Going postal A novel of Discworld

Terry Pratchett

Book - 2004

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SCIENCE FICTION/Pratchett, Terry
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Subjects
Published
New York : HarperCollins 2004.
Language
English
Main Author
Terry Pratchett (-)
Edition
1st ed
Item Description
Published in paperback (with different pagination) by harperTorch in 2005.
Physical Description
377 p.
ISBN
9780062334978
9780060502935
9780060013134
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Alfred Spangler is dead. Moist von Lipwig, formerly known as Alfred Spangler, is presented with a choice: certain death or reviving the Ankh-Morpork post office. Lord Vetinari is persuasive, and Moist is an intelligent if dishonest fellow, so he finds himself with a job and a golem for a parole officer. But the postmaster generalship is harder than Moist expected; for one thing, no mail has been delivered in years, and the entire building is buried in letters and pigeon guano. His postmen are a youth mad for pin collecting and the obsessively dedicated, elderly Mr. Groat. Moreover, the undelivered letters want to be delivered, and they're being distressingly vocal about it. Now the owners of the Grand Trunk clacks company, profit-minded above all else, want Moist dead because, well, they can't take the competition, even with the clacks towers running ragged. Whenever the towers fail, Moist is on the job, getting messages out of Ankh-Morpork. Moist is positively inspired (he takes a certain pleasure in out-scamming Reacher Gilt) and becomes an example to the postmen, even going so far as to deliver a letter 40 years old, after which he sends them out to deliver the rest. Moist will go to almost any length to do his job, from hiring golem postmen to challenging the Grand Trunk to an impossible race; along the way, he even manages to overcome his fear and ask Adora Belle Dearheart (aka Killer) out to dinner. Instead of revisiting old characters, Pratchett again takes on the task of further rounding out his already beautifully imagined Discworld, doing it with his usual blending of good laughs and unexpected depths. --Regina Schroeder Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

British fantasist Pratchett's latest special-delivery delight, set in his wonderfully crazed city of Ankh-Morpork, hilariously reflects the plight of post offices the world over as they struggle to compete in an era when e-mail has stolen much of the glamour from the postal trade. Soon after Moist von Lipwig (aka Alfred Spangler), Pratchett's not-quite-hapless, accidental hero, barely avoids hanging, Lord Havelock Vetinari, the despotic but pretty cool ruler of Ankh-Morpork, makes him a job offer he can't refuse postmaster general of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office. The post office hasn't been open for 20 years since the advent of the Internet-like clacks communication system. Moist's first impulse is to try to escape, but Mr. Pump, his golem parole officer, quickly catches him. Moist must then deal with the musty mounds of undelivered mail that fill every room of the decaying Post Office building maintained by ancient and smelly Junior Postman Groat and his callow assistant, Apprentice Postman Stanley. The place is also haunted by dead postmen and guarded by Mr. Tiddles, a crafty cat. Readers will cheer Moist on as he eventually finds himself in a race with the dysfunctional clacks system to see whose message can be delivered first. Thanks to the timely subject matter and Pratchett's effervescent wit, this 29th Discworld novel (after 2003's Monstrous Regiment) may capture more of the American audience he deserves. Agent, Ralph M. Vicinanza. (On sale Sept. 28) Forecast: Despite sales of more than 35 million copies of his books worldwide, Pratchett has yet to become a U.S. bestseller. This one may finally break him out of category. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Convicted criminal Moist von Lipwig has a terrible choice: he can hang, or he can try to reform Ank Morpork's post office (where one postman is 18,000 years old). Discworld keeps growing. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-When petty con man Moist von Lipwig is hung for his crimes in the first chapter of this surprising and humorous novel, it appears to be the end. But this is Discworld after all, a world "a lot like our own but different." Moist awakes from the shock of his hanging to find that the city's Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has assigned him a government job (a fate worse than death?) restoring the defunct postal system. Of course, there is much more to restore than the flow of letters and packages. Justice as well as communication has been poorly served by a hostile takeover of the "clacks"-a unique messaging system that is part semaphore, part digital, and under the monopoly of the Grand Trunk Company. Before Moist can get very far into the job, he encounters ghosts, the voices of unsent letters, and a ruthless corporate conspiracy. In this quickly escalating battle, the post office is definitely the underdog, but, as the author notes, "an underdog can always find somewhere soft to bite." Fortunately Moist has friends: the determined Miss Dearheart, a golem with more than feet of clay, and a secret society of unemployed and very unusual postal workers as well as a vampire named Oscar. The author's inventiveness seems to know no end, his playful and irreverent use of language is a delight, and there is food for thought in his parody of fantasyland. This 29th Discworld novel, like the rest of the series, is a surefire hit for fans of Douglas Adams and Monty Python.