How old is Binky?

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Steve840750530

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:32:07 PM6/18/02
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Binky is a 'real' horse ( for any given value of real) otherwise Mort would not
have needed to clean out the stable, Susan isnow in her early(?) 20's, Binky
appears to spend more time in the 'real' (see above) world than Albert & Death
has used other steeds in the past so my question is, how long has Binky got?

Steve

X Kyle M Thompson

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:34:21 PM6/18/02
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Steve840750530 <steve84...@aol.com> scribbled:

> my question is, how long has Binky got?

until he dies, i'd say.

kt.


Orin Thomas

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:51:35 PM6/18/02
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IIRC, Binky's first appearance was in Mort. Now if you believe the DW Timeline
that I've written, Mort takes place about 22 years before current events -
which sort of squares with your comment about Susan Sto Helit (who is about
16 at the time of SM and probably about 19 at the time of Thief of Time).

I'm not sure how long horses normally live (according to one site I found
off Google 44 years has been recorded and that with good care 20's to 30's
isn't out of the question) - but it is clear that Binky does not spend the
majority of his time on the Disc. If death works a 40 hour week (we know
he works all the time - but he doesn't turn up all the time) on the Disc
(not including the Lifetimer stuff he does) then 1/4 day passes for Binky
for every "real disc day" that would pass for a horse down on the Disc.

So, depending on workload - Binky could possibly have a lifespan of 160
Disc years which means that he probably isn't due for retirement just
yet.

Orin

--g5IMoYE13396.1024440634/vm-redhat.cryptonomicon--

Vivek Dasmohapatra

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Jun 18, 2002, 7:51:41 PM6/18/02
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steve84...@aol.com (Steve840750530) writes:

Er. Here be Minor Spoilers for Mort/Hogfather, maybe:


As long as death wants him to have, one assumes. Possibly even longer.
He seems to have become part of the Office of Death, along with the
scythe, the library and all that - after all, he seems to retain the
powers of flight and teleportation even when Death is awol.

mrtn

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Jun 18, 2002, 8:30:39 PM6/18/02
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Orin Thomas wrote:
<snip>

> So, depending on workload - Binky could possibly have a lifespan of
> 160 Disc years which means that he probably isn't due for retirement
> just yet.
>

Well, when did he get the job then? We know that Death has had
other horses, but he has been around a looong time.

mrtn

Sylvan

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Jun 18, 2002, 8:44:39 PM6/18/02
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"mrtn" <use.reply@instead> wrote:

Well, Binky doesn't appear in Small Gods (at least I don't think so, and I
reread it pretty recently...) so he might not have been born yet at that
point. In which case he'd still have a while to go.
--
Sylvan
http://www.godcomic.net
"The hamster is still dead." --Leonard Nimoy

Glenn Andrews

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Jun 18, 2002, 9:23:56 PM6/18/02
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In article <B9354C37.7220%psi...@mindspring.com>, Sylvan
<psi...@mindspring.com> says...

> Well, Binky doesn't appear in Small Gods (at least I don't think so, and I
> reread it pretty recently...) so he might not have been born yet at that
> point. In which case he'd still have a while to go.

Depends. Death doesn't always need or use Binky. Or at least
Binky doesn't have to be in the room.

Death seems to let Binky do his own thing, while he's working.

Regards,

Glenn
--
"Kill the man and the ship will keep coming at you.
Kill the ship and its missile will keep coming at you.
Kill the missile, and watch for the shadow.
When a viper bites, it clings." The Dark Wheel, Robert Holdstock

Orin Thomas

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Jun 18, 2002, 9:49:23 PM6/18/02
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It is hard to say - I'm not sure that the steed of Death is defined
directly in either TCOM or TLF, or if Death indeed rides a steed in
either of these novels. Although I argue in the timeline that SG
occurs at the same time as the main bulk of the Chronicles (the new
version of which should be along in the next month) - even if you
take SM to be 100 years before - Death's appearance without Binky
shouldn't be read into to much. Death of Rats appears - and he first
comes into existence during Reaper Man - when Binky is definitely
about. I think that Binky's non-appearance in SG was more a matter
of it not being appropriate rather than because he "didn't exist
yet".

If we want to assume that Binky is aquired by Death between TLF and
Mort, and that Binky was a year or so old when aquired - then Binky
would be somewhere around 22 in personal time and about 6 years old
in terms of Disc time.

Of course all this is highly speculative - and I'm still not 100%
sure that Binky is not about at the time of TCOM and TLF (though
a quick glance through TCOM and a look through the Illustrated
TCOM) shows no white horse. (Which is definitely present at the
start of Mort).

Things get a bit pear shaped if you start wondering about Death
having Binky at any time (as he clearly can travel to any time)
so Death could turn up on the Skeletal steed that he had
*before* Binky in the chronicles as that would just be Death
*before* "we've known him" journeying forward in time. This
is the argument sometimes used to justify DoR's appearance in
SM by those that argue that it occurs substantially before
the chronicles - that once DoR exists - he can exist at
any point in the DW Timeline. The same argument might apply
to Binky - though because he is a living horse and not an
anthropomorphic personification - it might not apply. Who
knows if Albert can exist at any point in the DW timeline
(he can probably travel, with Death's help, to any point,
in the DW timeline - but that is different).

Orin

Sylvan

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Jun 18, 2002, 9:54:00 PM6/18/02
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"Orin Thomas" <or...@lspace.org> wrote:
>
> It is hard to say - I'm not sure that the steed of Death is defined
> directly in either TCOM or TLF, or if Death indeed rides a steed in
> either of these novels. Although I argue in the timeline that SG
> occurs at the same time as the main bulk of the Chronicles (the new
> version of which should be along in the next month) - even if you
> take SM to be 100 years before - Death's appearance without Binky
> shouldn't be read into to much. Death of Rats appears - and he first
> comes into existence during Reaper Man - when Binky is definitely
> about. I think that Binky's non-appearance in SG was more a matter
> of it not being appropriate rather than because he "didn't exist
> yet".

I thought ToT made it pretty clear that SG occurs *both* 100 years before
and at the same time as the other books.

Richard Eney

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Jun 18, 2002, 11:01:30 PM6/18/02
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In article <20020618183207...@mb-mg.aol.com>,
Steve840750530 <steve84...@aol.com> wrote:

As long as Death wants him to have. Remember, in Mort, Ysabel
said

spoiler

space


for

Mort

x

x

x

x

x

x

Ysabell said that she had been 16 for something like 45 years, and even in
the opening bit where the story is just being set up, it is written that
Death "allowed" her to age to 16 because he thought a teenager would be
easier to deal with than an infant. So Death might "allow" Binky to age,
but he could just as easily keep Binky unaging.

=Tamar

Orin Thomas

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Jun 19, 2002, 12:38:26 AM6/19/02
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SPOILER FOR TOT

The direct quote about that was towards the end - where Death tells
the Angel Clad in White from the Book of Tobrun that Brutha made
the Book of Tobrun unofficial 100 years ago. There is an earlier
comment that it looks like two centuries had been squeezed into
Omnia.

However, that being said, this direct quote from ToT is the only
direct evidence of SG occuring at a time other than in the same
year as Reaper Man. (year of Notional Serpent / Century of the
Fruitbat - stated explicitly in both RM and SG).

Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years
before - it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had
been merged. Also, I've been looking closely through ToT for
evidence that the events in ToT happen around the time of the
events in the majority of the chronicles. There might be a
case for setting ToT 100 years after Reaper Man ... Susan
is considering the burdens of being eternal (which is kinda
odd for someone around 21 years of age) - the trips to Nanny
Ogg are clearly happening outside the normal timeline. I'm
reasonably sure that there are no direct date references (other
than Death's comment to the Angel) about when the book occurs (
unlike others that say "Carrot had been in the city 2 years"
which ties it pretty directly to the events of G!G!). I'm
not sure that Vetinari is in power, that Ridcully is Chancellor,
that Vimes is Watch Commander, that Dibbler is about, or that
the Librarian is an Orang at the time of ToT as I don't think
any of these characters turn up. Of course if anyone can
point me to where they do ... I'd be most thankful. At the
moment I have a placeholder for ToT after The Truth and before
The Last Hero ... but I'm still not 100% sure that is when
it happens.

