APF Chapter 3: Discworld Annotations [Prev Page] [Index] [Next Page]

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The Truth

Annotations | Information | Quotes

+ [p. 11] "Then the two watchmen trailed through the slush and muck to the Water Gate, [...]"

Pin and Tulip enter Ankh-Morpork via the Water Gate, which is oddly appropriate, considering both Gaspode's later pseudonym (see the annotation for p. 190) and the name of the organisation that hires Pin and Tulip (see the annotation for p. 68).

+ [p. 13] "'I could've done all right with the Fung Shooey, though.'"

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese design philosophy in which the positioning and physical characteristics of the items within a residence are believed to affect the fortunes of the owner.

+ [p. 15] "Two men were bent over the oars."

The characters of Pin and Tulip are somewhat frustrating for Terry in the sense that many, many people feel that they are 'obviously' based on Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (who refer to themselves as the Old Firm, and call each other 'Mr'). Or 'obviously' based on the thugs Jules Winfield and Vincent Vega from the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction (and there are a good number of Pulp Fiction references in The Truth). Or obviously based on Mr Wint and Mr Kidd from the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever. Or obviously based on the two Rons (who called themselves 'The Management') from the BBC Hale and Pace series. Or...

Terry himself had this to say:

"1. The term 'The Old Firm' certainly wasn't invented by Neil. I think it first turned up amongst bookies, but I've even seen the Kray Brothers referred to that way. Since the sixties at least the 'the firm' has tended to mean 'criminal gang.' And, indeed, the term turned up in DW long before Neverwhere.

2. Fiction and movies are full of pairs of bad guys that pretty much equate to Pin and Tulip. They go back a long way. That's why I used 'em, and probably why Neil did too. You can have a trio of bad guys (who fill roles that can be abbreviated to 'the big thick one, the little scrawny one and The Boss') but the dynamic is different. With two guys, one can always explain the plot to the other..."

"A point worth mentioning, ref other threads I've seen: Hale and Pace's 'Ron and Ron' worked precisely because people already knew the archetype."

+ [p. 19] "'Are you Gunilla Goodmountain?'"

Goodmountain -> Gutenberg. Johann Gutenberg is the German (claimed) inventor of movable type in the 1450s, most famously responsible for the Gutenberg Bibles.

+ [p. 19] "'Just give me a ninety-six-point lower-case h, will you, Caslong? Thank you,'"

Caslon is a well-known typeface named after its creator William Caslon, who released it in the 1730s. It was a highly successful and popular typeface throughout Europe and America: the first printings of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution were set in Caslon. See also the annotations for p. 47 and p. 160.

+ [p. 22] "'We are a bodyguard of lies, gentlemen.'".

Winston Churchill said "In war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". Any book called The Truth should therefore have one.

+ [p. 27] "And then there had been the war against Klatch..."

The story of this particular war has been told in great detail in Jingo.

+ [p. 29] "'M-a-k-e-$-$-$-I-n-n-Y-o-u-r-e-S-p-a-r-e-T-y-m--' he murmured."

A development of the chain letter, 'Make money fast'-pyramid schemes (often literally with that title, and with the '$$$' spelling) formed a major part of the first waves of Internet spam (or unsolicited bulk messages).

+ [p. 34] "'Have you heard of c-commerce?'"

C-commerce resonates with e-commerce, or doing business electronically, e.g. over the Internet.

+ [p. 35] "'A thousand years ago we thought the world was a bowl,' he said. 'Five hundred years ago we knew it was a globe. Today we know it is flat and round and carried through space on the back of a turtle.' He turned and gave the High Priest another smile. 'Don't you wonder what shape it will turn out to be tomorrow?'"

In the 1997 movie Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones' character says: "1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the centre of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know... tomorrow."

+ [p. 40] "For that matter, what would it do to the pie?"

As well as referring to the cooking in the previous sentence, this also refers to Printer Pie, a term for jumbled-up type, which will be sorted for the next job or recast into new type -- very much in context.

