Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the talents of Terry Prachett

Writer of smart, quick and sharp satirical fantasy that will put you in stitches*.

From a conversation between Lord Vetinari (the somehow practically omniscient patrician of Ankh-Morpork) and Moist von Lipwig (former thief and scam artist, now Postmaster General of Ankh-Morpork, who is being driven secretly insane by respectability) in "Making Money":

"When you took over the Post Office, Mr. Lipwig, it was a disgrace. Now it works quite efficiently. Efficiently enough to be boring, in fact. Why, a young man might find himself climbing walls by night, perhaps, or picking locks for the thrill of it, or even flirting with Extreme Sneezing. How are you finding the lock picks, by the way?"

It had been a poky little shop in a poky alley, and there had been no one in there but the little old lady who'd sold him the picks. He still didn't know exactly why he'd bought them. They were only geographically illegal, but it gave him a little thrill to know they were in his jacket. It was sad, like those businessmen who came to work in serious clothes but wore colorful ties in a mad, desperate attempt to show there was a free spirit in there somewhere.

Oh gods, I've become one of them. But at least he doesn't seem to know about the blackjack.

"I'm not too bad," he said.

"And the blackjack? You, who have never struck another man? You clamber on rooftops and pick the locks on your own desks. You're like a caged animal, dreaming of the jungle! I'd like to give you what you long for. I'd like to throw you to the lions."

Moist began to protest, but Vetinari held up a hand.

"You took our joke of a post office, Mr. Lipwig, and made it a solemn undertaking. But the banks of Ankh-Morpork, sir, are very serious indeed. They are serious donkeys, Mr. Lipwig. There have been too many failures. They're stuck in the mud, they live in the past, they are hypnotized by class and wealth, they think gold is important."

"Er...isn't it?"

"No. And thief and swindler that you are--pardon me, once were--you know it, deep down. For you, it was just a way of keeping score," said Vetinari. "What does gold know of true worth? Look out the window and tell me what you see."

"Um...a small, scruffy dog watching a man taking a piss in an alley," said Moist. "Sorry, but you chose the wrong time."

"Had I been taken less literally," said Lord Vetinari, giving him a Look, "you would have seen a large, bustling city, full of ingenious people spinning wealth out of the common clay of the world. They construct, build, carve, bake, cast, mold, forge, and devise strange and inventive crimes. But they keep their money in old socks. They trust their socks better than they trust banks. Coinage is in artificially short supply, which is why your postage stamps are now a de facto currency. Our serious banking system is a mess. A joke, in fact."

"It'll be a bigger joke if you put me in charge," said Moist.

Vetinari gave him a brief little smile. "Will it?" he said. "Well, we all need a chuckle sometimes."

I do hope that you read all of that. There are points of amusement scattered liberally throughout like funfetti. Nobody wants to miss out on funfetti. Read it.

*Did you see that? I have no shame. Ten points if you know what I'm talking about.


  1. Thank you for all of your enthusiastic comments. :)

  2. "Funfetti" - I love it! Such a brilliant description, and so very appropriate. :-)

  3. Thanks Chris. :) I was rather pleased with it.