Though ToT definitely points out that time has been a bit
messed up on the Disc - it could be that Lobsang actually
repaired it all by the end of ToT (just as he perfectly
balanced the procrastinators). I still think that it is
possible to make a consistent timeline that isn't too
messed up and doesn't have to rely too often on ToT to
get out of sticky situations. Anyway - I'll be posting
the new version in a few weeks so you can all decide whether
or not I'm crazy or it is possible then ;-). Either way,
plotting it all out is quite fun to do!

Orin

Somebody Else

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Jun 19, 2002, 2:23:41 AM6/19/02
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"X Kyle M Thompson" <ne...@buggrit.co.uk> wrote in message
news:aeochq$5c7$1...@news8.svr.pol.co.uk...
Just a guess but I'd say that he is probably as old as his tongue, and
possibly a bit older than his teeth...


Nigel Waite

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Jun 19, 2002, 5:07:41 AM6/19/02
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Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote in message news:<slrnagvos...@vm-redhat.cryptonomicon>...
>
> <snip>

> Although I argue in the timeline that SG
> occurs at the same time as the main bulk of the Chronicles (the new
> version of which should be along in the next month) - even if you
> take SM to be 100 years before
> <snip>

>
> Orin
Spoiler space for ToT and SG

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I don't have the book by me right now, but I think that we now have the
definitive statement on the timing of the events in SG.

Towards the end of ToT, when Death is confronting the Auditors, an angel
appears with an iron book, to read the events of what is going to happen.
Death tells the angel that he shouldn't be there, as the Prophet Brutha
had removed him from the official version one hundred years ago.

In other words, Brutha was made prophet at least a hundred years before
the events in ToT, which means that the events in SG happened at least
a hundred years before the main Chronicles.

Cheers,
Nigel.

Marc Oldenhof

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Jun 19, 2002, 6:44:11 AM6/19/02
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Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote in message news:<slrnah02p...@vm-redhat.cryptonomicon>...


<snip + small spoiler space SG/RM>


> However, that being said, this direct quote from ToT is the only
> direct evidence of SG occuring at a time other than in the same
> year as Reaper Man. (year of Notional Serpent / Century of the
> Fruitbat - stated explicitly in both RM and SG).
>
> Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years
> before - it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had
> been merged.

<snip>

IIRC, Brutha DIED in the specified year. The desert trip was then 100
years ago - which places (the bulk of) SG 100 years before RM.

Marc

Orin Thomas

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Jun 19, 2002, 8:02:51 AM6/19/02
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Marc Oldenhof wrote:
> Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote ...

>
>
><snip + small spoiler space SG/RM>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>> However, that being said, this direct quote from ToT is the only
>> direct evidence of SG occuring at a time other than in the same
>> year as Reaper Man. (year of Notional Serpent / Century of the
>> Fruitbat - stated explicitly in both RM and SG).
>>
>> Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years
>> before - it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had
>> been merged.
>
><snip>
>
> IIRC, Brutha DIED in the specified year. The desert trip was then 100
> years ago - which places (the bulk of) SG 100 years before RM.
>
It was Simony who made the comment on the Voyage to Ephebe - so I'm
pretty sure that it wasn't the year that Brutha died.

Orin

Terry Pratchett

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Jun 19, 2002, 6:45:32 AM6/19/02
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In article <87660gx...@etla.org>, Vivek Dasmohapatra
<vi...@etla.org> writes
I
I've generally assumed something like this -- that, as the steed of
Death he spends very nearly all his time in 'dead space', where standard
time does not pass.
--
Terry Pratchett

Nigel Waite

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Jun 19, 2002, 9:15:08 AM6/19/02
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Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote in message news:<slrnah02p...@vm-redhat.cryptonomicon>...
>
> SPOILER FOR TOT

>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years
> before - it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had
> been merged. Also, I've been looking closely through ToT for
> evidence that the events in ToT happen around the time of the
> events in the majority of the chronicles. There might be a
> case for setting ToT 100 years after Reaper Man ... Susan
> is considering the burdens of being eternal (which is kinda
> odd for someone around 21 years of age) - the trips to Nanny
> Ogg are clearly happening outside the normal timeline. I'm
> reasonably sure that there are no direct date references (other
> than Death's comment to the Angel) about when the book occurs (
> unlike others that say "Carrot had been in the city 2 years"
> which ties it pretty directly to the events of G!G!). I'm
> not sure that Vetinari is in power, that Ridcully is Chancellor,
> that Vimes is Watch Commander, that Dibbler is about, or that
> the Librarian is an Orang at the time of ToT as I don't think
> any of these characters turn up. Of course if anyone can
> point me to where they do ... I'd be most thankful. At the
> moment I have a placeholder for ToT after The Truth and before
> The Last Hero ... but I'm still not 100% sure that is when
> it happens.
>
>
> Orin

How about the part where Igor is delivered to Jeremy ? Isn't there
some comment that Jeremy had become interested in the new Clacks
systems because they used some of the same technology as clocks ?
This would put ToT at about the same time as T5E and The Truth rather
than a hundred years afterwards, when Clacks would hardly be described
as a new technology.

Cheers,
Nigel.

J.T. Wenting

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Jun 19, 2002, 10:02:18 AM6/19/02
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"Nigel Waite" <nigel...@bis.org> wrote in message
news:edad9d57.02061...@posting.google.com...
Open to debate. Even in our world with fast airtravel and near-instant
communications there are areas where technology as we know it is hardly seen
and then only in the hands of fleeting visitors (or in the case of
Ueberwald, fleeing visitors).
An area very keen on its ancient traditions, Ueberwald would not see the
introduction of technology like Clacks for a long time after the more modern
areas like AM get it.
As such the technology could well be new for Jeremy without being
necessarilly new in the world.


J.T. Wenting

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Jun 19, 2002, 10:11:54 AM6/19/02
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"Terry Pratchett" <Te...@unseen.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:eigSIUAMDGE9EAc$@unseen.demon.co.uk...

And even if it passes, Death has been known to defer the deaths of creatures
(can't look up examples but I think there is at least one), so it could well
be that Binky is one of those.
Another possibility is the one described by Piers Anthony in his
Incarnations of Immortality series.
Upon leaving office an immortal is placed back in the world of the living,
in the body of the person that replaces him/her in office. This might
require that body to die in the process. This could possibly translate to
the disk as well.
Excellent description of the process is in "On a pale horse".


--
Jeroen T. Wenting
jwenting at hornet dot demon dot nl


robert craine

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Jun 19, 2002, 12:18:23 PM6/19/02
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Spoiler now for Hogfather, and possibly Thief of Time.

If you're worried about the ToT one, then I wouldn't be- its fairly
cryptic and I would imagine that you would only realise its a spoiler
after you've read the book.

But if you are atall paranoid about spoilers then don't read it.

steve84...@aol.com (Steve840750530) wrote in message news:<20020618183207...@mb-mg.aol.com>...

In Hf Albert manages to travel in the 'real' world without personal
time passing for him. [warning: slightly rambling point coming up] I
believe it was explained as part of the Hogfathers ability to deliver
presents to everyone in one night, but Ronnie has the ability to
deliver milk to an entire city at exactly 7am, so I don't see why
death can't do the same thing when doing his normal duties. So Binky
could travel on the disc without aging, and hence his [1] could be
fixed at any point, presumably whatever age is the optimum one for
horses to be.

This could all be a load of baloney.

Rob

[1] his? hers? I can't remember if a sex has ever been specified, any
ideas.

Doug Urquhart

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Jun 19, 2002, 1:01:54 PM6/19/02
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On 18 Jun 2002 22:32:07 GMT, steve84...@aol.com (Steve840750530)
wrote:

As I understand it, Death carries his own personal time with him when
he travels in the real world. In which case, could it, perhaps,
protect whoever or whatever is travelling with him.

So Binky, or Albert, for that matter, would age only if they were in
the real world without The Master. Binky doesn't do this very often,
so I suspect she has a fair amount of time left.

Just my half-groat.....

Doug Urquhart


Joerg Ruedenauer

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Jun 19, 2002, 1:05:24 PM6/19/02
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J.T. Wenting wrote:

small spoiler for T5E ahead

> An area very keen on its ancient traditions, Ueberwald would not see the
> introduction of technology like Clacks for a long time after the more
> modern areas like AM get it.
>

The events and the situation in T5E show that Ueberwald isn't that remote
any more, and at least some parts definitly know about Clacks by the time
Vimes is still commander of the watch.
The Igors are generally technology-interested, so they would be among the
first to know, IMO.

