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Caravel Forum : Caravel Boards : The Illumination : Why Beethro Can't be British (Our news for July.)
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ErikH2000
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I miss Douglas Adams. Never met the guy, but it sure feels like I did. Do you know what I mean? Like it seems you could run into Douglas Adams in a pub and waste several enjoyable hours talking drunkenly about evolution, interactive fiction, sheep farming, or whatever. And I guess what I really miss are his books, which somehow create this feeling of a friendly, witty guy talking directly to me about geeky things. An Adams' book is always good company.

There are a number of "British Humour" sources that share characteristics of Adams' writing--Monty Python, Black Adder, Red Dwarf, and others. If you were going to make a British Humour drinking game, the list of cues might go something like this:

* A character is about to be killed, but is more interested in something trivial like the location of a misplaced toenail clipping.
* A purely random object is inserted into the dialogue, i.e. "an orangutan in formalwear"
* Extra swig for each additional irrelevant detail added to the random object, i.e. "a slightly disgruntled orangutan in ill-fitting formalwear which was improperly sized by his tailor due to the fact that several Swahilian anarchists, on a northerly jaunt through Devonshire..." and so on and so on, with no enforced limitations on when it should ever stop.
* A character is remarkably sane or intelligent in contrast to an entire world of flailing imbeciles.
* A character is unexpectedly involved with transcendental issues in contrast to his exaggerated ordinariness. A pot of petunias is more likely to expound on nihilism than the chair of a philosophy department. The latter is more likely to throw the pot of petunias at a passing ice cream truck, driven by a slightly disgruntled orangutan in ill-fitting formalwear, which was...
* Any obvious goal will never be reached. That would be too obvious. A happy ending? A sad ending? It will be something weirdly in between. Like a giant "meh".
* A manly guy dresses up in drag and sings a song.

Having such an appreciation for British Humour (yes, I will continue to put the extra "u" in), I've been tempted many times to Britishize Beethro in the DROD stories. And in fact, some of the stories I wrote about Beethro prior to the release of DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold have him slipping into the part. When Beethro was asked about a blue letter from King Dugan he replied in Black Adderly fashion:

"Basically, it will be some sort of fundraising scam. Now that Parliament has voted away the Royal Tax, Dugan's scrambling to keep his loot. His scheme is to make every dumb little event at the castle into a Royal Cermony with guests who pay to see it. He wants me to drop a hundred greckles or so to attend the Making of the Beds. Or the Polishing of the Shoes or the Plumbing of the Loo. That's all it is."

Not too bad, but it feels like I'm borrowing too much from the other side of the Atlantic. It's okay to work inside of an existing style of writing, but I'm afraid it won't ring true in the long run. Why? Because I'm American. Not in a chest-beating, flag-waving, guns-and-glory way. No, it's more subtle and inescapable. Americans like to win, and I can't be responsible for a main character that isn't heavily motivated to do something, even if it's stupid. Beethro can't just make witty detached remarks about the lunacy of his world, he has to change it. Americans like simple solutions to complex problems. Sometimes they are unbelievably and unforgivably wrong (I am thinking of world politics, but I won't jump into that mess). But at the heart of our worst mistakes is a guy that insists he can replace his car's transmission by himself, professional mechanics be damned. The triumphs of the simple-solvers are few, but when they come around, victory is sweet. And there are some problems that are so complex, that only someone with the will to blunder semi-blind through them will ever make any progress.

This is exactly the kind of problem that Beethro will be asked to solve in The City Beneath. We will see if he is the right man for the job. If we put Arthur Dent up against the Rooted Empire he'd wander aimlessly through random situations mainly concerned about finding a proper cup of tea. Edmund Blackadder would take an underling position with the DAA to give him endless opportunities for making his bitter, little jokes. Dave Lister would mainly just lay around drinking leafjuice and composing bad guitar songs. So clearly, we can't have some loserly British guy meandering around the Great Beneath. It must be somebody just a little bit dumb, but very determined. It must be an American.

