Wot's that, then?
alt.fan.pratchett is the internet newsgroup for fans of Terry Pratchett.
Yes, but who's Terry Pratchett?
Ah, we're going to have to start there, are we? Righty-ho...
Terry Pratchett is the
most shoplifted best-selling author of the Discworld comic
fantasy novels, (25 and counting). The Discworld is flat, and floats through
space on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle.
But this is largely irrelevant, as the Diskworld is first and foremost
a state of mind.
The early books were a satire of the classic, Tolkeinesque fantasy universe,
imbuing the heroic swords-and-sorcery saga with a totally non-heroic real
world common sense. As the Diskworld has come more and more to reflect the
real world, however, so the emphasis has shifted to using the fantasy
universe to satirize real life.
Besides the Discworld series, Pratchett is also the author of the Nomes trilogy and the Johnny Maxwell trilogy (both for younger readers, at least in theory), Strata and The Dark Side Of The Sun (two pre-Discworld straight science-fiction novels), The Unadulterated Cat, and - with Neil Gaiman - Good Omens.
Here's a picture of Terry with the dedication which he has just not signed in my copy of The Last Hero. (Reading, Nov 2001)
Stephen "CMOT" Briggs became involved with the Discworld after adapting one of the books for his amateur dramatics society. Since then several of his adaptations have been published, and he has collaborated with Terry in designing the Discworld Mappes and compiling The Discworld Companion. He also produces his own range of Discworld merchandise, largely for AFP.
Founded by Bernard "The Cunning Artificer" and Isobel Pearson, and now run by Elton Murphy, ClareCraft are the makers of the Discworld figurines. They are also the organisers of CCDE, the ClareCraft Discworld Event, (see below).
Within Pterry's wider readership there is a hardcore of dedicated fans, many of whom can be found on the internet newsgroup alt.fan.pratchett. Newcomers to the group are often puzzled to find very little actual Pratchett-related activity there. This is because it's really an opportunity for fans to meet other fans. Or - to quote the standard metaphor - it doesn't resemble a fan club so much as a pub where an awful lot of fans happen to hang out. Pratchett fandom brings together a diversity of people who share a similar sense of humour, and often a similar sense of values, and AFP provides a forum for them to discover and discuss things of common interest. This provides a pretty wide basis for subject matter, ranging from the sublimely stupid to the deadly serious, (or indeed vice versa), and it's a little difficult to know what counts as on-topic unless you've hung around for long enough to get a feel for it.
Actual Pratchett content does happen, of course, (greeted with many cheerful cries of "Aaarrgh! Relevance!") but if that's all you're interested in you'll be better off in alt.books.pratchett.
The official home of alt.fan.pratchett, the L-Space web is a Terry Pratchett site run by & for fans. Contains all you need to know about the man and his works, plus details of fan activity, including meets, conventions, and filks, (some of which I am guilty of having perpetrated myself).
L-Space also provides servers for IRC, (Internet Relay Chat), whereon many of the AFP regulars hang out from time to time. A brief guide to the L-Space IRC channels can be found here, while a gallery of some of the culpritsparticipants can be found here.
After a.f.p. had been going for some time, people started to wonder what these other people they'd made friends with online were like in person. And so they began to organise meets. These quickly became an established tradition, and more information about them can be found here.
Usually a meet involves a handful of people from a given area meeting in a pub or restaurant. Larger meets have been known to involve people from more distant places, and in extreme cases entirely different countries. But for some even this was not enough, and so, inevitably, it started to get out of hand:
The ClareCraft Diskworld Event was held in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005. Several hundred people - many of them afpers - converge on a farm and camp out for a weekend. During that time they get to meet up with friends both old and new, drink lots, buy unpainted ClareCraft figurines and paint them themselves, meet Pterry, drink lots, sing questionable songs, and just generally have a good time.
Sadly, ClareCraft is now closing its doors, and the 2005 event was therefore the last. But fandom being what it is this situation could not be allowed to persist, and plans for a new Diskworld Event to fill the vacuum are already in the works.
The Discworld Convention is much the same, except it doesn't have the figurine painting and doesn't involve camping because it happens in a hotel. The first convention, in 1996, was initially proposed as a meet for maybe 40 afpers. It ended up as a convention for 800 people. Having been pronounced a great success by all present it was repeated in 1998, and 2002: A Diskworld Odyssey - which by coincidence marks the tenth anniversary of a.f.p. - has now been and gone, and was pronounced a great success by all.
My a.f.p. photos page was getting unwieldy, and therefore has now been split into two separate pages; one for AFP Meets, and one for major AFP Events, ie. the Conventions and CCDEs. Includes the 2002 Convention, and most recent updates from the November Notts meet and a handful of pics from the London meet in December.
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