Going Postal

Terry Pratchett needs no introduction, of course. He’s been writing books set on the Discworld[1] for over twenty years now, initially broad parodies of heroic fantasy[2], but soon developing into something rather more sophisticated. And funny. Seriously funny. Wordplay, silly names, cultural references and bad jokes that even I wouldn’t try to get away with[3]. He also uses footnotes, which obviously endears him to me even more. Come to think of it, I might have acquired my footnote habit[4] when I spent some time on the alt.fan.pratchett newsgroup some time in the twentieth century.

There are a number of recurring characters and locations in the Discworld books, but this is one of the “one-off” ones that Terry produces now and then. These are quite interesting, as they often let us see characters we’re more used to seeing as viewpoint characters (ie we’re normally “inside their heads”) from the outside. Gives a different perspective, seeing them as minor characters.

The central character is one Moist von Lipwig[5] a con-man, who having been sentenced to death, gets an unexpected slightly later than the last moment reprieve, and is offered a choice of death or running the Ankh-Morpork[6] Post Office. He takes the job. Telling you any more than that would spoil your fun when you read it. A lot happens, and Moist is never the same again…..

[1] Flat disc, sitting on the backs of four rather large elephants, which are carried through space by an ever larger turtle. But don’t let that fool you. While the books include, wizards, witches, trolls, vampires, werewolves, elves, dwarves and many more of the staples of fantasy, for the most part these are just scenery. What Pratchett is really doing is telling stories about us. People.
[2] After reading Pratchett, it would be very hard to read such things as Anne McCaffery’s Dragonflight without giggling. :grin:
[3] In one book, he repeatedly gets close to saying “get me an alligator sandwich, and make it snappy”, but fortuanately the sandwich is delivered before the joke can be completed. It’s funnier that way….
[4] I can give it up any time, honest!
[5] I did mention the names, didn’t I?
[6] Ankh-Morpork is the biggest city on the Discworld. Nice place…

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  1. Pingback: Thud! – Terry Pratchett : Losing it

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