It's better for British people to write British Humour, I think. Or if you aren't British, you better feel your Inner Limey pretty strong before you start inserting those extra "u"'s and replacing "z"'s with "s"'s. Anyhow, I am still left with a concrete problem: Douglas Adams has stopped writing books. You share the same problem too, since there's a finite selection of Adams' material to read, and it will not be extended. If you're like me, you've already read all of his books at least four times, and pine for some new Adamsesque material. Maybe you'd accept something from a different author that replicates the style and theme of Adams exceptionally well. We've already established that author won't be me. But it could be...

An Australian Guy Named Alan

Australians are British, right? Hey, as long as they got that Union Jack flying above 'em, they're Brits to me!

Alan Marshall of Posthuman Enterprizes mailed me his four-part audio drama, This Pointless Thing Called Life. I listened to the CDs while I was drawing up portraits of new characters in The City Beneath, and was heartily amused. It seems that Alan is consciously paying tribute to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The main character is again concerned about finding the Meaning of Life, although she goes about it in a different way. It's set in a future world full of aliens, robots, and humans that act inhumanly insane. The randomish events that happen to the characters might have been inserted as lost chapters into the The Salmon of Doubt without causing suspicion. "That's fine and well," you say in your curmudgeonly fashion, "but it sounds almost too derivative. Is this all just a big boring rehash? Is this plagiarism?"

No, no, no. The style and theme are strikingly similar, and an occasional nod is made to Adams' work, but the material is fresh and has plenty to offer in the way of new ideas. For example, in Pointless there is a market for brain tissue, and people pay for certain things by pulling out chunks of grey matter in a casual way. Learning is accomplished with chemical injections. A powerful University is responsible for... oh, I can't give that away. Look, just trust me--it's original and worthwhile.

With a quickness, I contacted Alan Marshall and licensed all two hours of the show. So we will be including all four parts on the next four Smitemaster's Selection CDs. I think that makes this a spectacularly good time to put in an order for the...

Summer 2006 Smitemaster's Selection

Work is well underway for the next Smitemaster's Selection. No, it isn't here yet, but I am giving you advance warning so that you can get the CDs which, as you may already know, can only be pre-ordered. Or if you like, you can just set up a subscription to receive them, but that's just another form of pre-ordering. The next issue's CD is going to have two level collections (holds) on it:

* Master Locks, a hold by Larry Murk, which I believe will come with two separate difficulty levels--expert and intermediate.
* Smitemastery 101, a hold by Jacob Grinfeld that is designed for kids 8-12, and perhaps as a guilty pleasure for the genius who wants to give his overheating brain a break.

We heard all the complaints about Smitemaster's Selections being too hard, and the Summer issue will be our attempt to ease up a little. Also on this disc, we will have:

* Sci-fi audio dramas: the final episode of the Shadowman Saga, and the first episode of This Pointless Thing Called Life.
* Recorded interviews: One long audio interview with Erik Hermansen (me) and one with Joe Lieberman, the marketing guy that writes our press releases.
* Indie game stuff: a hilarious video newscast plus a ton of demos for new indie games that hit the market since last issue.

A Secret Offer for people reading this by e-mail: This secret offer can't be revealed publicly on our website, so its text has been omitted here. It was only sent to people who receive the Illumination by e-mail. We've had some secret offers like this so far, and there will be more, so getting the Illumination once each month by e-mail is recommended. If you've got a Caravel Forum account, you can change settings in your profile to receive it. There is also a sign-up form at the top of caravelgames.com.

