Government that works

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

I’ve been re-reading a handful of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels – of which Going Postal is one – that show a government that works. There’s political grandstanding, but never for long. The main feature of Ankh-Morpork is that its government works – it’s a mess, but shit gets done and it benefits the largest group of people. The reason that the grandstanding fails is that its been rigged by a group of elites who care more about their privileges than the mob. Beware the mob.

Going Postal is about the ins and outs of the post office and taking it from a non-functioning building full of undelivered letters to a working concern that quickly moves information from one place to another. It’s funny and interesting – our hero is an energetic con artist, and the bad guys are the people unwilling to put in the maintenance to keep a system going.

It gives me patience and hope, honestly.

I assume Terry Pratchett wasn’t a royalist

Men at armsTerry Pratchett’s Discworld books are always about something. Men at Arms is about power, which is a thing I enjoy reading about. Corporal Carrot, you see, is the last heir to the Kings of Ankh-Morpork. The kings have not been in power for a very long time. A disgruntled elite who wants to be in power decides to attempt to remove the actual ruler of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari. (A person with whom you should not trifle.) There are other things that happen, there’s a murder mystery, but Mr Prachett ably weaves the various storylines together.

The world-building is good, the story is entertaining, royalty (spoiler!) does not make a comeback and everyone is largely ok with that in the end. And it’s all done with a light hand. Overall: a win.

Dragons and Discworld

Guards Guards

Guards! Guards! is the first of the novels about the Night Watch, a group of police in Terry Pratchett’s extensive Discworld. (Discworld spans 40 novels of varying quality. This is one of the  [many] good ones.) There are only three guards left at this point, but then they get a new recruit – Carrot Ironfoundresson. It’s hinted that he’s the last remaining descendant of the kings who once ruled Ankh-Morpork, the main city of Discworld. He doesn’t move the plot along, though. That has to wait for the next book. This one is about a dragon who keeps being summoned into existence (and then popping out of existence) before deciding to take matters into its own hands.

It’s enjoyable. I downloaded it for a bit of brain candy, and it hit the spot.

It’s about a balance of power, not about winning

Good Omens

Good Omens is an old favorite.

There is good in the world, and there is evil. God has his agent on earth and so does the Devil. They’ve been here for awhile, influencing events. It becomes time for the apocalypse to come along; it doesn’t quite go the way anyone’s planned. Good Omens is more about the yin and the yang of the world – there has to be evil for there to be good and visa versa. Humans are comprised of both – why would God create the world like that if He or She wanted everyone to be good all the time? Hmmmm?