Going Postal (Discworld Series #33)

Overview

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 ...

See more details below
Paperback (Mass Market Paperback)
$8.99
BN.com price
(Save 10%)$9.99 List Price
Going Postal (Discworld Series #33)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$5.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Going Postal, the 29th novel in Terry Pratchett's hilarious Discworld series -- a saga that parodies, well, everything! -- chronicles the life, execution, and glorious rebirth of Moist von Lipwig, a career criminal who is sentenced to a fate worse than death: He's named Postmaster of Ankh-Morpork!

Given the option between being hanged or accepting a job to get Ankh-Morpork's nonexistent postal service up and running again, Moist chooses the latter. But he has no intention of working for the government; the first chance Moist gets he's escaping Ankh-Morpork, unearthing a hidden fortune, and hightailing it to points unknown. The only drawback to his plan is that Lord Havelock Vetinari, the supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, has assigned a golem as Moist's parole officer. Golems, giant supernatural entities made from clay, don't need to eat, sleep, or breathe. No matter where Moist goes, the golem (named Mr. Pump) can and will follow. With no hope of escape, Moist glumly accepts his fate. With only two employees left -- an old man with nowhere else to go and a mentally unstable boy obsessed with pins -- Moist must somehow deliver literally mountains of old mail, compete against the technologically superior clack tower message system, and survive the postal curse that has killed all his predecessors.

The two major reasons why Pratchett's Discworld saga continues to be wildly popular after an amazing 29 novels are simple: His outlandish sense of humor never gets old, and with every new novel he throws new and captivating characters -- like Moist von Lipwig, Adora Bella Dearheart, and Iodine Maccalariat -- into the mix. Discworld fans will not only delight in this extremely funny novel, they'll never look at (or lick!) stamps the same way again. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
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. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
The incredibly prolific Pratchett does it again, producing yet another entry in the amazing Discworld series. The number of books in this series is upwards of twenty or so, and the author's wit and imagination does not desert him here, although nowadays Discworld is perhaps a little less magical than it was in the earlier titles. Confidence trickster Moist Van Lipwig is rescued from the gallows by Lord Vetinari, dictator of Ankh-Morpork-but only on the condition that he run the long moribund Post Office. No mail has been delivered from the Post Office for decades, but a skeleton staff still remains, overwhelmed by tons of undelivered letters. Meanwhile the telegraph, "the clacks," has become a poorly run monopoly owned by a ruthless scoundrel and a group of greedy investors. To this crowd, a viable post office is a personal threat, and they quickly arrange to burn down the old building, trying to include the postal staff in the bonfire. The reluctant new Post Master struggles to outwit a band of swindlers just as unprincipled as he and only succeeds by pulling off his ultimate scam. Although his humor and allusions are quite British, Pratchett's novels for youth and adults have a devoted worldwide following. The Discworld books, beneath their comic veneer, are increasingly concerned with universal issues such as power, equal rights, law, and justice. This novel will be greedily welcomed by Pratchett fans and should garner new ones. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2004, HarperCollins, 377p., Ages 15 toAdult.
—Rayna Patton
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062334978
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2014
  • Series: Discworld Series , #33
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 657,512
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is one of the world's most popular authors. His acclaimed novels are bestsellers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. In January 2009, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Pratchett a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry lives in England.

Biography

Welcome to a magical world populated by the usual fantasy fare: elves and ogres, wizards and witches, dwarves and trolls. But wait—is that witch wielding a frying pan rather than a broomstick? Has that wizard just clumsily tumbled off the edge of the world? And what is with the dwarf they call Carrot, who just so happens to stand six-foot six-inches tall? Why, this is not the usual fantasy fare at all—this is Terry Pratchett's delightfully twisted Discworld!

Beloved British writer Pratchett first jump-started his career while working as a journalist for Bucks Free Press during the '60s. As luck would have it, one of his assignments was an interview with Peter Bander van Duren, a representative of a small press called Colin Smythe Limited. Pratchett took advantage of his meeting with Bander van Duren to pitch a weird story about a battle set in the pile of a frayed carpet. Bander van Duren bit, and in 1971 Pratchett's very first novel, The Carpet People, was published, setting the tone for a career characterized by wacky flights of fancy and sly humor.

Pratchett's take on fantasy fiction is quite unlike that of anyone else working in the genre. The kinds of sword-and-dragon tales popularized by fellow Brits like J.R.R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis have traditionally been characterized by their extreme self-seriousness. However, Pratchett has retooled Middle Earth and Narnia with gleeful goofiness, using his Discworld as a means to poke fun at fantasy. As Pratchett explained to Locus Magazine, "Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it."

In 1983, Pratchett unveiled Discworld with The Color of Magic. Since then, he has added installments to the absurdly hilarious saga at the average rate of one book per year. Influenced by moderately current affairs, he has often used the series to subtly satirize aspects of the real world; the results have inspired critics to rapturous praise. ("The most breathtaking display of comic invention since PG Wodehouse," raved The Times of London.) He occasionally ventures outside the series with standalone novels like the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a sci fi adventure sequence for young readers, or Good Omens, his bestselling collaboration with graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Sadly, in 2008 fans received the devastating news that Pratchett had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. He has described his own reaction as "fairly philosophical" and says he plans to continue writing so long as he is able.