Joerg
--
"Quoth the raven: Nevermore!" -- E.A.Poe

Joerg Ruedenauer

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Jun 19, 2002, 1:15:45 PM6/19/02
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Orin Thomas wrote:


> In alt.books.pratchett, you wrote:
>> "Orin Thomas" <or...@lspace.org> wrote:
>>>
>> I thought ToT made it pretty clear that SG occurs *both* 100 years
>> before and at the same time as the other books. --
>
> SPOILER FOR TOT
>

AND WS


>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> The direct quote about that was towards the end - where Death tells the
> Angel Clad in White from the Book of Tobrun that Brutha made the Book of
> Tobrun unofficial 100 years ago. There is an earlier comment that it
> looks like two centuries had been squeezed into Omnia.
>

[...]


> Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years before -
> it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had been merged.
>

My personal opinion is that almost all of the events of SG occur at the
time of RM. But between the end of the 'war' and the end of the book, a
century of time has been dumped into Omnia, thus pushing it ahead of
everyone else. A bit like the opposite of what happens to Lancre in WS.

> There might be a case for setting ToT 100 years after Reaper Man ...
>

I don't know any hard evidence now, but AM in ToT seems to be roughly the
same as AM in the other books - same society, same technology, etc. Since
AM has been progressing quite a lot over the last books / years, I think
it's most probable that ToT happens when you would expect it, i.e., not
long after TT.

Ash

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Jun 19, 2002, 2:07:28 PM6/19/02
to
"Nigel Waite" wrote...
Spoiler space for ToT & SG.

>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> .
>
> I don't have the book by me right now, but I think that
> we now have the definitive statement on the timing of
> the events in SG.
[...]

> Death tells the angel that he shouldn't be there, as the
> Prophet Brutha had removed him from the official
> version one hundred years ago.
>
> In other words, Brutha was made prophet at least a
> hundred years before the events in ToT, which means
> that the events in SG happened at least a hundred years
> before the main Chronicles.
>
> Cheers,
> Nigel.

Less direct evidence, but suggestive:
One argument for Vorbis' trip to Ephebe being contemporary with
the main chronicles was that the same philosophers were seen in
Ephebe then AND in the main chronicles, which would mean that
they had to live over 100 years OR have traditional names. In
ToT, PTerry refers to an "inconsistency" about philosophers
living an unrealistically long time, or handing on names. This
is solved by the Monk-ey business of Lu-Tze's colleagues. This
suggests that attack on Ephebe was over 100 years before (e.g.)
Vetinari became Patrician, with the philosophers being stretched
all over the timeline as required.

Also, Constable Visit is more "modern Omnian" than "traditional
inquisitor-type".

But we've been over the timeline debate a few times before, I
understand, and the influence of ToT adds little, although it
removes the need for accuracy.

Ash


Steve840750530

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Jun 19, 2002, 4:32:50 PM6/19/02
to
One pointer to when ToT is set may be that when Lobsang & Lu-Tze reach
Ankh-Morpork there is a fight going on between two watchmen & a gang. For the
watch to be taking someone on in broad daylight we are either way before Vimes
is watch commander or a good few years post Carrot.

Steve

Steve840750530

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Jun 19, 2002, 4:46:15 PM6/19/02
to
Male, the little boy with "good powers of observation" had to have the cardbord
tube taken away from him. Something about Binky being a 'polite' horse.

Steve

Ash

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Jun 19, 2002, 5:17:28 PM6/19/02
to
"Orin Thomas" wrote...

> The same argument might apply to Binky
> - though because he is a living horse and
> not an anthropomorphic personification
> - it might not apply.

In SM, Death says that he cannot give life, only immortality, or
something like that. So he could have given his horse
immortality. But Binky still exists and has his "usual"
abilities in the Tooth Fairy's country, so the horse must be
independently powerful.

Ash


Orin Thomas

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Jun 19, 2002, 9:20:53 PM6/19/02
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Nigel Waite wrote:
> Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote ...

I do agree with that about the Clacks - though here is my reservation -
Jeremy notes that the cross continent semaphor system is increasingly
using clockwork - which does seem to be an advance from the Clacks
system described in T5E. This is probably a bit of a straw clutch
though. To make my grip tighter on the straw ...

Speaking of the Clacks ...

Since their introduction, I've wondered exactly how long it would take
to build a series of Clacks towers right across to Genua from A-M. If
you look at the DW Mapp - it is a "bloody long way". I'm not sure of
the distance in miles - but eyeballing it it looks like about 3/4 of
the radius of the Disc itself.

According to the DWC, the Disc is 10,000 miles across - which means
that a distance of 3750 miles between AM and Genua is "in the ballpark".
(that's about 6000 KM). The distance between Clacks towers is going to
vary of course - but if we assume an average distance between towers
of 20 miles (32 KM) [which is probably overly generous] there are
about 188 towers between AM and Genua. (and this assumes also a
straight line - diversions in Uberwald could make the route well
over 4000 miles).

How long does it take to build a tower? I think that there was a
comment in T5E that one could be put up in a few weeks. If we
assume two months (remember we are talking about a tower that
can be seen 20 miles away) average building time (longer for the
most remote towers where materials have to be bought in, shorter
for the towers near AM) - it would take about 32 years to construct
the Clacks route from AM to Genua. Again, this is pretty generous
but if you think about how you'd solve the problem today - and then
try to do it with AM level technology - it certainly isn't a
non-trivial exercise.

It is also fair to assume that the AM-Genua route wouldn't have been
the first built. It is a project of immense magnitude. Other cities
around the Circle Sea would have been linked up to the Clacks network
first (say 10 years to network the Circle Sea cities completely).

So, given all of this, the Clacks aren't probably all *that* new
to citizens of AM. The first Clacks route to Quirm would be novel
and exciting - but by the time an AM-Genua route was established
"The Clacks" might have been around a few decades.

Which, bringing this all back to my straw clutching hypothesis
that ToT could take place 100 years into the future, it could
be that Jeremy was commenting on the clockwork aspect of the
clacks - a relatively new development - that might have occured
at "any time". For the next 500 years they might be referred to
as "those new fangled clacks".

Someone also mentioned that AM seemed relatively the same as it
did in the rest of the chronicles. Although there has been some
"technological progress" in AM, AM will probably always sit on
the edge of the industrial revolution. That's up to the author
of course - but, aside from the Philosopher's Boat in SG, is it
all to likely that we will see Steam Engines and Railroads on
the Discworld? Of course I don't know - but my guess is that in
300 years time the citizens of AM will not be sitting down around
the television and driving up to the cabin in Lancre for the
summer. AM in 300 years time will probably not look all that
different to AM "today" (unless of course the Wizards manage
to blow it up, or the Alchemists get inquisitive about the
possibilities of banging atoms together and find their guild
house landing somewhere in XXXX).

Anyway - always fun to think about.

Orin

Len Oil

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Jun 19, 2002, 9:24:24 PM6/19/02
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"J.T. Wenting" <jwen...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
[Spoiler removed, I think.]

> Another possibility is the one described by Piers Anthony in his
> Incarnations of Immortality series.
> Upon leaving office an immortal is placed back in the world of the
living,
> in the body of the person that replaces him/her in office. This might
> require that body to die in the process. This could possibly translate to
> the disk as well.
> Excellent description of the process is in "On a pale horse".

IMHO, an good series. The process of gaining, undergoing and losing the
office of Time was rather interesting (though, my mind being warped as it
is, I like to think I got a handle on it :). The really complicated one,
that I recall, was the one depicted in "[In/On/Through/???] A Tangled
Skein", dealing with Fate.

--
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L pp--- I->** W+ c@ B+ Cn:::+ CC- PT+>+++ Pu* 5+>++ X-- MT++ eV+(++-) r* y+
end


Dan Shane

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 9:46:54 PM6/19/02
to
On 20 Jun 2002 01:20:53 GMT, Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote:

>How long does it take to build a tower? I think that there was a
>comment in T5E that one could be put up in a few weeks. If we
>assume two months (remember we are talking about a tower that
>can be seen 20 miles away) average building time (longer for the
>most remote towers where materials have to be bought in, shorter
>for the towers near AM) - it would take about 32 years to construct
>the Clacks route from AM to Genua. Again, this is pretty generous
>but if you think about how you'd solve the problem today - and then
>try to do it with AM level technology - it certainly isn't a
>non-trivial exercise.


