Tag Archives: Ecology

Kirstein, Rosemary: Steerswoman

The Steerswoman's roadI have one complaint about the series – Where is the next book????? My goodness, this series was riveting. Kirstein needs to keep on writing – well, actually, in all selfishness, I need her to keep on writing. I think this was my third read-through and I was still captured by the writing and held prisoner until the end.

THE STEERSWOMAN’S ROAD (2003)

Rosemary Kirstein Steerswoman’Road is an omnibus containing The Steerswoman and The Outskirter’s Secret. In it Kirstein tells the story of the friendship between Rowan, the Steerswoman, and Bel, the Outskirter. Rowan and Bel meet right at the beginning while they are both about their own business. Bel has been travelling with other Outskirters and Rowan has been investigating strange blue jewels that are neither cut nor dug up.

Steerswoman are men and women who travel around the land asking questions and answering them. One must tell the true answer to any question and the Steerswomen must also do so. If one refuses to answer a Steerswoman, they can ban you. That means that no matter what the question you ask is, they will not answer it. Strange rule, but as knowledge is their whole purpose perhaps not.

Rowan’s questions about the jewels seem to have stirred up interest from the wrong parties. Thankfully, she and Bel have decided to travel together for a while because the next day brings an attack. From that point on there is tension, action, betrayal, discovery, friendships and travel. In fact, Rowan’s search for the truth of these blue jewels brings her into the Outskirts.

The Outskirter is about this part of her journey of discovery, and The Outskirter is just as exciting as The Steerswoman. The Outskirters are nomads who live at the border of where people can actually survive. Every day for them is about destroying and seeding the land so humans can live there. Steerswomen are unfamiliar territory to the Outskirters, yet Rowan manages to gain their trust and help them in her own way. The importance of her work becomes clearer and clearer as the role of the wizards in the attacks on Rowan begins to make a strange sort of sense. Rowan is also beginning to realize that perhaps wizards aren’t quite as wizardly as she had thought.

We as readers should have started realizing this long ago. What does not make sense to Rowan and the regular citizens of both the Outskirts and the Inland does to us. This is a science fiction series that to begin with might seem to be a fantasy one. Quite a few science fiction books are like that. The meeting between different sorts of technologic knowledge can, after all, make it seem like magic is afoot. Pressing a button on the wall to make light in the ceiling is pretty magical if you ask me – and I know how it all happens.

The Lost SteersmanTHE LOST STEERSMAN (2003) – 2004 Locus Science Fiction Award Nominee

Rowan and Bel have parted ways (on friendly terms). Bel is in the Outskirts spreading the bad news, and Rowan has ended up at the Annex in the town of Alameth looking for more information about Slado and the wizards. The Annex is a mess. Mira, the last Steerswoman living there, had not cared one whit about her duties. She was tired of being a Steerswoman and left everything a mess when she died. Now Rowan has to try to find desperately needed information in this chaos. On top of that the townspeople have problems accepting Rowan because she is so different from Mira.

When Rowan meets Janus, a Steersman who resigned the job and was considered lost, she is happy and confused. He was one of her oldest friends and Rowan finds the ban on him difficult in their conversations. After a while, Rowan begins to suspect that things are quite complicated with Janus.

The Lost Steersman is every bit as suspenseful as The Steerswoman’s Road. Kirstein keeps the standard of her writing amazingly high. It goes against the grain, but I think I’m going to put her along with Pratchett. Their styles are completely different. However, they both manage to involve me as a reader in some very serious topics with skills beyond anything I could aspire to.

The Language of Power THE LANGUAGE OF POWER (2004) – 2005 Locus Science Fiction Award Nominee

Rowan and Bel are once again together in their adventures. The Outskirts have been warned and Rowan is finally beginning to get somewhere in her search for the answers to Slade. All roads lead to Rome, it is said. In the Inlands, all roads seem to lead to Donner. To Donner Rowan and Bel go and there they unexpectedly meet Will – our lovable wanna-be apprentice – from the first book.

