MOVING PICTURES (1990)
While the earliest technological items we’ve seen on the Discworld were the iconograph, Moving Pictures takes the technology a step further and uses an imp- and salamander movie camera and projector. However, certain problems occur as a result of the experimentation with new technology, as always happens when people play around with new discoveries.
Consider the case of Thomas Midgley (1889-1944). In 1921 he discovered that lead reduced the engine-knocking in a car-engine significantly and lead was introduced into gasoline. We all know what happened as a result of that. Today we are still struggling with the effects of that discovery. Later on he managed to come up with freon which has had a severe effect on the ozone layer. Why should the Discworld be any different?
Obviously, the place to find inventors on the Discworld has to be at the Unseen University or the Alchemist’s Guild (of whom Leonard of Quirm is a member). Where else could a bunch of people willing to try anything in the name of science be found. The motto of the alchemist’s guild is: All that glitters is gold. Most of their experiments tend to end in loud explosions, causing their building to be in a state of constant repair. Unfortunately for Ankh-Morpork, they have now managed to come up with Octo-cellulose, one of the major factors of the events in Moving Pictures.
Another major event leading to the opportunities had at Holy Wood was the death of the door keeper. You’d think that a place needing a guard for their door, ensuring that it’s kept closed, would be a hint to stay away. But it never is, because curiosity is something that people struggle with. Some of us will always push the big red button just to see what will happen (no matter what the sign says). Once Holy Wood becomes accessible, people are drawn there like flies to honey.
Gaspode, the talking dog shows his face again. He gets to have an important part in the book, along with other dogs with suspicious names. Dibbler plays his usual scheming self and Death makes appearances as well in the book. Befuddled, eternal student, Vincent, is our main character. Poor guy. He gets completely sucked into the whole Holy Wood scene. Poor Ridicully and his wizardly gang have to join in the chaos and save the day.
You all know that Pratchett is making fun of Hollywood and the whole film industry (not just there). The glamour, hype, fame and craziness are all seen in one part or another of Moving Pictures.
THE TRUTH (2000)
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Our main character William deWorde, estranged from his family, starts out by writing a newsletter for foreign dignitaries. Once the dwarves bring in a press to Ankh-Morpork William ends up with a very popular newsletter called The Times. All of a sudden William is employing a journalist, Sacharissa Cripslock, and a photographer, Otto Chriek, to get enough news.
Poor Otto. Such dedication. Being a vampire with an obsession for photography cannot be easy on one’s health. Good thing he has his vial of blood with him om every assignment. The Times are lucky to have him on their staff in their search for truth.
Competition is bound to arrive on the scene. The Guild of Engravers and Printers are producing a newsletter called the Ankh-Morpork inquirer. In it you’ll find articles on just about anything, whether it be true or not.
In the meantime, a plot against Vetinari is once again going on. The Firm (in the form of Mr. Tulip and Mr. Pin) are doing their best to get him accused of murder. Part of that plot is kidnapping Vetinari, but Vetinari’s dog Mr. Wuffles, gets away. Pin and Tulip need to find Wuffles, but The Times is also on the hunt and De Worde has offered a $ 25 reward for Mr. Wuffles. As usual chaos and mayhem ensue.
Journalism is obviously the theme in The Truth. Media’s function in society should be questioned at every opportunity. There is plenty of power in deciding what the truth is and who should hear it. The intentions of the owners and journalists matter a great deal. The potential for doing great harm or great good hangs as a temptation for the best of them.
- 2002: Stage adaptation of The Truth by Stephen Briggs
- 2008: Promo of The Truth by Brisbane Arts Theatre
- 2009: Extracts of the performance of The Truth by Canberra Grammar School
- 2010: Trailer of The Truth by the Emmanuel College Drama
- 2011: A stop-motion animation of a scene from Terry Pratchett’s discworld novel ‘The Truth’
GOING POSTAL (2004)
The term “Going postal” was coined by Karl Vick in his article “Violence at work tied to loss of esteem”. “Going postal” refers to an employee who becomes so disgruntled with her/his workplace that she/he ends up being violent towards co-workers.
Moist von Lipwig is a conman who has conned one too many, leading to his capture. In our lovely Ankh-Morpork prison he is on death row. Waking up after his so-called hanging, Moist discovers that he has been given a choice: Become postmaster or walk out THAT door. Looking out the door, Moist discovers that the drop is a bit too deep for his preference. Postmaster it is.