Of course this all assumes that you build the towers in series - if
you build them all in parallel (as hard as that may be), it only takes
2 months... It seems more likely if you're building some kind of trunk
route that you build as much as you can at the same time precisely to
avoid taking 30-odd years to do it - there are always people around
willing to be paid to knock down a few trees and make a tower...

Dan

Peter Ellis

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 9:58:38 PM6/19/02
to
or...@lspace.org wrote:
>Nigel Waite wrote:
>> Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote ...
>>>
>>> SPOILER FOR TOT
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>
>>>
>>> Orin

>>
>
>Speaking of the Clacks ...
>
>Since their introduction, I've wondered exactly how long it would take
>to build a series of Clacks towers right across to Genua from A-M. If
>you look at the DW Mapp - it is a "bloody long way". I'm not sure of
>the distance in miles - but eyeballing it it looks like about 3/4 of
>the radius of the Disc itself.
>
>According to the DWC, the Disc is 10,000 miles across - which means
>that a distance of 3750 miles between AM and Genua is "in the ballpark".
>(that's about 6000 KM). The distance between Clacks towers is going to
>vary of course - but if we assume an average distance between towers
>of 20 miles (32 KM) [which is probably overly generous] there are
>about 188 towers between AM and Genua. (and this assumes also a
>straight line - diversions in Uberwald could make the route well
>over 4000 miles).
>

No comment on this calculation. Whether it's right or wrong, it's
irrelevant.

>
>How long does it take to build a tower? I think that there was a
>comment in T5E that one could be put up in a few weeks. If we
>assume two months (remember we are talking about a tower that
>can be seen 20 miles away) average building time (longer for the
>most remote towers where materials have to be bought in, shorter
>for the towers near AM) -

Why on Earth? A clacks tower is *semaphore*. No fancy cabling or
infrastructure running between towers, just line-of-sight. All you need
is stone to make it stand up, and wood for the flappy bits. If you can
build a hut, you can build a clacks tower. In fact, if you've got a
disused tall building or convenient rocky outcrop in the right
location, you can stick the flappy bits on and have it complete in less
than a *day*.

>
>it would take about 32 years to construct
>the Clacks route from AM to Genua.

Why are you only building one at once? It would take me about half a
day to assemble a computer, test it and get it connected to the
Internet. At that rate, expect the introduction of the World Wide Web
in ooh, a few zillion years...

Given a sufficiently large workforce and enough funding, you could
build the clacks route in... "a few weeks" -- however long it took to
build the single tower that took longest to build. More likely, you're
looking at not more than a few years.

>
>Again, this is pretty generous

No, it's a vastly *un*generous overestimate.

>
>but if you think about how you'd solve the problem today - and then
>try to do it with AM level technology - it certainly isn't a
>non-trivial exercise.
>
>It is also fair to assume that the AM-Genua route wouldn't have been
>the first built. It is a project of immense magnitude. Other cities
>around the Circle Sea would have been linked up to the Clacks network
>first (say 10 years to network the Circle Sea cities completely).
>
>So, given all of this, the Clacks aren't probably all *that* new
>to citizens of AM. The first Clacks route to Quirm would be novel
>and exciting - but by the time an AM-Genua route was established
>"The Clacks" might have been around a few decades.
>

There was a route all the way to Uberwald in T5E. Clacks had been
introduced at most a couple of years previously. Extrapolate from that
to how long it *actually* takes them to network far-flung places.
You've not got anywhere near 100 years, probably not even near your 32
years. Under a decade, I'd say. Sorry, and all that.

>
>Which, bringing this all back to my straw clutching

Not so much clutching as constructing complete raffiawork handcuffs...

Peter

Glenn Andrews

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 9:59:16 PM6/19/02
to
In article <slrnah2bj...@vm-redhat.cryptonomicon>, Orin
Thomas <or...@lspace.org> says...

> How long does it take to build a tower? I think that there was a
> comment in T5E that one could be put up in a few weeks. If we
> assume two months (remember we are talking about a tower that
> can be seen 20 miles away) average building time (longer for the
> most remote towers where materials have to be bought in, shorter
> for the towers near AM) - it would take about 32 years to construct
> the Clacks route from AM to Genua. Again, this is pretty generous
> but if you think about how you'd solve the problem today - and then
> try to do it with AM level technology - it certainly isn't a
> non-trivial exercise.

This is for doing the system from one city to the next. You could
either run city-to-city (most likely) or direct to Genua.

You'd start at both ends. You'd have a dozen teams working from
each end. Each clacks construction team would operate as a
forwarding post for materials to the next, a place where the
cart-horses could be changed and the drivers could get a good
nights sleep.

The surveyors would go on ahead. They'd take a bunch of guards on
horseback with them, and send messages back to the closest clacks
tower construction site by carrier pigeon. You only need to tell
those people where to send the next construction crew on the way
through.

You'd probably pay the wizards every month or so to do some
scrying and make sure the lines were going in the right
direction. The surveyors are only a couple of days ride from the
last construction site, so you can catch them fairly quickly. The
clacks would be operational from

Depending on the complexity of the clacks transmission gear,
you'd either build it on-site, or ship it out from factories in
Ankh-Morpork and Genua. The first team, and company employees
would go on ahead by coach to the next city, where they'd found
an office, and hire laborers to start the run back.

Non-trivial? Sure. Neither was driving roads across Roman Europe,
or the canal networks of the industrial revolution. But doable in
much less than 20 years. Depends ho much money you had to throw
at the project, and according to the books, Once the system took
off in Ankh-Morpork, they HAD the money.

petrolgoth

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 10:42:12 PM6/19/02
to
"Somebody Else" wrote

>
> >
> Just a guess but I'd say that he is probably as old as his tongue, and
> possibly a bit older than his teeth...


Are you channelling my mother?

If so please ask her who she left the purple vase to because it's been 3
years since Noelette has spoken to our Doreen.

--
n4cat
"The pain is too much," Spike Milligan wrote.
"A thousand grim winters grow in my head.
In my ears the sound of the coming dead."


Speaker-to-Customers

unread,
Jun 19, 2002, 10:04:24 PM6/19/02
to
Orin Thomas wrote:
>>>
>>> SPOILER FOR TOT
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
(Snip)

> Speaking of the Clacks ...
>
> Since their introduction, I've wondered exactly how long it would take
> to build a series of Clacks towers right across to Genua from A-M. If
> you look at the DW Mapp - it is a "bloody long way". I'm not sure of
> the distance in miles - but eyeballing it it looks like about 3/4 of
> the radius of the Disc itself.
>
> According to the DWC, the Disc is 10,000 miles across - which means
> that a distance of 3750 miles between AM and Genua is "in the
> ballpark". (that's about 6000 KM). The distance between Clacks towers
> is going to vary of course - but if we assume an average distance
> between towers of 20 miles (32 KM) [which is probably overly
> generous] there are about 188 towers between AM and Genua. (and this
> assumes also a straight line - diversions in Uberwald could make the
> route well over 4000 miles).
>
> How long does it take to build a tower? I think that there was a
> comment in T5E that one could be put up in a few weeks. If we
> assume two months (remember we are talking about a tower that
> can be seen 20 miles away) average building time (longer for the
> most remote towers where materials have to be bought in, shorter
> for the towers near AM) - it would take about 32 years to construct
> the Clacks route from AM to Genua. Again, this is pretty generous
> but if you think about how you'd solve the problem today - and then
> try to do it with AM level technology - it certainly isn't a
> non-trivial exercise.

Nope; the length of time it would take to construct the Clacks route from AM
to Genua is not 188 x 2 months; it is 2 months plus the time taken to
transport the 188 construction crews.

You build them all simultaneously, not one after the other. Or rather you
start on the first one at the same time as sending out 187 other
construction crews, the first of which start constructing Station 2 as soon
as they arrive on site, the other 186 crews move on, and so on.

If you send 94 crews out by ship to Genua, to start there and work
backwards, you cut the time down even more. Less than 94 really, as you
could allow for the progress on the line out of A-M while the ship was en
route to Genua.

