Why in Database: As in all “Companions” from the discworld, also in the last, “the ultimate”, there was no shortage of turtle fragments. We quote below probably all the elements in which there are any turtle mentions, text or visual.
In “Where I Am?”, before the encyclopedic part:
Several years ago now, I recorded a couple of lines to go into Dave Greenslade’s From the Discworld album . . . this was another happy accident, as I’d only gone along to the studio to dress up as Death for some publicity pix. From those two lines (‘The turtle moves’ and ‘Nevertheless, the turtle does move’), I have now moved on to record many of the unabridged books.
In the entry Astrolabe
Astrolabe. One of the Disc’s finest astrolabes is kept in a large, star-filled room in KRULL. It includes the entire Great A’Tuin-Elephant-Disc system wrought in brass and picked out with tiny jewels.
Around it the stars and planets wheel on fine silver wires. On the walls the constellations have been made of tiny phosphorescent seed pearls set out on vast tapestries of jet-black velvet. These were, of course, the constellations current at the time of the room’s decoration – several would be unrecognisable now owing to the Turtle’s movement through space. The planets are minor bodies of rock picked up and sometimes discarded by the system as it moves through space, and seem to have no other role in Discworld astronomy or astrology than to be considered a bloody nuisance.
In the entry Astrozoologists
Astrozoologists. Krullian scientists interested in studying the nature of the Great A’TUIN. Specifically, its sex.
In the entry A’Tuin, the Great
A’Tuin, the Great. The star turtle who carries the Discworld on its back. Ten-thousand-mile-long member of the species Chelys galactica, and the only turtle ever to feature on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram. Almost as big as the Disc it carries. Sex unknown.
Shell-frosted with frozen methane, pitted with meteor craters and scoured with asteroidal dust, its eyes are like ancient seas, crusted with rheum. Its brain is the size of a continent, through which thoughts move like glittering glaciers.
It is as large as worlds. As patient as a brick. Great A’Tuin is the only creature in the entire universe that knows exactly where it is going.
Upon its back stand Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose shoulders the disc of the world rests. A tiny sun and moon spin around them on a complicated orbit to induce seasons, although probably nowhere else in the multiverse is it sometimes necessary for an elephant to cock its leg to allow the sun to go past.
After the events of The Light Fantastic, the Great A’Tuin was orbited by eight baby turtles, each with four small world-elephant calves and tiny discworlds, covered in smoke and volcanoes. They have subsequently begun their own cosmic journeys.
Wizards have tried to tune into Great A’Tuin’s mind. They trained up on tortoises and giant sea turtles to get the hang of the Chelonian mind. But although they knew that the Great A’Tuin’s mind would be big, they rather foolishly hadn’t realised it would be slow. After thirty years all they found out was that the Great A’Tuin was looking forward to something.
People have asked: How does the Disc move on the shoulders of the elephants? What does the Turtle eat? One may as well ask: What kind of smell has yellow got? It is how things are.
In the entry Brutha
(…) When the Great God OM was trapped in the form of a tortoise, Brutha – whose quiet and unquestioning belief meant he was the only person left in the entire country who could hear the god speak – carried him round in a wickerwork box slung over his shoulder. After many adventures, both prospered in their chosen spheres.
In the entry Calendars
THE DISCWORLD YEAR
The calendar on a planet which is flat and revolves on the back of four giants elephants is always difficult to establish.
It can be derived, though, by starting with the fact that the spin year – defined by the time taken for a point on the Rim to turn one full circle – is about 800 days long. The tiny sun orbits in a fairly flat ellipse, being rather closer to the surface of the disc at the rim than at the Hub (thus making the Hub rather cooler than the rim). This ellipse is stable and stationary with respect to the Turtle – the sun passes between two of the elephants.
In the entry Caroc cards
Caroc cards. Distilled wisdom of the Ancients. Deck of cards used on the Discworld for fortune telling and for card games (see CRIPPLE MR ONION). Cards named in the Discworld canon include The Star, The Importance of Washing the Hands (Temperance), The Moon, The Dome of the Sky, The Pool of Night (the Moon), Death, the Eight of Octograms, the Four of Elephants, the Ace of Turtles.
In the entry Chimera
Chimera. A desert creature, with the legs of a mermaid, the hair of a tortoise, the teeth of a fowl, the wings of a snake, the breath of a furnace and the temperament of a rubber balloon in a hurricane. Clearly a magical remnant. It is not known whether chimera breed and, if so, with what.
