• Fiction Fans

Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

Episode 59

Release Date: September 14, 2022

In this episode, your hosts try to find something nice to say about Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. They struggle, because there’s a lot of racism. There are some fun octogenarian barbarian hijinks, at least? This episode also features a segment about how Words are Weird (and, shockingly, isn’t about pronunciation for once).

Thanks to the following musicians for the use of their songs:

- Amarià for the use of “Sérénade à Notre Dame de Paris”

- Josh Woodward for the use of “Electric Sunrise”

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License


Episode Transcript*

*this transcript is AI generated, please excuse the mess.

Lilly 00:04

Hello, and welcome to fiction, a podcast where we read books. And other words, too. I'm Lily. And I'm Sarah. And today, we are taking another step on our journey to the center. Just whoa,

Sara 00:23

whoa. You brought that up much earlier than I was expecting.

Lilly 00:30

I just wanted to see your face.

Sara 00:32

My glorified face.

Lilly 00:35

But before we started talking about that, Sara, other than my excellent introduction, what's something great that happened lately?

Sara 00:42

Something great that happened lately is that I impulse purchased tickets to Athens, Greece, in April,

Lilly 00:50

I was gonna say, like, not Georgia, right?

Sara 00:53

Not Georgia. So I'm, I'm going to Greece in April, I think that I am flying for almost as long as I will be in Athens. She says, that's fine. I mean, I think I'm in Athens for like, technically, it's four nights, but it's only four nights, on a very, like, small technicality because I land at 1255 in the morning. And so I do have to get a hotel. But like, I'm not going to bed at a reasonable hour. But like, I don't, I don't care. I'm going to Greece. Fuck it.

Lilly 01:28

I mean, it's something to do.

Sara 01:31

And the reason I impulse purchased it was that the tickets were cheaper than normal.

Lilly 01:35

So you don't have to justify going to Greece.

Sara 01:39

I feel like I have to justify going to Greece when I'm only staying there, like three days, basically,

Lilly 01:45

three days longer than I'm going to be in Greece. That's true. Unless, unless show you up, and I'm like, I'm gonna go live there for three months. That Sara,

Sara 01:55

I mean, if you went and lived there for three months, I would go and visit you and stay there for much longer than three weeks. I mean, the three days, I would stay with you for longer than three weeks to probably.

Lilly 02:07

I mean, I'm petty but I'm not that petty.

Sara 02:09

I feel like you should be that petty so that I can go and visit you stay there for a long time.

Lilly 02:14

I'll see what I can do. But don't hold your breath. Okay. My good thing is that we released three episodes in, like, eight days, or something absurd like that. Technically, not one week, but it sure did feel like it when I was editing

Sara 02:33

Wednesday to Wednesday. Yeah. I'm very impressed.

Lilly 02:38

Thank you. I'm sure there's wild applause in the background right now. You could. Yeah. Making more editing work for myself, which I'm sure I won't complain about at all to you later.

Sara 02:53

I mean, to be honest, is kind of par for the course.

Lilly 02:57

Yeah, yeah. But I did it. I fucking did it. None of them were too much later than we planned.

Sara 03:05

I mean, really, the the bonus episode was one day later than we had planned on getting it out. That's nothing. It's a bonus episode. Yeah. Everything else came out the day that we planned for it. Yep. Before noon,

Lilly 03:17

that I'm riding on that technicality. It's not

Sara 03:21

late if it's before noon,

Lilly 03:23

okay. Okay. So feeling very accomplished, and has subsequently done very little since then. Which is why we're recording late today. I had to finish the book. Who could have foreseen this coming to me when I was complaining about it all week to you. I'm only complaining that I didn't have enough hours in the day. I was complaining about actually editing you know,

Sara 03:49

I feel I I do. I know. I had

Lilly 03:53

infinite time I would have no problem spending the time editing but sometimes I have to pick between that and like I did skip putting the trash out last week because I was just like, it's fine.

Sara 04:07

Well, we're all very grateful for your sacrifice.

Lilly 04:10

You're welcome. There What are you drinking tonight?

Sara 04:15

I am drinking blind with cider. It is Verbena and elderflower. Ooh, that sounds like summer. It's a very summery drink. I think it's one of their like, seasonal specials. And I probably should have drunk it earlier because it is not quite summer anymore. Still hot though. So it feels appropriate. What are you drinking tonight? Water. And

Lilly 04:41

I mean, technically the question is, what am I drinking and mine?

Sara 04:45

I see that. I see that jello. You're eating, jello. And all of all of the vodka mixed into it.

Lilly 04:54

Yeah, it's not even jello shots because they're not shot shaped. So Ah, this is practically dinner. I'm sure there's vitamins in here somewhere.

Sara 05:05

I'm not convinced by jello and vodka as a dinner meal, but I hope you're enjoying it.

Lilly 05:12

I am. That was a joke. I had real dinner. I promise. I'm not that irresponsible.

Sara 05:17

It's true. I saw her eat it. We were on the call and she was eating.

Lilly 05:23

Anyway, have you read anything good lately?

Sara 05:26

I have had a lot of difficulty reading lately. Actually. I just I don't have the focus for like, long fiction. So I've read a lot of fanfiction. And I've read a lot of novellas. The most recent novella that I read was The Drowned air by Jennifer Donna who, whose name I have discovered. Thank you, Jennifer. is pronounced Donna who not Donahue as we pronounced it in our episode on run with the haunted. But this is a novella that just came out about monsters. And I guess I think she markets it is like kind of spooky. It's not really spooky. But it's essentially like this culture. If someone dies, like there is a person who gets drowned in their spirit like inhabits that body. It's really interesting. So it was a really good novella. I liked it a lot.

Lilly 06:18

It's like how I would argue that monster movies are not actually horror movies, even if they are similar realms.

Sara 06:25

Yeah, like it has mildly spooky vibes. But it's not spooky, you know, right.

Lilly 06:31

Yeah, it doesn't make you feel discombobulated while you're reading it.

Sara 06:35

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And as expected from her like it plays with tropes. And it's just it's very good. Well, it sounds good.