Although you don't really need 188 crews, as crew #1 would move on after
finishing Station 1, and start on Station 23 or whatever. Crew #2 would
start on Station 24, running a day or two behind, and so on.

I would estimate 2 - 3 years for surveying the route and planning, then
another 2 - 3 years for the actual construction.

Paul Speaker-to-Customers


MP

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 6:49:13 AM6/20/02
to
Potential SPOILER FOR TOT, TT, T5E, all related to clacks though
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
This is a sort of general outline of the clacks from what I can find
in the books that mention them.
In T5E, the clacks are obviously very new - the watch is running them
in parallel with carrier pigeons, and more importantly, Vetinari
hesitates when saying 'Good. I will have a . . . a clacks sent
immediately.' (talking to Sam about his assignment) This indicates to
me that he's not used to the technology yet.
Later in the book, Lady Margolotta is thinking "The clacks tower had
only been up for a month, and it was being roundly denounced
throughout Bonk as an intrusion. But it seemed to be doing a good if
stealthy local traffic."
Therefore, clacks reached Uberwald whilst it was still new in Ankh -
within a year, I'd say. Bear in mind that the route Ankh-Uberwald is
heavily frequented with ox carts - materials are easy to move around.
Now, later in the same book, Carrot says "In a few months they say
we'll be able to send messages all the way from Ankh-Morpork to Genua
in less than a day!" Hence Uberwald was connected before Genua - which
makes sense since it is en-route between Ankh and Genua. We also know
that the towers either side of the Bonk one are up and running.
Therefore a tower takes less than a month to build, yet is within
firework range of two or three other towers, for security's sake.
Fireworks are visible over quite a long distance, especially at night,
say 10 miles, on a clear night[1]. Therefore towers are needed every 5
miles or so.
Assume a working tower could be as simple as a pole with a cart next
to it (so the travelling teams could keep in contact - you could even
have temporary cart based towers!), so takes half a day to put up (you
can then build the proper tower after, once you've got a working pole
- after all, time is money!)
Then you could build the basic line ("The clacks do a skeleton service
as far as Uberwald now, don't they?" - Vimes) very quickly, and
upgrade as necessary (possibly prioritising those towers in dangerous
zones - like Uberwald). Also this would fit with the notion that "The
whole thing would likely be matchsticks after the next hurricane" -
cheap and fast to build.
By TT, the clacks have reached Lancre - in the opposite direction to
Genua, almost. And the fact that they can be "opening offices in Sto
Lat and Pseudopolis" indicates they have good reliable connections to
these places (expected - they are in the Sto Plains).
The only thing we learn from TOT is that they use clockwork to some
extent.

Wow, that was long! Haven't looked at Maurice or TLH yet, but may do
later...

MP


[1] I've seen some in Coventry from Rugby - about 10 miles edge to
edge
--
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!h P! OSD--:+ !C M- !pp L+ Ia** W++ c B+>+++ Cn02+
CC P++>+++ Pu* !5 !X MT+ e+>+++ r++ y? end

Chris Share

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 11:00:38 AM6/20/02
to
On 19 Jun 2002 09:18:23 -0700s, robert craine(robc...@hotmail.com)
said...
>slight spoiler Thief of Time.

[Binky]


>[1] his? hers? I can't remember if a sex has ever been specified, any
>ideas.

Definitely a his - remember Susan explaining to one of the children
(Jason?) that this was a *polite* horse so the cardboard tube wasn't
needed?

chris

Alec Cawley

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 1:17:31 PM6/20/02
to
Orin Thomas wrote:

Little detail - you don't have to build the towers one-by-one. In fact, you
normally wouldn't. A line of towers which ends in open country is useless,
so you would tend to send several working parties to build all the towers
necessary to reach the next town of any size at once.

During the Napoleonic wars, the Admiralty had a line of semaphores between
London and their main base at Portsmouth. I believe that, once given the
go-ahead, the line was build over a single summer. For a longer prokect,
how long did it take to build the Trans-Siberian Railway - a much bigger
project than a line of clacks towers, because it is a continuous track
trhoug uncharted, and pretty hostile, territory instead od a line of points
alongside a well-travelled road (i.e. no bridges to build, swamps to cross,
forests to fell). I think that only took about 10 years to build. So I
could see a line of clacs toiwars being put up within about 5 years.

--
@lec Šawley

Terry Pratchett

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 12:58:54 PM6/20/02
to
In article <MPG.177ad6d41...@netnews.attbi.com>, Glenn Andrews
<vetit...@attbi.com> writes

> Depends ho much money you had to throw
>at the project, and according to the books, Once the system took
>off in Ankh-Morpork, they HAD the money.

Right.

You start with local traffic within AM and to the nearby towns and
cities. When the cash cow is giving milk, you build towers. Down on
the plains they'd be mostly wood, and that's just a matter of carpentry.
Where there's likely to be serious danger of attack, you build a masonry
base.
This is not dragon wizardry -- it can be done cheaply by local labour.
You use lots of work gangs, and out in the country -- it's mostly
country -- you're playing cheap local rates, with a fast-completion
bonus

You'll need about 300 towers to Genua, max. You don't begin at both
ends, you begin everywhere. Every three or five towers or so you have
a repair/ maintenance tower with supporting buildings, and you get these
done as soon as you can to serve as depots for the others.

Where've you've got even two adjacent towers up and running, you'll be
making a bob or two off local traffic (at a nice cheap rate to encourage
usage.) Even before all the towers are finished you have guys up there
running a minimal service; the key thing is to be earning. That means
not a lot of machinery at the start, and you haul that in from one of
the cities and anywhere there's a craftsman who can read a blueprint.

When the line is running all the way across the continent many of the
towers still aren't complete and the operators are working surrounded by
sawdust. Doesn't matter -- you're up and running and paying off your
debts.

I reckon you could do it in two years, including surveying and land
purchases. The sites which could well be dirt cheap -- after all, you
could be the first king on your block to have a clacks tower and special
low rates for royalty. Indeed, nearby towns might *bid* for towers.

It's amazing how fast gold works.
--
Terry Pratchett

bonsoirbonsoir

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 3:01:50 PM6/20/02
to
> >
> Just a guess but I'd say that he is probably as old as his tongue, and
> possibly a bit older than his teeth...
>
>

Aaarrgh! I was just about to say that! It was what my granny used to say
whenever I asked her how old she was.

bon.

Diane L.

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 3:10:44 PM6/20/02
to

bonsoirbonsoir <bonsoirbonsoir@dontmail..com> wrote in message
news:3d122...@mk-nntp-1.news.uk.worldonline.com...

I think that was what _everybody's_ gran used to say. I wonder if they still
teach it in Granny School.

Diane L.

Sherilyn

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 6:12:30 PM6/20/02
to
In message-id <3kw4JgAO...@unseen.demon.co.uk>,
Terry Pratchett <Te...@unseen.demon.co.uk> wrote:
[...]

> You'll need about 300 towers to Genua, max. You don't begin at both
> ends, you begin everywhere. Every three or five towers or so you have
> a repair/ maintenance tower with supporting buildings,

...and a few hundred dragoons...

[...]


>
> It's amazing how fast gold works.

You can use gold to turn the clacks dark for a few days, send some
bad signals. Gold flows down the clacks, Captain Crunch likes the gold
stuff and wields a mean whistle.
--
Sherilyn

Terry Pratchett

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 6:52:00 PM6/20/02
to
In article <slrnah4kqe....@happy.sherilyn.org.uk>, Sherilyn
<sher...@suespammers.org> writes

>
>You can use gold to turn the clacks dark for a few days, send some
>bad signals. Gold flows down the clacks, Captain Crunch likes the gold
>stuff and wields a mean whistle.

I know where this is going...

Let's just say that I how clacks crime will work on DW. And it's quite
clever.
--
Terry Pratchett

andrew...@stealthmunchkin.fsnet.co.uk

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 7:08:29 PM6/20/02
to
> Which, bringing this all back to my straw clutching hypothesis
> that ToT could take place 100 years into the future, it could
> be that Jeremy was commenting on the clockwork aspect of the
> clacks - a relatively new development - that might have occured
> at "any time". For the next 500 years they might be referred to
> as "those new fangled clacks".