So that special offer combined with getting all four parts of This Pointless Thing Called Life is pretty compelling, eh? Eh? >>nudge<< >>pinch<<

Smitemaster's Selection ordering and other information

And You Can Download the Things Too

If you missed past Smitemaster's Selections, you can't really get the CDs that I go on about, because they are mostly gone. But you can still get the level collections (holds) that came with them. We recently made them individually downloadable. I'm not going to elaborate too much on this, since I already spent a lot of breath on other stuff. But basically you can get downloadable access to the older holds by buying credits at the link below, if you want:

ordering individual level collections

The Story of You

Does it seem like I talk too much about myself and what's on my agenda? Hey, get off my case, buddy! You guys were all sitting around staring at the ceiling before I showed up and became the life of the party. So if you've got something brilliant to talk about in your own life, then why don't you just stand and deliver? Go ahead. Open your mouth and entertain us.

Our July contest allows you to do exactly that. Tell a story about something that really happened to you using DROD levels. There's still time for you to get involved. Entries need to be submitted by July 20th.

contest info

UrAvgAzn is Surprisingly Respectable

I admit, I judge newcomers by their chosen handles. And anything unpronounceable with mixed caps sets me on guard for obnoxious pre-teen nerdboys. But Jeremy is okay. He's better than okay even. Since he arrived on the forum in April, he's been a powerhouse of contribution. To the end of his every post he adds "Keep posting," to rally the masses. That's the spirit! He made a list of Architecture projects, a forum scavenger hunt contest, an avatar for Zex, and an entry for Pilchard VIII's hold art competition. I'm not saying he's up at that same level yet with guys like Patrick Fisher and Wesley Chua, but for a new guy, he sure has helped the forum a lot.

I'm giving UrAvgAzn a cautious 100 mod points and then 50 rank points. One extra day of CaravelNet membership. My main problem with him is that his handle looks like he text-messages into the forum, but someday I will let that bias go.

b0rsuk is Suprisingly Bristly

So Jeremy is an upbeat guy. Should we all be upbeat? Gads, no. We'd get sick of that pretty quick. You need some darker personalities around to balance it out. This is where b0rsuk comes in. He dug himself a dirty little hole in our forum and burrowed in. If you go too close to it, he'll snarl at you, so just let him be! And don't try buttering him up with rank or mod points. Does b0rsuk care about that crap? No way. Badgers only care about badgerly things, like chewing ugly holes in shrinkwrapped boxes of proprietery software.

For b0rsuk, I will not dual-partition my Linux box to install Windows Vista on it. In fact, for b0rsuk, I will put off installing that particular piece of software until at least 2007. And when I do finally install it, no doubt because I need it for testing DROD's compatibility, I will apologize to b0rsuk for the tragic event.

Topic Picks for July

I skipped topic picks for June because the Tide of Chaos was threatening to engulf us all. As a result, I was slightly less engulfed, but still got that black sticky gunk all over my shoes.

Physics of the Eighth
Coppro posits a theory of how the pie-shaped topology of the Eighth can work. Break open a fresh box of chalk for this one.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=11006

Are You Sick of Indie Game Developers Yet?
I went to the Seattle Casuality conference for developers of casual games. And some guy paid for dinner, which made it all worthwhile.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=10962

L M N O, Pitways, Beethro the Space Commander: 3 in 1, GO4IT, The Land of Sand, Lone Soldier
These are all the new holds (level collections) that have been released since the last newsletter. Larry Murk drops another high-rated hold on us like he has an endless supply of them in his cupboard.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewboard.php?BoardID=11

Looking for a Mac guy
We have a job posting for a C++ Mac programmer. Are you one? Have a look!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=10995

Elite Puzzlesolving Team Forming
TripleM is encouraging DROD players to join his team for an online puzzle game called "Grey Labyrinth".
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=11008

The Most Hate-able Villian of Them All
Which game villian do you hate so much that your teeth turn in their sockets?
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=10937

Find It on the Forum
UrAvgAzn has organized a hunt for things which appear on the forum, i.e. "a Hold with 370 monsters". As I write this, there are four unfound items left.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=11026

Games For Which a Computer is Not Needed
Before there were computers, people were still able to play games. Those games just weren't very good.
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=11019

The Microsoftening
It's happening again. Minions of Gates are bringing unto you the evil of Treacherous Computing. OMGOMGOMG!
http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=10993

Don't anyone ask me how long these things take to write. I will start crying, and it will be awkward for you.