Lilly 06:43

I do like spooky adjacent things. I like spooky things as well. But I know my audience, which is Sarah.

Sara 06:51

I'm generally not. Not a spooky thing person.

Lilly 06:55

Well, I did not read something. Although I kind of did I intended to read so what did you not read? There was an article recommended to me that I clicked on because it's just garbage clickbait. But it's garbage clickbait for me, knew me. But it was behind a paywall. So we're just going to guess about the contents of the article. But the headline reads, Amazon's poorly received Rings of Power Series could hurt prime subscriptions. Sarah, this is it. This is the answer we've been looking for. Rings of Power was never meant to be a Middle Earth adaptation. All it is is a tool to bring down Amazon. And what better use could you think of for Middle Earth we are seeing or think crumble before our eyes.

Sara 07:51

I thought the headline that you were going to talk about was going to be the Rings of Power. Are you Team Elon Musk or team? Neil Gaiman? What? Because there has been has been not beef on Twitter. But like, Elon Musk has tweeted things about Rings of Power and not liking it. And Gaiman had like a quote tweet and he said, let me find his tweet because it was like a great clap back. So Gaiman tweeted, Elon Musk doesn't come to me for advice on how to fail to buy Twitter. And I don't go to him for Film TV or literature criticism, which was great. And then apparently a lot of like Elon Musk fans started coming at Neil Gaiman, because they thought that he had anything to do with the Rings of Power, which he doesn't. Yeah. And it's been a whole thing. He's had a lot of patients with them more patients than I would have. But it's very funny to like, be on the outside watching this because there's just a whole lot of crazy.

Lilly 08:54

I mean, everything Elon Musk does is a whole lot of crazy. Also true. And a broken clock can be right twice a day.

Sara 09:03

I mean, I think his criticism of Rings of Power is I'm not disagreeing that is bad. I didn't enjoy the first few episodes. But I do think that his criticism of how it's bad is bad.

Lilly 09:18

I'm I'm out of the loop there. I did have a whole conversation with my friend though, about how people are wrong about why it's bad. For example, casting black people not the reason. Holy shit, you guys, so not the reason. Yeah, I think and how dare you put me in a position to defend this show.

Sara 09:40

He was saying something about how like how all of the men are weak, and gladiolas unlikable, which I do actually agree that collateral is unlikable, but like his implication was that a woman can't kick ass. Mm hmm. So he would like He's not wrong about it being bad in my opinion, but he's wrong about how always

Lilly 10:00

bad people are only allowed to dislike things for the exact reason why I dislike them. I don't know if you know that, but that's actually true, but it is how the world works. And you know, it's true because I have a podcast I should not even be participating in this conversation. I have had better things to do than watch the show like edit three episodes in one week.

Sara 10:26

That's very valid.

Lilly 10:27

I'll get around to it eventually. I'm not not watching it. Like I'm not protesting it or anything. Yeah, I just have things I need to do like the dishes.

Sara 10:39

I've watched the first two episodes, I will eventually watch the rest of the show. But I'm here recording this instead of sitting at my TV, watching the new episode. So I was not particularly favorably impressed by the show. It's pretty Oh, grant them that it's very pretty well,

Lilly 10:58

with that much money behind it if it wasn't Holy shit. Anyway, this is not actually a complaint about why everyone is wrong about the exact way in which Rings of Power is a bad show. This is actually complained about interesting times by Terry Pratchett,

Sara 11:19

which I'm so sad about. But yeah, it is this is time to complain about interesting times.

Lilly 11:25

Okay, you have said before that the rinse wind books are your favorite Discworld series? Am I recalling that correctly?

Sara 11:34

You are recalling that correctly?

Lilly 11:36

I assume that this did not count or factor into that?

Sara 11:41

No, no, like I really, I really enjoy what happens to rinse wind in this book. But I do not enjoy. Like all of the anti Asian racism in it. Of which there is quite a lot.

Lilly 11:59

Yeah, it's not even like that one little corner of wow. That's not how the Aztecs worked. In which Book was that? Color of magic or whatever? No, it wasn't it was one of the other prints from the books. There is not the point. The point is, you cannot escape it in this book. It is just like, every paragraph every page.

Sara 12:19

It's it's bad.

Lilly 12:21

I mean, it's real bad. There were parts that it wasn't the focus, and you could sort of immerse yourself back into. Yeah, rinse wins. Hydrangeas are pretty fun. And yeah, co-head The Barbarian is a very old man who kicks ass. And that's pretty silly, isn't it?

Sara 12:42

I really enjoy, like the Hoard. And that whole premise

Lilly 12:47

being Cohens group of octogenarian barbarian. Yes,

Sara 12:51

the silver Hoard. Yes. They're great. And I might have even said this on air in previous episodes that I really liked this book. And that was in my defense. That was before I reread it. Or reread it recently, the last time I read it was, I don't know, maybe 10 or 12 years ago.

Lilly 13:13

There's some good commentary about political revolution. And young fuckheads with a savior complex. Yeah, like there's some really good commentary on that. But the whole thing is just wrapped up in such a gnarly shit bow. That it's really hard

Sara 13:32

to get through that. Yeah, it makes it really unpleasant to read, to be perfectly honest. Just the way it's not focused on one specific Asian culture. It's just like taking potshots at everything. It's a mishmash.

Lilly 13:47

Well, isn't that part of what makes it racist? The implication that everything east of India is just all one big thing.

Sara 13:57

It's all interchangeable. Yeah.

Lilly 13:59

Yeah. Like, to me, that was part of the problem. And so if, if he had even just, I mean, so much at the beginning, it was, you know, he was trying to build ancient China. And then he just starts throwing in bad like, weeaboo esque references to Japan, that it was like, oh, no, oh, no. Okay, I can get behind shitting on an empire, any empire, like any empire has done stuff that you can complain about. I'm okay with that. But yeah, no, he was just like, also, there's really fat people that they pretend are athletic. It's like, no, that's not that's not how sumo works. So boy, no is really now. Also, they're not mindless. And that's not

Sara 14:49

he has a comment about how like, the writing is really slow because they have to draw out all of these characters and like, that's not how writing works. Well, I mean,

Lilly 14:58

it is especially If you're a monk in medieval England and doing like fancy manuscripts but he wasn't making fun of them was he

Sara 15:06

know calligraphy that slow? Sure. In any language in any like writing system exactly. But like kanji for example, is not inherently slower to write than Roman letters.

