Since 1996 I have kept everybody waiting for a new release of the APF (version 9.0, internal codename: the Pointless Albatross release). Real life kept interfering, and year after year passed without anything happening.
I did do large amounts of work behind the scenes, but there was never enough time to take things all the way, to fully research and edit the raw material, to wrap everything up into something releasable. Worse, it didn’t look as if this situation was going to change. The time had come for me to face reality, and either give up entirely, or else make some radical changes to the way I had been approaching the job of editing and releasing the APF. I decided to change, and you are now looking at the results.
The first major change is that I have abandoned the concept of releasing only complete updates to the Annotated Pratchett File, in which all of the annotation sections for all of the books are fully updated. From now on, the APF will be updated incrementally: book-by-book, section-by-section, and sometimes even annotation-by-annotation. There will, eventually, be a version 9.0, a proper “stable release”, but until that happens the intermediate stages on the 7a.5 “development branch” will be available for public viewing.
The second major change is that I have abandoned the concept of doing the entire core researching/editing job by myself without outside help. From now on, I will share that job with Mike Kew, a.k.a. Miq—a name that should be familiar and welcome to all alt.books.pratchett and alt.fan.pratchett readers. Mike and I will be able to work in parallel on different stages of the editing process, and as a result progress can be made even if one of us is occupied with other commitments.
What has changed in version 7a.5? The single most important change is that we have added 204 new annotations (well over 1500 lines of text), finally bringing Feet of Clay and Hogfather into the domain of annotated books.
The rest of the Annotated Pratchett File has stayed mostly the same, except for the occasional rewritten section (such as this Preface). This also implies that some of the unchanged bits have now become outdated, because they still refer to the situation of the previous 7a.0 release. That is one of the disadvantages of going public with a development version: perfectionism has to take a back seat to pragmatism, and loose ends will dangle visibly until they get tied up.
In the same vein, the new annotations have not been proofread (yet) by my usual team of APF proofreaders, they only cover a period of e-mail submissions and afp logs from July 1996 until December 1998, and v7a.5 will only be available as ASCII text and on the L-Space Web, not in any of the other formats (PostScript, MS Word) that v7a.0 was released in.
I can only hope that finally being able to read new APF annotations for the first time in four years will be enough make up for such occasional rough edges.
Delft, Hogswatch 2000
[Note: This section was written for APF v7a.0, and has not yet been updated for APF v7a.5.]
You are now about to read the 7a-th edition (the 8th, really, but since this is the Discworld I’m not taking any chances...) of the Annotated Pratchett File, or APF for short.
One of the most popular pastimes on the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.pratchett has always been discussing the many jokes, parodies and references that Terry Pratchett puts into his novels.
Since, as Terry once put it, “alt.fan.pratchett as an entity has the attention span of a butterfly on cocaine” it quickly became apparent that it would be a good idea to distil some of these discussions into something with a little more persistence and staying power than individual Usenet articles. So the Annotated Pratchett File was born, and (because I was brave/foolish enough to volunteer) I became its editor.
The structure of the file is straightforward, with the books divided into two large groups: the Discworld related books, and all the other ones. Per book, the annotations are sorted in ascending page order. For each annotation I supply two page numbers: the first number is that of the paperback (usually the UK Corgi edition), the second number that of the hardcover (usually the UK Gollancz edition). Use these numbers as a rough guide for finding an annotation in your own particular edition of the book.
Each annotation is also prefixed by either a ‘+’, denoting an annotation that is new or has been significantly updated in this version of the APF, or a ‘-‘, denoting an unchanged older annotation. This is handy for long-time readers who quickly want to scan for the new stuff.
The APF incorporates, in this edition even more than before, passages from articles that Terry himself has posted to alt.fan.pratchett. As an active contributor to the group, he often provides us with inside information on many aspects of his writing, and it would be a waste to let this first-hand knowledge just disappear into the vacuum of Usenet history.
The file ends with an editorial section, where various nuts & bolts of the APF editing process are discussed, and information is given to help you obtain the most recent version of the APF in whatever format you prefer.
One particular piece of information is so important I am putting it here rather than at the end, and that is the address to write to if you have any suggestions, questions, corrections, or new annotations—without the enthusiastic reactions and input from its readers, the APF would never have survived. So please mail all your feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and look for your contribution in the next edition. I will now leave you to the annotations, and end this introduction with a thought that is a bit of a cliché but nonetheless true: I hope you will enjoy reading the APF as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.