Thursday, August 11, 2011


Do you know what a Discworld Convention is? It's an entire weekend dedicated to all things Discworld and Pratchett, and it tends to happen in far off countries like Australia, lucky bastards that they are. Sir Terry himself is usually there, not to mention hundreds of Discworld fans, and, as fans go, Discworld fans are the most awesome types of fans in the world. True story.

South Africans are about to become those lucky bastards that get to go to Discworld conventions.

September 10th, 2011 is not the date of the convention. It's the date of the first ever South African Discworld Event. If you're an SA fan who loves Pratchett, you want to be at this. Besides the screening of Going Postal, the reading from the unpublished Snuff,  free gifts and amazing Discworld collectors items, this event offers the opportunity to be on the committee to organize our first ever SA Discworld Convention, which, by all appearances, Sir Terry will be at, or at least really wants to.

As it is, I'm one of the people setting up the event and, I've gotta say, it's going to be bloody brilliant.

Bring an appetite to eat food inspired by CMOT Dibbler and Nanny Ogg, an outfit for the costume parade, all your Discworld knowledge for the quiz and spending money for books and merchandise.

Follow @sadwcon on Twitter for all things South African Discworld Event and South African Discworld Convention related. 

The website:

If you want to be involved and don't want to wait till September, let me know.

Everybody has a few questions they're expected to answer at some point in their lives. "What do you believe?", "What would you take out of a burning house?" "What the bloody hell were you thinking, you idiot?" and "If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?"

To which I answer "I'm a Thoroughly Confused Humanist Discordian", "the children", "I don't know, it seemed like a good idea at the time" and "Terry Pratchett". (Only instead of dinner, I'd like to buy him a beer.) I discovered Pratchett's books at the not-so-tender age of thirteen. It was during the tail end of a holiday with my parents to America and England. At the time, I was just old enough to be filled with teenage angst and not nearly old enough to see the joke that is a thirteen year old girl wearing a ridiculously furry and huge black coat, glaring all the way through an overseas trip due to the embarrassment of actually having parents.

Oh the shame

Right as our England visit was ending, my Dad fell and broke his leg, prolonging our visit for another week. The kind lady we were staying with offered to allow me a few books on her library card to keep me occupied for the next week. No doubt she was hoping to avoid more early mornings of heavy and angry piano playing. I chose a huge black book with "LENIN" written in bold red letters on the cover, (partly because I had a thing for tyrants and mostly because the book looked impressive - I never read it) and then wondered over to the fantasy section, looking for something "cool" with "cool" things in it like magic swords and evil empires. I noticed the Terry Pratchett section right away, and recognized it as those damn books my sister in law had been telling me to read - the ones with the gaudy covers. (God I love Josh Kirby). As the library visit was drawing to an end, I decided to grab the coolest looking one I could see. It was Guards! Guards!, and I chose it because there was a dragon on the cover. 

Dragons are cool

On the way home, Mom gave me a long lecture on how I was not to read the book in the bath, as it was someone else's library book and I was sure to drop it, etc etc. I promised I wouldn't and opened the book, expecting to be drawn into an epic fantasy of Tolkien inspired dragon slaying. Before the end of the third page I was laughing outloud, something I'd never done just from reading a book before. I soon realized it was no use sneaking the book into the bath with me, my laughter just gave me away.

The rest of my week was spent falling absolutely in love with Terry Pratchett's writing style. Guards! Guards! was the perfect introduction for me. As fellow Pratchett fans know, Sir Terry's books will always be filled with reference. A student of Macbeth will not be able to stop giggling at Wyrd Sisters. Someone who knows their Chinese history will laugh out loud at Interesting Times. Anyone who's been in any form of army will gaze wide eyed at Monstrous Regiment and wonder 'how does he know?' And Soul Music is passed around the musicians I know, who can't stop laughing. Guards! Guards! takes a typical "epic" fantasy story line and tells it from the perspective of the characters who usually get a whole two lines in any fantasy - the City Watch. Like all of Pratchett's Discworld books, it's a fantasy novel where the author has sat back and thought, "now if these fantastical things were really real in the real world, how would, knowing human nature, things really be?"

Since then, I've read most of Terry Pratchett's books, and all of the Discworld books, usually many times over. People tend to know I'm a fan. Living in SA, being a fan means reading his books and watching his movies (the BBC ones, which you tend to have ordered from overseas, not the cartoon ones, which no one seems to bloody have) and thoroughly enjoying them while never actually expecting to even catch a glimpse of the man himself. Things like plays and conventions are something that happens to other countries, countries South African fans are very jealous of. Since about the age of about 15, it's always been in the back of my mind that I would save up and visit a Discworld Convention in the UK some day.

A little while ago, Sir Terry was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. When I heard this, I gave up on all dreams to meet him. I, quite understandably, assumed he would disappear from the public eye entirely and soon stop writing books. As far as I've ever been concerned, his books are the greatest experience he could ever give me, far greater than even a shared beer, handshake or weekend of all things Pratchett, and I stand by that. The greatest show of appreciation I felt I could give was to leave him the bloody hell alone, so I never wrote the letter I'd been thinking of writing since the age of about 13, I never looked into getting a signed book and I never even considered meeting him.