Lilly 15:22

Yeah, it was. Spoke was a doozy huh?

Sara 15:28

Yeah, it was

Lilly 15:31

not avoidable. But yeah, it was when he started pulling in other references that I was just like, oof, nope.

Sara 15:37

Well, like if he had, if the plot had been just like, revolution against an empire, even if the setting is, you know, Discworld Chinese. Like that doesn't necessarily you're not necessarily inherently poking fun at the Chinese culture when you do that.

Lilly 15:56

And there would have been a reason because Cohen, the barbarian was the barbarian who was getting over the wall. And so there was at least a reason to set it in a place that had a wall. And yeah, just these people have stupid names, which was basically the joke every other sentence.

Sara 16:16

Yeah. Project can do better. I don't know. We

Lilly 16:19

can hack through some of that. Just assume every sentence we say for the rest of the podcast has the little footnote of Oh, yeah. Except for all of that racism.

Sara 16:31

Yes. And to be fair, not that this is a valid defense. It should not be a valid defense. This was written in 1994. I mean, more copyrighted in 1994. Anyway, that's not a valid defense.

Lilly 16:47

It's just as gross but it's less appalling that he wrote it, I think, is what I would say. Yeah.

Sara 16:52

I mean, there were plenty of people who were writing non racist books. In 1994.

Lilly 16:59

Yeah. The luggage was funny, though.

Sara 17:03

I did like the luggage.

Lilly 17:07

We're gonna be grasping at straws.

Sara 17:10

I will say, probably because the last time I reread this, I was not older than 26. I did not really like notice that Lord Hong, who is the villain in this book is only 26. And so I got there and I was like, oh, no, I feel old.

Lilly 17:29

Yeah, he was the not figurehead, the opposite of the figurehead, who's the one who controls the figurehead? I mean, he was the grand vizier, I guess. Yeah, it's used in the book. Yep. Oh, flow is gonna be bad tonight. Hmm.

Sara 17:46

Probably. I mean, that's not our fault. That's proud. It's fault. Okay,

Lilly 17:51

so the racism was bad. And it was on purpose. And there's not really any getting around that. But there was another element in this book that I feel like was purely on accident. But if you stop and think about it, for even two seconds, it becomes extremely uncomfortable very fast. And that is the fact that there's a running joke, that rinse wind, the main character was stuck on a desert island for so long, that he like mixed up his hunger cues and his libido. And now he interprets sexy women as potatoes.

Sara 18:25

Okay, I have to stop you there, because I don't think that he's getting his libido mixed up. I think that he just really wants potatoes. And like Pratchett is making fun of the fact that, like the trope that, you know, sexy women always want to like repopulate their tribe, whatever, with the one man who's left on the island, which in this case is rents wind, and he's just completely ignoring that because he just really wants potatoes. I don't think that his libido has anything to do with it.

Lilly 18:56

I think that scene was not played that way. I don't think it was that he was ignoring it. I think it was that he was so hungry. He was not understanding. Oh, that was a language barrier thing.

Sara 19:08

No, I didn't think it was a language because like he there's nothing else in the scene that makes it seem like he's starving. It's just he really wants potatoes like when you've gone so long. And your diet is just one thing. And you can't get something that you're used to eating which he's used to eating potatoes and you start to like focus on that. Because like doesn't, doesn't it talk about how he had like plenty of fish or whatever from the luggage killing all of the like the predators around the island.

Lilly 19:37

Three figures stepped into his line of vision. They were obviously female. They were abundantly female. They were not wearing a great deal of clothing and seemed to be altogether too fresh from the hairdresser's for people who have just been paddling a large war canoe that goes on to describe how voluptuous they are for another paragraph in a hand. Right?

Sara 19:59

Right. But Like that is the joke. The joke is not that he's like lusting after them and confusing his hunger feelings for his libido. The joke is that like in movies and things like that, when you see these women who are coming after the most unlikeliest of guys, because they're the last one left, like they're always beautiful and perfectly, you know, quaffed and manicured.

Lilly 20:24

Well, yeah, and that part of the joke doesn't bother me at all. It's that it's introduced in this way. And then it keeps getting brought up again and again, about female children. Not all children, would also be weird. Not all people. But the line that specifically bothered me was, it was a shame to disappoint lotus blossom with her body that reminded Rincewind of a plate of crinkle cut chips.

Sara 20:53

I mean, I agree it's uncomfortable, but I don't think that there's a libido aspect to it.

Lilly 20:59

Well, then why is it only women who remind him of potatoes?

Sara 21:02

I don't have an answer to that. Yeah.

Lilly 21:05

I feel like the original joke was, isn't it funny that he wants potatoes more than six? And then the joke, like kind of got lost, and then it was he sees the female people as potatoes. And Pratchett didn't realize that he was talking about lotus blossom, who was described as a child on that page. Okay, that's fair.

Sara 21:27

That's fair. When you when you phrase it that way? Yes, I agree with you.

Lilly 21:32

Yeah. And that, like, I do think that was an accident. I think it was a joke that ran away. But

Sara 21:38

I still disagree with the confusing his libido because he's not confusing his libido with wanting potatoes.

Lilly 21:44

There's also the running joke that he has to go get therapy for it several times. I don't know. Maybe confusing is the wrong word. But I definitely don't think it's a platonic love of potatoes that he's getting confused by.

Sara 21:57

I mean, he just likes potatoes. Who can blame them?

Lilly 22:01

I don't think that flies with the situations in which it comes up.

Sara 22:05

I think Pratchett does a bad job with this joke. I agree.