Will is on the run from Corvus, trying to hide in Donner and looking for revenge on the wizards. Rowan and Bel are overjoyed at meeting their old friend and seek to help him in his quest. But, as would be expected from an adventure novel, things never turn out as one would wish. Will is surprised at Rowan’s grasp of “magic”. Because he knows so much more about science than she, he tends to be a bit overbearing with her. Just because she doesn’t have the background Will has, certainly does not mean that she is without the ability to infer and deduce. After all, her whole life has been about the quest for knowledge – a true addict.

Unfortunately the next book in this series has not come out yet. Aaaargh. Please, Kirstein! We need the next installment! I love the intelligence and wit of Rosemary Kirstein. She actually expects me as a reader to think and doesn’t divert my attention with loads of sex and violence. Sex and violence can be fun, but this is sooooo much more thrilling.

Herbert, Frank: Hellstrom’s Hive (1973)

Hellstromshive
Cover by David K. Stone

Isn’t this cover cool. It pretty much says it all. Frank Herbert had the ability to write scary future scenarios while making them seem completely believable. Maybe someone is actually out there doing something like this at the moment. I wouldn’t put it past someone with a Mengele mindset.

DNA and selective breeding is an interesting topic. How far can you go, and still be human? Is being human as we know them actually desirable?

Hellstrom’s Hive takes us to a US that has become a police state. There really isn’t room for diversity and the government is rather paranoid. Of course, there is an ultra-secretive agency that looks for threats. They intercept schematics for something that looks like a dangerous weapon system. When they begin to suspect insect specialist and film-maker Nils Hellstrom, agents are sent to his remote and secluded farm compound where most of his insect films are being produced.

I’d never thought of selective breeding being used this way. In one sense it makes sense – just look at all of the weird breeds of dog that we have. In another sense, the thought is rather frightening. Frank Herbert has the ability to make me believe the scenarios he presents. What a gift.

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Review: Swords & Stitchery

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Winner of the 1978 Prix Tour-Apollo

Pratchett, Terry: Rincewind

Rincewind is one of the funnest and funniest characters of the Discworld. In spite of the

  • Rincewind is a self-acknowledged coward whose running abilities fit with his cowardice.
  • He was not the brightest student at the Unseen University. In fact the other wizards claimed that Rincewind is “the magical equivalent to the number zero”. He does have one magical formula in his head – one of the Eight Great Spells. Unfortunately, the formula  must never be used.
  • Rincewind is both the luckiest and unluckiest of characters. Lady Luck is kind of on his side, and Rincewind’s ability to frustrate all of Death’s plans are next to none. In fact, Rincewind’s hourglass of life is the only one that is not hourglass shaped.
  • Rincewind’s constant companion is the Luggage, a pearwood chest that walks and acts as Rincewind’s bodyguard. During his many unexpected trips to fairly unusual places, Rincewind has great need of this protection.

THE COLOUR OF MAGIC (1983)

French cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

The first of the Discworld books is The Colour of Magic. In it Terry Pratchett set out to make fun of the many cliches in fantasy and science fiction. When I first started reading The Colour of Magic, I hadn’t gotten that part of it. But when I went back to it with this necessary knowledge, I laughed (well, giggled)  a whole lot.

“In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part …”

Right off the tone is set. I must have been terribly dense not to have seen the humour my first time through, but there you are – once an airhead always an airhead.

And so we get our first look at A’Tuin, upon whom the Discworld rests. Now that Pratchett has shown us the glory of his world, it is time for him to give us the story of Rincewind – one of many.

Rincewind meets Twoflower in the Broken Drum. Twoflower is a tourist from the Counterweight Continent. Noticing the stranger’s language problem, Rincewind helps the man and is hired as Twoflower’s guide. Recognizing potential trouble, Rincewind tries to flee the city, but is caught by the Patrician who orders him to protect Twoflower.

