly, using conditioner on your nails (and presumably echidna spines) supposedly makes them stronger and healthier, not smoother!We previously discussed Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzerelli, the 50s greaser with a heart of gold from classic 1970s sitcom Happy Days, in #Pratchat10. (He's the character who originally - and literally - "jumped the shark".)The social media network Vine, owned by Twitter, allowed users to post six-second looping videos. It operated from 2012 to 2016, when it was shut down for new uploads; the archive of old content remained until 2019 (though you can still see stills of videos if you follow a Vine link). You can find compilations of some of the best Vine videos on YouTube - please tweet us your favourites! (For contrast, TikTok launched in 2017, though it is the international version of the Chinese original, 抖音 (Douyin), which began operation in 2016.)Ben is remembering Marutaro the Pygmy Hedgehog, who was indeed a Vine superstar in around 2014. They were one of two hedgehog finalists in the Animal category for the 8th Shorty Awards in 2015. Thanks as always to all our listeners, and especially to our subscribers.

Jun 19

5 min 7 sec