Captain-Carrot

Female? He told you he was female?”
“She,” Angua corrected. “This is Ank-Morpork, you know. We’ve got extra pronouns here.”
She could smell his bewilderment…
“Well, I would have though she’d have the decency to keep it to herself,” carrot said finally. “I don’t think it’s very clever, you know, to go around drawing attention to the fact.”
“Carrot, I think you might have something wrong with your head,” said Angua.
“What?”
“I think you might have it stuck up your bum.
—  Terry Pratchett - Feet Of Clay

I enjoy posts about the themes and overall “big pictures” in the Discworld novels, but I’d much rather talk about the little things in Sir Terry Pratchett’s writing

like one of my all-time favorite moments happens in Jingo

It’s when Vimes and Carrot are chasing the ship where Angua is kept prisoner, and Carrot tells Vimes he’s going to sleep. And Vimes is all “Your gf is on that ship, how can you even sleep?!” And Carrot replies that he owes it to Angua to be well-rested so that he could rescue her.

Idk, but it’s just so heart-warming and such a sweet twist to how relationships are often portrayed

It is traditionally the belief of policemen that they can tell what a substance is by sniffing it and then gingerly tasting it, but this practice has ceased in the Watch ever since Constable Flint had dipped his finger into a blackmarket consignment of ammonium chloride cut with radium, said “Yes, this is definitely slab wireless warble sclup”, and had to spend three days tied to his bed until the spiders went away.
—  Terry Pratchett - Feet Of Clay

I had Discworld thoughts again…

So Carrot is a dwarf, right? And what distinguishes dwarves? They all have beards and they’re all (at least when Carrot was growing up in Copperhead) considered men. Until Cheery, there was no openly female dwarves.

But Carrot is always drawn and described as clean-shaven (we get pretty regular descriptions. He’s tall -around 6′6″, has short red hair and is clean shaven). Why though? Surely as a dwarf, regardless of height, he’d want to grow a beard, especially considering how important a beard is to dwarvishness (no references, but isn’t it canon that if a dwarf can’t grow a beard, they buy a fake one?).

We know his father kept his hair trimmed for Reasons of Hygiene, but maybe the reason Carrot doesn’t have a beard is because he can’t grow one…

Basically, I’m suggesting trans man Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson. After all, armour can compress quite a bit, and while the dwarvish gender system can grate upon those like Cheery, maybe for Carrot the reason he never questioned it was because he always identified as a man, well dwarf.

Imagine Vimes taking a while to realise, before quietly figuring it out. He considers for a long time what he should do with the information before eventually casually asking Cuddy about dwarvish gender. Cuddy is confused but explains how all dwarves are he and thus Vimes quietly settles down, deciding he can’t fault the boy, who after all is a good dwarf, and an amazing officer.

Nobby, who was the first Carrot actually told, because while Nobby may be a petty thief and his species is somewhere up in the air, once he’s your friend you can trust him with your life, if not your wallet. As the Watch begins to expand, Nobby is the one who kicks up a fuss about the privies and gets a few individual ones set up away from the big communual ones. Carrot gives him some dwarf bread, sent down fresh from the Copperhead hills in thanks. Nobby then turned out to be the one being capable of eating Ironfoundersson dwarf bread. Carrot now shares his monthly care package with Nobby.

Colon, who never worked it out, who only found out when Angua and Nobby got onto the topic whilst patrolling together and was shocked beyond measure. Lots of exclamations of “But the lad’s near 7 foot!” and “He never said!” were proclaimed. Luckily, the bustle of Sator Square hid the shouts. After the initial shock, he’s odd around Carrot for a few months before Carrot very earnestly asks him what he’s done wrong. They have a long talk but things only really return to normal when Carrot talks down the Slabbed-out troll who was about to eat Colon.

Angua, who knew the moment she met Carrot, but knowing the customs of dwarves thought nothing of it. It’s only when she asks him about it, after the incident with the gonne that she realises that he isn’t just living within the dwarvish monogender (which technically is neither male or female, dwarves are just dwarves), Carrot identifies with the human male. She shrugs it off. Igors became Igorinas and vice versa all the time back in the Old Country. And she liked Carrot, just as she had liked both Gavin and Ygritte, the poor foolish human that Wolfgang had taken great delight in hunting.