Through a series of mishaps, Rincewind and Twoflower end up having to flee Ankh-Morpork. From there their journey takes them into and out of the embrace of Death time and again. They are hunted by trolls, bears, demons, dragons and believers.


http://925rebellion.com/pratchett-films/
http://925rebellion.com/pratchett-films/

A graphic novel, illustrated by Steven Ross and adapted by Scott Rockwell, was published by Corgi in 1992.

The Mob Film Company and Sky One have produced a two-part adaptation, combining both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic broadcast over Easter 2008.

In 1986 Piranha Games published The Colour of Magic as a text adventure game developed by Delta 4.

A video game titled Discworld: The Colour of Magic was released on mobile phones in 2006.

THE LIGHT FANTASTIC (1986)

Book cover – graphic novel

The Light Fantastic begins where The Colour of Magic left off. Rincewind and Twoflower are once again trying to survive one of their stunts.

Back at the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork something really strange is happening. One of the extremely dangerous magic books is beginning to leak and the wizards are terrified of the consequences. When the leakage causes the UU to be flooded they realise something has to be done.

The book with the Eight Great Spells decides to take matters into its own pages, and rescues Rincewind and Twoflower from their predicament. That does not mean that Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage are out of trouble. Indeed, druids, mercenaries, Cohen the Barbarian, Death, the Four Horsemen, trolls, crazed villagers, a magical shop, Things all have to be encountered before they can go home.

If you’ve read a bit of English litterature from the pre-1986 era, you’ll probably recognize the references made in The Light Fantastic. But even without that knowledge, it’s easy to see that Pratchett makes fun of religion, philosophy, insurance and myths.

A graphic novel illustrated by Steven Ross and Joe Bennet, was published by Corgi in 1993.

The books are full of references. If you go to L-Space you’ll find annotations, quotations, essays and all sorts of goodies on all of the Discworld books.

SOURCERY (1988)

French book cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

A sourcerer is the eight son of an eight son of an eight son. A wizard squared. A source of magic.

Isplore (father of the sourceror) refuses to go with Death when it comes. Instead he decides to steer his son’s destiny by imbuing his wizard’s staff with his spirit. Poor little Coin. His future has already been decided for him by his father.

Back at the Unseen University a new Archchancellor is to be “elected”. Rincewind and the Librarian are working with the books in the library. The books and shelves are restless. As he leaves the library, he notices a couple of other disturbing event. Ravens are cawing and all the vermin is leaving the Unseen University. Rincewind tries to warn the bursar, who unsurprisingly does not believe him.

When he is unable to get the administration to believe that something is afoot, Rincewind does his usual desperate disappearing act. He and the librarian withdraw to the Mended Drum (used to be the Broken Drum).

Parents! What can you do about parents? No matter how much you fight them, somehow they find a way to impose their will. In Sourcery, you’ll see quite a bit of Ipsilore trying to do just that to Coin. Holding all that power is quite a challenge for a boy trying to find his way in the world. His choices will make or break the Discworld.

FAUST ERIC (1990)Eric

French cover by Marc Simonetti Kemar

“Death fancied that he heard, very briefly, the sound of running feet and a voice saying, no a voice thinking oshitoshitoshit, I’m gonna die I’m gonna die I’m gonna DIE!” When he focuses his gaze, all he says is: “OH, … IT’S HIM”. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Death’s favorite non-dier – in fact the only one – Rincewind.

In Ankh-Morpork, something invisible is running through the town, yelling at the top of its voice. The wizards try the Rite of AshkEnte (calling on Death) to find an answer. He tells them that Rincewind is caught in the Dungeon Dimensions, trying to get back home. The likelihood of that happening is a million to one. Hello! This is Rincewind we’re talking about.

What happens then. Well, Rincewind wakes up in a regular human sort of room caught in a magic circle. In fact, he is caught by a pimply teen-aged boy with a fake beard. This kid wants to have mastery of the kingdoms of the world, meet the most beautiful woman who has ever lived and wants to live forever.