Terry Pratchett did not, of course, disappear from the public eye. He has, in fact, been jetting all over the world and has released some of his most amazing books since his diagnosis. Even so, leaving him the bloody hell alone still seemed the best way to show my appreciation. As I mentioned in a previous post, one day @terryandrob, (Rob being Sir Terry's assistant and right hand man) tweeted me and I went schoolgirl with excitement. Turns out, that was only the start.

In other words, the events of the last few weeks have completely blown me away.

I hope to see you in September. If I don't, I know you hope to see me at the convention next year.

Much love, or, as I would say to @terryandrob



  1. TBH, I also felt the same way. desperate to meet the person who really saved me. It seems weird now, how silly all the things were that made me so damn sad at the time, that only felt better with a packet of crisps and a Pratchett novel.

    He's an inspiration to me, and incredibly witty and brave, and I would still give anything to just meet him and say "Thank you for everything you've done" but when he was diagnosed I thought about all the celebrities thrust into the spotlight with an illness and the magazines that jeer or make sniping comments, and I thought "he doesn't need to know I appreciate his work. He already knows. Right now, he needs his family." and then that was it. No more planning holidays to try and accidentally bump into him somewhere.

    Not that I could anyway, considering he's zipping all over the world! *Shakes fist*

    Wonderfully written piece, by the way. You seem a very intelligent person. I'd buy you a drink, if I could.

  2. Dear Laura,

    an interesting nice and well written piece to read. I wish I knew and had payed attention to if Sir Pratchett has ever or will ever visit the Netherlands. Although the UK isn't all that far. Realising that, I wonder why I have never gone to a Discworld convetion since everyone who knows me, knows I am a big Discworld fan too.

    Normally I do not respond to blog posts I read but yours struck me mostly because of the fact that you got introduced to the Discworld by means of Guards! Guards!. That just triggered a response because, I too had never heard of the Discworld until someone I knew mentioned the books to me and I started reading ... Guard! Guards! The first Discworld book I ever bought and read. Funny thing is that I bought them both in the original english language and in the dutch language and I can tell you that the translator did such a great job I ended up buying a fair amount of Discworld books in both dutch and english.

    Anyway, I hope you will meet Sir Pratchett during the convention and enjoy yourself.

    ps.: have you read "I shall wear midnight"? a discworld novel I feel is cut from some different wood then most Discworld novels but a marvelous masteriece nontheless.

  3. That was fun to read, although now I wish I were in South Africa!

    Just one thing though: the first book covers were illustrated by Josh Kirby, and after his death Paul Kidby took over. If you love Paul Kidby's work, The Art of Discworld is a great book to have. If you love Josh Kirby's work, see if you can get The Garden of Unearthly Delights anywhere. If you love both, you have great taste :)

  4. Alex, I had the pleasure of being present when Sir Terry spoke at the Elf Fantasy Fair in... 2005, I think. The tent was full to the rafters, people even sitting in the aisles!
    He was also there when the EFF was first held in 2001, according to wikipedia.

  5. @kat Thank you so much!

    @Alex I read "I Shall Wear Midnight" while lazing on a gorgeous beach, in between kite-surfing lessons (or, as I like to call them, being-dragged-through-the-water-by-a-kite-lessons) and cocktails. To this day I associate that book with sea sand. :/ It did feel slightly different, but Pratchett's writing style has progressively changed and evolved. After 38 or so books I guess it would. ^_^

    @Lady Deirdre I can't believe I missed that typo so many times! Thank you, it's fixed now. :) And I do love both, but of course I have great taste. I love Pratchett. ;)

  6. Great, great post. Have fun (you barstuds!:)
    And have a banana daiquiri for me as well, pterry never ever comes to Italy (and I probably kno why: his Italian translator usually butcher his novels - many a copy on my shelves has a broken spine out of being hurled against the wall in anger, I'm sorry to say)

  7. Guards! Guards! was also my first Terry book, handed to me by YOU! It gave me a 'woosh' of awesome wit, tallented (tho somewhat odd) thinker moments and Look Im Reading A Book Mom! all in one in my late teens very nicely :) Mort is still my fave tho, as Death, and his love of cats, is just so damn cool. When im big, i wanna be Death! Thanx for introducing me to this amazing world, lil sis xxx

  8. @Lady Deirdre: I never even heard or read anything about the Elf Fantasy Fair, I really MUST have been living under a rock. That said, I checked their site and did not see him mentioned as participant this year, unfortunately. Then I thought, but I could attend this year anyway... and then I remembered I will be sitting on one of our few islands here up north. Maybe next year then. Thanks for mentioning the fair.

    @laura: 38 books would indeed do that to a person :) Still, for some reason the book gave me a different feeling afterwards. Maybe because I read it during my wifes pregnancy and finished it right after our daughter was born. Her birth changed my perspective on things somewhat :)

  9. Wotcha Kitty! Jenny here, roving reporter for WOSSNAME, the monthly Pratchett newsletter from the Klatchian Foreign Legion. This is an excellent and also very exciting post to read, South Africa's first Discworld convention sounds awesome. If you could send more details as they happen to WOSSNAME-owner (at) yahoogroups (dot) com, we can whip up publicity for the September's Event and the convention. Hurrah for Discworld!