Review: Moving Pictures (Discworld #10)

Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10)Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moving Pictures is a return to familiar characters doing familiar things: the beloved Patrician, who caused a servant to have ‘chosen of his own free will to become a spy’ given the alternative of ‘choosing of his own free will to be thrown into the scorpion pit’; and the guilds, such as the Alchemists whose only discovered skill so far ‘was the ability to turn gold into less gold’; and Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler who becomes the first to think of advertising when moving pictures are invented; and Ankh-Morpork itself, the city where

All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people just walk along them the wrong way.

In a cracking great look at just how much advertising has wormed its way into everything we’ve ever invented (and at ourselves for playing along) Pratchett throws what must be thousands of puns and cultural references into:

A Storie of Forbiden Love!
A searing Sarger of Passion that Bridged Spaes and Tyme!
This wille shok you!
With a 1,000 elephants!

Speaking of elephants, it’s also the first time I’ve seen Pratchett lead an idiom so extensively to its natural conclusion when Banana N’Vectif

cunningest hunter in the great yellow plains of Klatch

built the perfect mousetrap. The poor guy had

heard a trader say that if any man ever built a better mousetrap, then the world would beat a path to his door [so] he look[ed] at a few mousetraps when he was in the town

and made himself the perfect mousetrap – just as (presumably*) Azhural beats a path over his village with a thousand elephants on the way to fulfil CMOT Dibbler’s crazy promise.

And yet it’s Pratchett’s subtlety that quitely stands out, such as when a relative of You Bastard, the most intelligent mathematician in all the universe and also a camel, (see Pyramids) appears. Evil-Minded Son of a Bitch doesn’t have as big a role as You Bastard, but his appearance alone is somehow familiar and heartwarming. And makes you feel just a little bit smug for having spotted it.

On the surface of things, Moving Pictures is a cheap dig at the Hollywood circus, but hidden in its depths lies the unspoken illogic of a society gone crazy with unjustified hero-worshipping.

Well done, Sir Terry.

* Because Pratchett never spells anything out in full

View all my reviews

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