He is about to get all wishes fulfilled, but not in the way he expected and both Eric and Rincewind may end up regretting that the conjurations was performed. What Eric Thursley will end up knowing all too much about is deception, bureaucracy and stupidity.

INTERESTING TIMES (1994)

By Ryan Dowling Soka

As the gods are playing games, with Fate winning as usual, the Lady turns up. She wants to play Mighty Empires with Fate, letting the dice roll deciding whether fate of luck will rule this time.

Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of UU is called to see the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. A Pointless Albatross has turned up with a message from the mysterious Agatean Empire, requesting the “Great Wizzard”. Vetinari wants Ridicully to send the Great Wizzard to the Counterweight Continent by tea-time, leaving the Archchancellor six hours to figure out who this wizzard is and get him on his way. Oh dear.

We all know who this “Great Wizzard” is, and Rincewind ends up in the Agatean Empire. Unfortunately Rincewind’s wizardly talents seem to have grown in the telling and he seems sadly wanting for the role Agatean people want him to fill. He is supposed to step in as a leader of the revolution. Well, the Agatean people are in for a surprise and so is Rincewind. Of all the people Rincewind should meet on the Counterweight Continent, Cohen the Barbarian and his compatriots turn up.

THE LAST CONTINENT (1998)

Dijabringabeeralong Pub by Rhianna

It’s winter and cold season in Ankh-Morpork. At the Unseen University the Librarian has caught a bug. Each time he sneezes, he changes shape – into anything. The wizards are at a loss, and the only one who has been able to communicate effectively with the Librarian is, you guessed it, Rincewind.

Rincewind, however, is somewhere else. At the moment he is digging a hole – more or less looking for opals. The other opal miners know him as Strewth. When Strewth uncovers something that looks like a giant opal, the other opal-miners cheer. Then the opal cracks open and lots of little feet appear.

Back at the Unseen University the wizards are their usual bumbling selves looking for Rincewind. Searching has uncovered a window to somewhere delightful. A beach with clear blue water and lies behind a window in the room of the Egregious Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography. Since they are wizards they climb through. When Mrs. Whitlow arrives with sandwiches, she closes the window and they are all stuck. Now they have to find their way back, somehow, back to the future.

Rincewind/Strewth and the luggage are off on their adventures. One of the funniest ones is a shearing episode with our talented Rincewind. There is also a delightful one that reminds me an incredibly of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

THE LAST HERO (2001)

The Last Hero by Paul Kidby

The last installment in the Rincewind series is The Last Hero. My copy has been illustrated by Paul Kidby and is beautiful in a Discworldian manner. Vetinari receives a message from the Agatean Empire.

Cohen the Barbarian has set out on a quest with the Silver Horde. “Fingers” Mazda stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, and was chained to a rock to be torn open daily by a giant eagle as punishment. As the last heroes remaining on the Disc, the Silver Horde seek to return fire to the gods with interest, in the form of a large sled packed with explosive Agatean Thunder Clay. They plan to blow up the gods at their mountain home, Cori Celesti.

Vetinari organises an effort to stop the Horde and Leonard of Quirm (Vetinari’s tame inventor) to design the Discworld’s second known spacecraft to slingshot under the Discworld and back around the top, landing on Cori Celesti. Rincewind, Carrot and the Librarian are slung off to save the world.


1995: Discworld video game, Discworld II: Missing Presumed…!?,

2007: Snowgum Film Run Rincewind Run!

2008: Boardgame: Die Siedler von Catan: Rincewind und der Tourist / Die Gilden von Ankh-Morpork

2013: BBC Radio: Eric

Discworld Monthly: Who’s Who: Rincewind

Fanfiction

TP Official Message Board: Rincewind

Wikipedia: Rincewind

Wiki Lspace: Rincewind