The Last Continent Discussion **Spoilers**

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The Last Continent Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:22 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing The Last Continent in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1998


Image

When the Unseen University Librarian gets sick and the Faculty try to ‘help’ him, they discover a portal to a tropical and very strange island with a singular secret. Meanwhile, after his adventures in the Agatean Empire, Rincewind the Wizzard finds himself struggling to survive in XXXX, the Last Continent.

Still – no worries! She’ll be right.
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For a long time I really didn’t like this book. On the surface it seems to be a collection of references to Australia, even though Terry categorically states that: “This is not a book about Australia. No, it’s about somewhere entirely different which happens to be, here and there, a bit . . . australian.”

It actually seems to be two books. There’s the Rincewind story and then there’s the Faculty story and the two come together – sort of – at the end. To me it seemed like an excuse to make references in much the way Moving Pictures and Soul Music made references to cinema and popular music respectively. I’ve always glossed over the Faculty story somewhat. It seemed to be a bit of a distraction from an uninteresting main story. But on this read through, I’m seeing the Faculty story as the really interesting bit. And I believe this might be the genesis of the Science of Discworld books, especially Darwin’s Watch.

There are themes of Creationism versus Evolution in this storyline, which I’ve never really grasped before.

I enjoyed this much more than I ever had. :)

But what do you think?
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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (The Truth)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
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Re: The Last Continent Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:57 am

Tonyblack wrote:There are themes of Creationism versus Evolution in this storyline, which I’ve never really grasped before.

Welcome to the Dark side. :twisted: What took you so long? :lol:
(I must say Tony, your intro this time is a lot better than the other one you made 4 years ago. :D)

To say this book is about Australia is equivalent to saying that Small Gods is about tortoises.

This book is all about evolution. In particular, it pokes fun at those lovable evolution-denying whackos who believe God created all the animals in 4015 BC.......
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:12 am

...on August 23rd.....
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:12 am

.....Thursday....
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:13 am

....at 4:45 pm. :lol:
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:51 am

Terry can be a very rewarding writer. He writes books and we read them and then, eventually, you see what he's REALLY written. It goes beyond the comedy in the books. I personally can do without the funny stuff - it's the depth that I love with Pratchett. The way he makes you, the reader, work. And if you do the work, you get the result. :D
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Postby Quatermass » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:24 am

Tonyblack wrote:Terry can be a very rewarding writer. He writes books and we read them and then, eventually, you see what he's REALLY written. It goes beyond the comedy in the books. I personally can do without the funny stuff - it's the depth that I love with Pratchett. The way he makes you, the reader, work. And if you do the work, you get the result. :D


And he does it well. Unlike a certain Ayn Rand...

It's been a while since I read The Last Continent, and it will be a while longer before I come back to it during my own re-read of the Discworld series, but I do agree about the Faculty subplot being more interesting. The reason why, I feel, is that Rincewind is at his best when running away from something and getting caught up in adventures whether he likes it or not. In other words, there is something anarchic about many of his adventures, with little plot.

Still, the Rincewind part of the story is still entertaining, and I find the Creator of XXXX to be a more interesting character than most deities on the Discworld, simply because he acts like someone who has all that power to act if they have empathy: he keeps his power down (he whispers instead of speaking, deliberately restraining his power). By Discworld standards (or any other), that's very unusual for a deity, never mind serious.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:07 am

On this forum we are lucky to have our very own pet creationist, the lovable and whacky, evolution-denying CaptMeme. :D

In a recent discussion, he told us he believed ALL fossils were created at the time of Noah's flood. And despite all the masses and masses of evidence proving evolution to be a scientific fact, he told us that evolution didn't exist because of Flagellum wotsits. :roll:

Now try substituting 'Flagellum Wotsits' for 'skinless sausages' in this quote.

Pages 46/47 Paperback wrote:'I always thought that old fossils might have a lot to teach us,' said Ponder. 'Perhaps I was wrong,' he added darkly.
'Well, I for one have never believed all that business about dead animals turning into stone,' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes. 'It's against all reason. What's in it for them?'
'So how do you explain fossils, then?' said Ponder.
'Ah, you see, I don't,' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes, with a triumphant smile. 'It saves so much trouble in the long run. How do skinless sausages hold together, Mr Stibbons?'
'What? Eh? How should I know something like that?'
'Really? You don't know that but you think you're entirely qualified to know how the whole universe was put together, do you? Anyway, you don't have to explain fossils. They're there. Why try to turn everything into a big mystery? If you go round asking questions the whole time you'll never get anything done.'


Spooky, ain't it? :lol:
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:48 am

That particular passage made me chuckle. "How do you explain . . . ?
"You see I don't . . . "

There in a nutshell is the difference between Science and Religion. One strives to discover the other almost dismisses things as God's creations.

