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.
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.
Show Notes and Errata:
- 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.
- Troll Bridge was first published in the 1991 anthology After the King: Stories In Honour of J.R.R. Tolkien, the most recent edition of which was released in 2012. Other authors in the collection include Stephen R. Donaldson, Jane Yolen, Gregory Benford, Emma Bull, Poul and Karen Anderson, Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove, Karen Haber and Charles de Lint, among others. The story was reprinted in 2001’s The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy (which also features stories by Neil Gaiman and Terry Jones) and A Blink of the Screen, a 2012 collection of Pterry’s short fiction.
- The short film Troll Bridge by Snowgum Films was adapted for the screen and directed by Daniel Knight, and stars Don Bridges as Cohen, Glenn van Oosterom as the horse and John Jenkins as Mica. It was a mammoth undertaking, especially considering it’s a fan film, albeit an extremely polished one: the cast and crew all worked without pay, with production costs paid for by a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. It’s currently screening in film festivals and fan conventions around the world, but you can still pre-order a digital, DVD or Blu-Ray version ahead of its release in November. Head to www.trollbridge.film to see the trailer and find out more.
- 1999’s The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and John Hannah, is one of the greatest adventure films ever made. (We’re not so fussed about the sequels, though.) We’ve mentioned it in passing in the show notes before, in episodes 10 and 19. The character Liz describes is, coincidentally, named Captain Winston Havelock, and is played by the late Welsh character actor Bernard Fox. Depending on when you started watching television, you might remember him as the witch-doctor Dr. Bombay on the sitcom Bewitched.
- English actor Jude Law famously took on the role of Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, playing a younger version of the character originated on film by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon. He also plays Lenny Belardo, a young Archbishop of New York who becomes the first American Pope of the Catholic Church, in The Young Pope and its upcoming sequel The New Pope.
- It was announced in early April 2019 that a prequel to the hit 1978 musical Grease was in development at Paramount Pictures, with a script to be written by John August (best known for his work with Tim Burton, as well as his podcast Scriptnotes). Provisionally titled Summer Lovin’, it will supposedly explore the fling that Sandy and Danny had, though as Tansy mentions, we really already know everything we need to thanks to the song “Summer Nights”. We previously mentioned Grease in episode 5.
- The Clacks are a system of sophisticated semaphore-like signalling towers which allow the transmission of information very quickly across the Sto Plains to and from Ankh-Morpork. They’re first mentioned in The Fifth Elephant, play a prominent role in Going Postal, and are also important to the plot in Monstrous Regiment and Raising Steam.
- The Silmarillion is a collection of five works originally pitched by Tolkien as a sequel to The Hobbit, but they were rejected by his publisher as being too obscure. Heavily influenced by Celtic mythology, they tell the story of the creation of the world in which his other books are set, including Middle-Earth, and of the conflicts between its various deities, and form a backstory which explains the history that led to The Lord of the Rings. It was published after his death, compiled from incomplete writings by his son, Christopher.
- Technically Troll Bridge is the first time we meet a troll under a bridge on the Discworld, as it was published a year before Lords and Ladies, but it’s likely they were both being written around the same time.
- You can hear all about Good Omens (the book at least) in episode 15.
- Xena of Amphipolis, played by New Zealand legend Lucy Lawless, is the protagonist of Xena: Warrior Princess, the hugely popular fantasy adventure series filmed in New Zealand which began life as a spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Xena starts out as a ruthless warlord encountered by Hercules, but he convinces her to walk a more righteous path. In the series, which ran for six seasons from 1995 to 2001, Xena roams the world of Ancient Greece trying to help people, accompanied by Gabrielle, the Battling Bard of Poteidaia. In the opening episode of season three, “The Furies“, Xena claims that she is the daughter of Ares, god of war, a frequent antagonist (and a great visual for Greebo, as discussed in episode 12). While Xena indicates this was a lie to fool the Furies, it’s left ambiguous, so she could be a demi-god…but most of us prefer to think of her as an exceptionally skilled mortal warrior.
- We explained the Star Wars concept of “midi-chlorians” in the show notes for episode 19, which was recorded the night before this live show. In brief: they’re an explanation for why some people can use the Force and some can’t. It didn’t please fans, who didn’t feel the need for such a pseudo-scientific explanation when it was introduced in the 1999 prequel film The Phantom Menace. They’ve rarely been mentioned since.
- The trailer in question is the first full teaser for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last of the sequel trilogy and the final film in the Skywalker saga, to be released in December 2019.
- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a Netflix sitcom created by Tina Fey. The titular Kimmy is a young woman who moves to New York to make a new life after spending 15 years in an underground bunker kidnapped by a cult leader. She ends up living in a tiny basement apartment in Queens with struggling musical performer Titus Andromedon. In the season four episode “Kimmy and the Beest!”, Titus gets a gig directing a school musical and takes it all way too seriously.
- There is some evidence that “trolling” was a fishing term for dragging bait to attract fish, distinct from “trawling”, or dragging a net. That certainly could be the origin of the “Internet troll”, but there are other competing theories too. It probably dates back to the late 1980s, but it’s first documented use is from 1992 on the newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, where it was more gently used to “troll for newbies” – posting well-debunked stories that existing posters would know were false, but to which new users would respond.
- In February 2013 – so a little more than five years ago, Liz – authorities in the Czech Republic detected horse meat in frozen IKEA meatballs manufactured by IKEA’s main supplier in Sweden. IKEA temporarily stopped all sale of meatballs across Europe. This was part of a wider scandal that year in which it was revealed that many food supply companies in Europe had substituted cheaper meats like horse and pork for beef to increase their profit margins, with as much as 1% of beef products in Britain containing some horse DNA.
- Guest Sarah Pearson revealed the existence of Library Captains in episode 11.
- Dr Dan Golding discussed Moving Pictures in episode 10.
- Asimov, resident Pratcat, can be heard in the afore-mentioned episode 10 and also episode 18.
- We discussed Small Gods with the Reverend Doctor Avril Hannah-Jones in episode 16.
- We discussed Lords and Ladies with Nadia Bailey in episode 17.
- Each Nullus Anxietas convention has a theme, and the theme for NA7 was Going Postal – hence Liz’s comment that she may have been playing to the audience by favouring the book. The next convention, to be held in Sydney in July 2021, has the theme “Ankh-Morpork: Citie of One Thousande Surprises”. We hope to see you there!
- We discussed The Colour of Magic with Joel Martin in episode 14.
- Lucy Lawless has indeed been filming a new television show in Melbourne: a new “comedy drama” titled My Life is Murder, starring Lawless as private investigator Alexa Crowe. It’ll screen on Network Ten in Australia, TVNZ in New Zealand and Acorn TV in the US in mid-2019.
- Zoë Bell is a New Zealand stuntwoman and actress. Aside from working on Xena: Warrior Princess, she has also been stunt double for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok. Her acting work includes the film Death Proof and the videogame Fallout: New Vegas. Liz’s interview with Zoë was printed in Metro magazine (and is not available online).
- You can find out more about Night Terrace at nightterrace.com.
- Cary Elwes is most famous for playing Westley, aka the Man in Black, in The Princess Bride, but is also beloved for his portrayal of the lead character in Mel Brooks’ spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights. You might also know him as Dr Lawrence Gordon in the horror film Saw and its sequel Saw 3D, and he’s joined the cast of Stranger Things for its third season on Netflix.