Pros: Gaspode the Wonder Dog! Great book for movie buffs.
Cons: Rather flimsy plot.
I have finally come to the point where I turn to Terry Pratchett when I need a good laugh and to lighten my mood. I think of it was book therapy for my brain, and the more I read of the Discworld, the more I appreciate it. One aspect of the books that I always look forward to are the subtle -- and sometimes not-so-subtle -- jabs that Pratchett takes at our modern world.
Number ten in the series, Moving Pictures, certainly does not stint on the satire, and it is readily apparent that the subject being taken on is our modern day film industry. This is not a spoiler, as it's pretty apparent from not just the title of the book, but also the cover art.
In terms of distance, the spit of land known as Holy Wood isn't that far from the sprawling metropolis of Ankh-Morpork. For centuries it seems that there has always been someone living there, subsisting on the bare essentials, and pretty much left alone and unknown by the rest of the world. But as with all humans, Death does eventually come, and that lonely spot on the Discworld is abandoned.
In the meantime, several things happen in Ankh-Morpork. In the Unseen University, a perpetual student is finally having to actually do something. Fed up with one of the worst cases of procrastination that I have ever read about, the Archchancellor and Bursar have come up with a test that will force one Victor Tugelbund to graduate.
Which is precisely what Victor doesn't want.
For Victor is attending the University on a special trust that picks up all expenses, that is, until he graduates. Then he's on his own to make a living, which for wizards, isn't exactly the best sort of prospect. And Victor knows that time is running out.
The other occurance is a massive explosion in the part of the city where the alchemists hang out. And it seems that alchemists have found something new and exciting -- what we would call moving pictures, but in the Discworld is called "reels" or "clicks." Well, as they say, one idea quickly breeds another, and alchemist Thomas Silverfish is quickly on the trail of making clicks. Not to mention an awful lot of money. But he's also being drawn to Holy Wood, which is quickly becoming a boom town and place where clicks are being made at a terrifying pace.
Of course, where there's money, it's pretty much a given that one of Ankh-Morpork's more disreputable characters will show up -- C.M.O.T. Dibbler (Cut Me Own Throat). And Mr. Dibbler can see heaps of money can be made here, and leaps with abandon as a producer -- the money-man -- behind clicks. Quickly enough Dibbler is at the head of Century of the Fruitbat productions, with all sorts of ideas popping into his head. One of those who gets caught up in this place of dreams is Victor, now rechristened Victor Maraschino, leading man and Ginger, a luscious young woman, both of whom work for nearly nothing.
And along with them is the smartest one in the bunch, Gaspode the Wonder Dog. Gaspode is smart, very smart, and he can talk. For something very strange is starting to happen in Holy Wood, something that only Gaspode can see...
What can I say? I had a great time with this book, finding all the little jokes and references to our very own 'Holy Wood' a scream. The real fun here is picking out all of the little asides to modern day film -- and the more that you know about movies, the more fun that you are going to have. The elephant scene, for me, was priceless, and throughout things just keep getting funnier and more out of hand.
Quite a few earlier characters from the series returns, along with one of my favourites, the Librarian. Also another prominent character that appears is the new Archchancellor, Ridcully, who is one of those sportin' fellows, someone who loves nothing more than a beer with breakfast and going fishing. He was another that I hope to see more of as the series continues.
All in all, this was a fairly good entry in the series. It's not one of my favourites, but great good fun, and that was what I needed at the time. Four stars overall, and recommended.
Good boy, good boy, Laddie!
Keep that phrase in mind. Best damn line in the book.
Discworld Novels that I have reviewed:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Moving Pictures -- you are here
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
1990; HarperCollins Publishers