Welcome to Government Service! Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, A Book Recommendation
– Where I talk about myself –
– It’s pretty much like that –
– A Tyrant in a conundrum –
– Three reasons and a STAMP –
40 books and with one more coming on September this year, Discworld series continues to be a source of joy and inspiration to millions of fans around the world since the death of its creator, Terry Pratchett.
His death produced ripples in the reading community and sales of his books are expected to rise (if it hadn’t already) with fans revisiting the series and the curious looking out for that Discworld novel to launch them into this rich and inventive world populated by every fantastical creature conceived by the fantasy genre.
Tasha Robinson wrote an interesting article in NPR: There’s No Wrong Place to Start Reading Pratchett. You might want to read that one.
Being relatively nouveau fan myself (I started Discworld January this year), I remember too well the difficulty I had deciding what to read first. After a warm up read with
Faust Eric, I grabbed what I can find and fortunately, a local book dealer was selling a first edition and S.I.G.N.E.D. copy of Going Postal (pub. 2004) and after reading the blurb, I know I was hooked- as hooked as any pin collector who just discovered the spectacular world of stamps!
Now before I go on, I’d like to tell you a brief history of my profession that may have influenced why Going Postal is one of my favorite Discworld novel apart from being the one that made me a convert.
I’m a writer and producer for television. It may sound lucrative (or not?) but what I mostly do is think of ways for a brand to appeal to a certain market. In other words, I am the handmaid of the advertising industry. Many of us have grown biased against the industry, that’s why cable channels are a big hit, and netflix is on demand. We would avoid advertisements as much as we can that’s why advertising agencies have devised more cunning devilry such as below the line advertising, corporate communication and guerilla marketing. Big companies spend large amounts of money in advertising. Jaded consumers think they don’t spend enough on improving product or service. But why am I telling you this? If you stop reading this right now and read on the wikipedia for Going Postal, you’ll know that it’s pretty much like that. But, funnier, and infinitely more entertaining!
In Ankh-Morpork, (prime Discworld city), supreme tyrant, Lord Vetinari is contemplating a conundrum. The clacks semaphore communication system owned by big private company – The Grand Trunk is on a perpetual break down. Mysterious deaths and accidents riddle enterprising people who challenge the company and it seemed their monopoly of the service is inconveniencing progress.
But Lord Vetinari didn’t hold his position as supreme tyrant for so long without a few tricks up his sleeve. Enter or rather dropped by hanging, Moist von Lipwig, convicted felon, conman, forger, liar and thief, was given the keys to the old and battered Post Office to assume the position of Postmaster General. That, or get another appointment with the hangman. Moist von Lipwig chose life and so his adventures and misadventures as a government official begun.
“Steal five dollars and you’re a petty thief. Steal thousands of dollars and you were either a government or a hero,” observes Moist.
Three reasons on why Going Postal is one of the best starter Discworld novel presents itself:
1) You don’t need prior knowledge of the 32 novels that precede it.
2) A new set of characters are introduced including the young and shining protagonist, Moist von Lipwig and his sweetheart, chain smoker Adora Belle Deartheart and the post office creatures, one hypochondriac, a total pinhead, a golem parole officer and a secret society of postmen (well not secret, more ignored actually).
3) It’s a wonderful throwback to a system of communication which many young people with their mobile phones, email, internet may have missed. Letters, snail mail, stamps!
If I be allowed another item just for emphasis:
For some of us, stamps are artifacts of a lost technology but reading about it in this novel as if it’s one of the greatest innovation in human history inspires a sense of nostalgia and so much fun.
While for many Discworld fans who have been following the adventures of its witches, wizards, dwarves, trolls, Death (personified) policemen etc, Moist von Lipwig is a welcome addition to a world already populated by beloved characters. Far from slowing down, the series was energized by the advent of a character that can sell dreams, and inspire civic cooperation, even if that man is a “reformed” con artist.
New and younger readers can find a familiar face in Moist von Lipwig, not only because he is relatively young and full of energy but because he looks to the uncertainty of the future as an adventure. I think that message stuck to me as I read the next Discworld novels and I can ask for no better way to start the series than through Going Postal.
Moist von Lipwig features in another two novels, Making Money and Raising Steam, the last Discworld novel in publication.