The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

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The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby AgProv » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:10 pm

I've been dipping into this almost continually since I bought my copy in November.

Although it contains a lot of new material by Terry, it isn't really a novel as such: it takes the in-universe form of an updated and revised version of Welcomme to Ankh-Morporkke - A Citie of Onne Thousand Surprises, the indispensible (and often wildly inaccurate) guide-book for visitors.

The bulk of the book takes the form of a directory of trades and services, often with lovely little advertisment illustrations, and it includes an updated and much-improved, much more detailed, pull-out Streets of Ankh-Morpork city map.

From a point of view of editing and writing the l-Space Wiki, there is so much additional information here that it would take YEARS to update the Wiki and add it all. (but who's in a hurry?)

And as a fan-fic writer, I have to say it is a lovely and wonderful source of inspiration for stories. I am already planning a Discworld-Lord of the Rings crossover called Bunfight at the Prancing Pony Tea-Rooms, for instance. (The Prancing Pony Tea-Rooms are located in upper Dimwell, near to the Deosil Gate).

The only caveat I would place on a work like this is - there is a risk of providing Too Much Information. For anything rooted in fantasy fiction to work, there have got to be grey areas, unexplored and mysterious parts of the City, loosde ends left to dangle, if only to provide an ongoing sense of mystery... anyone else have any ideas or reflections on this book?
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby =Tamar » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:05 am

AgProv wrote:The only caveat I would place on a work like this is - there is a risk of providing Too Much Information. For anything rooted in fantasy fiction to work, there have got to be grey areas, unexplored and mysterious parts of the City, loose ends left to dangle, if only to provide an ongoing sense of mystery... anyone else have any ideas or reflections on this book?

I think there's still room for mystery and discovery. I doggedly worked my way through the book of The Compleat Ankh-Morpork, being somewhat confused at first by the inset maps of the Shades and their map indications which seemed to use the same labels as other places on the large map. As a result I am not entirely sure which locations are mapped and which may not be. I do recall when the first Mappe of Ankh-Morpork was printed and Sir Terry said that, far from being restricted, he found that the map stimulated new ideas for stories. Of course, since the city is always growing and changing, any map is bound to be out of date in some areas very quickly. All it would take is a few alchemists' outdoor experiments or the equivalent, and suddenly there's a new open space with a rubble heap, which may become either a new alley or three or four new shops, thus making the map partly obsolete. Then there are the interconnected cellars, and deep down, the old tunnels and the new Undertaking. When the underground rivers might connect the Opera House to the Shambles, Wee Mad Arthur may not be the only denizen who knows the routes. Just how far down do the Guild Houses go?
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby DreadfulKata » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:15 pm

I bought my copy quite recently and am completely in love with the map. That's one area where, I don;t think) the level of detail kills possibility. after all, the bulk of the map already existed and had been previously published, and PTerry continued to develop Ankh-Morpork dramatically. And it's something of a tradition for fantasy novels to feature (or inspire) maps of the relevant lands.

As for the rest of the material... I won't say it's not entertaining, but the thoroughness of it does seem limiting to the potential of the city to me. The book makes everything seem pretty settled and modern now, which does suggest limited opportunity for further stories.

The places featured in earlier stories are now mostly described as tourist attractions or shadows of their previous vibrant selves, which left me with a kind of nostalgia for Ankh-Morpork Classic

The Ankh-Morpork-set stories have always been about the city (and the Disc more broadly) developing: the emergence of an effective police force; the overhaul of communications; the invention of a free press. Meanwhile in the background there's always details like the invention of, for instance, musical theatre, or birth control, or the Boy Scouts (all with their own A-M twist, naturally).

Once Ankh-Morpork feels more modern and functioning than ramshackle and cheerfully chaotic, it feels like there's no more story to tell.

Basically, to me, The Compleat Ankh-Morpork gives the impression of A-M functioning far too well to be suggestive of many further stories. It feels a little sadly like 'compleat' means the story of A-M is complete :(

So I choose not to think of it as quite canonical :) and I enjoy it in that way.



