back to article Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller

A hard drive containing the unfinished books of Terry Pratchett has been destroyed by a steamroller, in fulfilment of the late author's last wishes. The works were crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co steamroller at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, ahead of the opening of a new exhibition about the author’s life and work. It is …

jrd

Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

+1 for the Tiffany Aching series. I think they're among Pratchett's most enjoyable books. Don't be put off by the 'Young Adult' label.

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Indeed.

It made me sad, and smile, both at the same time.

Although the PTerry was such a well known techie geek, I find it hard to believe he trusted his hard work to a single lump of spinning rust... and an IDE connected lump of spinning rust at that!

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

ah yes the footnotes, quite possibly the best bits of any books I have ever read :o)

in one chapter where the heroes were in a bar 'quaffing' ale

"quaffing - a bit like drinking, but you spill more"

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

+1 For Discworld Noir - Hell of a lot better entertainment vs frustration compared to the other Discworld games.

Never! unless there is a point in a point and click where you literally have to try everything with everything else until some ridiculous pun emerges, it's not a point and click.

Also, the 3d interface was annoying. Ask me about how Grim Fandango was the beginning of the end.

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Re: I'm touched by the sanity of this request...

@DVA There are other examples as well of books finished or continued by other authors. Robert Jordan's Wheel Of Time series was completed by Brandon Sanderson for example. However they all have one thing in common, they wrote straight sci-fi/fantasy. As much as it pains me to say it, no one else could write Discworld the way pTerry did. You only have to read his collaborations to see that he was at his best with his Discworld books. Good Omens is the only one that comes close to capturing that magic, but then Neil Gaiman is rather special as an author in his own right as well.

That's not to say we've heard the last of the Discworld though. He left an awful lot of source material for his daughter to adapt for film, TV and games.

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

@Alister, first I've heard about the Good Omens film, cannot wait to see it! Tennant is a great choice for Crowley.

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I bet VOGON could still get data off them!

The company not the alien obviously....

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

That's a pretty good way of deleting your browser history I guess...

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

Agreed. Mort is where to start. The first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, make better sense after you've read three or four subsequent ones.

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

I for one would recommend Pyramids for a "try before you buy" introduction to the discworld books, as it's probably the most stand alone book, and he's well into his stride. As a close second I would recommend The lost continent, here the recurring characters are limited to the faculty of unseen university.

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

Start at the beginning and carry on until you reach the end.

The first few are a bit amateurish, but there are so many in-jokes and references in the rest you'll miss out If you don't read them.

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

Ahem, "Pictsies" I think you'll find.

And (mostly) the reasons why our senior two cats are called Feegle and Kelda.

And yes - they both live up to their names..

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

It almost doesn't matter; each stands by itself, but the development of his writing over the years, and the complexity of their combined plots, suggests that a deeper appreciation might be had by reading in chronological (copyright age) order.

Some of his biographical work explains how he wrote (and how he thought), and may profitably be read before diving into the ocean of his words.

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Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

I always liked Strata

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A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

There was a sad inevitability to this, although it's good to see that PTerry's final wishes are being respected.

I guess a firkin great steamroller is rather more .... theatrical than a hard-disk shredder (plus, in the latter case I imagine there wouldn't be much left to exhibit)

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

According to the BBC, the steamroller didn't do all that much damage, so it was put through a stone crusher afterwards.

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.

Indeed.

All my webservers still give out the X-Clacks header on requests, or whatever it was called.

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

It's this.

El Reg still puts out the overhead I believe.

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the steamroller didn't do all that much damage,

Should have given all the "to be crushed" things to that mad Finn infesting YouTube with his hydraulic press.

Not much survives contact with him, not even paper.

Of course, there will be a backup that somehow survived so the "estate authorized" travesty monster can be released again.

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Re: the steamroller didn't do all that much damage,

Hmm I was that where the paper being crushed exploded (I have no Youtube here)?

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

"El Reg still puts out the overhead I believe."