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Pratchett satirizes the modern telecom business in a deeply satisfying comedy about a man sent to a fate worse than death: the post office. Fans of Pratchett's Discworld series will be happy he's returning to the city of Ankh-Morpork - after the Balkan War-esque madness of Monstrous Regiment (2003)- though it's not to the familiar environs of the Watch or Unseen University. This time, Moist Von Lipwig, a scam artist with a host of aliases, has just been hanged for his crimes - except that he hasn't, due to some trickery with the rope. It seems that the Duke wants a man everybody thinks is dead to take over the city's long-moribund post office. That's no easy task, what with only two employees left, both pretty much insane, puttering around the massive, dead-letter-stuffed edifice, not to mention the competition with the clacks towers. Pratchett follows Moist's attempts to resuscitate regular mail service as he goes up against the evil hegemony of corporate toadies running the clacks towers, a once-impressive series of semaphore towers that, when they work, can send a message hundreds of miles in no time at all, but at a hefty price. With the exception of a few heavy-handed statements about the public good versus private profit, Pratchett slides the satire in around the edges of the primary action: watching a career criminal transitioning rather quickly to earnest civic flunky, all under the watchful (glowing red) eyes of a monstrously powerful and patient government-employed golem. Although Moist seems a little too eager to leave his bad ways behind, it's almost shamefully enjoyable to watch him restore the mail routes, invent the idea of stamps, and go toe-to-toe with everything from rapacious businessmen to bloodthirsty banshees as he shows how to deliver letters over 40 years late. Sharp-edged humor and wonderfully executed. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Going Postal A Novel of Discworld Chapter One The Angel In which our hero experiences Hope, the greatest gift The bacon sandwich of regret Somber reflections on capital punishment from the hangman Famous last words Our hero dies Angels, conversations about Inadvisability of misplaced offers regarding broomsticks An unexpected ride A world free of honest men A man on the hop There is always a choice They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man's mind wonderfully; unfortunately, what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that, in the morning, it will be in a body that is going to be hanged. The man going to be hanged had been named Moist von Lipwig by doting if unwise parents, but he was not going to embarrass the name, insofar as that was still possible, by being hung under it. To the world in general, and particularly on that bit of it known as the death warrant, he was Alfred Spangler. And he took a more positive approach to the situation and had concentrated his mind on the prospect of not being hanged in the morning, and, most particularly, on the prospect of removing all the crumbling mortar from around a stone in his cell wall with a spoon. So far the work had taken him five weeks and reduced the spoon to something like a nail file. Fortunately, no one ever came to change the bedding here, or else they would have discovered the world's heaviest mattress. It was a large and heavy stone that was currently the object of his attentions, and, at some point, a huge staple had been hammered into it as an anchor for manacles. Moist sat down facing the wall, gripped the iron ring in both hands, braced his legs against the stones on either side, and heaved. His shoulders caught fire, and a red mist filled his vision, but the block slid out with a faint and inappropriate tinkling noise. Moist managed to ease it away from the hole and peered inside. At the far end was another block, and the mortar around it looked suspiciously strong and fresh. Just in front of it was a new spoon. It was shiny. As he studied it, he heard the clapping behind him. He turned his head, tendons twanging a little riff of agony, and saw several of the wardens watching him through the bars. "Well done, Mr. Spangler!" said one of them. "Ron here owes me five dollars! I told him you were a sticker! 'He's a sticker,' I said!" "You set this up, did you, Mr.Wilkinson?" said Moist weakly, watching the glint of light on the spoon. "Oh, not us, sir. Lord Vetinari's orders. He insists that all condemned prisoners should be offered the prospect of freedom." "Freedom? But there's a damn great stone through there!" "Yes, there is that, sir, yes, there is that," said the warden. "It's only the prospect, you see. Not actual free freedom as such. Hah, that'd be a bit daft, eh?" "I suppose so, yes," said Moist. He didn't say "you bastards." The wardens had treated him quite civilly these past six weeks, and he made a point of getting on with people. He was very, very good at it. People skills were part of his stock-in-trade; they were nearly the whole of it. Besides, these people had big sticks. So, speaking carefully, he added: "Some people might consider this cruel, Mr.Wilkinson." "Yes, sir, we asked him about that, sir, but he said no, it wasn't. He said it provided"-his forehead wrinkled-"occ-you-pay-shunall ther-rap-py, healthy exercise, prevented moping, and offered that greatest of all treasures, which is Hope, sir." "Hope," muttered Moist glumly. "Not upset, are you, sir?" "Upset? Why should I be upset, Mr.Wilkinson?" "Only the last bloke we had in this cell, he managed to get down that drain, sir. Very small man. Very agile." Moist looked at the little grid in the floor. He'd dismissed it out of hand. "Does it lead to the river?" he said. The warden grinned. "You'd think so, wouldn't you? He was really upset when we fished him out. Nice to see you've entered into the spirit of the thing, sir. You've been an example to all of us, sir, the way you kept going. Stuffing all the dust in your mattress? Very clever, very tidy. Very neat. It's really cheered us up, having you in here. By the way, Mrs.Wilkinson says thanks very much for the fruit basket. Very posh, it is. It's