And I liked the dig that Ponder got in about fossils. Ponder is really good in this one - but he doesn't half walk into some of the problems he has. :lol:
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:29 am

Image
I'm right, you're wrong! La-la-la-la-la-la I can't hear you! :lol:
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Postby LilMaibe » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:36 am

I must say for some reason Last Continent is my absolute favourite of all books.
I can't even put my finger on -why-. *coughpondercough*
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Postby deldaisy » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:39 am

Oh Oh Oh FINALLY! :)

I agree Tony. I didn't like this book the first time around but loved it this time... even slowed my reading on the last quarter of the book to drag it out.

It seems like two books but I CAN see the connection.

I liken the island the wizards are stuck on as the Galapagos Islands. And why is the God there making beetles? Because that was Charles Darwins first love and the first thing he ever really studied in detail with his cousin William Darwin Fox who specialised in beetles. The Galapogos islands was a lucky find for a man like Darwin to study on as its one of the most rarified of places in that the flora and fauna there DID specificaly adapt in very short time lines and indeed even between islands within the chain. Its why its STILL THE place to study adaptive evolutionary changes in species. Its very isolated. As is Australia.... One thing that grated... he talks about a spider the size of a mans hand... in a paragraph about fantasy creatures... we DO have spider the size of a mans hand... but then we also have spiders the size of dinner plates...

Charles Darwin came to Australia after the Galapagos (another area of evolutionary isolated and adeptation unlike any other).... Indeed it was only two years ago that Harriet the Galapagos tortoise died in Australia Zoo. She was originally taken to England by Darwin then returned to Australia by the retiring captain of the Beagle.

OF COURSE ITS ABOUT AUSTRALIA!!!!! I love all the references, and I had to try to really read it as an "outsider" to get all the references as "jokes". We all know Terry has always had a love affair with Australia, and if you do read it as an Australian (or one who has BEEN out west, up north, and over there) you can almost SEE where he is talking about.

I have lived in areas where the only water is from under the ground. I was 5 before I ever saw rain (Mum used to tell me I freaked out about the "falling water") and when it did rain my area was under massive floods as far as the eye could see.. I remember my brothers and sisters getting taken to school in row boats. Floods? School? No worries.. get the boat mate!

My youngest daughter was about 5 or 6 before SHE saw rain. (and these are city kids) And the girls used to freak out at the sound on the roof until they got used to it. Thing about rain when it happens out west... You have bulldust really deep... then the drops hit it... and you actually get a mini dust storm around you as the drops hit the dust.... until the soil takes up the water and turns to mud.

And Pooh.. the book ISN'T ALL about evolution.. thats the island story... the continent story is about Terry having fun with Australia and what he knew about it.


.... to be continued..... :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:33 am

I have to admit that the bit with Rinso on the horse was far funnier after I saw the movie of The Man From Snowy River. But these references are a bit hit or miss. When we discussed this book on the Cunning Artificer's board, I was amazed at how many people (including some Aussies) had never heard of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Some hadn't heard of Priscilla Queen of the Desert either. These jokes, along with the Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee references, don't really work unless you know what they are referring to.
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Postby deldaisy » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:49 am

Did you get the one about Rolf Harris?.... that could have gone over an aussies head as Rolf wasn't as cult-like here as he was in England.

One of the MAJOR themes in the book is something that only I know about personally..... the bullroarer (?). I lived way way out west. Our town was not far from an aboriginal reserve and I actually HAD one as a child. They are amazing things! (My oldest sister took them and all the other original artifacts we had when Mum died....B****h). They were gifts to the family back in the 50's and I always remember them as being old when I was a child. I can't remember what it was called ... a wirra wirra I think. You spin it around your head and it makes a sound you can cut with a knife... its a sound all of its own and VERY deep and loud when you get it going.... Terry refers to Rincewind being unable to "stop it spinning"... and thats exactly how it is... the twine is spun in a way that it turns it faster... it becomes a lethal weapon and gains a momentum that is terrifying... stopping it was an art without taking your skull off. We were only ever allowed to use it if we had a circle drawn in the dirt to make the absolute outer limit of its swing and noone could come near...

I have never spoken to anyone that has ever seen one outside of a museum or display.... and the shame of them being there is that they are never spun. Amazing things!

We also had message sticks.... two short carved sticks that look like batons in a relay race. The carvings mean things but the carvings also affect the way they sound. I have seen replicas but they never sound as amazing as the original ones made by the older elders. Its a sound that "travels".

Damn! The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is on for two hours!!!!!

Been waiting for SO long for this discussion... been waiting all year for the comedy festival. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:00 am

deldaisy wrote:Did you get the one about Rolf Harris?.... that could have gone over an aussies head as Rolf wasn't as cult-like here as he was in England.

"Can you tell what it is yet?" :wink:
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