The postmaster function in Ankh-Morpork has not been filled in decades. The Post Office is overflowing with undelivered mail. There are two employees left, living in the Post Office. They are Junior Postman Tolliver Groat and his assistant Stanley Howler. Moist certainly has his work cut out for him.
Delivering the undelivered mail is only one part of Moist’s problems. Another part is getting people to use the Post Office again, seeing it as a viable option to the Clacks. The Clacks could with a certain portion of good-will be compared to the telegraph. The Grand Trunk Company owns and operated the clacks, and they do not like the fact that the Post Office is coming to life again. In addition to these problems, von Lipwig discovers that the Post Office seems to have come into a sort of life of its own. It has definite opinions and is not afraid to share them – causing some near-death experiences.
During his duties Moist meets the golem activist Adora Dearheart. She fights for the freedom of Golem from slave-contracts. Instead they buy themselves free one at a time, through getting proper work-contracts.
Golem activism or the battle against slavery and abuse of workers has been a recurring theme in Pratchett’s books. Is it possible for people to change or do we just need to change their focus. After all it was von Lipwig’s phenomenal abilities as a con-man that made it possible for him to be the kind of Postmaster that Ankh-Morpork needed. Once again Terry takes a look at the function of technology in the world. Is it a thing for the betterment of mankind?
- 2005: Going Postal adapted for stage by Stephen Briggs
- 2010: Going Postal adapted for television by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle
MAKING MONEY (2007)
This time Vetinari tries to volunteer Moist for the banking business. After all, now that the postal business is up and running, we can’t have Moist with any time on his hands. You never know what he’ll do then. Moist won’t have any of it.
Sadly, life doesn’t always happen the way we would like it to. During his stint at the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork the owner’s dog, Mr. Fusspot, found von Lipwig quite likeable. When Topsy Lavish dies, she leaves 50% of the shares to her dog (who already owns 1%), making him Chairdog. Mr. Fusspot is left to Lipwig. Mrs. Lavish is a smart woman and has made sure that Moist knows the Assassin’s Guild have a contract on him if anything should happen to her dear Mr. Fusspot.
Moist van Lipwig is now in the banking business, and banking will never be the same in Ankh-Morpork. Neither will Moist.
Lovely Adela is still trying to help the golem population. She has travelled to the ancient civilization of Um to uncover 4 golden golems who have been buried a very long time. When she returns with them everyone gets a surprise, not least of all Moist’s enemies.
In Making Money Pratchett takes a look at our definition of money and people’s acceptance of monetary value. Banking gets its day in the sun and a well-needed sunning that is.
UNSEEN ACADEMICALS (2009)
Mr. Scattering was at work as a night-guard at the Royal Art Museum when he experienced an explosion.
He did not want people to know about the gloriously glittering lady holding a large ball over her head before she vanished.
Smeems, the Candle Knave, makes his rounds every night lighting and refilling the candlesticks. His apprentice, Nutt, is stepping in for Trevor Likely, who seems to have taken ill. Nutts is a keen, gray-skinned fellow who tries to fit in at the UU.
Archchancellor Ridicully is a loud wizard, in a place where wizards generally take up a lot of space. Wizards are, usually, celibate. They find their celibate thoughts challenged when the housekeeper employs lovely and empty-headed Juliet. Glenda, the other housemaid, is frustrated with Juliet’s looks and empty-headedness. Getting her to focus on one task is difficult.
Ponder Stibbons, a jr. wizard, makes it his life’s mission to protect the universe from Arch-chancellor Ridicully. Sometimes that means unpleasant duties. One of those duties is telling Ridicully that the Archancellor Preserved Bigger’s Bequest is about to engage the UU in traditional sports, the Poor Boys’ Fun. As we all know, the wizards (with the exception of Ridicully) abhor physical exercise. There will be no getting out of if if they want to keep the bequest.
A team will have to be organized and getting to learn the rules of the game will be essential for them. Unfortunately, this football-like game seems to have very few rules. With Vetinari the wizards attempt to set out some rules for the game. After all, they do want to survive. They get their own coach in the form of Mr. Nutt. The wizards even end up with their own cheerleaders.
Pratchett is fond of bringing Shakespeare into the Discworld. Unseen Academicals is no exception. This time Romeo and Juliet, in the form of Trev and Julie, gets Terry’s touch. Poor lovers. They belong to teams who absolutely hate each other.