Lilly 22:09

Yes. Like the setup was fine. It was funny that he wanted potatoes so bad. He didn't notice how big the Amazonians zonkers were like, That's fine. That's funny. But then it became a recurring joke. And it was like, oh, boy, you didn't think this through?

Sara 22:24

Yes. I agree.

Lilly 22:28

There were some fun references to I guess it was an earlier Rincewind book. But the idea that the gods of Discworld are just playing a board game with the people and the politics on the disk. I think that's a really fun, not exactly quintessential aspect of Discworld. But that is definitely one of the very strong mental images I have of the series as a whole.

Sara 22:52

It's definitely a concept that we've seen throughout earlier books. I'm pretty

Lilly 22:56

sure that that's introduced in the very first book, right?

Sara 23:00

I think so. And I'm pretty sure that we see the lady and her particular, I don't want to say fondness, but usage of rinse when there's one of her pieces. I'm pretty sure that that's an color of magic, too.

Lilly 23:15

So that was neat seeing some quintessential Discworld tropes coming up.

Sara 23:21

Yeah, it was also interesting seeing there's kind of it's almost a throwaway line about a mirror Rincewind where, like, everything goes right for him. And how if they ever met, actual Rincewind hoped it would be with a weapon in hand. And that was an interesting not call back because this book predates it, but set up Yeah, an interesting preview of a concept that Pratchett explores further in the Hogfather with the oh god of hangovers.

Lilly 23:56

This book also has a oblique foreshadowing to making money, which is the most fun lip vague book, which is and so that's my like a two book little. I hesitate to even call it a series.

Sara 24:12

There's at least three. Oh, there's three. I'm pretty sure. Okay,

Lilly 24:16

well, I haven't read them all. But Rincewind is appalled that this culture values little bits of paper more than gold. A merchant tries to explain that the little bit of paper represents gold and rinse wind basically invents counterfeiting. That's a that's a concept that there's an entire book about later

Sara 24:37

with three Yes, there are three okay, there are three,

Lilly 24:41

except that book has a much less grading setting. And I would argue a more fun main character.

Sara 24:49

I mean, I like I like moist fun like veg lift Greg. But I do like rinse wind despite all of the shit in this book. That is very unacceptable. I like Rincewind as a character,

Lilly 25:03

he's okay. He doesn't do anything for me. I don't dislike him, but I wouldn't say he's particularly charming for me. Yeah, that's fair. Oh, one of the things this book does do nicely. For all of the jokes about sex work in this book, it's all just coming up with silly euphemisms for it. At no point are sex workers insulted or spoken down about, they're usually just listed in a list of occupations. And it's funny because it's a goofy euphemism next to like lawyers and tax collectors. They're rarely the

Sara 25:42

butt of the joke. And I think that's true in his earlier Discworld books, too, that we've read. Yeah. Which, like you say, he does a good job with that. Good on you. Pratchett.

Lilly 25:53

The joke is usually, if I recall correctly, how ridiculous it is, or how funny it is how uncomfortable people are around the concept. Like with the silly euphemisms in this book, and that's fine. That can be a joke. I think it's worth pointing out that it wasn't terrible.

Sara 26:13

Pratchett did get a couple of things,

Lilly 26:15

right. Yeah. Like, the universal Dibbler. Yes. Which

Sara 26:21

we have seen before. I mean, we've seen other nibblers before.

Lilly 26:24

That I love him every time.

Sara 26:28

But it's it's nice to see. I think this is what like the third Dibbler because we see one in pure small gods.

Lilly 26:35

Oh, small gods. Yeah, that's the one I get used for no reason. Equal rights and small gods. Nothing pyramids. Oh, no, I

Sara 26:42

get equal rights and small Gods confused. Really? Yeah. I think it's because I associate the title equal rights with something religious.

Lilly 26:52

Pyramids and small Gods both take place in a desert setting. That's my excuse.

Sara 26:59

Also understandable. Yeah.

Lilly 27:01

But anyway, every setting has a cut me own throat Dibbler who is trying to sell dodgy products and scam people out of money to the best of his abilities. And that's just a universal human archetype. That's not a comment on the particular setting, because he's universal. Isn't that beautiful? In a way?

Sara 27:24

It also doesn't feel like a comment on a particular culture, because there is the Dibbler and Ogmore porque. Who does just that?

Lilly 27:34

Right. Exactly. It's more making fun of commercialism than Yeah. People, specifically. Yeah. And that we can always punch on.

Sara 27:45

Yes. That is much better punching ground, then, you know, Chinese culture, Asian culture. Yes. But even Chinese, though. It's not even Chinese

Lilly 27:56

reason. That makes it so much worse. I don't know. Like, okay, foot binding. That's fair. You can make fun of that.

Sara 28:02

Yeah, of course. It's


weird to.

Sara 28:04

Yeah. And he also spends a lot more time making fun of other things. And he does making fun of foot binding.

Lilly 28:10

Oh, yeah. No, that's just like a throwaway line that Conan the Barbarian is like, what weird? Yeah, it was odd, instead of the fact that sumo wrestlers are basically animals because they're fat and therefore cannot think that was the best I could understand that scene, and it was not flattering for Pratchett.

Sara 28:33

It was not flattering for Prasad at all. I don't have anything to add there.

Lilly 28:38

And the sumo wrestlers show up a hell of a lot more than the concept of foot binding. Oh,

Sara 28:43

yeah. Yeah. Or like making fun of names that shows up a lot. Yeah.

Lilly 28:49

Well, if you manage to get through all of that bullshit, you do get to some comments on political revolutions. That weren't terrible.

Sara 29:00

Yeah, I mean, Pratchett has some good commentary on how revolutionaries might have good intentions, but they usually are not actually working towards the good of the people. Or like, it's more effective to give the poor something that will actually help them instead of what you think they want.

Lilly 29:20

I will admit that I started writing a very angry note when I got halfway through that paragraph book. Because when starts out by saying, oh, you know, leave, leave everyone alone. And I was like, well tell all the nine year olds who die in coal mines that they should be left alone. Like, I bet that they would like someone to do something about it. And then it continues on with, you know, provide education and I was like, oh, yeah, okay. Figure out what's actually helpful. I agree with that.

