- What’s in Father Christmas’s Fake Beard?by Ben
We’ll shortly be discussing the third collection of Terry Pratchett’s early short stories for children, Father Christmas’s Fake Beard, for our December episode #Pratchat73! This is the first time we’re discussing an entire book’s worth of short stories, and we’ve realised this book isn’t as readily available as others, so we thought we’d better come through on our promise to list the individual stories we’ll be discussing.
Here they are, in the order they appear in the book. We’ve noted where else they appear, in case you want to read one you have access to and ask about that!
- “Father Christmas’s Fake Beard”
- “The Blackbury Pie” – this is a slightly revised version of the original 1967 story; a different version from 1970, retitled “The Great Blackbury Pie”, appears in A Stroke of the Pen. (It’s largely the same, but a lot of the specific details are changed.)
- “Prod-Ye-A’Diddle Oh!”
- “A Very Short Ice Age”
- “The Computer Who Wrote to Father Christmas” – also appears, under the title “FTB”, in Once More* *With Footnotes and A Blink of the Screen.
- “Good King Wences-lost” – Pratchett seemingly significantly rewrote this story a few years later to produce “How Good King Wenceslas Went Pop for the DJ’s Feast of Stephen”, which appears in A Stroke of the Pen.
- “The Weatherchick”
- “Judgement Day for Father Christmas”
- “The Abominable Snow-baby” – adapted for television for Channel 4 for Christmas 2021.
- “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas” – also appears, under the original title of “The Prince and the Partridge”, in A Blink of the Screen.
- “Father Christmas Goes to Work at the Zoo” – also appears in special editions of Dragons at Crumbling Castle, in the US version as “Father Christmas Goes to Work”.
- An Unexpected Update about #Pratchat53by Ben
We’ve made sure this went out on all our social media, but we had planned to record our Night Watch episode on Friday, 25 February – but we ran into some major technical issues.
As a result, we’ve decided to move some things around. The main thing is that we’ll now be reading Night Watch for our April episode, #Pratchat54. For March, we’ll instead be chatting about a selection of Terry Pratchett’s shorter Discworld writings that thematically tie in to Night Watch:
- “The Ankh-Morpork National Anthem”
- “Medical Notes”, and
- “A Few Words From Lord Havelock Vetinari”
All three of these appear in the collection A Blink of the Screen.
Thank you to everyone who already sent through Night Watch questions (and those who crammed, we see and appreciate you).
If you have any questions about the shorter writings, please send them through – you can add them as comments here, or ask via social media using the hashtag #Pratchat53.
- A Short Announcement re: The Long Warby Pratchat Imps
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 email@example.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.
- A Thirtieth Announcementby Pratchat Imps
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Bonus Episode – The Pratchatters’ Guide to the Night Terraceby Pratchat Imps
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.
- Kicking off the Year of the Incontrovertible Skunkby Ben
The next few months are a busy time for your friendly neighbourhood Pratchatters – and you can catch us at some great events coming up in March and April!
Ben has had a busy start to the year: in January he launched a new weekly Star Trek podcast, re:Discovery, with co-host Carla Donnelly, and in February he’s running a crowdfunding campaign as part of Kickstarter’s Zine Quest collection to publish his roleplaying game Amateur Hour Apocalypse. Watch out for more on that one on Twitter when it launches!
In March, Liz and Ben will be appearing (separately) at Speculate, the Victorian speculative fiction writers’ festival! The festival happens over two days in Melbourne at the Gasworks Arts Park on March 15 and 16. You can find the full program and tickets at specfic.com.au – note that earlybird ticket prices are only available until February 11, so get in quick if you want a discount! The con is also on Twitter at @SpecFicVic.
Liz and Ben will also be appearing as special guests at this year’s Australian Discworld Convention, Nullus Anxietas 7, over the weekend of April 13 and 14! As well as appearing on several panels and events, they’ll be recording a live episode of Pratchat which we’ll release as a bonus in the regular podcast feed. You can find out more about the convention and get yourself a membership at ausdwcon.org, or follow them on Twitter at @ausdwcon. We’ll post full details of the Pratchat appearances when they’re finalised!
April is also Melbourne International Comedy Festival time! You can catch Ben in his new show, You Chose Poorly, with Alanta Colley from April 1 to 7 at Campari House. We’ll post more details, and a roundup of Pratchat guests also appearing at the festival, in March.
- Happy Hogswatch!by Ben
Our next episode is still a couple of weeks away, but we’d like to wish all of our listeners a very Happy Hogswatch! We hope you’re having a lovely holiday, whatever form it takes. We couldn’t bring you all pies, of course, but we did get you a little present: a streamable, downloadable version of the full Pratchat theme song by David Ashton! It’s one of our favourite things about the show, and we hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as we do.
We’ve made it available via the Splendid Chaps Production Bandcamp page, where you’ll also find some other free stuff, including the first episode of audio comedy series Night Terrace. Have a great holiday, and we’ll see you in the new year!
- Let’s Start From The Very Beginning (but not actually)by Elizabeth Flux
The polls are in and though it was neck and neck throughout, Men At Arms won over Mort by a whisker. Sorry Mort – gonne but not forgotten.
We’re now deep into prep for next month’s episode. Ben’s dug up his lovingly-contacted copy*, we’ve been in chats with our ~special guest~, and now it’s time to address a question that came up during the voting process: why aren’t we starting at the beginning?
It’s a good point – one that we debated at length about, but in the end as much as we love The Colour of Magic (though some of us, admittedly, love it more than others) we didn’t feel that it represented Discworld as a whole as well as either Mort of Men At Arms would. The tone and voice isn’t quite the same as the slightly later books, and so we wanted to start with something that would give a better idea of what the series was like over all.
We will come back to it though, and we’ll discuss this and all the emotional luggage that comes along with it at greater length.
Thank you to everyone who voted and who has already listened to episode 0. We’ll see you again in November!
*and we’ve really been enjoying all the pictures you’ve been tweeting us of your copies.
- Mort vs. Men At Arms: Help Us Choose!by Elizabeth Flux
We’re almost set to release our episode 0 — but we need your help. Deciding what book to begin with is a hell of a thing, and Ben and I have been arguing, debating, grumbling and then debating some more and we finally have it down to two options. So, in the interests of fairness, we are turning it over to you to help us decide which book will be kicking off our podcast!
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”Which Discworld novel should Pratchat Podcast tackle first?
- Coming soon!by Ben
The rumours are true – after a long period of drinking tea, emailing, buying notebooks and debating* the relative merits of various novels as an introduction to the Discworld…Pratchat is coming! Episode Zero, a pleasant chat introducing your hosts Elizabeth Flux and Ben McKenzie and their history with Pratchett’s works, will be released on the 8th of October!**
* By which, of course, we mean arguing for our personal favourites.
** This is as close as we can get to the 8th day of the 8th month. It has “oct” in the name!