Deterius, also, works it out surprisingly quickly. He may not be academic but he’s a good sergeant and sergeants are good with people. It takes him a while to get the idea properly formulated in his head, but when he does he methodically files it away. After Cuddy died, he made a point of studying dwarvish customs and since Carrot is a dwarf, it makes perfect sense in his mind. He is a little more protective of Carrot than usually after that though, especially in situations when he could be in danger for who he is.

It took Cheery a very long time to realise why Carrot was so afraid of her decision to present as a woman. Eventually, she stormed into his office and demanded to know why he didn’t approve. Only when Carrot quietly responded with “If you do it, eventually someone might force me to as well, and that’s not me. I am a he, I am a dwarf who is definitively he, never she.” did she understand. They eventually came to a comfortable agreement, secretly meeting up every few weeks to chat about gender and dwarvishness. Eventually, Cheery coaxes him along to the feminine-dwarf support group and while at first the dwarves are uncomfortable with him being there, once Carrot explains they end up with two of their number admitting that while, if a human looked at it, they might be considered male, they identify as female regardless. Thus Carrot somehow ends up accidentally starting another offshoot group of dwarvish gender support for dwarves of either gender who might have strong feelings on their own gender which others, even those in support of women dwarves coming out, may disagree with.

Vetinari knew from the start, of course he did. He finds it mildly amusing, that Carrot, the One True King of Ankh-Morpork, would by some only be accepted as a Queen if his information became common knowledge. Originally he kept it as blackmail. Over the years, as it became clear Carrot not only had worked out his origins but was actively hiding them, did Vetinari one night creep into a hidden room in the palace and burn a series of genology, a chit of birth and the diary of a midwife, long since dead and longer still paid off.

The Igor in the Watch first finds out when Angua brings Carrot in bleeding, from a knife wound to the gut. She curses him out, making it clear that if anything happens to Carrot, or if one word is breathed of this to anyone outside this cellar, she would tear him beyond even an Igor’s saving. Igor simply nods. A few months later, both he and Carrot are on leave at the same time. It’s only after that does Carrot take his shirt off for the first time in the Watch showers to clean up, no scar from the stab wound visible. After all, Igors are good at what they do, and when they want to, they won’t leave a mark.