Sara 29:49

The earlier context to that whole like inner monologue is about how no one who is on the The People's Committee, which is what the revolutionaries want to, like, Institute, instead of an emperor, no one on that committee would actually, like be part of that lower class or come from that lower class. So how could they necessarily, like know, what was most effective?

Lilly 30:21

Okay, that's true. And I agree with that. But it does great against me. The idea that you're not one of them, so you shouldn't help them. That's fair, but no people need to allies. And sometimes if you're part of the group that's in power, you have a position where you can do something,

Sara 30:41

but I think the whole thing there is like, yes, you should be an ally, and you should do something, but like, you can't exclude the people you're helping. Oh, I mean, I agree, which is the point that I think Rincewind is trying to make, and maybe not necessarily eloquently making. I agree

Lilly 30:58

with that. Especially when you like you said consider the audience, which is basically young dog douchebags with a savior complex. And I agree that young dumb douchebags with the savior complex, need to have some sense shaken into the before they do more harm than good. But I think part of his commentary is a little bit too general. Yeah, it shouldn't be never do anything to help the lower class, which is how he starts, he gets there, it comes back. Like I said, I wrote my whole thing down in my notes, and then was like, oh, no, okay.

Sara 31:37

I can't actually didn't practice it too much for this one.

Lilly 31:40

Yeah, no, that was just me not reading the whole paragraph before I started angrily note taking.

Sara 31:47

Well, Sarah, we've come to that point. Yeah, I should

Lilly 31:50

you read this book? When should you read this book? Should you read this book?

Sara 31:54

I think you still should read this book. But I think you should read this book with the knowledge that it's very racist, in very uncomfortable ways. And you should not start with this book, because it is very racist in very uncomfortable ways.

Lilly 32:10

This feels like a bottom of the barrel. I have read every single other Discworld book that exists, but I want more Discworld. So I guess I'm settling for interesting times.

Sara 32:22

I mean, I think like if you're reading the Rincewind books, read them in order, that's fine. Because this does set up some context for the next Prince when book at the very end. Not that you can't skip this book, and still understand what's going on. You absolutely can. But there is that context that you miss.

Lilly 32:43

I would read a different series before I said someone should read this as part of the rinse swim series. But like I said, the Renson books are really not for me. Yeah, I

Sara 32:53

wouldn't I wouldn't go that far.

Lilly 32:55

I mean, if someone didn't want to deal with racist bullshit,

Sara 32:58

that's sure fair. That's like that's series. Yeah. Like, that's valid. And you should skip this book. If you don't want to deal with racist bullshit. Like, I'm, I'm not saying that you have to read this book. I'm just saying that like, if you're interested in rents, when I'm reading the rents when books, I wouldn't necessarily recommend skipping it. Unless you don't want to deal with racist bullshit, which is, again, a very valid reason.

Lilly 33:25

Yeah. Read this book. If you think old men high jinks are charming. I liked that part. Conan the Barbarian is fun.

Sara 33:35

When you ignore the racism. He's not even the worst part, though. No,

Lilly 33:40

it's the narrative of the novel. That's bad. Cohen himself isn't too bad.

Sara 33:45

He plays into it. Yeah, okay. Fair.

Lilly 33:47

They all do.

Sara 33:48

They all do. Every character in this does. Yes. I'm not disagreeing there.

Lilly 33:53

Yeah, I don't know. This was a hard one. I probably would not reread this book. I apparently I had read it before I remembered basically nothing about it. Remembering what it's about though. I would probably just skip it in a reread. I don't think it brings anything to the table. Really, that's worth putting up with everything else for

Sara 34:12

I would reread it, but it is not going to be a go to book for me. Like I would reread it as part of a reread of the whole series.

Lilly 34:21

But that's just the completionist in you. That's a good book.

Sara 34:25

Yeah, if I'm looking to reread a specific book in the Discworld series, by itself, this is probably not going to be that book.

Lilly 34:33

You should only read this book if you're just trying to put a notch on your bedpost for every single Discworld book. That's the reason to read this book. If you're not going for like 100% Complete achievement, then yeah, totally skip this.

Sara 34:49

Yeah. Makes me really sad. Because like I used to, when I was a kid, and didn't know any better. I did really enjoy this book as an adult. Like I cannot, yeah.

Lilly 35:03

To avoid spoilers skip to 50 to 20. You know, what I really think this book should have done. That's kind of a shame. It didn't go far enough, instead of just saying, you know, don't bother with the revolution, you know, just leave the peasants in the mud and shit, that's fine. It needed to go a step farther and offer an actual solution. Okay, if this solution is bad, which we agree that solution is bad. There's not a solution. It just perpetrates the problem with different people in charge. What is the solution, then? This should have been a pro union book, Sara.

Sara 35:47

I, I agree that they should have asked what the what the person has wanted. I don't know if the person's would have had the words for they want to Union. But they did deserve a union.

Lilly 35:58

reading this, I was like, damn, I want to start the union of people who hold the string that oxygen are tied to water buffalo water buffalo, which is the main job that we see. They just want longer strings. That's pretty doable. Those union negotiations would be easy.

Sara 36:21

In theory, they would be easy anyway. Well, sure. I think the people also need lawyers.

Lilly 36:30

Yes. All right. Not that the system we have is functional at all. But at least there's some recourse if you get fired for a stupid reason. Or, I should say a discriminatory reason, stupid reasons or fun discriminatory ones or not. But in this world, you just get beheaded. And you can't even say, Hey, wait, you went against the contract. And using sneaky weasel words is not how contracts work. This is obviously what the contract meant that both people signed, you can't get away with that. I am really the defense lawyer of this world peasants actually think it would be really cool to have a character that's like, I guess it wouldn't be a defense lawyer. I guess they would be a contract lawyer who represent people going into like, Devil's contracts or like making Genie wishes.

Sara 37:21

But I agree, I would, I would read that book. And to be fair, I think more pork does have lawyers, I think Mr. Slant is His name is a zombie. And he's the head of the Lawyers Guild.