But what about Susan? Soul Music and Hogfather clearly take place at the
same time as the main timeline of the books...

--
http://www.stealthmunchkin.com
The Psychotic Munchkin - July 14th the Star & Garter, Manchester
The Psychotic Reaction, Stealth Munchkin others tbc
With advance copies of the new Stealth Munchkin album


Sherilyn

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 8:06:11 PM6/20/02
to
In message-id <nB3sw1AQ...@unseen.demon.co.uk>,

Terry Pratchett <Te...@unseen.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> In article <slrnah4kqe....@happy.sherilyn.org.uk>, Sherilyn
><sher...@suespammers.org> writes
>>
>>You can use gold to turn the clacks dark for a few days, send some
>>bad signals. Gold flows down the clacks, Captain Crunch likes the gold
>>stuff and wields a mean whistle.
>
> I know where this is going...

And I don't. That's why I keep forking out a few quid every now and
then.
--
Sherilyn
Free reliable text-only posting news accounts: http://news.cis.dfn.de/

Orin Thomas

unread,
Jun 20, 2002, 10:01:13 PM6/20/02
to

Some further ponderings on The Clacks ...


[Speculative]

[Speculative]

[Speculative]


I'm probably being overly cautious - but perhaps these are issues that might
be addressed in later books.

Would their be a "Guild of Clacksmen" - do the Clack's operators need to be
able to read the message - or just relay it?

Do they record messages as they go through - or just record that such and
such a message passed and it was of such and such a size.

Would there be "error correction" built in? (probably - but it might have
to be on a station to station basis as retransmitting a message across
the entire continent would be cumbersome)

Are the Clacks owned by one company / individual - or are there a myriad
of companies and standards in use across the Disc. One individual or
company controlling the transmission of information across the disc
definitely brings up interesting possibilities (especially on the Disc
where power (except perhaps with Vetinari) tends to corrupt pretty
quickly).

(if you follow up - remember to keep the "speculative" header)

Orin


MP

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 4:05:18 AM6/21/02
to
On 21 Jun 2002 02:01:13 GMT, Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote:

>
>
>Some further ponderings on The Clacks ...
>
>
>[Speculative]
>
>
>
>
>
>[Speculative]
>
>
>
>
>
>[Speculative]
>
>
>
>
>I'm probably being overly cautious - but perhaps these are issues that might
>be addressed in later books.
>
>Would their be a "Guild of Clacksmen" - do the Clack's operators need to be
>able to read the message - or just relay it?

I'd imagine they'd just need to relay the message on. Think of the
little old lady who relayed the Apollo mission when the automated
station broke down... :-}
On the other hand, there is a guild: "That's why the Guild was driving
hell-bent across the mountains on to Genua, four thousand miles away."

>Do they record messages as they go through - or just record that such and
>such a message passed and it was of such and such a size.

It would take more time, unless they had an automated system (you
press the buttons and then it both moves the flaps and punches holes,
for example.

>Would there be "error correction" built in? (probably - but it might have
>to be on a station to station basis as retransmitting a message across
>the entire continent would be cumbersome)

Again, more time, but possibly. Semaphore doesn't have any (well, you
wave your arms in the international signal for "What was that supposed
to be? That flipping great dragon just got in the way") but I seem to
remember the Victorians blanked the shutters to indicate repeat.

>Are the Clacks owned by one company / individual - or are there a myriad
>of companies and standards in use across the Disc. One individual or
>company controlling the transmission of information across the disc
>definitely brings up interesting possibilities (especially on the Disc
>where power (except perhaps with Vetinari) tends to corrupt pretty
>quickly).

Lots of companies. "It seemed as though everybody who could put
together a pole, a couple of gargoyles and some second-hand windmill
machinery was in on the business." They are in a Guild though, so
there is still the possibility of abuse of power.
Of course, this raises the issue of Guild status outside Ankh-Morpork:
what is it? Assassins and Thieves work outside the walls, but have
different rules. Virtually all the other guilds are internal only...

>(if you follow up - remember to keep the "speculative" header)

--

keith edgerley

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 4:44:46 AM6/21/02
to
Sherilyn wrote:

A significant plot point in Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, IIRC.

--
Keith
Let us now praise famous men [...]
Such as found out musical tunes


X Kyle M Thompson

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 5:27:20 AM6/21/02
to
Diane L. <di...@lindquist.clara.co.uk> wrote:
> I think that was what _everybody's_ gran used to say. I
> wonder if they still teach it in Granny School.

my gran used to say "you never know you luck in the cow shed" and
"well you know what thought did... shit himself"

cheers,

kt

--
Dance like you've never been hurt.
Work like nobody's watching.
Love like you don't need the money.


Daibhid Chiennedelh

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 7:07:09 AM6/21/02
to
>From: Terry Pratchett Te...@unseen.demon.co.uk
>Date: 20/06/02 23:52 GMT Daylight Time
>Message-id: <nB3sw1AQ...@unseen.demon.co.uk>

We've already seen a bit of it, haven't we? The "New Crimes" section of the
Theives Guild Diary, and an interesting bit of cracking in SODII.
--
Dave
Re-elected for a *third* glorious term as Official Absentee of EU
Skiffeysoc http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/societies/sesoc

"Doctor, is that you?"
"Let's pretend it isn't, and see what happens."
Doctor Who: All Consuming Fire, Andy Lane

Robert Shaw

unread,
Jun 21, 2002, 12:47:47 PM6/21/02
to

"MP" <ju...@bleurgh.net> wrote in message
news:3d12dba0...@News.CIS.DFN.DE...

> On 21 Jun 2002 02:01:13 GMT, Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote:
>
> >
> >
> >Some further ponderings on The Clacks ...
> >
> >
> >[Speculative]
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >[Speculative]
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >[Speculative]
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >I'm probably being overly cautious - but perhaps these are issues that
might
> >be addressed in later books.
> >>
> >Do they record messages as they go through - or just record that such and
> >such a message passed and it was of such and such a size.
>
> It would take more time, unless they had an automated system (you
> press the buttons and then it both moves the flaps and punches holes,
> for example.
>
Possible, but we know some of the messages are encrypted, which
raises other issues.

Until now discworld cypherers have been able to assume that most
messages won't be intercepted.

When a code is used over the clacks every message can be intercepted
which makes it much more vulnerable to cracking.

Basically, all codes (except the one time pad) which can be encoded
by people with just pen and paper would be insecure

The governments will soon be driven to stronger codes, which means
coding/decoding machines like Enigma, powered by clockwork.

Implementing a public key cipher, such as Leonardo seems to have
invented in TFE, needs much more sophisticated machinery. A
pogrammable computer would be best (and Leonardo probably
could build a Babbage computer)

Hook any clockwork capable of actual computation to the
clacks and Hex is likely to become involved, which would
probably inconvenience the clacks

Even now, Hex could use the clacks for extra memory by sending
a signal round a circular route. If that makes the clacks part
of Hex, and Hex is partly magical, does that make the clacks
semi-magical?


> >Would there be "error correction" built in? (probably - but it might have
> >to be on a station to station basis as retransmitting a message across
> >the entire continent would be cumbersome)
>
> Again, more time, but possibly. Semaphore doesn't have any (well, you
> wave your arms in the international signal for "What was that supposed
> to be? That flipping great dragon just got in the way") but I seem to
> remember the Victorians blanked the shutters to indicate repeat.

Error correcting codes are easy enough to design, and don't
require retransmission, though they do slow the message down.

If the only legitimate signals are 000 and 111 you can reasonably
assume that 010 is an error, and automatically correct it.


--
'It is a wise crow that knows which way the camel points' - Pratchett
Robert Shaw


Vivek Dasmohapatra

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Jun 21, 2002, 1:23:15 PM6/21/02
to
"Robert Shaw" <Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> writes:

> Until now discworld cypherers have been able to assume that most
> messages won't be intercepted.

Misses the point of ciphering at all, eh? After all, why not just
use cleartext if you can discount interception? IIRC vetinari has
explicitly assumed interception at least once.

> When a code is used over the clacks every message can be intercepted
> which makes it much more vulnerable to cracking.

Not if it's decent crypto, except in the sense of you can't crack it
if you don't have it at all. Er. YKWIM.

