The Nation of Liquid Aloha


Spitting is optional. Probably.

Spitting is optional. Probably.

I am a big fan of the work of Terry Pratchett. His best known works, of course, are his books in the Discworld series which all take place in an alternate reality where the world is flat, magic is a real force floating around free for the taking, and fantasy and reality somehow become blurred into the same thing.

“The Nation” manages to have all these qualities without actually taking place on Discworld. As the Author’s Note at the end states: “This might look like a book set in the Pacific Ocean. Nothing could be further from the truth!!!!! It is in fact set in a parallel universe, a phenomenon known only to advanced physicists and anyone who as ever watched any episode of any SF series, anywhere.” Which sums it up better than I could, and which I wish had appeared at the beginning of the book instead of at the end so I could have saved a lot of time by not stopping to Wikipedia things like “the Mothering Sunday Islands” and “how to not make poisonous beer.”

So without further ado:

The Beer: Kona Brewing Co. Koko Brown Ale

The Book: “The Nation” by Terry Pratchett

The Blog:

There were quite a few bottles of beer fizzing on the shelves in the fridge. They all had little bubbles growing and bursting near the caps at the top which featured simple word translations on the underside: “Ono= good to eat.”

There were some places in the world, like the Mothering Sunday Islands in the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean where fresh beer was poisonous. That was beer that wasn’t ono yet. Mother-of-beer, they called it at that stage. You had to spit in it, you had to sing it a song, you had to wave your hands over it in time to said song, and the demons were shooed away and there’s just the good drink was left. How does that happen? 

Well, she had a theory, but it seemed like a lot of work. After all, this wasn’t the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean and this wasn’t Mother-of-beer. This was a drink called Koko Brown and she was fairly certain that the Kona Brewing Company wouldn’t be allowed to sell a drink that would paralyze you from head to toe if you didn’t spit in it and sing it a song. That just wouldn’t be good business. 

She poured a little of the surely-not-deadly beer into a glass and stared at it. The spitting… well that was for luck, obviously. Or possibly for bad tipping. The secret was in the song, she was sure of it. Well, slightly sure. Or perhaps it was in the song, but not in the words? Perhaps the frequency of the human voice did something to the tiny atomic substances? Or perhaps she was over-thinking this?

The Koko Brown just fizzed quietly. It surely wouldn’t hurt anything to sing, right? She cleared her throat and began:

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts,

There they are all standing in a row,

Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head,

Give ’em a twist, a flick of the wrist, that’s what the showman said.”

She stopped, aware of someone trying to be quiet. Her husband was standing in the doorway listening with interest. And smirking. 

You going to drink that?” He asked. “Or just sing to it?”

“I was just… testing.” She replied, flustered. She took a sip of the surely-not-deadly beer and was relieved to discover that she didn’t seem to be paralyzed. In fact it was quite nice: nutty and roasty (was that a real word?) and a tiny bit coconutty- perhaps from all the singing. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 21, 2013.

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