Lilly 37:32

But this doesn't take place in more voice does not take

Sara 37:35

place in Ogmore. Pork. And Mr. Slant does not work for the peasants because the peasants cannot pay.

Lilly 37:42

I feel like this book mixes up misguided revolutions with the importance of workers rights, or I'm just reading way too far into it because I was trying to find something I could latch on to. And I couldn't even have that.

Sara 37:58

I think that that might be the books that Cratchit would write today. But it's not the book that he wrote in 1994.

Lilly 38:06

Makes me think of young, dumb, rich kids who go to underdeveloped countries and build houses. But then like all of the houses have to end up being torn down as soon as they leave, because they don't know how to build a house. All in tourism, I think is another good word for it. Like, yeah, let's make fun of those douchebags. And there's a little bit of it here. And I think that's where it was going. But I wanted it to go harder so that I can ignore the racism more.

Sara 38:33

It should have gone harder on the on that aspect. Yeah, yeah.

Lilly 38:38

There's a character in this book that we haven't talked about at all, because we've been complaining about Yeah, we talked

Sara 38:45

about the characters in this book, because we've been so concerned with discussing the other very major issues with it.

Lilly 38:52

Well, butterfly is one of the young revolutionaries, and she immediately sniffs out that rinse wind is a fraud. He is brought in specifically to trick the revolutionaries. It's all very, very Trixie and political, but she can tell right away that he's actually a bogus wizard. They're just to hurt their cause, basically.

Sara 39:15

I mean, I would like to clarify a little bit that he's not there. He is not intending to hurt their cause. But the person who has had him brought their who butterfly doesn't realize is that person in particular intends for him to hurt their cause.

Lilly 39:31

Yes, you're right. He doesn't want anything to do with anything. He was brought there under duress. But the Lord home I think it was

Sara 39:39

yes, Han has manipulated events, so that Rincewind has been brought over

Lilly 39:46

because the rebels want to rally behind the Great Wizard. And so Lord Hall found an incompetent wizard to make them think is the great wizard. It's it's actually a pretty good plot. If you think about it. on his part as much as he's a bad guy,

Sara 40:02

it is I mean, he wouldn't be a successful bad guy if it weren't for his failings as a human being.

Lilly 40:08

Doesn't that make him a bad guy? Okay, but she figures this out of mediately. She can tell that Rincewind is not who other people say he is. However, 100 pages later, written swindlers trying to convince her that the rebellion storming the castle, and killing the emperor is also part of this grand scheme. And butterfly just will not have it. And I was like, How can you be so astute and perceptive when you first meet Prince wind? And then he's trying to explain that, hey, a pile of sores and a map to the Emperor seems fishy? To me

Sara 40:47

fair, I think the problem there is the messenger. She knows he's incompetent. Thus, what he is saying must also be incompetent,

Lilly 40:56

I guess, but a pile of swords. And I mean, that's okay. That's silly, Discworld stuff. But

Sara 41:03

I think I agree that she should be listening to him. And that looks a little silly, but she doesn't, because what he's saying is making a lot of sense. But I can also see someone just completely not believing in the competency of someone else. Like that really does affect how you listen to them or don't listen to them. That's true, and how seriously, you take what they say. That's true. Yeah. Especially when you're so passionate about your cause, which she is. And you're like, we have the means to go and do this. Let's just go and do this.

Lilly 41:38

So you're saying it's in character, but I can still be annoyed by it? Yes. Excellent. I

Sara 41:43

think I think it's in character. But I do think it's something that you can be annoyed about. And

Lilly 41:48

to be fair, she does eventually come around pretty late, but not like after it's too late. So that's fine. All right, whatever. Yeah,

Sara 41:56

that's part of why I think isn't character like she does eventually listen to reason, once she has convinced herself.

Lilly 42:04

Well, speaking of butterfly, the fact that she's two flowers daughter comes completely out of nowhere to flower being rinsed twins traveling companion in the very first Discworld novels. And then there's this whole like, dark, dramatic backstory about two flowers wife, and you're like, holy shit, wait, what? There are five pages left in the novel. We're dealing with all of this right now. Okay.

Sara 42:31

When you first wrote this bullet point in our notes, I was really going to argue because I was like, it doesn't come out of left field or anything. No, I knew about it from the beginning. And then I realized, yeah, this because I'm rereading this book. And when I think about it, logically, it really does come out of nowhere. It's not really foreshadowed very much at all.

Lilly 42:50

So you remembered that butterfly was his daughter, which does imply that there is a mother. And so in that way, that's Sure, yes, that foreshadows that there is a mother involved at some point. But I think what you hadn't realized was how late we even find out that butterfly is two flowers kid. Yeah, that's on page 349 out of 368.

Sara 43:16

That is quite late. So the foreshadowing

Lilly 43:19

that he has a wife is on page 349. We find out that his wife tragically died, and then he tries to avenge her by getting in a one on one fight with Lord Hong, all in those 20 pages.

Sara 43:36

It is a lot. You're right. Yeah, it would have been better, I think to have a little more clues a little earlier on even just butterfly

Lilly 43:43

saying that she's doing this because her mother died in a tragic accident that could have been avoided if their government was less rancid is not the word I'm looking corrupt.

Sara 43:57

I think rancid counts. Those a

Lilly 44:00

little more poetic and I was going for. But something like that would have at least given us a little bit of an idea that this character is going to come up later. Instead of bam.

Sara 44:12

Yeah, it does feel kind of like Pratchett just wanted these characters to be related because he did not because there's any like story reason for them to be related.

Lilly 44:22

Well, it does give us the excellent excellent scene, when rinse wind gets teleported back to the unseen University, which all of that is like weird deus ex machina but like unapologetically Deus Ex Machina, we see the wizards in the university just saying let's do this now for absolutely no reason.

Sara 44:44

And that does that does feel very in character with the wizards to be fair.

Lilly 44:48

Yes. And we see them discussing it before it happens.