I'm gonna summarize the whole DC Multiverse AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME
  • Earth-0: The default universe where the New 52 takes place and stuff
  • Earth-1: You know those graphic novels written by J. Michael Straczynski, Geoff Johns, and Jeff Lemire that made new young versions of Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans? That's where this is
  • The fact they all have "Earth One" in their titles also might've been a clue
  • Earth-2: It's where Earth 2 took place (hence the name)
  • It got destroyed by Darkseid, but now the Justice Society heroes have a NEW Earth 2
  • It's a whole thing
  • Earth-3: Good is evil, evil is good, and everyone's an asshole
  • Earth-4: Home to Grant Morrison's Watchmen homage starring the Charleton Comics characters. I like it more than the actual Watchmen because it doesn't have the Comedian.
  • Earth-5: Home to Captain Marvel. It's essentially a redone version of the Pre-Crisis Earth-S. Also everything is drawn by Cameron Stewart, and that's always a plus.
  • Earth-6: Home to Stan Lee's "Just Imagine" versions of the DC heroes. Also this Wonder Woman's design is awesome.
  • Earth-7: A reference to the Marvel Ultimate Universe. The Gentry destroyed it at the start of Multiversity, leaving only Thunderer alive. He's basically Aborigines Thor.
  • Earth-8: A reference to the normal Marvel Universe. The Hulk equivalent, Behemoth, is blue and wears a diaper.
  • I don't get it either.
  • Earth-9: Home to the Tangent Universe created by Dan Jurgens. The character's names are familiar, but their powers and appearances are different. For example, Harvey Dent is the Superman, a being of unmatched mental power. Green Lantern raises the dead. That kind of stuff.
  • Earth-10: Kal-L is raised by Hitler and helps conquer the world. Uncle Sam reemerges years later to kick his ass.
  • Earth-11: The gender swapped universe, with Superwoman, Batwoman, and Wonderous Man, who has a very spiffy cape.
  • Earth-12: Remember Batman The Animated Series, Justice League, and Batman Beyond? This is where all of that took place.
  • Earth-13: A universe where magic is the dominant power. The Superman equivalent here is Superdemon, who is basically Etrigan with Superman's powers. Which is awesome.
  • Earth-14: Unknown
  • Earth-15: It USED to be the perfect Earth until Superboy-Prime had a temper tantrum back in Countdown and blew it the f*ck up. Now all that's left is a Green Lantern battery called the Cosmic Grail.
  • Earth-16: Superman basically ended all crime right before he died and left his robot army to guard the planet, so the current generation of heroes are kinda bored.
  • Earth-17: Some dumbass pressed the big red button in 1963, and the world got nuked. Now the Atomic Knights of Justice have to ride their giant dogs around and try not to get killed by Darkseid.
  • Earth-18: A slightly different version of the Justice Riders universe. They have a telegraph Internet.
  • Earth-19: Home to the stories Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Wonder Woman: Amazonia.
  • Earth-20: Home to Doc Fate and the Secret Society of Superheroes. Also I want to cosplay as Doc Fate or the Mighty Atom. Because they both look cool.
  • Earth-21: Home to the characters from A New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke.
  • Earth-22: Home of the characters from Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come. You should read it, by the way.
  • Earth-23: Where all the heroes are black and Batman's the token white guy. Also Superman is president.
  • Earths 24 and 25 are unknown.
  • Earth-26: Home of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. It operates on cartoon physics.
  • Earth-27 and Earth-28 are unknown.
  • Earth-29: The Bizarroverse. It am not opposite of normal universe at all. It am completely normal.
  • Earth-30: Home of the characters from Superman: Red Son. Which I also recommend.
  • Earth-31: Everyone's a pirate.
  • Earth-32: Home of Aquaflash, Bat-Lantern, Wonderhawk, Black Arrow, and Supermartian.
  • Earth-33: The real world.
  • Earth-34: A reference to Astro City. Also Bruce Wayne was inspired by a stingray in this universe.
  • Earth-35: A reference to Image Comics' Supreme. Also Bruce was inspired by an owl this time.
  • Earth-36: Home to Justice 9, who are homages to Big Bang Comics. This Bruce was inspired by a suit of armor.
  • Earth-37: It starts as Batman: Thrillkiller, but then it gets really weird. I'm not sure what it becomes.
  • Earth-38: Where Superman and Batman: Generations takes place. The characters there age in real time.
  • Earth-39: A reference to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.
  • Earth-40: The evil version of Earth-20. Also Sinestro wears a very nice suit.
  • Earth-41: A reference to early Image Comics, although thankfully Liefeld isn't involved. Also I really like their Wonder Woman's design.
  • Earth-42: Full of adorable chibi version of the DC heroes and villains who are actually robot minions of the Empty Hand.
  • Earth-43: All the superheroes are vampires. Also this is the only other Earth besides Earth-3 to have an Ultraman instead of Superman.
  • Earth-44: All the heroes are robots.
  • Earth-45: Home of Superdoomsday, who is what happens when a clearly evil corporations turns Superman into an antihero.
  • Earth-46 is unknown.
  • Earth-47: Home to the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld (Sunshine Superman, Magic Lantern, and Speed Freak) Grant Morrison made in Animal Man years ago. Also home to Brother Power the Geek, a Bruce Wayne who was inspired by a shooting star, and Prez.
  • Earth-48: This world is basically every comic book cliche multiplied by a million. They have super-FOOD here, for crying out loud.
  • Earth-49 is unknown.
  • Earth-50: Remember the Justice Lords from that one episode of Justice League? This is where they're from.
  • Earth-51: Where all of Jack Kirby's DC creations live. Kamandi, OMAC, and the New Gods all live here.
  • And that's the multiverse.
The Three Waves of Discworld

So I’ve been thinking for a while about the Discworld books, and how they can be divided up into three rough thematic phases; not based around the focal characters, but rather what the story is about.

The first wave, which begins with The Colour of Magic and I would say ends with Guards, Guards! or Faust Eric. These books are parodies of existing fantasy, and thematically spend a lot of time exploring the conventions of these stories, both mocking them and codifying them as fact for the Disc. We get a lot of witches and Rincewind books here.