+ [p. 41] "[...] that Holy Wood moving picture fiasco a few years ago..."

This fiasco is detailed in Moving Pictures.

+ [p. 41] "[...] that Music with Rocks In business a few years after..."

And this story is told in Soul Music.

+ [p. 41] "'[...] when the late Mr Hong chose to open his Three Jolly Luck Take-Away Fish Bar in Dagon Street during the lunar eclipse.'"

An H. P. Lovecraft reference. See also the annotation for p. 197/149 of Men at Arms .

+ [p. 47] "Boddony, who seemed to be second in command of the print room, [...]"

Another very aptly named dwarf: Bodoni is a well-known typeface designed at the end of the eighteenth century by Italian printer Giambattista Bodoni, who became the director of the press for the Duke of Parma, and who seems to have a reputation for elegance rather than accuracy.

+ [p. 51] "'Gottle o' geer, gottle o' geer,' said Ron mysteriously."

A reference to the old ventriloquist "bottle of beer" routine. See the annotation for p. 64/62 of Pyramids for a full explanation.

+ [p. 60] "The tons acted like society lords."

The tons are troll heavies, the equivalent of Mafia capos or dons. But they are also trying to join The Ton, an eighteenth century term for leaders of fashion.

+ [p. 61] "[...] the P'gi Su dynasty?"

'Peggy Sue' is the title of one of Buddy Holly's many hit songs.

+ [p. 68] "'And now... this meeting of the Committee to Unelect the Patrician is declared closed.'"

The Watergate scandal break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in 1972 was eventually traced back to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Nixon denied any personal involvement, but tape recordings proved otherwise.

+ [p. 79] "'Do you know what they called a sausage-in-a-bun in Quirm?' said Mr Pin, [...]"

Riffs on the famous "Quarter Pounder with Cheese" dialogue from Pulp Fiction:

Vincent: "And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?"
Jules: "They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"
Vincent: "No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is."
Jules: "Then what do they call it?"
Vincent: "They call it a 'Royale' with cheese."
Jules: "A 'Royale' with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?"
Vincent: "Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it 'le Big-Mac'."

+ [p. 88] "''m Rocky,' he mumbled, looking down."

A boxing troll called Rocky, who keeps getting knocked down... It's really astonishing that it took Terry so long to come up with this particular troll name. The reference is, of course, to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies.

+ [p. 90] "The Truth Shall Make Ye Free"

A famous bible quote, from John 8:32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

+ [p. 97] "'Oh? You've signed the pledge?' said Sacharissa."

"Taking the pledge" is what one used to do when joining Alcoholics Anonymous (or any other temperance movement / Methodist tee-total congregation).

+ [p. 101] "[...] lies could run round the world before the truth could get its boots on."

A saying attributed to Mark Twain, as well as to James Watt, the Scottish inventor.

+ [p. 113] "'Carpet dust got mixed in, I expect.' said Otto."

People have been speculating that this may be a reference to various earlier occurrences of a similar theme (in H. P. Lovecraft's work, for instance), but Terry said:

"AFP, eh? Look, some ideas are just so damn obvious no one has probably lifted them from anyone. Vampire crumbles to dust, you sweep up the dust, you get the vampire back -- mixed up with all the cat hairs and breadcrumbs, maybe."

+ [p. 142] "Ankh-Morpork Inquirer"

Equivalent to the National Enquirer in its coverage of highly inventive news.

+ [p. 144] "'Yeah, King of the Golden River,' said the dwarf."

'The King of the Golden River' is a classic fairy tale written in 1842 by John Ruskin.

Terry adds:

"And let me say right now that practically everything in the career of Harry King is fairly based on fact (except for the trolls)."

+ [p. 147] "'A dog has got personality. Personality counts for a lot.'"

Another Pulp Fiction quote from Jules: "I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy, but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way."