Sara 44:53

Yes, crucially, I think yeah, that is the important bit

Lilly 44:57

and that was how Rincewind got to the The agitated Empire, the gate here and Empire.

Sara 45:03

I've always pronounced it as a hard Jew. I got you an empire got to assure I don't know if that's right. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

Lilly 45:13

That's how we get to the Forgotten empire in the first place. So it's at least set up a little bit. They had always planned on bringing him back. It just happens to be at the exactly most convenient moment. And that's pretty funny. That's all right.

Sara 45:27

And also that's pretty in keeping with I mean, Discworld in general. To be fair,

Lilly 45:31

that's so over the top that it's goofy. Yeah. So Rincewind gets yanked away, and a cannon gets put in his place, because they have to be swapped. And so instead of having to face Lord hung in a duel, to flower gets to watch from you blown up by a cannon. And that was pretty satisfying.

Sara 45:48

It was, but I still think that like, there's no story reason for Lotus Blossom and butterfly to be his kids. So like, he can still have the wife, but then being his children does not add any emotional depth to the story, really, because we get that reveal so late. Yeah. And I guess,

Lilly 46:09

butterfly does mention when rinse wind questions why they rebellion is entirely children. She brings up that, you know, when all of the workers are worked to death, they leave orphans behind. So I guess there's kind of that's not a hint. That's so vague.

Sara 46:27

Does two flowers say something about family when he's locked in a cell with Rincewind? I don't actually remember.

Lilly 46:34

Maybe if he did that didn't catch it.

Sara 46:36

I feel like he might. I don't actually remember. So I'm not going to bet any money on it. All right. If he does, that's a hint. That is at least earlier than than those last 20 pages.

Lilly 46:48

Even that's pretty late in the book, though. It is.

Sara 46:52

I mean, yeah, it is pretty late in the book. I think that Pratchett does a much better job. hinting to the reader that to flower was the one who wrote what I did on my vacation, this revolutionary pamphlet that's been handed around, then he does, hinting that to flower has two kids and a dead wife, tragically dead wife.

Lilly 47:12

I agree there, because every time rents wind, Here's a snippet of it. He's like, hey, doesn't that sound familiar? So that Yeah, I agree. It comes up enough that you're like, there's something going on here.

Sara 47:25

Yeah. And like I do genuinely like that. And I think it is funny and well done.

Lilly 47:32

Okay, the names are stupid in bed, the name jokes. But the Miss translations did not bother me too much. The idea that people trying to speak a different language end up saying absurdly different words than they meant to that felt if it hadn't been in this book, it would have been like, Oh, haha, monolingual people can't speak different languages.

Sara 47:55

Yeah, I think because of how it was done. I mean, the concept by itself is not bad. But because of the rest of the context of the book, it felt, especially because it was like, specifically making fun of how tonal Chinese is like, it felt like another way of making fun of Chinese, rather than making fun of monolingual people

Lilly 48:24

in a different context. I think it would just be like, yeah, sometimes you mess up when you're trying to speak a language you don't know. Right? Like, like, that's why in a different

Sara 48:31

context. Yeah. Right. It would, it would feel like making fun of monolingual people. And in this context, it felt like making fun of Chinese like the language. To me.

Lilly 48:40

I don't think it changed that drastically. I think it just felt like it was piling on the baby and splitting hairs. And that's the same

Sara 48:47

thing. I think that splitting hairs. I mean, because if you felt like it was piling on, then you felt like it was making fun of Chinese.

Lilly 48:55

Yeah, no, you're right. And especially with the combination of, I think it's mostly with the names, because that's also a language thing right there. Yeah. Forcefully translating names, which you wouldn't normally do. Yeah. I don't know, like the joke that are means something different in different languages. And so when people get

Sara 49:15

that, that was a genuinely good joke, because it was not, it was not culture specific. You know, like it was here are a variety of different meanings of Arg,

Lilly 49:26

and all of the different high jinks that I've gotten into, because yeah, yeah, I agree. That was the best way to execute the joke. Even the bad dialogue, or I say bad dialogue. But misspoken dialogue got old, because it's not actually that funny. The dialogue itself was never that funny that they said on accident. Yeah. So it just meant that they had to repeat themselves. And I was like, Are you just patting this book out?

Sara 49:54

And again, I think if we didn't have the wider racism in the book, it wouldn't have been something to really note. I still think it would have

Lilly 50:03

gotten tiresome, actually. And we I, it might have gotten tiresome, but that's a far cry from upsetting. Yeah, like,

Sara 50:09

I wouldn't have read it as racist the way that I did read it as racist.

Lilly 50:13

Yeah, I agree. We have anything nice to end on for this book.

Sara 50:18

I'm looking forward to the last continent. And I hope that it's not as racist as this one.

Lilly 50:25

Is that what you're referring to when you say that this book sets up? The next one that runs wind is magically teleported to the last continent? Because I bet Dell explained that at the beginning of the next book. Yes. That is, that is what I mean. I don't think that's necessary context.

Sara 50:40

I don't think like, again, which I think I said, like, you can skip this book, you're not going to be lost without it.

Lilly 50:47

We both have a completionist urge. And I think that that is maybe to our disadvantage sometimes.

Sara 50:53

Yeah, maybe.

Lilly 50:56

I agree. I'm that person who does every single side quests in a video game.

Sara 51:00

Yeah, that's why I don't finish video games. Yeah. Because I try to be a completionist. And I should not

Lilly 51:07

well, maybe interesting times is another example. You know, the title of this book is very good. I love the concept that may you live in interesting times is the like most cutting insult, you can say to someone? Yeah, that's pretty funny.

Sara 51:24

There is that saying, which is attributed to a Chinese proverb. It's not actually a Chinese proverb. But it is a thing, like a real world around world thing. I looked it up once.

Lilly 51:36

It is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. Yeah, it's apocryphal there is no actual Chinese source. Yeah.

Sara 51:46

That is, if I may say what I just said.

Lilly 51:49

Yeah, sorry. I was Googling it while you were saying things. But I am backing you up and reading from Wikipedia.