Indeed they do

HTTP/2.0 200 OK

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2017 12:45:21 GMT

Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

Cf-Railgun: 99375e10e7 0.41 0.145329 0030 e6be

Vary: Accept-Encoding

X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett, Lester Haines

X-Reg-Bofh: PFY01

Server: cloudflare-nginx

CF-RAY: 3967d8c2dfe33822-ATL

Content-Encoding: gzip

X-Firefox-Spdy: h2

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

I hadnt heard of the gnu / clacks thing before. Beautiful . What better memorial could there be? especially as he thought of the idea himself , and it was honored by armies of techie fans around the world. Those dictators with 50ft gold statues can go suck it - they'll never get the GNU!

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

And Lester Haines? Exalted company indeed.

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

I noticed Lester when I copy/pasted it, but forgot to mention it

Looking again, we've also got BOFH & PFY

Wondering if I can get away with tinkering with our proxies now.... The only time I've done something "slightly unprofessional" like this was to use the HTTP 418 (I'm a teapot) code to flag an unusual non standard condition

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

In my prior job I had a couple of PHP web applications that included the clacks overhead. Made no difference to the lusers, and was far from the least professional thing in them (prefixing all error codes with PEBKAC was probably the least professional thing).

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Angel

Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

They do indeed and Lester Haines is included :-)

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

wget --save-headers --output-document - http://www.theregister.co.uk

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

"El Reg still puts out the overhead I believe"

Indeed they do. And there is a Firefox extension that displays the text in Clacks code wherever the page contains that tag; I can see it ticking away as I type this.

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

mine too

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

El Reg still puts out the overhead I believe

Indeed. Lester Haines too. I just hope the FF extension keeps on working with Multiprocess and WebExtensions

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Re: A man is not dead while his name is still spoken ...

@ Aladdin Sane, yes, yes they do still put the X-Clacks-Overhead header as "GNU Terry Pratchett" on all El Reg articles. Yes, I have the extension, Yes, i notice when it becomes active :)

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I wonder

You can quite understand the author not wanting some half arsed slung together lash up of his old work, but on the other hand it would be nice have a little bit more. To my mind though the last book shows distinct signs of having needed another revision by the master's hand, so would I really truly want to have things that were even less complete against his name?

[well if I'm truly honest, I suppose the answer is that I don't think they should be published or made public, but *I* would like a copy]

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Re: I wonder

I've mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, it saves us all from any potentially mediocre cement and plaster job by some contract author.

On the other, some musicians unfinished symphonies are treasured, although my feelings have always been mixed as regards Salmon of Doubt - it left me bitter sweet.

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Re: I wonder

He already wrote a bit too much, I love it, I have read everything.. but I think it was a good idea..

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unfinished symphonies

The Mezetian Gate was published in the unfinished version with author notes interpolated to stand in for missing text.

Reactions on discovering that are mixed.

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Windows

Re: I wonder

I don't.

Frank Herbert -- and the abomination that has happened since.

Anne McCaffery -- and the even more complete abomination that is her son.

Numerous attempts to revive and recycle other outstanding authors works by people not even remotely connected to the life that laid down the core elements. I applaud the man for ensuring that no one defaces his work.

(and I've only read !one! of his works, and honestly I couldn't recall which one......but it was loads of fun reading)

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Re: I wonder

I don't think it would have come to a "contract author" - he seemed perfectly happy to let his daughter Rhianna take it on, but she chose not to, so he chose to have it destroyed.

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Re: I wonder

Beat me to it. I might add JRR Tolkein to the list as well.

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Pirate

Re: I wonder

"I might add JRR Tolkein to the list as well."

I think the world would be a poorer place if we'd never seen the Silmarillion, the Unfinished Tales, and the Lays of Beleriand, although I will admit Christopher was pushing things a bit there at the end.

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Re: I wonder

Although I've never read any of his books he seemed a nice person when watching him on documentries. I just wonder if someone secretly took a backup of that hard drive before rolling over it.

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Re: I wonder

I would not be surprised if there was a backup somewhere. He was a well known technophile, when asked why he had 6 monitors, he replied: "Because I don't have enough space for eight".

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Re: I wonder

I understand that Robert E Howard's Dark Agnes stories were only released because killing himself made any of his unpublished stories hot stuff, but the one that was finished off by another writer ruined the character and I think he would have hated it.

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Re: I wonder

Frank Herbert -- and the abomination that has happened since.

Anne McCaffery -- and the even more complete abomination that is her son.

The F. Herbert ones were also mostly son follows up...I still don't believe where the story ended up was where Frank would have taken it, never mind the glaring lack of deep wisdom the sequels have compared to the Masters works.

