APF Chapter 5: Thoughts and Themes [Prev Page] [Index] [Next Page]

Reverse Annotations


With the Discworld canon growing and reaching an increasingly wider audience around the globe, we are starting to see something I'm calling 'reverse referencing': other writers who put references to the Discworld into their books.

The examples I have had reported to me so far:

- Due South

The most often remarked-upon reverse annotation of the past year or so concerns the television series Due South, which is about the adventures of a Canadian Mountie (Constable Benton Fraser), stationed in Chicago.

The similarities between Benton Fraser and Carrot are, especially in the first few episodes, indeed remarkable. Like Carrot, Benton is innocent and straight-forward to the point of being naive (but not stupid!). He is nigh-on superhuman, polite, memorises everybody's name, works alongside cynical and jaded cops, and the first things he does are (1) take lodgings in the roughest neighbourhood around and (2) walk into a lowlife bar in full Mountie uniform shouting "Excuse me...". And as with Carrot, his faith in human nature is almost always rewarded.

I doubt very much whether Benton Fraser is really based on Carrot (after all, the archetype that both characters are based on goes back a long way), but sometimes I wonder: Fraser's faithful companion is a wolf, and in one episode of Due South Fraser and his partner are locked in a meat storage room and nearly freeze to death...

- Computer Games.

References to the Discworld have occasionally been cropping up in otherwise unrelated computer games. In Angband, for instance, one of the owners of the general store is 'Rincewind the Chicken'. In the legendary game Nethack you can explore the Dungeons as a tourist, starting out your quest with lots of gold and food, a credit card, and an expensive camera. Although the tourist character class wasn't originally created as a Discworld reference, there have been many Discworld-inspired additions in later releases of the game: the tourist's patron gods are now The Lady, Blind Io, and Offler, while Twoflower himself appears on the special quest level. And if you're hallucinatory, you may get to see the Luggage.

- Dream Park: The Californian Voodoo Game, by Larry Niven and Stephen Barnes, 1991.

The UK edition of this book describes the character Alan Myers as "a Terry Pratchett wizard". In the US edition this sentence was simply left out.

At a later point in the novel (both editions this time), two characters exchange the following lines:

-- It's been, what -- five years?
-- Since the Diskworld Game. Ah... Hamburg.

Note the misspelling of Discworld.

- Object-Oriented Languages, Systems and Applications, by Blair, Hutchinson, Gallagher and Shepherd, 1991.

"Consider the domain of Colours. If we have Red, Green and Blue, but now widen the domain to include Octaroon, an old program may read an unknown value from a new instance. Conversely, if we begin with Octaroon included, but now decide we no longer believe in Magic and remove it thus narrowing the domain, [...]"

Again, note the misspelling, this time of 'Octarine'. Since this is a formal text book, The Colour of Magic gets a proper mention in the references.

- The British Medical Journal, January 1996 edition.

The BMJ has a 'Soundings' page, where doctors get a chance to write about a subject of their choice. In this issue, Liam Farrell, a GP from Crossmaglen, ended his column with the line:

"This is only common sense, but, as we have said before, in academic general practice, common sense is as rare as a tourist in Ankh-Morpork."

- The Books of Magic, by John Ney Rieber, issue #13, April 1995.

Tim and Molly on their way through Soho, London, pass a movie theatre. The Billboard says: "PRATCHETT THEATRE -- now playing: Unseen Demo..." (the rest is cut off).

- The Books of Magic II, by Neil Gaiman and Scott Hampton, 1990.

Tim is told of an occult battle taking place offstage in Calcutta: "You wouldn't believe it. The cult of Kali, three Ninja death squads, the Brotherhood of the Cold Flame, a thousand elephants..."

- Dirty Work, by Dan McGirt, 1993, Pan Books, ISBN 0 330 32391 1, p. 215.

The relevant quotation is:

"I peeled off my outer clothing and removed the Cosmosuit. Dreadguards took it away from me and placed it, along with Gardion and Overwhelm, in a wooden chest. They also took the Rae medallion and the Ring of Raxx. 'The chest is made of insipid wormwood, the most highly inanimate and unmagical substance known to the world, which specifically does not run around on hundreds of tiny legs nor eat people,' Dread said of the box. 'But it does prevent you from summoning your magic sword by thought.' 'Thought of everything haven't you?'"

Readers on a.f.p. are, by the way, unanimously unenthusiastic about this book, so don't assume that just because it mentions the Luggage it's got to be a good read.


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