-Erik

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[Last edited by mrimer at 05-18-2008 04:42 AM]
07-07-2006 at 10:47 PM
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bradwall
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quote:

I'm giving UrAvgAzn a cautious 100 mod points and then 50 rank points.



Congrats, UrAvgAzn!
07-07-2006 at 11:09 PM
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Elfstone
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quote:
Australians are British, right?


:lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol

(actually I'm not British either :D )


Elfscottishtone

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07-07-2006 at 11:09 PM
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bradwall
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quote:
Elfstone wrote:
Australians are British, right?


I believe you were thinking about Canadians
:D

I am actually not British, Australian, or Canadian.

[Last edited by bradwall at 07-07-2006 11:13 PM]
07-07-2006 at 11:11 PM
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ErikH2000
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Doh. I forgot to include a link to Alan Marshall's site. It is...

http://www.this-pointless-thing-called-life.com

There's a sample clip there of the audio drama I was raving about.

-Erik

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07-07-2006 at 11:34 PM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Elfstone wrote:
quote:
Australians are British, right?


:lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol :lol

Well the Queen could sack their whole parliament whenever she wanted. I'm telling you, Australia is just an extension of the UK! Canada isn't nearly as British except for Victoria, B. C. which maybe tries too hard to be British.

Trust me. I am an expert on the Britishness of things. I can tell you, for example, that Brad Wall is absolutely not British.

-Erik

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07-07-2006 at 11:40 PM
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bradwall
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quote:
I can tell you, for example, that Brad Wall is absolutely not British.


Crap... my cover is blown.

Does it count that I have British ancestors???
07-07-2006 at 11:44 PM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
bradwall wrote:
Does it count that I have British ancestors???

I'm sorry, Brad, but you live in the country of Utah. Nothing could be less British.

-Erik

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07-07-2006 at 11:48 PM
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Chaco
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I'm pretty good at British detection too. For example, cars are American, while automobiles are British. Coffee is American, while tea is British.

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07-07-2006 at 11:48 PM
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bradwall
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
quote:
bradwall wrote:
Does it count that I have British ancestors???

I'm sorry, Brad, but you live in the country of Utah. Nothing could be less British.

-Erik


Wait... you mean to tell me that British isn't in Utah?
Man, I am living in a bubble. Well... it can't be all that bad. The state of Provo gives us a bad wrap (sorry Mike).


Ok, in all reality, you shut me down pretty good... I must give you a point for that one.
07-07-2006 at 11:55 PM
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British people are great. I love serving British people who come through the store that I work at - all of them are polite, and the fact that they say "Cheers" instead of "Thanks" makes them cool.

And yes, I'd believe that Australians are an extension of UK. I had an Australian tourist come once, and everyone thought she was British (She has having problems with her bank card, and the first thing I say was "Is that a British card?". Heh....never assume). Still, very friendly and a great conversationalist.

Sigh.... I want to go to Australia someday.

Edit: About the whole Windows Vista thing - I'd almost be shocked if Vista was officially released in 1H 2007. It'll still be at least a year in my mind, knowing where Beta 2's current stability and feature list is at.

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[Last edited by gamer_extreme_101 at 07-08-2006 12:02 AM]
07-07-2006 at 11:59 PM
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coppro
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Things I've learned so far in life and the DROD forums (The two are mutally exclusive):

A great way to get mentioned is to start a controversy.
DROD is fun.
TCB will be better.
Math.

But us Canadians, we get to laugh at the British because their humour (OMG a 'u') is good, we get to laugh at the Americans because they are dumb in that nice way Erik mentioned, and we get to laugh at ourselves because we are really great at electing morons into office (Must... not... mention... Bush), and because our political satire shows are really funny. So Canada's a good place to be, because with the mass of different environments and influences, it's hard for us to create a single cultural identity! Unless that's a bad thing. In which case we just laugh again.