Good To Know

Pratchett's bestselling young adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind was adapted for the British stage as a critically acclaimed musical in 2004.

Discworld is not just the subject of a bestselling series of novels. It has also inspired a series of computer games in which players play the role of the hapless wizard Rincewind.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Pratchett:

"I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat…colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up."

"The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

"I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener and it's in the blood. Grew really good chilies this year.

"I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not ‘celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet.

Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      Terence David John Pratchett
    2. Hometown:
      Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 28, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

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."

The foregoing is excerpted from Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Going Postal
A Novel of Discworld

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.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions from the Publisher
1. When the character of Moist is first introduced, his virtues are described in the language of business and money. "Moist always invested in generosity"; "he made a point of getting on with people." What is the effect of this device?

2. Discuss the role of golems in Ankh-Morpork society. While they glaringly exhibit inhuman characteristics - they never sleep, they never eat, they have glowing red eyes - they are nevertheless made up of earthy material and are frequently referred to as moral and honest. In the text, Miss Dearheart attributes this morality to their lack of "existential angst" (63). What does Pratchett seem to be saying here? Can we blame our uncertainty about our purpose in life for much of our immoral behavior? For any of it?

3. In this first section of the book we meet Stanley, a self-professed "pinhead." What would be the most popular modern equivalent of collecting pins? And what can we therefore infer about the system used by the "moribund" post office?

4. "Stupidity had a limited life in this city" (110). In Ankh-Morpork, intelligence seems to be crucial for survival, even if it can lead to people being conned and otherwise hurt. How do you think this relates to Terry Pratchett's statement that he likes the theory of evolution because he finds the idea of a "risen ape" more beautiful than that of a "fallen angel"?

5. Referring back to last week's discussion about the golems, how does the human need for intelligence (with all its guile and dishonesty) in order to survive reflect on golems' apparent morality? Is it the case that golems are able to be moral not because they have no "existential angst", as Miss Dearheart claimed, but because they are not vulnerable like humans to injury, starvation or disease? Does the combination of intelligence and mortality introduce a species to moral dilemmas?

6. "You have to be clever to refrain from doing [magic] when you knew how easy it was" (148). Pratchett satirically equates magic in Discworld with aspects of experimental science in our own - particularly by having the magicians deal with seemingly fantastical knowledge that is actually perfectly respectable modern physics, like possible worlds and quantum unpredictability. Do you think there are scientific experiments we should "refrain from doing"?

7. Going Postal tackles the subject of corporate greed and corruption, contrasting the "modern" clacks communication giant with the "old-fashioned" post office. What do you think Pratchett is trying to say about today's work environment in his portrayal of the two entities? On the subject of the clacks, Moist muses that "maybe it was something so big that no one could run it at a profit. […] maybe the profit turned up spread around the whole of society" (366). Do you agree that companies should not pursue money alone? Are there some services which should lie outside the free market?

8. Terry Pratchett has said that he is writing about what happens "after fantasy," when golems are put to work pumping water and werewolves make good police officers because they can track down criminals. To what uses might you put these fantastical creatures in modern America?

9. Reacher Gilt, unofficial head of the clacks company, 'spins' the failure of the clacks in the newspaper by using "meaningless" corporate jargon like "core competencies," "change management," "systemic" and "synergistically" to confuse the public (287). Later, Moist reflects that this is like dragging innocent words into the gutter, but concedes that "synergistically" had "probably been a whore from the start." Are there any words currently used in business or politics that you think belong "in the gutter" with it?

10. One of the book's central themes is hope. Lord Vetinari says that "hope is the curse of humanity" (292) and Moist repeatedly cites hope as the reason that glass can be made to look so much more like diamond than diamond does. He also claims that "people enjoy the experience of being fooled, if it promises a certain amount of entertainment" (307). On a number of occasions, Moist dupes the Ankh-Morporkian public. But on the whole, do you think the hope they gave him was misplaced? Do you think he chose not to destroy the clacks for the public good, or because his alternative was more dramatic? Does it matter?

As a side question, why do you think the image of a glass diamond which looks more real than a real one is repeated so often in the book? Does it work as a metaphor for something (or someone)?

12. Terry Pratchett has said that Going Postal is about the "redemption of a basically good man." In what ways is that redemption made manifest? Moist reconciles himself to the prospect of an honest life by resolving that "All he had to do was remind himself, every few months, that he could quit anytime. Provided he knew he could, he'd never have to. (370)" Do you think that's a realistic portrayal of redemption? 13. Another overriding theme is choice - a concept which is intimately bound up with that of freedom. Specifically, we see a lot of choices being offered which turn out not to be choices at all. Moist is given a choice between a(nother) drop to his death and a job. He even jokes about it to Dearheart: Dearheart: "Why did you take it?" Moist: "It was a job for life" And Lord Vetinari tells the clacks company that "the only choice your customers have is between you and nothing." But Moist makes at least two very important choices entirely of his own volition. What are they? And what does Pratchett seem to be saying? Is freedom a universal right, or is the freedom to choose tied up with self-sacrifice? (Literally, in the case of Vetinari's door!) The golems 'buy' their freedom. Ultimately, is that all any of us can do?

Read More Show Less

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)