> Basically, all codes (except the one time pad) which can be encoded
> by people with just pen and paper would be insecure

I refer you to "solitaire" in Cryptonomicon (N Stephenson). Not to
mention that _codes_ (as opposed to ciphers) aren't vulnerable to
cracking, as such: You must either obtain the codebook, or build
up a database of message -> resulting action.

> The governments will soon be driven to stronger codes, which means
> coding/decoding machines like Enigma, powered by clockwork.

Steampunk, woohoo! Also, don't discount magic, imps and hybrid
beasties like Hex.

[snip]

> Even now, Hex could use the clacks for extra memory by sending
> a signal round a circular route. If that makes the clacks part

[snip]

You are a PHB and I claim my five pounds :)

Actually, information is a weird "thing" even on roundworld -
presumably it gets to be even stranger on DW.

--
If we all work together, we can totally disrupt the system.

Marc Oldenhof

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Jun 21, 2002, 2:47:09 PM6/21/02
to
Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote in message news:<slrnah0sr...@vm-redhat.cryptonomicon>...

> Marc Oldenhof wrote:
> > Orin Thomas <or...@lspace.org> wrote ...
> >
> >
> ><snip + small spoiler space SG/RM>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> However, that being said, this direct quote from ToT is the only
> >> direct evidence of SG occuring at a time other than in the same
> >> year as Reaper Man. (year of Notional Serpent / Century of the
> >> Fruitbat - stated explicitly in both RM and SG).

> >>
> >> Although SG could happen both at the time of RM and 100 years
> >> before - it wasn't explicitly stated when the two centuries had
> >> been merged.
> >
> ><snip>
> >
> > IIRC, Brutha DIED in the specified year. The desert trip was then 100
> > years ago - which places (the bulk of) SG 100 years before RM.
> >
> It was Simony who made the comment on the Voyage to Ephebe - so I'm
> pretty sure that it wasn't the year that Brutha died.
>

You're right, I checked... having the books as text files may not be
strictly legal, but it's very convenient for these kinds of questions.
(Of course, I've got the full set in hardback/paperback also)

Marc

Robert Shaw

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Jun 21, 2002, 6:43:20 PM6/21/02
to

"Vivek Dasmohapatra" <vi...@etla.org> wrote in message
news:87hejw3...@etla.org...

> "Robert Shaw" <Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> writes:
>
> > Until now discworld cypherers have been able to assume that most
> > messages won't be intercepted.
>
> Misses the point of ciphering at all, eh? After all, why not just
> use cleartext if you can discount interception? IIRC vetinari has
> explicitly assumed interception at least once.
>
Not discount interception totally, just assume it's rare.

The more ciphertext there is available the easier it is to crack.

A monoalphabetic substitution is secure enough for a five letter
message, because you can't do a frequency analysis on five letters.

The Enigma codes are secure on a 100 word message, there isn't
enough information there to crack the code, but send a few million
words in the Enigma code and cracking becomes trivial, in a technical
sense.

The more messages you see in a particular code, the easier
it gets to crack.

The higher the message volume the more secure the code needs
to be and the clacks increase the volume of coded mesages.

> > When a code is used over the clacks every message can be intercepted
> > which makes it much more vulnerable to cracking.
>
> Not if it's decent crypto, except in the sense of you can't crack it
> if you don't have it at all. Er. YKWIM.

Even with the best crypto.
To take another example, a perfectly random one time pad isn't
humanly possible (short of using magic)

If the chances of the characters differ by no more than 1/1000,
then after 50,000 coded characters there's enough information
in the crypto to do a frequency analysis as in 'Cryptonomicon'

If the pad is random to one part in 100 trillion sending a
quadrillion or so characters using that pad will allow
frequency analysis to crack it.

Rhythmic fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field will
change radioactive halflives by one part in a trillion or
so, so even radioactivity isn't random enough for really
high volume one time pads.


>
> > Basically, all codes (except the one time pad) which can be encoded
> > by people with just pen and paper would be insecure
>
> I refer you to "solitaire" in Cryptonomicon (N Stephenson).

Nice book, but someone cracked that cypher.
Apparently, if you think about the case when the jokers
are next to each other you can find enough pattern in the
cypher to crack it.

It's only secure for short messages.

> Not to
> mention that _codes_ (as opposed to ciphers) aren't vulnerable to
> cracking, as such: You must either obtain the codebook, or build
> up a database of message -> resulting action.
>

If you intercept enough of the code you can do a frequency
analysis on it. The most common words will be the, a, I ...

However codes are more secure than ciphers, but harder
to automate.

Using obscure or invented languages is more secure still
but only Hex has a hope of doing translation.

If the message volume gets large enough cypher machines
become the only option.

Merchants have a limited vocabulary anyway, which
makes codes easier to crack, e.g
Saffron $3 per ounce
Cinnamon $4 per ounce
Ginger $2.50 per ounce,
and so on for the same fifty spices twice a day.


> > The governments will soon be driven to stronger codes, which means
> > coding/decoding machines like Enigma, powered by clockwork.
>
> Steampunk, woohoo! Also, don't discount magic,

A mirror like the one in 'The last hero' would make reaching
Klatch much easier, and wouldn't be stopped by fog.

> imps and hybrid
> beasties like Hex.
>

Each of which could well have interesting drawbacks


>
> Actually, information is a weird "thing" even on roundworld -
> presumably it gets to be even stranger on DW.
>

Strange is good, when it's happening to someone else.

Vivek Dasmohapatra

unread,
Jun 22, 2002, 7:54:02 AM6/22/02
to
"Robert Shaw" <Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> writes:

[snip]


> > Not to mention that _codes_ (as opposed to ciphers) aren't
> > vulnerable to cracking, as such: You must either obtain the
> > codebook, or build up a database of message -> resulting action.
> >
> If you intercept enough of the code you can do a frequency
> analysis on it. The most common words will be the, a, I ...

I wasn't referring to a word-for-word substituion code, I was referring
to a <thing> for <circumstance-do-something> code.

> However codes are more secure than ciphers, but harder
> to automate.

Not really. You're still transmitting _letters_, but you've shunted
around where the meaning is, sort of. It's not as flexible as a
cipher, and not really applicable to generic situations, but it's
harder to crack : Ideal if you need to say something like "begin
stage 2 of project mayhem" - you know you'll probably need to say it
(assuming you're involved in project mayhem), so you can prearrange
an innocuous code word.

> Using obscure or invented languages is more secure still
> but only Hex has a hope of doing translation.

Not really. A couple of native black oroogu(sp?) speakers
would do it. Or a couple of apes.

> If the message volume gets large enough cypher machines
> become the only option.

> Merchants have a limited vocabulary anyway, which
> makes codes easier to crack, e.g
> Saffron $3 per ounce
> Cinnamon $4 per ounce
> Ginger $2.50 per ounce,
> and so on for the same fifty spices twice a day.

Make the code mutate. To encrypt/decrypt the next message, you
need the clear--and-cipher-texts of the last message...

[snip]

--
I dunno about the Big Bang. The Big Kludge I can believe in.

nyra

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Jun 22, 2002, 1:52:49 PM6/22/02
to
Robert Shaw schrieb:

>
> "Vivek Dasmohapatra" <vi...@etla.org> wrote in message
> news:87hejw3...@etla.org...
> > "Robert Shaw" <Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> writes:
> The more ciphertext there is available the easier it is to crack.
>
> A monoalphabetic substitution is secure enough for a five letter
> message, because you can't do a frequency analysis on five letters.
>
> The Enigma codes are secure on a 100 word message, there isn't
> enough information there to crack the code, but send a few million
> words in the Enigma code and cracking becomes trivial, in a technical
> sense.

However, i think on the Discworld cracking an Enigma-type encryption
could only be done by Leonard of Quirm and Hex, so they'd be safe
enough...

Don't forget that historically, cyphers were rather trivial:
spelling everything backwards, simple substitutions (it took me
less'n half an hour to "crack" rot-13; but i already had a good idea
of how the message began) and the "white noise" encryptions: only
every fifth word, only every initial/final letter etc.

Can pure frequency analysis crack a cypher which simply hides its
message in perhaps five times as much useless drivel? To make
matters worse, you can generate a seemingly meaningful text to
prevent interceptors from actually _trying_ to crack your cypher.