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07-08-2006 at 12:04 AM
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Beef Row
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Maybe you'd accept something from a different author that replicates the style and theme of Adams exceptionally well. We've already established that author won't be me.



Another Brit who writes in a similar idiom to Douglas Adams is Terry Pratchett. I can't recommend him enough. However, he doesn't have the same geek level. But his characters are absolutely brilliant, and his stories more driven by them, so its a fair trade. I believe he started writing before Adams, as well, so there isn't any 'oh, well he's just imitating him' issue.

quote:

* Master Locks, a hold by Larry Murk, which I believe will come with two separate difficulty levels--expert and intermediate.



I thought I saw somewhere else this was going to be called Journey's End, and be a direct setup/prelude for TCB.. did this change?

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07-08-2006 at 04:39 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Beef Row wrote:
I thought I saw somewhere else this was going to be called Journey's End, and be a direct setup/prelude for TCB.. did this change?

I'm not perfectly set on any name right now. I did write "Journey's End" on the Smitemaster's Selection page. Yes, Master Locks will leave Beethro just before The City Beneath as far as story goes.

-Erik

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07-08-2006 at 05:46 AM
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Just a quick aside... For some strange reason, my Caravelnet News email got sniped by Yahoo's spamblocker this month. It's never happened before, and I noticed long before it was in danger of being lost to the spamshredder, but... Odd, to say the least.

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07-08-2006 at 06:32 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
Hikari wrote:
Just a quick aside... For some strange reason, my Caravelnet News email got sniped by Yahoo's spamblocker this month. It's never happened before, and I noticed long before it was in danger of being lost to the spamshredder, but... Odd, to say the least.

It's not that strange, really. We get classified as spam all the time. On Yahoo, you can mark the message as "not spam" and that helps. On Hotmail and some other clients, you can add "@caravelgames.com" to a "safe list" or "white list".

-Erik

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07-08-2006 at 07:26 AM
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
It's not that strange, really. We get classified as spam all the time. On Yahoo, you can mark the message as "not spam" and that helps. On Hotmail and some other clients, you can add "@caravelgames.com" to a "safe list" or "white list".

-Erik


Yeah, I know that much ;) I was just referring to the oddness of it happening when it's never happened before. I've gotten email versions of every Illumination back to February, and numerous CaravelNet keys once upon a time, and nothing ever went to spam before this month's Illumination. Wasn't sure if you did something strange or not.

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07-08-2006 at 07:47 AM
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The way I play the game, Beethro has a lot in common with Tommy Cooper! - John

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07-08-2006 at 08:22 AM
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quote:
bradwall wrote:The state of Provo gives us a bad wrap
Is Provo what comes before Aggro?
07-08-2006 at 09:37 AM
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As British as you think Australians are, we were way more British before Whitlam. As it is, the Americans think we're British and the British would think we're American if we didn't keep going over there and being deliberately Australian to them. As it is, they think we're boorish like Americans, so maybe that's how it is after all.

Again, like Americans, Australians abroad are nothing like Australians back home. Australians (and Americans) on their home turf are lovely people, it's the backpackers you have to watch out for/defend yourself from with a frying pan.

Erik's love for all things Douglas Adamsy sounding has played right into my hands on many an occasion.

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07-08-2006 at 09:38 AM
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quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Or if you aren't British, you better feel your Inner Limey pretty strong before you start inserting those extra "u"'s and replacing "z"'s with "s"'s.
I beg to differ. I'm a South African, definitely not British (thank goodness ;) ), yet I was taught not to leave out half the letters in words like "colour", "fuelled" and "doughnut", and use "s" instead of "z".
AFAIK, most countries outside the US use the British spelling. Mind you, the Internet seems to be causing a situation where the US spelling is more and more becoming the norm among youngsters, wherever they are from. (Not to mention "spellings" like "cul8r", but that's another matter.)
07-08-2006 at 10:04 AM
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Niccus
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On that thought, I cringed after imagining an alternate universe's Beethro's Myspace page.
07-08-2006 at 10:09 AM
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Elfstone
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Odd thing this concept of ‘nationality’. I suspect most of the contributors to this thread would see/think of me as ‘British’ and yet I would vehemently deny that. I think ‘Britishness’ is something that (forgive me) foreigners see and often equates with ‘Englishness’.