I thought the Brian Sanderson completion of Wheel of Time was rather seamless - I appreciated not being left hanging in when Robert Jordan departed before finishing.

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Re: I wonder

L-space: "one can read any book ever written, any book that will be written at some point and books that were planned for writing that were not, as well as any book that could possibly be written"

I don't want to see a second-rate takeover. But I hope someone like Neil Gaiman looked though Pterrys notes and memorised some of the unpublished genius puns, pastiches and plots for a completely different world

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Re: I wonder

It's a shame that Pratchett didn't ask another close relative or friend to finish what he was working on, rather than asking his daughter — I wouldn't be ready to even seriously contemplate the idea for years in her position...

One of my other longtime favorite comedic-fantasy authors (Diana Wynne Jones) instead asked one of her sisters to consider completing her final in-progress novel after her death. Her sister did eventually step up, and did a good enough job that very few people can tell where she took over.

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Re: I wonder

Rhianna Pratchett's writing The Watch, so while there won't be any more books, there will be additional Discworld content.

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Re: I wonder

I think he was right to ask it, and I say the absolute proof of this is the Sky TV adaptations.

David Jason is one of my all-time favourite actors (Dangermouse is still his best work, incidentally).

But David Jason is also the quintessence of institutionalised "national treasure" -- they dragged Only Fools And Horses out well past its sell-by date, and made it all soppy and sentimental, and then when they had finally cancelled it, they brought it back to give it a happy ending twice, completely against the core point of the original concept. People kept watching it even after it became essentially unwatchable, simply because it was Only Fools And Horses, and in their heads it was "great". And the "national treasure" pull was so strong that they even made that god-awful young Del-boy series Rock and Chips, which was so meta in its double-nostalgia it made your head spin.

Then there was A Touch of Frost. It was a fantastic series. They had a great lead character, well acted by Jason. He was a bit old, but it was fine. They kept convincing him not to retire, and talking him back into the studio for "one more series", until we had a TV detective a good decade beyond retiral age, who presumably needed a stunt double for any run of more than a few metres. But we can't cancel A Touch of Frost, can we? It's a national treasure! And the writing and direction got really, really crap towards the end. The second-last series was so dire I'm surprised they even bothered to commission the last one. And the last involved some really sad stuff in the run-up to the finale, yet they still painted it as a happy ending, because national treasures always need a happy ending... even if that happy ending is at the funeral of their best friend. Shoddy, shoddy writing.

So that brings us back to Discworld. Rincewind was the wizard who ran away from everything, so 68-year-old David Jason was not the right man for the character by a long chalk. The only reason to include Jason was... he's a national treasure. And that still wouldn't have been enough if Discworld hadn't been... a national treasure. People watched it because... national treasure.

If his writings had survived, that whole national treasure thing would have led to loveless stringing out of the series to satisfy our lust for national treasure.

The very symbolic way in which it was done also cements in fans' consciousness exactly how much Pratchett is against that, and kills the commercial viability of national-treasure-pot-boilerism, because many of them would see the writing of a non-Pratchett Discworld novel as betraying their man.

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Re: I wonder

David Jason was good as Albert though.

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Re: I wonder

For me I literally took decades to read the wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, and it had some fantastic stuff and unfortunately some pretty mediocre stuff, but when Robert sadly passed away and the epic story hadn't finished I was really relieved when a ghost writer was hired to finish off the wheel of times, last few books........

.... until I read them (especially the very last one).... OMG (no spoilers) not impressed in the slightest, and there seemed to be a public outcry on all the fans forums...

So like others I have mixed feelings about it all as TP is a hero and has been with me throughout my early adult life (and now grumpy bastard age) and provided me with humour when I needed it, I will sorely miss the fact that there aren't going to be new stories (I always loved passing the supermarkets new releases in hardback and being seriously happy when I spot a new TP Discworld story, felt like being a kid again), but after being burnt by the Wheel of Time series.... not sure...

Would be interested in the themes he was writing about.... ie more Ankh Morpork based storied etc?!?

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Re: I wonder

Oh dear, The Wheel of Time was one of the HBO considerations for a Game of Thrones replacement until Sony snapped it up. I suppose one should be thankful that at least the books are finished, and even then only just.

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