REVIEW

Going Postal, Terry Pratchett

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

"Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into...a government job?"

GOING POSTAL is the 33rd Discworld Novel, and the first to feature Moist von Lipwig, conman, swindler, thief, very nearly dead man, Post Master General. As the blurb puts it "By all rights, Moist should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may prove an impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office."

This is also the Discworld novel that really hit home just what we've lost with the premature death of Terry Pratchett, and reminded me again of the tribute http://www.gnuterrypratchett.com/

It's the story within GOING POSTAL that lead to that wonderful idea. The Clacks being the Discworld name for the semaphore system taking over the transmission of messages from the Post Office, leading to von Lipwig's new position. Messages sent on The Clacks go with codes embedded in them, and three of the relevant codes to this story are:

G (message must be passed on)

N (not logged)

U (the message is turned around at the end of the line.

Yet another real techworld joke embedded in a Discworld novel as GNU is a free operating system, it's name standing for "GNU's Not UNIX" which is about as nerdy a geek joke that you can get ...

Anyway, when the son of the inventor of The Clacks is murdered, a message is written called "GNU John Dearheart" that will echo his name up and down the lines forever more, because in the words of the novel "A man is not dead while his name is still spoken". Needless to say there are a lot of websites (AustCrimeFiction included) that run the GNU Terry Pratchett code as a small tribute to a big man.

And I'd kind of filed the touching idea behind all of that in the back of my mind, but the audio narration of the story of John Dearheart stopped me dead in my tracks again. It's a wonderful story this one - full of sly humour and clever concepts, and then there's The Clacks and GNU John Dearheart and well, it was a bittersweet listen indeed.

BOOK DETAILS
BOOK INFORMATION
ISBN
0385608675
Year of Publication
Series
Book Number (in series)
33
BLURB

Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into...a government job?

By all rights, Moist should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may prove an impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office.

Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, greedy Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty, piratical headman.

But if the bold and undoable are what's called for, Moist's the man for the job, to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every being, human or otherwise, requires: hope.

Review Going Postal, Terry Pratchett
Karen Chisholm
Friday, March 26, 2021

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