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Comments for Going Postal
Going Postal: 03/19/14
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett is the 33rd Discworld book and the first of the Moist van Lipwig books. The other two are Making Money (review coming) and Raising Steam (currently reading). Moist is a confidence man, a master of headology, a man who is hanged within an inch of his life and then given a second chance by Lord Vetinari.
The Post Office has been closed for decades and the Clacks, a disc-wide semaphore messaging system that can take any message to the farthest reaches in a matter of hours, has a monopoly on communication. It's not that Vetinari is against monopolies, he just wants it to be reliable. Since it no longer is, the patrician wants an alternative.
So Lipwig is resurrected, given a parole officer (a Golem), and a golden, winged hat. There's just a few snags: he only has two staff members (both nuts), the post office is stuffed to the rafters with undelivered mail, the building is haunted, and someone has been murdering all of Vetinari's appointed post masters.
Going Postal early on is a fascinating look at the psychology of hoarding. There's also thoughts on the effects of time and the way once busy buildings are shut of an forgotten. It's from this broken, stuffed with molding mail, understaffs, impossible situation that Lipwig must make into a functioning entity or risk a second hanging.
But that's just the nuts and bolts. There's also the problems with the clacks, the sort of safety and reliability issues that arise when companies get too big to fail but feel the need to cut corners to keep profits up. For fans of the days of the phone phreaks (see Exploding the Phone), and the early days of hacking, the descriptions of how the clacks work and how they can be broken through certain codes sent down the line is for you.
Finally there is Spike, aka Adora Belle Dearheart. While she was a strong character in the 2010 two part series based on the book, she is a better, more interesting and memorable character in the book. She's more aware of Lipwig's past crimes and more aware of what he's capable of. She's also completely willing to use his skills to her own purposes. Because she is as unscrupulous as Moist, they are a better couple in the books than in the miniseries.