Here's a review from WOSSNAME that's nicer than the one in Discworld Monthly:
12) A NOT VERY SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING PTERRY:
The Unofficial Companion to the Novels of Terry Pratchett
Reviewed by Annie Mac
"Ohh noes! It's another Pratchett compendium! And I bet they forgot
to mention *this* and they didn't give enough credit to *that* and
what do we need another book for when we already have the Discworld
Companion and the Annotated Pratchett File and and and..."
Yes, it's another Pratchett compendium. But it certainly deserves
to exist. And I like it.
It's a labour of love -- lot of labour, and a whole lotta love.
Compiler/editor Andrew Butler, who also co-edited Terry Pratchett:
Guilty of Literature, has obviously devoted a Librarian-worthy
(oook!) amount of time and care to creating this ambitious reference
work, and a team of eleven writers, academicians and general Pterry-
nuts have also contributed greatly to the content.
There are plenty of Discworld and general Pratchett fans who can
confidently -- and correctly -- answer, at parties, every question
every compiler of a Wyrdest Link-type trivia game could possibly
come up with, but Andrew Butler and his co-researchers have
*actually taken the time to write things down*. A myriad of things.
Useful things, interesting things, thought-provoking things, not-a
-lot-of- people-know-that things, and all of it covering or relevant
to Terry Pratchett's entire oeuvre. All the novels are here, not
only Discworld ones but also the Bromeliad series, the Johnny
Maxwell Series, Good Omens, the Unadulterated Cat, etc.; all the
well-known and lesser-known short stories, from The Sea and Little
Fishes to Hollywood Chickens to Turntables of the Night, plus the
collected odds and sods of Pterry's other work such as magazine
pieces; not to mention the Science of Discworld novels, the Mapp
books, the artwork collections, the audio versions, the animated
versions, the stage versions, the screen versions...it's an
impressive collection, and it has a good heart. What's not to like?
While the Discworld Companion (and its updated edition) might offer
a greater number of entries about various characters, places,
philosophies and whatnot, these only cover the Discworld novels.
While the online Annotated Pratchett File might offer masses of
fine-ground explanations for every little detail of so many of the
novels, you can't hold it in your hands and turn the pages at will.
The Unofficial Companion, in my opinion, goes a long way toward
filling that gap. In its pages you'll find biographies of vital
members of Team Pterry (e.g. Stewart and Cohen, Kirby and Kidby,
Stephen Briggs, Colin Smythe et al), essays on important themes,
history, sociology and the like in Pratchett's work (e.g. religion,
feminism, politics), and entries on other relevant or influential
works of popular culture such as the Carry On farces, Hollywood
comedies, and the novels of Neil Gaiman, Fritz Leiber, Robert
Sheckley and Douglas Adams, to name but a few. There are also a fair
number of illustrations and even photographs of Discworld fans at
play -- the one of the self-titled Silver Horde is remarkably, um,
authentic -- and there's a selected bibliography.
However, any home-grown reference work -- where "home-grown" means
"lacking the vast fact-checking infrastructure of, say, the
Encyclopaedia Britannica" -- will have its flaws, and the Unofficial
Companion is no exception. Just to give an example: the entry on
Susan Sto Helit describes her as having a white streak in her hair
(and references Elsa Lanchester's Bride of Frankenstein film
character), and also claims, "In theory she is now the Duchess of
Sto Helit, but this has not been mentioned." Um, that would be a no.
Susan -- as we all know -- has a *black* streak in her otherwise
white hair (the Bride in reverse, as it were), and has indeed been
identified as hereditary nobility, e.g. on page 9 of the Gollancz
hardcover of Hogfather:"The only tricky bit had been when her
employer found out that she was a duchess, because...the upper crust
wasn't supposed to work." My relentless proofreader's eye unearthed
other banjaxes, but Susan is a major character in the Discworld
series and thus deserves the highest standard of information-
checking. It's to be hoped that glitches such as these will have
been caught and corrected by the time the Unofficial Companion goes
My only other nit-pick is that, as with the Discworld Companion, the
Unofficial Companion lacks an index of entries. Note to the
Assembled Pterry Reference Works Brigade: some of us would like to
be able to check in the back to see if there's an entry for, say,
commemorative Quirm cabbage stamps before launching into a search
through every letter that might have something relating to such an
Large (over 450 pages), sweeping in scope (Lu-Tze would be proud)
and reasonably priced (trust me on this), An Unofficial Companion to
the Novels of Terry Pratchett belongs on the bookshelf of any true
Pratchett aficionado, and will be available for purchase early in
the new year.
(This is a review of the proofs, which lack the index and other front and back matter)