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"More Pratchett!" The Geeks at the Gates Episode 62 - We're still talking about Terry

OK, so, last week Hat and Regie were joined by old friends of the show Tina and Simon to chat about the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett. If you missed it then you missed hearing us talk about Tina's chosen book, the excellent Nation - and it would be a terrible shame to miss that, so if you did, why not go and listen to it HERE? Don't worry - we'll wait.

All caught up?


Well, this week you can hear Hat, Simon and Regie's choices. As ever, click on the image below to go to the download page, or just search for The Geeks at the Gates wherever you get your podcasts. Fair warning - there are spoilers in the notes below.

Having heard about Tina's choice, the excellent novel Nation last week we started this week with Hat's choice: Monstrous Regiment.

Published in 2003, Monstrous Regiment tells the story of Polly Perks, a young woman from a tiny little country that exists in a state of more or less constant war with its neighbouring tiny little country. Polly disguises herself as a boy in order to take her brother's place in the army, because she understands that her brother would not cope with life in the army.

She ends up in a platoon of people who all have their own secrets - much the same as Polly's, to be honest...

It's a brilliant satire on misogyny, religion and nationalism, and it's one of the few absolutely stand alone Discworld novels. Some of the "regulars" from the series, such as Sir Samuel Vies, Duke of Ankh and Commander of the Ankh Morpork City Watch and Sergeant Angua make an appearance but you really don't need to have read any of the other Discworld novels to follow this one.

Then we moved on to Simon's choice, 2002's Nightwatch.

This is part of the "Watch Series" of Discworld novels, and takes the much loved character of Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh and Commander of the Ankh Morpork City Watch, better known to all by his preferred title of plain old Sam Vimes back in time.

Fans of the Discworld had followed Vimes's career by this point. He first shows up in the 1989 novel Guards! Guards! as the broken, alcoholic captain of the Ankh Morpork Night Watch. After defending his city against a dragon and marrying a Duchess over the course of several books he turned his life around and became the great man he always had the potential to be.

In Night Watch a magical accident transports Vimes and a psychopathic killed called Carcer back in time to the Ankh Morpork of Vimes's youth. He finds himself having to take the place of his old mentor John Keel, which means he has to mentor his younger self when he was a raw recruit at a time of revolution in the city. All he had to do is survive, apprehend Carcer and get back to his own time without changing history.

A glorious mediation on patriotism, revolution, loyalty and community with a seasoning of Les Miserables it's an absolute joy of a book.

Finally we ended with Regie's choice, the 1991 novel Reaper Man. This book features Death, another much loved recurring character. The Death of the Discworld is a tall, blue eyed, scythe wielding skeleton in a black robe who first appeared in the fourth Discworld novel Mort, in which he takes an apprentice. It didn't go well. There was a whole thing.

In Reaper Man he gets fired by the celestial authorities for the crime of developing a personality. Stripped of both powers and responsibilities he goes to live out his mortal life as Bill Door, a farm labourer.

It's a story about the value of life, the way people are identified by the job they do, and the importance of caring about your work.

In many ways it's a quiet little story. In many others it's a profound consideration of mortality and what a life actually means.

And then we'd run out of time. We could have talked for so much longer - and I have no doubt that we will. If you'd like to read any of the books discussed over these two episodes Destination Venus would be more than happy to sell them to you - or you could get them from your local independent bookseller, or check them out of the library. We'd prefer it if you didn't get them from the internet company named after a South American river.

We'll be back next week. Until then, be kind to yourself, be kind to everybody else, stay safe and stay geeky.