New users: Please register in the usual way and then send an email to jasper(at) with your username, and write something 'Ffordesque' so we know you are a real reader, and not some idiot trying to flood the forum with dodgy Nike and Gucci gear. Thank you - Jasper

Still having trouble? Click Here for a guide to the Fforde Fforum

last updated : April 11th 2010

Lost in a Good Book : The fastest message board... ever.
Separate forum for discussions relating to this particular book. 
Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: Jazz_Sue (
Date: June 01, 2007 06:21PM

Every time I think I've got this sussed, another problem enters my head. Right, anyway, here goes:
When Thursday's dad stops her shooting herself etc he asks, was there anything unusual in the chemical analysis of the pink goo? She says yes, chlorophyll. He says ah, that explains it then (or something like that - I'm typing this away from my books) This would appear to be a reference to the buttonhole he is wearing when he goes back to the beginning of life on earth (which he creates courtesy of the nanobots breaking him down into a primordial goo - I got that) This covers the creation of green plants, something that would be unlikely to happen if a shortcut to the start of life was 100% animal. I also reckon the pearl button getting sucked in is significant - seashells presumeably are made of something we are not, and I know life began in the sea.

My problem lies in the chlorophyll aspect of the 20th century pink goo. The initial event (Colonel Next being converted to primordial gloop and thus seeding all life on Earth) of course needed chlorophyll in the mix to get life going (no chlorophyll = no biochemicals to make simple plant life to make oxygen. Pretty sure bacteria - the start of cellular life - and so forth come in there too) BUT millions of years separate that event from the 20th century one, so - the fact the whole thing forms a continuous 'loop' in time notwithstanding - the presence of chlorophyll in the 20th century gloop cannot be explained away by the presence of his buttonhole.
The way I understand it, the nanobots go haywire because, instead of just converting the dream topping found on the waste tip into a sustainable food source (question: is dream topping in the TN universe actually composed of real nutrients, rather than totally non-biological chemicals? cos that certainly isn't the case here) they get busy converting ALL the living protein they can find into pink gloop. This, presumeably, includes all animal and plantlife, as well as - presumeably - related at the local landfill sites. So of course the mix would contain chlorophyll - stands to reason, dunnit?

So, was the chlorophyll bit written in just in case some bright spark decided to say, 'Ah, but what about green plants - where did they come from, eh? Eh?' Or is it that Colonel Next realises that it was only because chlorophyll was part of the initial start of life on earth, that the nanobots recognised it as living matter all that way into the future? When Thursday and her dad travel into the future and see a world covered in pink gloop (the alternative reality he prevents from happening) it doesn't mention plants so, presumeably, all the trees etc got swallowed up as well. In other words, did Jasper write in the chlorophyll/buttonhole section to cover this possible loophole? I think, reading back on it, I've just answered my own question. But I'd like to hear if anyone else has been pondering on this.

Jeeze. Is it just me that gets these headaches and has to be kept away from sharp objects at night? Bertie Wooster never gave me this trouble - then again, he wasn't nearly as funny.

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: MuseSusan (
Date: June 02, 2007 02:38AM

The trouble with these things is, since they're fictional, eventually if you go deep enough they're going to break down. My vote is that Jasper put the clorophyll/buttonhole thing in for narrative purposes, mostly to make Colonel Next's sacrifice all the more touching (it worked for me, at least). But I could just be making stuff up.

And how can you say Bertie Wooster isn't as funny? I'd say Jasper and P.G. are definitely neck and neck.

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: June 02, 2007 07:54AM

Hi Jazz_Sue, I think you should definitely stay away from the sharp objects - day or night. As MS points out it is just fiction (and I like to think that the esteemed Mr. Fforde would not be too upset if I used Robert Rankin's categorisation of his own books - Far Fetched Fiction).

Think of it as an alternative Earth if that helps.

Finally, even though I am a fan of both writers, I would still put P.G.W. at the pinnacle of comedy writing in the English-speaking world, although this doesn't mean that I expect everyone to like his stuff.


My computer beat me at chess, but I won at kickboxing

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: Jazz_Sue (
Date: June 04, 2007 12:44AM

I admit, I am one of those annoying readers who deliberately search for things like this - it's a habit picked up from years working in scientific research, when you had to submit scifact documents that left absolutely no stone unturned - because if there was the slightest hole in your argument you got roasted alive at meetings. Guess it was drilled into me from an early age. Now I'm attempting to be a writer myself I still question every single damn thing I put down - looking for those damn plotholes again. It could also be the fact I used to belong to a Pratchett fan group and they used to spend weeks working out, for example, how the water got back into the air after it went over the Rim. I read the 'serious' roundworld tie-ins as well. Terry used to come round sometimes to glean 'real' facts he could adapt for his books (my ex again, smart headed ess-oh-dee) So there are mitigating circumstances and no, I haven't got OCD. I'm sane as the next mouse, got certificates to prove it and everything ...

