The Unseen University Challenge
Terry Pratchett's Discworld Quizbook
By David Langford
An SF Gateway eBook: bringing the classics to the future.
University Challenge is one of the world's top quiz shows, enjoyed by millions, both participants and observers. But Discworld fans may feel that not many questions cover the real questions in Life, for example, Who or what could be seen as the inspiration for the near-tragic accident from which nanny Ogg is saved only be a special willow-reinforced hat made for her by Mr Vernissage of Slice? And give a plausible origin for Mrs Rosie Palm, proprietor of the famous House of Negotiable Affection in the Shades.
Each Faculty at the Unseen University has provided a set of questions, and answers are included for those who are not sure how the poisonous effects of quicksilver fumes are an occupational hazard of magic-users.
The questions have been compiled by Mr David Langford, who knows quite as much - and arguably more - about the Discworld as its Creator, and Terry Pratchett has provided an Introduction.
David Langford (1953 - )
David Langford was born in 1953, took an honours degree in physics at Brasenose College, Oxford, worked for several years as a nuclear weapons physicist with the Ministry of Defence, and since 1980 has been a freelance author and editor. He is married, with a happy absence of children, and lives in Reading, Berkshire.
His published books include War in 2080: The Future of Military Technology (nonfiction), An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871 (non-fact UFO spoof), The Space Eater (a science fiction novel), The Leaky Establishment (comedy about nuclear weaponry, reissued in 2001 with an appreciative introduction by Terry Pratchett), Earthdoom! (farcical disaster novel written with John Grant), The Dragonhiker's Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune's Edge: Odyssey Two (SF parody collection), The Silence of the Langford (articles, essays and speeches), and The SEX Column (SFX magazine columns). A fuller list appears on his website at www.ansible.co.uk.
Langford has received many awards for his writing and SF journalism, including British Science Fiction Association Awards for both short fiction and nonfiction, and - twenty-nine times as of 2013 - science fiction's top prize, the Hugo Award.
His association with Terry Pratchett goes back to the early years of Discworld. In 1985 he described The Colour of Magic in his regular White Dwarf book review column as 'one of those horrible, antisocial books which impel the reader to buttonhole friends and quote bits at them.' As a freelance editor, Langford wrote the reader's report recommending Gollancz's publication of Equal Rites, and worked on full-length Discworld novels from the fourth, Mort (1987), to the 2005 Thud!. As a contributor to reference books, he has analysed Pratchett in David Pringle's St James Guide to Fantasy and The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, in the multiple award-winning The Encyclopedia of Fantasy edited by John Clute and John Grant, in his text commentary for Josh Kirby's art book A Cosmic Cornucopia, in an introduction to the millennial collection of academic studies Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature edited by Andrew M. Butler, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, and in the again multi-award-winning third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by himself, John Clute and others.
Langford had probably been fated to write the first official Discworld quizbook The Unseen University Challenge (1996) ever since the 1980s conversation in which he said, 'I know where the name Rincewind comes from ...' and Terry Pratchett replied: 'You bastard!' The inquisition continues in The Wyrdest Link.
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- Publication date:
20 Mar 2014
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