Now as far as Beethro is concerned, I cannot see him, ever, as English, but Scottish? That would suit him right down to the ground!

After all, it is a claymore he is wielding and don’t you think he would look splendid in a kilt? (Commando of course!!!!!) :blink :shock :eek :yikes :whistle O:-

;)

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07-08-2006 at 10:28 AM
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Briareos
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quote:
Beef Row wrote:
quote:
ErikH2000 wrote:
Maybe you'd accept something from a different author that replicates the style and theme of Adams exceptionally well. We've already established that author won't be me.


Another Brit who writes in a similar idiom to Douglas Adams is Terry Pratchett. I can't recommend him enough. However, he doesn't have the same geek level. But his characters are absolutely brilliant, and his stories more driven by them, so its a fair trade. I believe he started writing before Adams, as well, so there isn't any 'oh, well he's just imitating him' issue.

Heh. If you hadn't posted this I would have... so, yeah, I'd very much recommend his books to you, Eric (well, and probably anyone else, really...), as I would recommend "Fawlty Towers" (which comes in a manageable serving of 12 episodes) as a great example of British TV comedy...

(Oh, and maybe start with "Going Postal" as far as Pratchett goes - it's not so intricately connected to the grand story as other Discworld books are and it's quite geeky, at least on the telecommunication level... :lol)

np: Giardini Di Miró - Little Cesar (North Atlantic Treaty Of Love)

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[Last edited by Briareos at 07-08-2006 11:07 AM]
07-08-2006 at 11:06 AM
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Beef Row
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quote:
Briareos wrote:
(Oh, and maybe start with "Going Postal" as far as Pratchett goes - it's not so intricately connected to the grand story as other Discworld books are and it's quite geeky, at least on the telecommunication level... :lol)



Heh, another two stand-alones with good geek credibility would be Pyramids (Quantum Mechanics, 'pyramid power', Egyptology, etc) and Small Gods (religion, philosophy, ethics, where they meet and where they part ways).

There's also a set of science books Terry Pratchett co-authored with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, covering (I think) physics, history and evolution. I haven't had a chance to look at these, so I can't recommend them exactly, but how could it go wrong?

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07-08-2006 at 11:25 AM
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Mattcrampy
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I'd also go so far as to say that the three Pratchett books mentioned are his best. Apart from Good Omens.

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07-08-2006 at 11:28 AM
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Briareos
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Mattcrampy wrote:
I'd also go so far as to say that the three Pratchett books mentioned are his best. Apart from Good Omens.

I'd add Monstrous Regiment to that, a (light-hearted) send-off on gender equality (or lack thereof)...

np: Clint Mansell ft. Kronos Quartet - Hope Overture (Requiem For A Dream OST)

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07-08-2006 at 11:44 AM
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Ezlo
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About the secret offer. Are we allowed to ask questions about it here? Or in e-mail?
07-08-2006 at 01:49 PM
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Banjooie
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Well, Beethro /is/ very American. Listen to his accent.
07-08-2006 at 04:43 PM
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Oneiromancer
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quote:
Briareos wrote:
quote:
Mattcrampy wrote:
I'd also go so far as to say that the three Pratchett books mentioned are his best. Apart from Good Omens.

I'd add Monstrous Regiment to that, a (light-hearted) send-off on gender equality (or lack thereof)...

I generally give Small Gods to anyone I want to get into Pratchett. That and Soul Music are my two favorites of his, although I also have a soft spot for The Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky.

Game on,

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07-08-2006 at 05:03 PM
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