It wastes a lot of "bandwidth", but i think such encryptions can
already be made fairly safe, as long as the key doesn't get in the
wrong hands. And that sort of stuff was old hat in the 17th century.

It could still be spoilt by excessive use, of course.

> > Not to
> > mention that _codes_ (as opposed to ciphers) aren't vulnerable to
> > cracking, as such: You must either obtain the codebook, or build
> > up a database of message -> resulting action.
> >
> If you intercept enough of the code you can do a frequency
> analysis on it. The most common words will be the, a, I ...

But codes will likely be keywords for key events; if you're
mentioning that someone has caught a cold, that means that prices
for pepper are down in Genua; different colours mentioned mean
differing degrees of success in the secret negotiations over a
military alliance with Lancre etc.

> Merchants have a limited vocabulary anyway, which
> makes codes easier to crack, e.g
> Saffron $3 per ounce
> Cinnamon $4 per ounce
> Ginger $2.50 per ounce,
> and so on for the same fifty spices twice a day.

Encrypting mere price lists wouldn't be very useful, i think. Larger
orders to buy or sell based on confidential knowledge of events
dictating higher or lower prices would be important, and they'd
likely be transmitted with key words. If these keywords and the
related events/business activities aren't very obvious, they could
remain unnoticed for a long time.

E.g., the code could be exactly five occurences of the word "and"
between the first and the last occurence of the word "me".
Frequency-analyse _that_.

On the Disc, i suspect that most codes would eventually fail to be
safe due to inertia and security holes: for a cypher/code to work,
both sides must possess the "keys", and
1) changing the cypher regularly is a lot of effort
2) code books/cypher sheets can get lost or stolen, and until the
other side knows that the code/cypher is no longer safe, their
messages will be readable for whoever got hold of the keys.

andrew...@stealthmunchkin.fsnet.co.uk

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Jun 22, 2002, 3:53:57 PM6/22/02
to
> > The Enigma codes are secure on a 100 word message, there isn't
> > enough information there to crack the code, but send a few million
> > words in the Enigma code and cracking becomes trivial, in a technical
> > sense.
>
> However, i think on the Discworld cracking an Enigma-type encryption
> could only be done by Leonard of Quirm and Hex, so they'd be safe
> enough...


Unless you had a camel... Evil Smelling Bastard could do it no problem...

Robert Shaw

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Jun 23, 2002, 5:12:28 AM6/23/02
to

"nyra" <ny...@gmx.net> wrote

> Robert Shaw schrieb:
> >
> > "Vivek Dasmohapatra" <vi...@etla.org> wrote in message
> > news:87hejw3...@etla.org...
> > > "Robert Shaw" <Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> writes:
> > The more ciphertext there is available the easier it is to crack.

> > The Enigma codes are secure on a 100 word message, there isn't


> > enough information there to crack the code, but send a few million
> > words in the Enigma code and cracking becomes trivial, in a technical
> > sense.
>
> However, i think on the Discworld cracking an Enigma-type encryption
> could only be done by Leonard of Quirm and Hex, so they'd be safe
> enough...

There might be a vampire with enough patience, and Vetinari
can't be completely certain that no one else has an eccentric
genius in their dungeon.

If Leonard designs a decryption machine the plans will leak,
perhaps not in Vetinari's lifetime but eventually.

>

> Can pure frequency analysis crack a cypher which simply hides its
> message in perhaps five times as much useless drivel?

Yes. Mary, Queen of Scots used such a cypher.

>
> It [steganography] could still be spoilt by excessive use, of course.
>
Which is why the discworld will be shifting to more
secure codes than pre-clacks, because the cyphers are
getting more use.

>
> But codes will likely be keywords for key events; if you're
> mentioning that someone has caught a cold, that means that prices
> for pepper are down in Genua; different colours mentioned mean
> differing degrees of success in the secret negotiations over a
> military alliance with Lancre etc.
>

True. Codes work well, until you have to send an unanticipated
message.

Most code books won't have a line for 'Klatch has been invaded
by talking ducks from the century of the Cobra.'


>
> E.g., the code could be exactly five occurences of the word "and"
> between the first and the last occurence of the word "me".
> Frequency-analyse _that_.
>

It's possible, if you have enough plain text private letters from the
same writer. It's not difficult to recognise a writer's unique style.
With rather more study they can recognise when the writer has
picked a unlikely turn of phrase so they can squeeze in an extra
'and'.


> On the Disc, i suspect that most codes would eventually fail to be
> safe due to inertia and security holes:

Yes. Most users won't be too worried about the risk of decryption
because their rivals won't have the resources.

Only a few spys and diplomats will need to send a lot of sensitive
encrypted messages. They're the only ones who are likely to need
better codes than have been customary. I'd expect some of them to
start using clockwork coder-decoders similiar to Enigma, but nothing
more complex.

Anyone else who used one would just be posing.

Joerg Ruedenauer

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Jun 23, 2002, 12:46:04 PM6/23/02
to
nyra wrote:

[steganography]


> It wastes a lot of "bandwidth", but i think such encryptions can
> already be made fairly safe, as long as the key doesn't get in the
> wrong hands. And that sort of stuff was old hat in the 17th century.
>

Because of the bandwidth-waste, it won't be used for clacks, where every
word costs (perhaps even every letter). It would be quite supicious if the
merchant in Genua suddenly sends five pages of text to A-M.
Perhaps the secret message couldn't be extracted easily from the text, but
it could from the receiver in A-M...

Joerg
--
"Quoth the raven: Nevermore!" -- E.A.Poe

Glenn Andrews

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Jun 23, 2002, 1:13:26 PM6/23/02
to
In article <af4b6p$pit$1...@news7.svr.pol.co.uk>, Robert Shaw
<Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> says...
>
> "nyra" <ny...@gmx.net> wrote

> >
> > But codes will likely be keywords for key events; if you're
> > mentioning that someone has caught a cold, that means that prices
> > for pepper are down in Genua; different colours mentioned mean
> > differing degrees of success in the secret negotiations over a
> > military alliance with Lancre etc.
> >
> True. Codes work well, until you have to send an unanticipated
> message.
>
> Most code books won't have a line for 'Klatch has been invaded
> by talking ducks from the century of the Cobra.'

This is the same universe that contains the Lancastrian Peacetime
Army Knife, yes? A device designed to do everything except,
perhaps be used as a knife?

And a universe from the same author who devised a code book
containing "Have found Lost City of Atlantis. High Priest has
just won quoits contest"?

I think the example you cited WOULD be in any code-book devised
by rulers on the Discworld, especially Verence or Vetinari.


Regards,

Glenn
--
"Kill the man and the ship will keep coming at you.
Kill the ship and its missile will keep coming at you.
Kill the missile, and watch for the shadow.
When a viper bites, it clings." The Dark Wheel, Robert Holdstock

Daibhid Chiennedelh

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Jun 23, 2002, 1:20:00 PM6/23/02
to
>From: Glenn Andrews vetit...@attbi.com
>Date: 23/06/02 18:13 GMT Daylight Time
>Message-id: <MPG.177fa1978...@netnews.attbi.com>

>
>In article <af4b6p$pit$1...@news7.svr.pol.co.uk>, Robert Shaw
><Rob...@shavian.fsnet.co.uk> says...
>>
>> "nyra" <ny...@gmx.net> wrote
>> >
>> > But codes will likely be keywords for key events; if you're
>> > mentioning that someone has caught a cold, that means that prices
>> > for pepper are down in Genua; different colours mentioned mean
>> > differing degrees of success in the secret negotiations over a
>> > military alliance with Lancre etc.
>> >
>> True. Codes work well, until you have to send an unanticipated
>> message.
>>
>> Most code books won't have a line for 'Klatch has been invaded
>> by talking ducks from the century of the Cobra.'
>
>This is the same universe that contains the Lancastrian Peacetime
>Army Knife, yes? A device designed to do everything except,
>perhaps be used as a knife?
>
>And a universe from the same author who devised a code book
>containing "Have found Lost City of Atlantis. High Priest has
>just won quoits contest"?
>
>I think the example you cited WOULD be in any code-book devised
>by rulers on the Discworld, especially Verence or Vetinari.
>
According to Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, Discworld naval signals have a code for
"ship invaded by strange creatures in a metal saucer, am abandoning lunch."

Stuart Painting

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Jun 23, 2002, 1:35:00 PM6/23/02