got kumquats, even!" "Don't mention it, Mr.Wilkinson." "The warden was a bit green about the kumquats, 'cos he only got dates in his, but I told him, sir, that fruit baskets is like life- until you've got the pineapple off of the top you never know what's underneath. He says thank you, too." "Glad he liked it, Mr.Wilkinson," said Moist absentmindedly. Several of his former landladies had brought in presents for "the poor, confused boy," and Moist always invested in generosity. A career like his was all about style, after all. "On that general subject, sir," said Mr.Wilkinson, "me and the lads were wondering if you might like to unburden yourself, at this point in time, on the subject of the whereabouts of the place where the location of the spot is where, not to beat about the bush, you hid all that money you stole . . . ?" The jail went silent. Even the cockroaches were listening. "No, I couldn't do that, Mr. Wilkinson," said Moist loudly, after a decent pause for dramatic effect. He tapped his jacket pocket, held up a finger, and winked. The warders grinned back. "We understand totally, sir. Now I'd get some rest if I was you, sir, 'cos we're hanging you in half an hour," said Mr.Wilkinson. "Hey, don't I get breakfast?" "Breakfast isn't until seven o'clock, sir," said the warder reproachfully. "But, tell you what, I'll do you a bacon sandwich. 'Cos it's you, Mr. Spangler." AND NOW IT WAS A FEW MINUTES before dawn and it was him being led down the short corridor and out into the little room under the scaffold. Moist realized he was looking at himself from a distance, as if part of himself was floating outside his body like a child's balloon, ready, as it were, for him to let go of the string. The room was lit by light coming through cracks in the scaffold floor above, and, significantly, from around the edges of the large trapdoor. The hinges of said door were being carefully oiled by a man in a hood. He stopped when he saw the party had arrived and said, "Good morning,Mr. Spangler." He raised the hood helpfully. "It's me, sir, Daniel 'One Drop' Trooper. I am your executioner for today, sir. Don't you worry, sir. I've hanged dozens of people.We'll soon have you out of here." "Is it true that if a man isn't hanged after three attempts he's reprieved, Dan?" said Moist, as the executioner carefully wiped his hands on a rag. "So I've heard, sir, so I've heard. But they don't call me 'One Drop' for nothing, sir. And will sir be having the black bag today?" "Will it help?" "Some people think it makes them look more dashing, sir. And it stops that pop-eyed look. It's more a crowd thing, really. Quite a big one out there this morning. Nice piece about you in the Times yesterday, I thought. All them people saying what a nice young man you were, and everything. Er . . . would you mind signing the rope beforehand, sir? I mean, I won't have a chance to ask you afterwards, eh?" "Signing the rope?" said Moist. "Yessir," said the hangman. "It's sort of traditional. There's a lot of people out there who buy old rope. Specialist collectors, you could say. A bit strange, but it takes all sorts, eh? Worth more signed, of course." He flourished a length of stout rope. "I've got a special pen that signs on rope. One signature every couple of inches? Straightforward signature, no dedication needed. Worth money to me, sir. I'd be very grateful." "So grateful that you won't hang me, then?" said Moist, taking the pen. This got an appreciative laugh. Mr. Trooper watched him sign along the length, nodding happily. "Well done, sir, that's my pension plan you're signing there. Now . . . are we ready, everyone?" "Not me!" said Moist quickly, to another round of general amusement. "You're a card,Mr. Spangler," said Mr.Wilkinson. "It won't be the same without you around, and that's the truth." "Not for me, at any rate," said Moist. This was, once again, treated like rapier wit. Moist sighed. "Do you really think all this deters crime,Mr.Trooper?" he said. "Well, in the generality of things I'd say it's hard to tell, given that it's hard to find evidence of crimes not committed," said the hangman, giving the trapdoor a final rattle. "But in the specificality, sir, I'd say it's very efficacious." "Meaning what?" said Moist. "Meaning I've never seen someone up here more'n once, sir. Shall we go?" There was a stir when they climbed up into the chilly morning air, followed by a few boos and even some applause. People were strange like that. Steal five dollars and you were a petty thief. Steal thousands of dollars and you were either a government or a hero. Moist stared ahead while the roll call of his crimes was read out. He couldn't help feeling that it was so unfair. He'd never so much as tapped someone on the head. He'd never even broken down a door. He had picked locks on occasion, but he'd always locked them again behind him. Apart from all those repossessions, bankruptcies, and sudden insolvencies, what had he actually done that was bad, as such? He'd only been moving numbers around. "Nice crowd turned out today," said Mr.Trooper, tossing the end of the rope over the beam and busying himself with knots. "Lot of press, too. What Gallows? covers 'em all, o'course, and there's the Times and the Pseudopolis Herald, prob'ly because of that bank what collapsed there, and I heard there's a man from the Sto Plains Dealer, too. Very good financial section, I always keep an eye on used-rope prices. Looks like a lot of people want to see you dead, sir." Moist was aware that a black coach had drawn up at the rear of the crowd. There was no coat of arms on the door, unless you were in on the secret, which was that Lord Vetinari's coat of arms featured a sable shield. Black on black. You had to admit, the bastard had style- Going Postal A Novel of Discworld . Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Going Postal by Terry Pratchett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.