In the entry Chelonauts
Chelonauts. Men who journey – or at least intend to journey – below the Rim to explore the mysteries of the Great A’TUIN. Their suits are of fine white leather, hung about with straps and brass nozzles and other unfamiliar and suspicious contrivances. The leggings end in high, thick-soled boots, and the arms are shoved into big supple gauntlets. Topping it all is a big copper helmet designed to fit on the heavy collars around the neck of the suits. The helmet has a crest of white feathers on top and a little glass window in front.
In the entry Death, House of
(…) In one corner and dominating the room, however, is a large disc of the world. This magnificent feature is complete down to solid silver elephants standing on the back of a Great A’TUIN cast in bronze and more than a metre long. The rivers are picked out in veins of jade, the deserts are powdered diamonds and the most notable cities are picked out in precious stones.(…)”
In the entry Discworld, the.
(…) And there, below the mines and sea-ooze and fake fossil bones put there (most people believe) by a Creator with nothing better to do than upset archaeologists and give them silly ideas, is Great A’TUIN.
The Discworld should not exist. Flatness is not a natural state for a planet. Turtles should grow only so big. (…)
In the entry Gamblers’ Guild
Gamblers’ Guild. Motto: EXCRETVS EX FORTVNA. (Loosely speaking: ‘Really Out of Luck’.) Coat of arms: A shield, gyronny. On its panels, turnwise from upper sinister: a sabre or on a field sable; an octagon gules et argent on a field azure; a tortue vert on a field sable; an ‘A’ couronnée on a field argent; a sceptre d’or on a field sable, a calice or on a field azure; a piece argent on a field gules; an elephant gris on a field argent. (…)
In the entry Granny’s Cottage
On the bed itself is a patchwork quilt which looks like a flat tortoise. It was made by Gordo SMITH and was given to Miss Weatherwax by ESK’S mother one HOGSWATCHNIGHT.
In the entry Krull
(…) The Krullians once had plans to lower a vessel over the Edge to ascertain the sex of the Great A’TUIN.
In the entry Morecombe
Morecombe. A vampire, although obviously housetrained. He is the solicitor of the RAMKIN family, and senior member of the firm Morecombe, Slant and Honeyplace. Scrawny around the neck, like a tortoise; very pale, with pearly, dead eyes.
In the entry Oats, Quite Reverend
(…) He also wore a holy turtle pendant and carried a finely printed graduation copy of the Book of Om, which he unfortunately mislaid during the events of Carpe Jugulum. (…) “>17
In the entry Om
In the entry Potent Voyager
Potent Voyager. Vessel constructed by DACTYLOS to take two chelonauts out over the Rim to determine the sex of the Great A’TUIN. A huge bronze space ship, without any motive power other than the ability to drop.
In the entry Rimbow
(…) The Rimbow hangs in the mists just beyond the edge of the world, appearing only at morning and evening when the light of the Disc’s little orbiting sun shines past the massive bulk of the Great A’TUIN and strikes the Disc’s magical field at exactly the right angle.
In the entry Simony, Sergeant
Simony, Sergeant. Sergeant in the Divine Legion in OMNIA and a follower of the Turtle Movement.(…)
In the entry Turtle, the Great.
Turtle, the Great. (See A’TUIN, GREAT.)
In the entry Turtle Movement
Turtle Movement. A secret society in OMNIA which believes that the Disc is flat and is carried through space on the backs of four elephants and a giant turtle. Their secret recognition saying is ‘The Turtle Moves’. Their secret sign is a left-hand fist with the right hand, palm extended, brought down on it. Most of the senior officials of the Omnian church are members of the ‘movement’, but since they all wear hoods and are sworn to absolute secrecy each thinks he is the only one.
In the entry Zodiac
(…) It would be more correct to say that there are always sixty-four signs in the Discworld zodiac but also that these are subject to change without notice. Stars immediately ahead of the Turtle’s line of flight change their position only very gradually, as do the ones aft. The ones at right angles, however, may easily alter their relative positions in the lifetime of the average person, so there is a constant need for an updating of the Zodiac. This is done for the STO PLAINS by Unseen University, but communications with distant continents (who in any case have their own interpretations of the apparent shapes in the sky) are so slow that by the time any constellation is known Discwide it has already gone past. (…)