+ [p. 147] "'In the history of this city, gentlemen, we have put on trial at various times seven pigs, a tribe of rats, four horses, one flea and a swarm of bees.'"

This has many Roundworld counterparts; see also the annotation for p. 289/262 of Guards! Guards!

+ [p. 149] "'An' then... then I'm gonna get medieval on his arse.'"

A quote from Pulp Fiction, spoken by Marcellus Wallace as an indication of his intended course of action concerning the person who had, um, displeased him.

When asked why he changed the original word 'ass' to the more British 'arse', but kept the American spelling of 'medieval', Terry replied:

"Because I prefer it, and it's optional. But ass is a weak, sad word."

+ [p. 160] "'You get them right now, Gowdie,' snapped Boddony."

This dwarf brings to mind Frederic William Goudy, the American type designer who designed several Goudy fonts, as well as Berkeley Old Style.

+ [p. 169] "'Who was that hero who was condemned to push a rock up a hill and every time he got it to the top it rolled down again?'"

A reference to Sisyphus from Greek mythology. See also annotation for p. 132/108 of Eric .

+ [p. 176] "'Have you still got the box it came in?' said Mr Tulip, turning the candlestick over and over in his hands."

This scene spoofs the Antiques Roadshow type television programs, where people bring their old items to be identified and appraised by experts.

When asked if the reference was deliberate, Terry said:

"My god, I don't think I could have made it more obvious... 'You'd get more if you had a pair' and 'have you still got the box it came in?' and the piggy little gleam the owners get when they realise that it's worth a wad. Except on ARS the owner isn't clubbed to the ground at the end, which I often think is a shame."

+ [p. 188] "[...], HALF MAN HALF MOTH?"

The "Mothman" was a large creature (man-sized, but with wings) seen by several people in West Virginia in the second half of the 1960s, and reported on extensively by the regular newspapers at the time as well as by the Fortean Times (see also the annotation for p. 155/99 of Good Omens ).

+ [p. 189] "Hobson's Livery Stable"

Clearly, Willie Hobson has built the Disc's equivalent of a multi-storey car park.

This becomes especially significant (as confirmed by Terry himself) in light of the fact the original Watergate Deep Throat used to deliver his information in a... multi-storey car park.

Also, Thomas Hobson (1544-1630) was the Cambridge stable manager after whom the concept of "Hobson's choice" (the appearance of giving someone a choice, when actually there is but a single option) was named. People renting horses from him would be shown all available horses, but in the end they always had to take the one nearest the door, so that all his horses were exercised.

+ [p. 190] "'You can call me... Deep Bone.'"

Deep Bone -> Deep Throat, the named used by the Watergate informant. See also the annotation for p. 68.

+ [p. 210] "'[...] back in Schüschien.'"

Schüschien -> Shoe Shine.

+ [p. 275] "'"Not A Very Nice Person At All",' she read. 'I wonder what kind of person would put that on a wallet?'"

A person such as Jules from Pulp Fiction might. Only his wallet read Bad Motherfucker.

+ [p. 279] "'Let us use your "ing" presses or I'll "ing" shoot your "ing" head "ing" off!' she screamed."

Very reminiscent of Honey Bunny's sudden and unexpected yelling at the cafe denizens in Pulp Fiction: "Any of you fuckin' pricks move and I'll execute every motherfuckin' last one of ya!".

+ [p. 289] "WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEART OF MEN?"

The Shadow Knows!

This question and answer made up the opening lines from one of the most popular radio shows in history, Detective Story (later quickly renamed to The Shadow).

+ [p. 296] "'Every day, in every vay, ve get better and better.'"

"Every day, in every way, I am becoming better and better" was the mantra introduced as a form of auto-suggestion psychotherapy by Emile Coue in the 1920s.

+ [p. 310] "'Have you locked him up,' said Sacharissa suspiciously, 'in a deep cell, and made him wear a mask all the time [...]"

Reference to Alexandre Dumas' 1846 novel The Man in the Iron Mask.


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