Also, call me picky, but I was slightly distressed to see not a single non-white face in the whole thing. A-M is meant to be multi-racial as well as multi-species, after all.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby =Tamar » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:44 am

DreadfulKata wrote: call me picky, but I was slightly distressed to see not a single non-white face in the whole thing. A-M is meant to be multi-racial as well as multi-species, after all.

Okay, picky.
This handbook is an adjunct to the series, not a single-item representation of the entire Disc.

Within context, not every business owner in Ankh-Morpork would pay for a personal portrait to be in the city handbook; for the most part, they are advertising their work, not their ethnicity.
Do the trolls require images of all the types of stone of which they are made? I don't see Mr. Shine, Officer Coalface, or Chrysoprase objecting to not being specifically depicted.
How do you define non-white? Are you assuming that, for instance, Nuhakme Icta of Offler's League of Temperance (p.97) is "non-white"? How about Soon Shine Sun (p.88)?
While the veiled damsel in the ad for Glavioli and Pond's perfume, Kasbah Nights (p.81), may be of any ethnic persuasion, Mssrs. Abdullah and Costa (p.65), sellers of Klatchian coffees, seem likely to be of Semitic origin. The full-page illustration on p.44 of the Guild of Merchants shows a gentleman in full turban and robes.

It is also true that, what with intermarriages and adoptions, one can't entirely be sure that any given named individual is of any particular race or species. Dave of Dave's Stamp and Pin Exchange (p.86) is definitely non-white, both in the book and in the movie. So is All Jolson (p.21) and, I suspect, the proprietors of the Howondaland, Bhang-bhang-duc, Agatean,
Tezuman,and other ethnic restaurants listed.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby DreadfulKata » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:21 pm

Yep, that's all fair enough, and I don't really want to get into a discussion of representation or anything. It's just that in my mind Ankh-Morpork has always been a place where humans come in every conceivable shade (even the colour of Nobby), and there's not much notice taken because people are too busy being anti-troll or prejudiced against golems.

It just felt a little like watching that film Notting Hill and not seeing any black people in in. It just looked odd to me, because my experience of that Notting Hill area is that it's very diverse. In the same way, in my minds eye, A-M is very mixed in the colours and races around, so it's just an instance where the representation on the page didn't match up with my idea of it to.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby AgProv » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:40 pm

The whole issue of race, ethnicity and so on is utterly enlivened by the addition of species-awareness! Not blowing the horn for my own fanfic or anything, but I've developed the continent of Howondaland substantially, as this is largely terra incognita in the Canon. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the appearance of Fourecks in its own novel was lampshaded in earlier books by casual references and one-liners here and there which pointed to the existence of a Discworld "Australia". There is also a Discworld "New Zealand", the Foggy Islands. (Although when Mrs Whitlow wears that sort of bikini for women of a certain age, and Ridcully refers to it as a "newzealand" and not a "foggyislands" ,is a great mystery).

There are, when you look closely, nine or ten, maybe more, throwaway references in Canon to a Discworld "South Africa". These are unmistakeable and tantalising. So I ran with the ball and created "Rimwards Howondaland", or South Africa with all the knobs turned up past eleven. I thought of South Africa as it was in apartheid days as this was more fun to write, as well as allowing me to cross-homage Tom Sharpe's wonderful "Piemburg" farces. I also wondered how apartheid would apply to other species, and how far they'd test the old racial seperation laws. Which in White Howondaland would not just be a matter of the different colours of human skin... for instance, an Igor in an apartheid country would just see an armless person and a functioning person-less arm and bring them together. The fact the repaired person would then be a largely white-skinned person with a black left arm would strain the racial bureaucracy somewhat... and could a white vampire drink blood from a black person? And look at all the colours trolls come in... apartheid in the Discworld is a concept whose days are numbered, I think...
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Margi » Sat May 04, 2013 9:24 pm

I can't remember which book it was in, probably one of the Watch ones as those are what I've been reading lately, but there was a comment along the lines of 'with so many different species in Ankh-Morpork no-one even noticed what colour a human's skin was.' That's completely paraphrased from a very wobbly memory, but that was the gist of it. It is the only mention of skin colour I've found in any of the books, but seems to cover the whole thing in one brief sentence. The rest is about the countries people come from and leaves our imaginations to do the work. :)
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Tonyblack » Sat May 04, 2013 10:04 pm

There are other mentions of people of colour. :) In Witches Abroad Mrs Gogol is mentioned as having Black skin and Mrs Pleasant is described as being the first Black person that Nanny Ogg had ever seen (if I remember correctly). Emberella seems to be a mulatto with dark skin and blonde hair.

