I spent 28 apparently forlorn years without reading any Terry Pratchett outside of Good Omens. One month ago, my book club was reading his The Wee Free Men. And just like that, I was an acolyte. A convert.
Which doesn't necessarily make Discworld an easy candidate for an Iconography episode. How does one map onto our world a fantasy world that rides around on the back of a turtle, where there is no London or England - or, to be more precise, where those places exist, but only in a magicless round world that’s kept in a glass sphere at Unseen University?
I went to the HisWorld exhibition at the Salisbury Museum to find out.
Here's the outfit referenced in the episode: "Black cane, with a silver head - literally a head, the head of his most famous character Death. Black satchel bag, black T-Shirt, black leather jacket, and crowning it all, the piece de resistance, the black Louisiana fedora. The cane and fedora, joining his round spectacles and white beard, would put one in mind of John Hammond, a kindly old dreamer with a twinkle in his eye. But this was John Hammond taking fashion tips from Ian Malcolm; be old-fashioned, fine… but spice it up with some darkness and danger."
The label below the mannequin reads in part: “I don’t become a real person with the hat on. I become an unreal person with the hat on. It’s tough under there, sometimes the hat has to come off. The hat is an antidisguise.”
In the same room, there's a reconstruction of Terry Pratchett's study: "The centerpiece of the exhibition, even more alluring then the mannequin in Terry’s clothes, is the full reconstruction of Terry’s office, with his old desk topped with six screens. Every once in a while, an invisible Terry Pratchett types a few paragraphs about Sam Vimes or plays Doom while emails from Neil pop up, and you can feel everyone in the room inhale. It almost feels like he’s there."
The walls of the HisWorld exhibition were gilded with fantastic art from Josh Kirby, Paul Kidby, and even Pratchett himself. These drawings of Tiffany Aching are from Paul Kidby.
In the same room, the famous hard drive (recently steamrolled) containing Terry's manuscripts is on display, as well as Paul Kidby's Pratchett bust, part of his work on the 7 ft.-tool Terry Pratchett statue that will soon be in Salisbury.
There's plenty of humor in the exhibition (as one would expect), but nothing made me chuckle more then a detail I caught on the way out - a Nac Mac Feegle in the donations box, eagerly awaiting your contribution.