Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Going Postal

by Terry Pratchett
352 pgs  (Discworld series #33)

In what I think is his 33rd Discworld book, British comic-fantasy writer Terry Pratchett takes aim at the antiquated and government-run postal system.

In an age when communications can now be sent almost instantaneously between two people, is there really any use for the traditional system? Lord Vetinari, the ruler of Ankh-Morpork believes that there is. So much so, in fact, that he pardons Ankh-Morpork's longtime con man Moist von Lipwig--who was so close to being executed when Vetinari intervened that his neck had started to itch from the rope wrapped around it--and gives him a job that he can't refuse, literally. In exchange for his life, Lipwig is tasked with taking the job of postmaster general for Ankh-Morpork's Post Office and revitalizing it.

Lipwig arrives at the Post Office to discover that while the two remaining junior postmen still on staff had stopped delivering the mail twenty years ago, that didn't mean that Ankh-Morpork's citizens had stopped sending it. Lipwig finds every room filled to the ceiling with undelivered mail, and as he sets out to deliver two decades' worth of love letters, last wills and testaments, and all other types of correspondence, he also discovers how the system arrived at the awful state it was in. The powerful forces behind the new email-esque system known as the clacks system control it and want it to disappear.

Going Postal is a great addition to the Discworld series. It's a perfect example of why it's such an iconic series to those who read fantasy. It's full of Pratchett's wit and one-of-a-kind perspectives on the round world and is as good a spot as any to jump into the series for those yet to experience it.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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