Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sir Terry's Armoreal Bearings


You probably know this already, but what the heck.  Pictured above are the Armorial Bearings granted to Sir Terry Pratchett.

Quoting the College of Arms via Dave Langford's Ansible, "The Arms are blazoned:  Sable an ankh between four Roundels in saltire each issuing Argent.  The Crest is Upon a Helm with a Wreath Argent and Sable On Water Barry wavy Sable Argent and Sable an Owl affronty wings displayed and inverted Or supporting thereby two closed Books erect Gules."

The Ankh, obviously, is a reference to Ankh-Morpork, as is the owl.  A morepork, it turns out, is an Australian spotted owl.  Which neatly answers a question -- where that name came from -- that I'd always been too lazy to ask.  The Latin slogan translates very precisely as "Don't Fear the Reaper."

And isn't "affronty" the absolute best word you've learned all day?

So can I craft a tortuous connection between myself and Sir Terry using this coat of arms?

Indeed, I can.  The armorial bearings were issued by the College of Arms.  The Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary at the College of Arms was formerly Count Robin Ian Evelyn Stuart de la Lanne Mirrlees.  The great fantasy writer Hope Mirrlees was Count Robin's aunt.  I wrote a brief biography of Hope Mirrlees, for which I consulted Robin.  So I have a Kevin Bacon number of four with Sir Terry.

I also met him once, at a Hugo ceremony, but since that didn't result in any funny anecdotes to relate, I'm going to ignore that inconvenient fact.



Victoria Janssen said...

What, no turtles holding it all up?

Michael Swanwick said...

Yeah, kind of a disappointment for me too. Turns out the turtles only go some of the way down.