Terry Pratchett is the international bestselling author of the Discworld novels, a fantasy series filled with satire and humor and which have been adapted for radio, theater, TV, feature films, video games, and comic books. Heís one of the most read authors in the world, with over 65 million books sold. Some of the awards he has received include The Carnegie Medal, Locus Award, the Mythopoeic Award, ALA Notable Books for Children, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Book Sense Pick, Prometheus Award and the British Fantasy Award. Terry was knighted in the UK for his ďservices to literature.Ē In 2007, Terry was diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimerís, and he has subsequently donated over a million dollars to the Alzheimerís Research Trust.|
This episode originally aired on 10/15/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.
Interview with Terry Pratchett
Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show
Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you a bonus question.
Terry Pratchett: Mm hmm.
Matthew Peterson: Youíre really into video games, right? Or computer games?
Terry Pratchett: Oh! Absolutely! Yes!
Matthew Peterson: Whatís your favorite computer game?
Terry Pratchett: Undoubtedly itís Oblivion.
Matthew Peterson: Oblivion?
Terry Pratchett: Yeah, by Bethesda. Can you give me some time to talk about this?
Matthew Peterson: Sure, yes!
Terry Pratchett: The basic Oblivion game is extremely good. Itís actually wonderful! The graphics and the sound are immersive. It is largely, like most computer games, dominated by combat. You gain skills, you rise up the ladder, you fight the bad guys and thereís all different kinds of bad guys and you do the quests and so forth. But what is so magnificent, and this warms my soul, is the concept of games mod-ing, are you familiar with this?
Matthew Peterson: I am, yes.
Terry Pratchett: Ok, across the universe, it seems to me, are busy people that take the games and write little mods which increase the interest in some way. I find this is just wonderful! They write these marvelous mods for nothing, for no money. People say, "Hey this is a great mod!" Thereís the crafty-bits mod, and I run that. The character that Iím currently using, heís made his money, not particularly by fighting, but by making cheese and making boots and he can also make his own weaponry. You mine the ore in mines, you know. You have to go out there with your mining pick-ax and get it and you actually smelt it. You have to build up your skills before you can do some of the heavier armor. You can go off into the wilderness and light camp fires. You can bake you own bread. I mean itís not that . . . I donít believe that I live in Oblivion, but itís very nice to see a game that pays some attention to the realities of life. And there are mods out there . . . the first mod you must carry water, but you must carry water from wells, or white water places. You mustnít get stagnant water otherwise you lose stats. And that doesnít help you. But there are so many things . . . my character owns a vineyard and seven busy little people work for him and every week he goes and pays them and he sells the wine to the wine merchant and gets a little bit richer.
I just enjoy the fact that in this world, that is rather controlled by commerce, there is this inner world of people giving up their time and effort to perfect some little detail about a computer game for the delectation of others. I told this to my wife, and I said how good the weather was in the game, you know, itís immersive, you feel like you are there. And she said, "Are there rainbows?" And I said, I donít think so, but Iíll check. And yes, someone has taken the trouble to mod for the Oblivion game, rainbows. So, if youíre standing in exactly the right place, in the game, between the sun and the rain, you will see a rainbow in the sky. Here is a game with dragons, well, no dragons, but with demons and vampires and bandits and there are rainbows. And thereís a gardening mod. You can plant your own garden and grow your own vegetables. Or thereís sailing mods. And some of them are, most of them add to the enjoyment. I believe thereís a few X rated mods.
Matthew Peterson: Oh no. [laugh]
Terry Pratchett: I just donít go there. But thereís whole websites full of it and I think this is a craft in itself and some wonderful stuff is produced and I salute the people that take the time to do this for no other reason that they want to exercise their skills and hand it to a community and I tend to write little notes saying, "That a boy, that was really good, I really enjoyed this," or sometimes you know, "that didnít work on that particular bit," but it takes something which is in a sense kind of passive and makes it sort of more real.
Matthew Peterson: Well, just from listening to that, that makes me want to go look at it, Oblivion? You said?
