Yesterday, October 9th, had been a day I looked forward to as Terry Pratchett came to town. I'd blogged the announcement about a month ago and was ready to TP onto the spot where Pratchett was at to answer some Q&A. Unfortunately, Mr. Pratchett is a very humoristic man, and author of popular fantasy series like Discworld, so when I showed up, the island was filled to the brim.
Primarily, Pratchett was in Second Life to promote his new book, Nation, which happens to be modelled in Second Life as well. I hovered on the Nation sim, next to Elysian Isle where the Q&A session was held, and also this island filled up quickly, yet couldn't follow the convo there myself. Fortunately some relay and later on transcripts let me in on what happened.
Image by Samatha Pointdexter. More Pics on the Pratchett SL Flickr stream.
Here's the Q&A Session in stripped version, check out a full transcript with blah blah and confusion on From Rim to Hub:
[12:02] Vernes Veranes: I though roundworld was secondlife? :P
[12:02] TerryPratchett Morpork: As far as I am concerned, my books are Second Life.
[12:03] Matty567 Dallagio: Why was “Nation” not set on Discworld?
[12:04] TerryPratchett Morpork: Good question; for one thing, the fact of it being on Discworld would change all kind of things that I could do. After all, Nation is hardly full of laughs. Setting Nation on a thinly disguised “alternate” world does, I think, give it more power and urgency.
[12:05] Matty567 Dallagio: Why a slightly alternate Earth instead of the real one?
[12:07] TerryPratchett Morpork: Because the real one has already happened. I wanted this world, but with a few interesting alterations. One details I’m sure you will have noticed is that Carl Sagan is still alive in that alternate earth.
[12:09] ImmortalitySou Ballinger: okay first question: What was the inspiration behind the book?
[12:12] TerryPratchett Morpork: I came up with the idea in 2003 and it was not long before I was going to do a talk and signing in Folyes in London. I was so excited that I told Sarah Lefanu and I’m glad that I did because she is one person who can vouch that I came up with the idea before the big Asian Tsunami.
[12:14] ImmortalitySou Ballinger: Have you any thoughts on how your characters (from Nation, Discworld, Carpet People ) might react if they found themselves in Second Life ?
[12:16] TerryPratchett Morpork: I think Sam Vimes would be very annoyed, whereas the witches would just deal with it. I have to say that I quite like the idea of Second Life, because it is a totally human activity. Monkeys wouldn’t be able to join.
[12:17] Jo Sapeur: I noticed that religion was a major topic in “Nation”, how did the response from readers look so far? from
[12:21] TerryPratchett Morpork: Religion; fantasy writers like religion. It’s so interesting to play with and it is a great forum for asking questions.
[12:16] ImmortalitySou Ballinger: Q: Q: What are you views on people in second life creating people, places, and things from your books and either giving or selling them to other players.
[12:19] TerryPratchett Morpork: It would be interesting to see what the law could do about Second Life! Regrettably for you, copyright and trademarks exist everywhere, but in reality I see this sought of thing as fan activity.
[12:19] Ciaran Laval: Do you think Moist Von Lipwig would have managed the banking system better than those currently in charge?
[12:22] TerryPratchett Morpork: It seems that, primitive as it is, the Discworld economy is considerably more stable than the one here. And, come to think about it, Moist’s solution to the problem was not a long way from what has been done over here…
[12:21] Trago Mills: Terry we know you are a fan of computer games like Alien vs Predator, what do you make of Second life which doesn’t appear to have a plot or goal?
[12:24] TerryPratchett Morpork: Oblivion is my current computer game of choice, specifically because we (me and Rob) discovered modding, and I get a thrill from the thought that thousands of people write some wonderful mods and distribute them at no cost.
[12:25] April Kohl: If you haven’t already got too many questions, could I ask: “Was there any novel you found particularly difficult to write?”
[12:27] TerryPratchett Morpork: Probably it was Nation. Probably because I wrote the first draft in six months and then spent the next six months wrestling it into the right shape.
[12:28] Kelli May: I hope this isn’t too morbid, but a lot of the characters in Nation question why fate or the gods have inflicted various trials on them. Is this a question that’s on your mind these days?
[12:28] TerryPratchett Morpork: For obvious reasons, mostly because I am the poster boy for the battle against Alzheimer’s, there have been quite a number of days when I have been unable to write a word.
and, as an afterthought...