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: June 04, 2007 10:51AM

Ah!! The Scientific Method. that explains your problem with the Dream Topping.
It doesn't work for fantastical fiction.
It is like trying to use a Newtonian frame of reference to describe sub-atomic particle physics.

(And the Rimfall problem. The answer is that "Arrangements are made." )


My computer beat me at chess, but I won at kickboxing

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: Jazz_Sue (
Date: June 04, 2007 12:42PM

Try telling all that to the Pratchettphiles, Skids! Even I thought it was all getting out of hand when I started seeing advanced mathematical formulae appearing next to arguments for and against the string quantum theory, when Tel had already said, 'Look, it's all done with MAGIC - alright? It's just a book for ...' That being said, Terry did start off as a kind of scientist (I think he was a promotions officer for the electricity board - persuading people nuclear energy was a clean sustainable fuel source; wonder where THAT all went to?!) so that's probably why he's so keen to explain any irrationalities that crop up in his books. He relies a lot on the input of a couple of 'real' scientists (whose names escape me at present but who give first rate lectures at conventions) They wrote severalbooks explaining how our world works, but seen thru' the eyes of the UU crowd who'd found a way to connect the two worlds - very entertaining! I'm off to drop a couple of dried frog pills ...

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: MuseSusan (
Date: June 04, 2007 08:51PM

So how exactly DOES the water get back in the air after falling over the Rim?

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: June 05, 2007 08:20AM

The answer "Arrangements are made." is a direct quote from Pterry.

As a fully paid up Pratchettophile, I will take his word for it.

P.S. By the way Jazz, and anyone else reading, please take all my replies with a pinch of salt. They are not personal attacks, just a vent for a warped sense of humour.

P.P.S. If any readers are in any way related to slugs or snails, do not, repeat not take the pinch of salt.


My computer beat me at chess, but I won at kickboxing

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: Jazz_Sue (
Date: June 09, 2007 02:52PM

Skids - the reason I sign on to this fforum more than any other is because I know I'll never read anything horrid about myself! I appreciate the feedback. However, as an 'amateur' scribe myself I subscribe to Writers' news, among other things. They are currently running a thread on writing hard-core sci-fi - the kind with aliens, strange worlds etc. I'd say Jasper's books are at least as surreal as some of these! However, these articles went to great lengths to explain that, however fantastical the plot, it should still make sense - something Jasper does admirably. I'd recommend these articles to anyone writing, or considering writing, any type of fantasy/sci-fi fiction as they compare, eg how life evolved here as a way of creating life on other worlds that would work, as well as a fair bit of anatomy and astronomy.
Another thing I've been told is that a good writer always makes sure they cover any obviously ridiculous plotholes, but that it is not necessary to 'dot every i and cross every t.' It is up to the reader to do that. I think this is where we came in. A very good writer should leave the reader asking a few questions. They should put the finished book away, then ponder, reread, wonder a bit more etc. It makes something on paper into a five dimensional, 'living' object (and if you're young enough, and believe enough, you can end up going there, in Thursday's world)
The VERY BEST writers will make sure the reader can, using the information already there plus a bit of their own savvy, dot and cross those i's and t's themselves.
Which is why both Terry Pratchett and Jasper attract those slightly worrying A-R types, such as myself, who turn up at fforums like this one somewhat ominously ...

It could be worse. I could be a Trekkie.

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: robcraine (
Date: June 10, 2007 09:33PM

Terry was a journalist, and later wrote press releases for several nuclear power stations - he's not particularly sciency.

As for the chlorophyl... I don't think that's connected to the flower in his buttonhole. And anyway, in the Real World™ free oxygen did not appear until life had been doing its stuff for about a billion years. If you want a source for the chlorophyl then... it was integrated into the nanomachines as a power source.

And as for water on the disc, I was in favour of the Turtle swimming in some sort of a loop so that water falling off the disc would fall as rain many years (millenia?) later... but the Man scuppered that with his ex cathedra statement that Arrangements are Made.


That statement is either so deep it would take a lifetime to fully comprehend every particle of its meaning, or it is a load of absolute tosh. Which is it, I wonder?
Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Re: More on the Dream Topping event
Posted by: Anonymous User (
Date: June 30, 2007 02:08PM

If you read 'Strata'- extremely early Pratchett, there is a clear explanation of how the water recycles on 'a' disc world - not necessarily 'the' disc world. Weird book tho', takes a bit of following. Also has a raven that is central to the plot. Possibly worth it just for that.

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.