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The Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Paul Kidby
Victor Gollancz

The Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

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A review by Steven H Silver

The Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001 is more fun than a month full of Octodays. This calendar, which provides a reasonably straightforward collection of days and weeks from January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2001 (with the addition of one unnumbered Octoday each week) provides plenty of room for the user to keep track of important (or even trivial) meetings and appointments. More to the point, it contains background material on the Fools' Guild of Ankh-Morpork.

Scattered throughout the diary on Octodays are illustrations of illustrious guild members, memoranda handed down from Dr. Whiteface, the guildmaster, and excerpts taken from various guild exams.  Dr. Whiteface is the most defined character in the Yearbook, not only described in the introductory notes, but also throughout the weekly notes. The history of the Fools' Guild presented in the Yearbook and Diary is at odds with the history of the Guild presented in The Discworld Companion. In the Companion, the Guild is noted as being founded by Charles Nixon; in the Yearbook, the founder was Jean-Paul Pune.

Nevertheless, the Fools' Guild is one of the less developed guilds in the Discworld novels, thereby leaving plenty of room for Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs to flesh out the guild in the opening pages of the diary where they discuss the guild's history and practices.

The Discworld is a topsy-turvy version of our own world, and the Yearbook is no exception. While the natural inclination would be for the Fools' Guild to be a joyful place, the Ankh-Morpork Fools' Guild is filled with unhappy people hiding behind a clown's face. The yearbook also hints that the real purpose of the fools is not to ridicule and to satirize, but they are actually in a business which may place them in direct conflict with William de Worde (The Truth) at some future date. Interestingly, neither the Yearbook nor the diary mentions the man who is perhaps the most well-known fool on the Discworld: King Verence of Lancre, who spent years in the Fools' Guild before taking his place on the throne of Lancre.

The Discworld Fools' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001 is an interesting and informative addition to the Discworld. The biggest problem the book causes is to force the reader to decide whether to use it for its putatively intended purpose or to save it in pristine condition on the shelf with other Discworld novels.

Copyright © 2000 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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