[12:30] TerryPratchett Morpork: Err, no. I don’t believe in Gods.
[12:31] Harmony Linden wonders if Terry believes in potatoes?
[12:32] TerryPratchett Morpork: Yes, I actually have a small potato in my coat pocket. In time of hunger a potato is more likely to be more useful than prayer.
[12:31] Carl Blue: Which of your characters do you feel is most like you?
[12:33] TerryPratchett Morpork: There is probably a bit of me in all the major characters. I would like to be like Sam Vimes, but deep in my heart I know I am Rincewind.
[12:32] Salaamata Afarensis: my wife Ab (sadly at work) asks: it seems from reading the early Discworld novels that you grew to respect characters like Granny Weatherwax and Sam Vimes the more time you spent with them. These two characters, in particular, have come to represent standards of ethical behavior. Do you find that your relationship with the characters in the books has changed over time?
[12:36] TerryPratchett Morpork: That is a good question. It seems to me that if you get a character just right, they start doing the work for you. It is as if they become a subroutine in your own brain and you are right when you point out the similarity between Granny and Vimes; you might notice that both of them seem at every stage to be fighting some internal demon.
[12:38] DeutroJesaja Gothly: I know you don’t belive in gods, but do you mind if books or quotes from your books is used in Christan teaching for young people?
[12:40] TerryPratchett Morpork: Not at all. I have no problem with the existence of Jesus Christ, who I think was very probably a wise man and a compassionate teacher. It’s just that I don’t believe in the same god that he believed in :-)
[12:45] Willi Reino: when you read for relaxation, who are your favourite authors?
[12:46] TerryPratchett Morpork: I have a whole library shelf of favourite books. However, I still think that one of the funniest and best works of fiction was the “Evolution Man” by Roy Lewis. My favourite bedtime reading at the moment is “Feeding Nelson’s Navy” by Janet MacDonald. Believe me, it’s considerably more thrilling than the title might suggest.
[12:53] TerryPratchett Morpork: Believe it or not, I seldom read a novel these days. Nearly all the books in the 3ft pile beside my bed are social histories or the biographies of intereting, if not important, people. I’m also a sucker for the kind of books with titles such as “Picky – The History of 500 Years of Snot in Britian”.
[12:55] DeutroJesaja Gothly: Howcome everybody knows a Granny and a Nanny?
[12:57] TerryPratchett Morpork: Because they are a widespread social sterotype and I am an observant author.
[12:58] April Kohl: Many writers and publishers in modern magazines talk about how much more difficult it is to get a first novel sold now than it was even ten years ago. Do you think you had it easier than the new kids on the block?
[13:01] TerryPratchett Morpork: I don’t think it was all that easier when I started, but the parameters have changed. If you can go on a comedy show and are on the telly long enough, and sometimes not for all that long, getting a novel published appears to be very easy and sometime you don’t even need to write it.
[13:02] SignpostMarv Martin: for Terry: There haven’t been any full-length official Discworld games since Discworld Noir in 1999- now that Discworld films are being made, are there any plans for new games to be made ? As an addition, Would Terry consider a Discworld-based MMO, perhaps using something like OpenSim as the underlying tech ?
[13:02] TerryPratchett Morpork: What is an MMO? What is OpenSim? Can we accept for a moment that I’m not that engrossed by online activities?
[13:03] SignpostMarv Martin: Massively Multiplayer Online game; lots of Discworld fans running around the back of the disk of a virtual Great A’Tuin
[13:06] TerryPratchett Morpork: Early in 2003 we had approaches from about 5 or 6 games developers. I told them all to go away and knock up something that would show me that they had a grip on what Discworld would be about, and none of them came back. I’m not unhappy about that. Certainly I would require a new Discworld game to be as immersive as Thief II and with the sound and graphics suitable for the times.
[13:03] Jo Sapeur: Is there a chance that you will return to SL for another Q&A session? I have several friends who are mourning because they couldn’t come after the the sim was full.
[13:08] TerryPratchett Morpork: I think you’re going to have to improve the graphics considerably before I come back to Second Life. The graphics in Oblivion allow you to see the graphics in the bottom of a pond and I think that came out in 2002.
[13:06] ImmortalitySou Ballinger: Dedric Mauriac: Have you ever drempt that you were in one of your novels?
[13:10] TerryPratchett Morpork: No, but I have often dreamt of scenes, usually just before I wake up.
Labels: fantasy, second life, terry pratchett