Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
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
*this transcript is AI generated, please excuse the mess.
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,
whoa. You brought that up much earlier than I was expecting.
I just wanted to see your face.
My glorified face.
But before we started talking about that, Sara, other than my excellent introduction, what's something great that happened lately?
Something great that happened lately is that I impulse purchased tickets to Athens, Greece, in April,
I was gonna say, like, not Georgia, right?
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.
I mean, it's something to do.
And the reason I impulse purchased it was that the tickets were cheaper than normal.
So you don't have to justify going to Greece.
I feel like I have to justify going to Greece when I'm only staying there, like three days, basically,
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,
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.
I mean, I'm petty but I'm not that petty.
I feel like you should be that petty so that I can go and visit you stay there for a long time.
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
Wednesday to Wednesday. Yeah. I'm very impressed.
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.
I mean, to be honest, is kind of par for the course.
Yeah, yeah. But I did it. I fucking did it. None of them were too much later than we planned.
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,
that I'm riding on that technicality. It's not
late if it's before noon,
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,
I feel I I do. I know. I had
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.
Well, we're all very grateful for your sacrifice.
You're welcome. There What are you drinking tonight?
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
I mean, technically the question is, what am I drinking and mine?
I see that. I see that jello. You're eating, jello. And all of all of the vodka mixed into it.
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.
I'm not convinced by jello and vodka as a dinner meal, but I hope you're enjoying it.
I am. That was a joke. I had real dinner. I promise. I'm not that irresponsible.
It's true. I saw her eat it. We were on the call and she was eating.
Anyway, have you read anything good lately?
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.
It's like how I would argue that monster movies are not actually horror movies, even if they are similar realms.
Yeah, like it has mildly spooky vibes. But it's not spooky, you know, right.
Yeah, it doesn't make you feel discombobulated while you're reading it.
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.
I do like spooky adjacent things. I like spooky things as well. But I know my audience, which is Sarah.
I'm generally not. Not a spooky thing person.
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.
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.
I mean, everything Elon Musk does is a whole lot of crazy. Also true. And a broken clock can be right twice a day.
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.
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.
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
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.
That's very valid.
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.
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,
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,
which I'm so sad about. But yeah, it is this is time to complain about interesting times.
Okay, you have said before that the rinse wind books are your favorite Discworld series? Am I recalling that correctly?
You are recalling that correctly?
I assume that this did not count or factor into that?
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.
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.
It's it's bad.
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?
I really enjoy, like the Hoard. And that whole premise
being Cohens group of octogenarian barbarian. Yes,
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.
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
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.
Well, isn't that part of what makes it racist? The implication that everything east of India is just all one big thing.
It's all interchangeable. Yeah.
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
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,
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
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.
Yeah, it was. Spoke was a doozy huh?
Yeah, it was
not avoidable. But yeah, it was when he started pulling in other references that I was just like, oof, nope.
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.
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.
Yeah. Project can do better. I don't know. We
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.
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.
It's just as gross but it's less appalling that he wrote it, I think, is what I would say. Yeah.
I mean, there were plenty of people who were writing non racist books. In 1994.
Yeah. The luggage was funny, though.
I did like the luggage.
We're gonna be grasping at straws.
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.
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.
Probably. I mean, that's not our fault. That's proud. It's fault. Okay,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I mean, I agree it's uncomfortable, but I don't think that there's a libido aspect to it.
Well, then why is it only women who remind him of potatoes?
I don't have an answer to that. Yeah.
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.
That's fair. When you when you phrase it that way? Yes, I agree with you.
Yeah. And that, like, I do think that was an accident. I think it was a joke that ran away. But
I still disagree with the confusing his libido because he's not confusing his libido with wanting potatoes.
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.
I mean, he just likes potatoes. Who can blame them?
I don't think that flies with the situations in which it comes up.
I think Pratchett does a bad job with this joke. I agree.
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?
Yes. I agree.
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.
It's definitely a concept that we've seen throughout earlier books. I'm pretty
sure that that's introduced in the very first book, right?
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.
So that was neat seeing some quintessential Discworld tropes coming up.
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.
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.
There's at least three. Oh, there's three. I'm pretty sure. Okay,
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
with three Yes, there are three okay, there are three,
except that book has a much less grading setting. And I would argue a more fun main character.
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,
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
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.
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.
Pratchett did get a couple of things,
right. Yeah. Like, the universal Dibbler. Yes. Which
we have seen before. I mean, we've seen other nibblers before.
That I love him every time.
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.
Oh, small gods. Yeah, that's the one I get used for no reason. Equal rights and small gods. Nothing pyramids. Oh, no, I
get equal rights and small Gods confused. Really? Yeah. I think it's because I associate the title equal rights with something religious.
Pyramids and small Gods both take place in a desert setting. That's my excuse.
Also understandable. Yeah.
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?
It also doesn't feel like a comment on a particular culture, because there is the Dibbler and Ogmore porque. Who does just that?
Right. Exactly. It's more making fun of commercialism than Yeah. People, specifically. Yeah. And that we can always punch on.
Yes. That is much better punching ground, then, you know, Chinese culture, Asian culture. Yes. But even Chinese, though. It's not even Chinese
reason. That makes it so much worse. I don't know. Like, okay, foot binding. That's fair. You can make fun of that.