Sara 51:58

Which is where my original knowledge comes from.

Lilly 52:00

Yes. But now we can say it's from Wikipedia. It's not just from your head, because sometimes that's wrong. That's fair. Instead of reading it out loud. I could have just said, Oh, yes, I found a source that agrees with you. How's that?

Sara 52:14

Yes, thank you. So there was one

Lilly 52:21

line in this book. That really threw me for loop on page 354. Conan the Barbarian says, I guess I should get the actual quote out. Probably. That might help. There's a point in this book during which rinse wind is in peril. That's not a spoiler. That's like the whole book.

Sara 52:39

That is, that is literally the plot of this book.

Lilly 52:43

Lindsey wins plot, his character arc is being in peril. So at one point, Cohen goes to rescue him and his other barbarian buddies are like, What are you doing? He's a wizard. And Cohen says, rinse one's a weasel. But he's our weasel. And I was like, is Basil really the word for that? I don't know. I just that just feels so much more sinister. It doesn't feel

Sara 53:11

sinister to me. I also did not point this out when you're talking. But you did use weasel out of the situation earlier in our conversation?

Lilly 53:20

Well, okay. weaseling out of something is definitely afraid probably because this word was in my head because we had this such an awful Magpie for words. Sometimes when I'm editing episodes, I'll realize that our guest said a phrase and then I use that same phrase, like four times in the rest of the episode and I'm like, do I have a brain or do I just repeat shit that I hear? Anyway? I would not call rinse window weasel? I think weaseling out is very different from being a weasel.

Sara 53:50

I don't know. I don't think I don't think that there's as big of a difference between those two phrases as you do.

Lilly 53:56

I just the connotations. Okay. I don't dislike weasels. This is not me saying that weasels are bad animals. But I think the connotations of the phrase to be a weasel is just so much more antagonistic than like a chicken. I would call Rincewind. Chicken, not a soul.

Sara 54:14

I don't know, I think. I don't know how to explain my aversion to the phrase a chicken in conjunction with Rincewind. Whereas I don't mind weasel. And I'm not sure it's actually logical when I really think about it. Because like, I don't, I don't have an argument there.

Lilly 54:29

weaseling out is absolutely applicable to him. Yeah. But I do think using the word just weasel as an adjective instead of weaseling out as a verb does feel different to me, but

Sara 54:41

I don't know. I feel I feel like calling him a chicken is technically accurate because he is kind of afraid of everything. But I don't think it has the connotation of being able to get out of situations the way that weasel does, because Rincewind isn't just afraid of things. He's afraid of things and he gets out of situations. I feel like weasel describes that overall better than chicken does,

Lilly 55:11

while wikid it. definitions of the word weasel implied deception and irresponsibility, referring to sneaky, untrustworthy or insincere people.

Sara 55:26

I don't think Rincewind is insincere. But I do think he's untrustworthy.

Lilly 55:31

I don't he's always very honest that he is going to try to get out of a situation.

Sara 55:36

Yes, but you should you should not trust him to like back you up.

Lilly 55:41

Oh, maybe I'm interpreting untrustworthy as. Yeah, you're right. insincere is a different word. He's always very honest. Yeah. So he's not untrustworthy in that you cannot trust His word. Yes. He will always give you his word that he is going to run away.

Sara 55:57

Yes, but you cannot count on him for backup. I mean, he never claims you that you can. No, but like, that doesn't. I feel like that is a different nuance.

Lilly 56:07

So I think trustworthy and reliable. Well, even reliable, he reliably always runs away.

Sara 56:12

Yeah, but I think I think you can still say like, it's all about how you're approaching this, right? Like, sure, he reliably runs away, but he is not reliable in a situation because you know, he's gonna run away. That's true.

Lilly 56:26

And that's even part of the book, right? Things are always uncertain. Things are so certain that they'll always be uncertain except when rinse wind is involved. And then things are certainly uncertain or something like that. Yeah, I just okay. Maybe all of those definitions are most of them can technically apply to him. I just feel like that word has more negative connotations than felt right.

Sara 56:51

I think it's funny that I'm the one who likes rinse wind, but you're the one who's arguing but he should not be called a weasel.

Lilly 56:57

Yeah, because he's not over. He's like, he's a chicken. And I don't dislike him. I just am not into his books, which

Sara 57:03

I don't I don't think that chicken involved like, a chicken is just scared. They don't necessarily like try to get out of it.

Lilly 57:10

I think of chickens is running away. You don't think of chickens is running away?

Sara 57:15

No, I think of chickens is like, ostrich eating.

Lilly 57:18

That's an ostrich isn't.

Sara 57:19

That is an ostrich? Like I think I think of chickens is like hiding and freezing not necessarily running away.

Lilly 57:24

Interesting. I think of like the game chicken, where the whole point is the person who avoids danger, like turns away from danger is the chicken.

Sara 57:35

I don't Yeah, I don't. I don't feel I don't think that.

Lilly 57:38

But that's more of an argument of how the word is used in popular language. Not how do we feel like the animal behaves? Because I don't think real chickens run away. Real chickens are mean motherfuckers.

Sara 57:52

That's also very true.

Lilly 57:56

The Weasel is a weird word, huh?

Sara 57:59

It is a weird word.

Lilly 58:00

I feel like we had to get the word weird in there somehow.

Sara 58:05

I still think that it applies to rinse wind, or I don't disagree with its application towards the end to end. But

Lilly 58:11

it's not technically wrong. It just has the wrong vibe. is what I think. I don't

Sara 58:17

mind the vibe. All right, but I will agree with you that it's a weird word. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of fiction fans.

Lilly 58:29

Come disagree with us. We're on Twitter and Instagram at fiction fans pod. You can also email us at fiction fans pod@gmail.com

Sara 58:38

If you enjoyed the episode, please rate and review on Spotify and Apple podcasts and follow us wherever your podcasts live.

Lilly 58:45

We also have a Patreon where you can support us and find our show notes and a little bit of other nonsense.

Sara 58:52

Thanks again for listening and Mayor villains always be defeated by

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