Unseen Academicals
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Unseen Academicals



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Unseen Academicals

Copyright © 2009 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

At least you are certain when you’ve heard a scream. A faint sob is something you have to wait to hear again, because you can’t be sure.
Nutt was young and as such did not have that reverence for age that is had by, mostly, the aged.



The Librarian was not very familiar with love, which had always struck him as a bit ethereal and soppy, but kindness, on the other hand, was practical. You knew where you were with kindness, especially if you were holding a pie it had just given you.

‘She’s got brothers with fists the size of a bull’s arse!’

‘I have read, Mister Trev, that love laughs at locksmiths.’

‘Really? And what does it do when it’s been smacked in the face by a bull’s arse?’

‘The poets are not forthcoming in that respect, Mister Trev.’

‘You two have a history, I think,’ said Nutt.

[...] Yeah, I suppose it was a history. I wanted it to be more of a geography, but she kept slappin’ my hand.’

‘If he was a fool, then any man who has ever climbed a mountain or swum a torrent is a fool. If he was a fool then so was the man who first tried to tame fire. If he was a fool then so was the man who tried the first oyster, he was a fool, too – although I’m bound to remark that, given the division of labour in early hunter-gatherer cultures, he was probably a woman as well. Perhaps only a fool gets out of bed. But, after death, some fools shine like stars, and your father is such a one. After death, people forget the foolishness, but they do remember the shine.’



‘Sometimes people fool themselves into believing things that aren’t true. Sometimes that can be quite dangerous for the person. They see the world in a wrong way. They won’t let themselves see that what they believe is wrong.’



‘Better not use the word “mature” unless you are talking about cheese or wine. Not good to use it for ladies.’



You seldom saw a goddess portrayed as ugly. This probably had something to do with their ability to strike people down instantly.

‘We don’t have shiny jobs with lots of money, but they are real jobs doing things that people need! I’d be ashamed of myself, selling boots at four hundred dollars a go, which only rich people can afford. What’s the point of that?’

‘Well, you must admit that it makes rich people less rich,’ said the chocolate voice of Madame behind her.



‘The free sharing of information is central to the pursuit of natural philosophy.’

‘And so you tell them things, do you?’

Ponder sighed. ‘Yes, of course.’

‘I don’t think I approve of that,’ said Ridcully. ‘I’m all for the free sharing of information, provided it’s them sharing their information with us.’

‘Yes, sir, but I think we’re rather hampered by the meaning of the word “sharing”.’

Dwarf shops were doing well these days, largely because they understood the first rule of merchandising, which is this: I have got goods for sale and the customer has got money. I should have the money and, regrettably, that involves the customer having my goods. To this end, therefore, I will not say ‘The one in the window is the last one we have, and we can’t sell it to you, because if we did no one would know we have them for sale’, or ‘We’ll probably have some more on Wednesday’, or ‘We just can’t keep them on the shelves’, or ‘I’m fed up with telling people there’s no demand for them’; I will make a sale by any means short of physical violence, because without one I am a waste of space.

Occasionally she would pull the front page of the Times out of her bag and take a look at it again. It had all really happened and there was the proof. But, it was a funny thing: every day something happened that was important enough to be on the front page of the newspaper. She’d never bought it and seen a little sign that said ‘Not much happened yesterday, sorry about that’. And tomorrow, wonderful though that picture was, it would be wrapping up fish and chips and everyone would have forgotten about it. That would be a load off her mind.
Remarkably, a bottle of port had survived with fifty per cent remaining capacity. Any port in a storm, he thought, and drank his breakfast.



‘And you are telling me I’m wrong. Are you?’

‘I would rather you thought of me as suggesting a way in which you could be even more right.’

‘Beauty can be considered to be neutral, sir. It is not the same as nice or good.’

‘I thought it was the same as truth, though,’ said Ponder, trying to keep up.

‘Which is often horrible, sir [...]



‘It has been tried once before. It was tried twice before that. Why is there a certain cast of the military mind which leads sensible people to do again, with gusto, what didn’t work before?’

‘Force is all they understand. You must know that.’

‘Force is all that’s been tried, Archchancellor Henry.’

‘The female mind is certainly a devious one, my lord.‘

Vetinari looked at his secretary in surprise. ‘Well, of course it is. It has to deal with the male one.’


Men and Women

Juliet’s version of cleanliness was next to godliness, which was to say it was erratic, past all understanding and was seldom seen.

‘You had to find the truth for yourself. That is how we all find the truth.’

‘And if the truth is terrible?’

‘I think you know the answer to that one, Nutt,’ said the voice of Ladyship.

‘The answer is that, terrible or not, it is still the truth,’ said Nutt.



Contrary to popular belief and hope, people don’t usually come running when they hear a scream. That’s not how humans work. Humans look at other humans and say, ‘Did you hear a scream?’ because the first scream might just have been you screaming inside your head, or a horse backfiring.

‘That is a magnificent distillation of the situation,’ said Hix. ‘Which is incredibly helpful while at the same time inaccurate in every possible way.’

‘Contrary to popular belief, most smiths are on the wiry side rather than bulky. It’s all a matter of sinews rather than muscle.”



‘Oh, you know the sort of thing if you read the papers a lot,’ said Ponder. ‘I seriously think they think that it’s their job to calm people down by first of all explaining why they should be overexcited and very worried.’



‘We can stop people fighting by magic and then what do we do? We have to go on using magic to stop them fighting. We have to go on using magic to stop them being stupid. And where does all that end? So we make certain that it doesn’t begin. That’s why the university is here. That’s what we do. We have to sit around not doing things because of the hundreds of times in the past it’s been proved that once you get beyond the abracadabra, hey presto, changing-the-pigeons-into-ping-pong-balls style of magic you start getting more problems than you’ve solved. It was bad enough finding ping-pong balls nesting in the attics.’



‘You would take untested food from a member of the public?’ said her ladyship, horrified.

‘Certainly from this one,’ said Vetinari. ‘There is no possible way she would ever put poison in anything. Not out of respect for me, you understand, but out of respect for the food.’



The singing of the National Anthem was always a ragged affair, the good people of Ankh-Morpork feeling that it was unpatriotic to sing songs about how patriotic you were, taking the view that someone singing a song about how patriotic they were was either up to something or a Head of State.*

* i.e., up to something.



‘I think you allow them too much freedom.’

‘Oh, yes, I do. That’s why I am still tyrant of this city. The way to retain power, I have always thought, is to ensure the absolute unthinkability of oneself not being there.’

text checked (see note) May 2010

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