Yeah, of course. It's
Yeah. And he also spends a lot more time making fun of other things. And he does making fun of foot binding.
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.
It was not flattering for Prasad at all. I don't have anything to add there.
And the sumo wrestlers show up a hell of a lot more than the concept of foot binding. Oh,
yeah. Yeah. Or like making fun of names that shows up a lot. Yeah.
Well, if you manage to get through all of that bullshit, you do get to some comments on political revolutions. That weren't terrible.
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.
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.
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?
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,
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
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.
I can't actually didn't practice it too much for this one.
Yeah, no, that was just me not reading the whole paragraph before I started angrily note taking.
Well, Sarah, we've come to that point. Yeah, I should
you read this book? When should you read this book? Should you read this book?
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.
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.
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.
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
wouldn't I wouldn't go that far.
I mean, if someone didn't want to deal with racist bullshit,
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.
Yeah. Read this book. If you think old men high jinks are charming. I liked that part. Conan the Barbarian is fun.
When you ignore the racism. He's not even the worst part, though. No,
it's the narrative of the novel. That's bad. Cohen himself isn't too bad.
He plays into it. Yeah, okay. Fair.
They all do.
They all do. Every character in this does. Yes. I'm not disagreeing there.
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
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.
But that's just the completionist in you. That's a good book.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In theory, they would be easy anyway. Well, sure. I think the people also need lawyers.
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.
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.
But this doesn't take place in more voice does not take
place in Ogmore. Pork. And Mr. Slant does not work for the peasants because the peasants cannot pay.
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.
I think that that might be the books that Cratchit would write today. But it's not the book that he wrote in 1994.
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.
It should have gone harder on the on that aspect. Yeah, yeah.
There's a character in this book that we haven't talked about at all, because we've been complaining about Yeah, we talked
about the characters in this book, because we've been so concerned with discussing the other very major issues with it.
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.
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.
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
yes, Han has manipulated events, so that Rincewind has been brought over
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,
it is I mean, he wouldn't be a successful bad guy if it weren't for his failings as a human being.
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
fair, I think the problem there is the messenger. She knows he's incompetent. Thus, what he is saying must also be incompetent,
I guess, but a pile of swords. And I mean, that's okay. That's silly, Discworld stuff. But
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.
So you're saying it's in character, but I can still be annoyed by it? Yes. Excellent. I
think I think it's in character. But I do think it's something that you can be annoyed about. And
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,
that's part of why I think isn't character like she does eventually listen to reason, once she has convinced herself.
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.
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.
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.
That is quite late. So the foreshadowing
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.
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
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.
I think rancid counts. Those a
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.
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.
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.
And that does that does feel very in character with the wizards to be fair.
Yes. And we see them discussing it before it happens.
Yes, crucially, I think yeah, that is the important bit
and that was how Rincewind got to the The agitated Empire, the gate here and Empire.
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.
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.
And also that's pretty in keeping with I mean, Discworld in general. To be fair,
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.
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,
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.
Does two flowers say something about family when he's locked in a cell with Rincewind? I don't actually remember.
Maybe if he did that didn't catch it.
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.
Even that's pretty late in the book, though. It is.
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.
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.
Yeah. And like I do genuinely like that. And I think it is funny and well done.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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?
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
gotten tiresome, actually. And we I, it might have gotten tiresome, but that's a far cry from upsetting. Yeah, like,
I wouldn't have read it as racist the way that I did read it as racist.
Yeah, I agree. We have anything nice to end on for this book.
I'm looking forward to the last continent. And I hope that it's not as racist as this one.
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.
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.
We both have a completionist urge. And I think that that is maybe to our disadvantage sometimes.
I agree. I'm that person who does every single side quests in a video game.
Yeah, that's why I don't finish video games. Yeah. Because I try to be a completionist. And I should not
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.
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.
It is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. Yeah, it's apocryphal there is no actual Chinese source. Yeah.
That is, if I may say what I just said.
Yeah, sorry. I was Googling it while you were saying things. But I am backing you up and reading from Wikipedia.
Which is where my original knowledge comes from.
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?
Yes, thank you. So there was one
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.
That is, that is literally the plot of this book.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
while wikid it. definitions of the word weasel implied deception and irresponsibility, referring to sneaky, untrustworthy or insincere people.
I don't think Rincewind is insincere. But I do think he's untrustworthy.
I don't he's always very honest that he is going to try to get out of a situation.
Yes, but you should you should not trust him to like back you up.
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.
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.
So I think trustworthy and reliable. Well, even reliable, he reliably always runs away.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I think of chickens is running away. You don't think of chickens is running away?
No, I think of chickens is like, ostrich eating.
That's an ostrich isn't.
That is an ostrich? Like I think I think of chickens is like hiding and freezing not necessarily running away.
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.
I don't Yeah, I don't. I don't feel I don't think that.
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.
That's also very true.
The Weasel is a weird word, huh?
It is a weird word.
I feel like we had to get the word weird in there somehow.
I still think that it applies to rinse wind, or I don't disagree with its application towards the end to end. But
it's not technically wrong. It just has the wrong vibe. is what I think. I don't
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.
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