Having set up the status quo, the stage is then set for the second wave to enter, starting with Moving Pictures. This is when Pratchett starts to branch out in terms out his parodies, and moves from fantasy parodies to other areas of society and culture, from the movies in Moving Pictures to shopping centres in that weird Reaper Man subplot, to guns in Men at Arms. Notably, all of these are based around external forces disrupting the status quo, and having to be set right. My favourite example of this is probably Jingo, where the external force disappears by itself when the island sinks back into the sea. Hogfather, Carpe Jugulum and Thief of Time all fit into this wave, which has kind of a fuzzy boundary with the third wave. 

Fantasy has always, as an overall genre, had a problem with the idea of growth and change. The idea of “Setting right what went wrong” and protecting the existing status quo has always been a major element in a lot of fantasy stories. “Restoring the true king” is a popular one which is lampooned by the character of Captain Carrot, but Discworld itself has, up to around 1996, had a problem with this itself (notably, the point of the Carrot subplot in Men at Arms is that he is the true king but delibrately chooses not to reveal himself in order to defend the status quo) Its plots, while often having some changes for individual characters, rarely allowed the setting itself to change, and the change that occurs is put right by the end.

The first book to sort of challenge this is probably the fantastic Feet of Clay, one of my favourites, where the role of the Golems is examined and by the end, the concept of a Golem owning itself is introduced. This is a major change for golems in the setting, but it isn’t really played with much here. The two books that really kick off the third wave come, fittingly, at the turn of the Millenium; 1999′s The Fifth Elephant, which examines dwarf politics, and the 25th Discworld novel, 2000′s The Truth, which is the first time we really see a persistant technological change in the setting. The newspaper set up by de Worde is a major factor in all the later books, and notably it is the protagonist of The Truth that is trying to disrupt the status quo with the creation of the newspaper. It isn’t films or rock music, which are eldritch abominations that must be stopped, but an organic and important change in the setting. This is the main theme of the third wave: the Disc is changed and shaped in lasting ways by the actions of the main characters, particularly on the wider social level. Cherry Littlebottom helps to change dwarf gender norms, goblins and orcs are introduced to society at large (admittedly in rather easy ways), and the biggest change of all is the introduction of everyone’s favourite conman, Moist Von Lipwig, who progressively creates or helps create the postal system, paper currency, and the first train network. In the Tiffany Aching books, we see both changes in the social structure that were made far earlier and then ignored (the female wizard Eskarina Smith in I shall Wear Midnight), and a double whammy in the death of Granny Weatherwax and appointment of Gregory as the new witch for her old area in The Shepard’s Crown. In the three waves, we go from stasis, to active defence of the status quo, to challenging and changing it.

Obviously this isn’t a perfect model. While I think the switch between waves one and two is fairly clear, as I noted above waves two and three are far more fuzzy in their boundary. Most notably, while I said that The Truth was the first major wave three book, between it and Monstrous Regiment and Going Postal, we have the second wave’s last hurrah; Nightwatch

Nightwatch is entirely build around the idea that nothing changes. Carcer’s actions threaten to change history, and Vimes has to put it back, while on the other side of the thematic coin, the revolution that the past characters, including young Vimes, are fighting for explicitly just results in more of the same, putting Mad Lord Snapchase in charge.

Except that…even here, we know that this is not true. Vetinari is in charge of Ankh Morpork in the modern day. Vimes has risen through the ranks to become the commander of the watch and a lord himself, a far cry from his humble, improvished beginnings.

The world will change, and sometimes those changes must be fought, but often we need to fight for those changes ourselves.

Discworld Limericks

Rincewind
There once was a wizzard subpar
Whose only wish was to stay far
From the danger and strife
Of an int’resting life
But trouble clung to him like tar.

Nanny Ogg
There once was a woman named Ogg
Who was really quite fond of her grog
Though she was an old dear,
It did well to stand clear
When she started to sing of hedgehogs.

Captain Carrot
There once was a dwarf six feet tall
Who was dearly beloved by all
Although maybe a king
He cared not for such things
And just heeded the night watch’s call.

Reaper Man
Death once took a little vacay
But the world very quick went cray-cray
So he said “I’M THE REAPER
THAT MAKES ME THE KEEPER
OF THIS WORLD, SO I GUESS I MAY STAY.”

Going Postal
There once was a con man quite clever
Who, thanks to the good hangman’s lever,
Fell out of the noose
And into good use
In charge of the Post and its letters.

Monstrous Regiment
A girl once went off to enroll
With a vampire, some lads and a troll
Though prepared to be warriors
They saw naught but horrors
In war and in old gender roles.