In Colour of Magic, Marchesa the female wizard of Krull is described as having black skin. :)
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Tonyblack » Sat May 04, 2013 10:10 pm

This from Witches Abroad.

Nanny Ogg had found a friend. Her name was Mrs Pleasant, she was a cook, and she was the first black person Nanny had ever spoken to.*


*Racism was not a problem on the Discworld, because - what with trolls and dwarfs and so on - speciesism was more interesting. Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Molokov » Sun May 05, 2013 10:32 pm

All Jolson (the restaurant owner that Sgt Colon often assists with police matters in exchange for a not-at-all-a-bribe hearty meal) is most definitely described as a black man.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Tonyblack » Mon May 06, 2013 5:11 am

Molokov wrote:All Jolson (the restaurant owner that Sgt Colon often assists with police matters in exchange for a not-at-all-a-bribe hearty meal) is most definitely described as a black man.

I'd forgotten about him. :)
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Square12 » Mon May 06, 2013 9:08 am

Also, maybe it's just me but aren't we forgetting the rather important fact that, even as recently as my parents generation non Caucasians were still to a degree a rarity in most western cities and as discworld is at a Victorian era stage in its evolution then it is right, accurate and natural that klatchians and agateans would be a rarity in a place where travelling is still done by horse and cart (if you are lucky) unless you are a magic user.
Having said that were the zoons (the river traders that esk hitches a lift with ER and Vimes encounters Snuff, if memory serves) described as black somewhere?
Regarding the comments about limiting the scope for new stories:
1)Broken drum - Mended drum / dragon redevelopment site - new brickfields. Places can still change, a previously unmentioned unspecified house can become a business.
2)Ankh Morpork is the second largest dwarf city. There is a whole second underground city that's not shown on the map.
3)London. London is a city that has been mapped out on numerous occasions yet still there are hundreds of fictional stories set there every year and real ones happening every day. How many of us don't get a buzz from a place we know getting mentioned in a novel whether its a street name, landmark or pub?
So all in all I think if anything the guide will add more flavour to the stories, providing a richer backdrop and provide scope for more throw-away in jokes that only a dedicated pTerry fan will notice but the average reader will just simply not notice and nothing will detract from the story for them.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby The Mad Collector » Tue May 14, 2013 2:23 pm

Square12 wrote:Having said that were the zoons (the river traders that esk hitches a lift with ER and Vimes encounters Snuff, if memory serves) described as black somewhere?


No they were described as tanned

Terry Pratchett in Equal Rites wrote:He had the kind of real deep tan that rich people spend ages trying to achieve with expensive holidays and bits of tinfoil, when really all you need to do to obtain one is work your arse off in the open air every day
One of those? Oh I'm sure I have one somewhere..

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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby =Tamar » Wed May 15, 2013 2:55 am

Molokov wrote:All Jolson (the restaurant owner that Sgt Colon often assists with police matters in exchange for a not-at-all-a-bribe hearty meal) is most definitely described as a black man.

His daughter Precious Jolson has recently joined the Watch.
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Re: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

Postby Tonyblack » Wed May 15, 2013 5:10 am

=Tamar wrote:
Molokov wrote:All Jolson (the restaurant owner that Sgt Colon often assists with police matters in exchange for a not-at-all-a-bribe hearty meal) is most definitely described as a black man.

His daughter Precious Jolson has recently joined the Watch.

And, I suspect she's a reference to Precious Ramotswe from The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency.
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