Terry Pratchett: Oblivion, I mean, itís been around for quite a few years now and thatís a long time in a computer games world, but it seems to have caught the imagination of many people because itís a game . . . in a sense you can choose how you play it and with the addition of mods, there seems to be no limits. In fact, Iíve been approached about allowing a small Discworld mod off in one corner.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah, I can imagine that.
Terry Pratchett: You know I have to get all kind of uppity about copyrights and stuff, but part of me is saying, "Yo!" [laugh]
Matthew Peterson: [laugh] Hop on to the turtle.
Terry Pratchett: The quest at the beginning takes you into a . . .
Matthew Peterson: So, youíre escaping prison? Or youíre . . .
Terry Pratchett: Yeah, you escape from prison, but during your escape from prison, youíre given a task to do. Nothing happens to you if you donít do that task. But what happens is the Oblivion gates start to open and that means you have to spend a lot of your time going through hellish places, killing hellish monsters and it seemed to me too much like the old fashioned type of video game. Like I say, the mods out there are endless, different types of clothing, different types of armor, different buildings, additional civilizations tacked on the side, different races. Itís far better to keep away from that main game which thereís only one of, but masses of games within the game that you can play. And sort of just have a lot of fun.
Matthew Peterson: Yeah.
Terry Pratchett: As I say, in the game, at the moment, you have to carry food and water. If you run out of water, you can get it from a well, and there are plenty of wells, but if there is somewhere where there is white water, which is likely to be reasonably pure, you can actually dive in to fill up the water bottle. And the cleverness of the people that do this, just astounds me. When I used to work with computers, the programming language was solder. You know I used to solder. [Note there was a programming tool in 1977 called Solda that he might have been referring to]
Matthew Peterson: Wow. I actually did some programming as well, like in Basic and Visual Basic and . . .
Terry Pratchett: I worked with things like the Sinclair ZX 81 which had about 1K of ram, and yet the stuff you could do, because Iíd sort of go and grab a load of second hand TTO boards, you know? Work out what it was that they did and you could actually build a computer like a scarecrow, or I had this lovely, this tiny little computer it had to work really hard, but I programmed in phonemes on a special board. So, when I got up in the morning and walked into my office, this voice like Steven Hawking on dope, would say, "Good morning . . . minimum temperature last night was x degrees, barometer readingĖ" Oh hereís the other one, "Likely weather today. . ." And it would do that because you could put in . . .
Matthew Peterson: You could put whatever you want in.
Terry Pratchett: Well no, yes, but you had to make the devices that enabled the computer. Like, likely weather today . . . if the wind was in the west in England that usually means rain. If the barometer is falling thatís almost certainly means rain, so itís a pretty good guess that the weather is going to be rainy. Do you see what I mean?
Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.
Terry Pratchett: And it actually really puzzled people because this was done with a computer.
Matthew Peterson: And it was smarter than the weather man.
Terry Pratchett: Well, this computer was small and a foot print much, much, about half the size of that [pointing to a book], but it also had a ratís nest of stuff soldered all around it because I put all the modifications . . . thatís it! . . .life is about mod-ing.
Matthew Peterson: Modifications.
Terry Pratchett: I mean change your life.
Extra Material That was Cut from the Radio Show Because of Time Constraints
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
We discussed here at the convention if there is a theme running through Discworld, and some people can perceive it and sometimes I can as well. But I think the message is, as itís carried over the years, is that thereís one sin, which is to treat people as things. And most of the other things of mankind, actually stem from that sin. And the other thing is that itís better to be smart than dull.
Itís certainly better to be smart than dumb. So, the books, I think, really . . . someone pointed out, somewhere in every Discworld book there is another book as part of the plot.
A book that must be found, or open or read, or my characters get information from books. See if I was subtly being employed by librarians to make certain everyone read. Itís probably true. I mean I just go on to write the next book and I hope itís going to go the way that I want it to go. And Iíve always felt that the best message that you can put in a book, "I hope you enjoyed this book!Ē That should be on page one and on the second page, in invisible writing is, "Good, now turn to page three.Ē And you have these little invisible messages all the way through the book and at the end of the book in invisible writing you put, "Now go and buy the next book.Ē
Go buy the next one, yes. Well, a lot of people have been buying your next book and I think that will continue on. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Terry, I appreciate it.
Ok, thank you. Bye Bye.
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