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Chuck Wendig
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Going Postal

Going Postal - Terry Pratchett I’ll probably lose some geek-cred by saying so, but this is only the third Terry Pratchett book I’ve read (fourth, if you count Good Omens). I read The Colour of Magic many years ago when I was still in high school, and didn’t think much of it. Later, I read Equal Rites, and found it to be more interesting, but not enough to make me go back and read the other books in the series. Another 10-plus years has passed, and I’ve read my third book, Going Postal. How does it make me feel about the series?

Well, it was good. I mean, it was funny, but it was also serious. By that, I mean that it had some humorous moments and situations, but the plot was something to take seriously. It wasn’t like a Looney Tunes cartoon where a character gets shot by a rifle and gets back up to make a joke about it. When folks in the book die, they die. Well … mostly.

See, Going Postal opens with Moist von Lipwig, a sentenced con man, about to be hanged for his crimes. The first chapter is a running internal monologue by his character, covering his past enough to give a brief overview of his past, his personality, and what he’s about to face. And at the end of that chapter, he dies. Well … he’s hanged. The thing is, the person being hanged isn’t known as Moist von Lipwig; he’s known by one of his aliases, so when that person dies, Moist von Lipwig is still available to step in and do some work for the Ankh-Morpork government. And Moist is given the choice to take on the role of Postmaster for the post office, or die a real death. But from that point onward, if a character dies in the story, he doesn’t pop up with a witty quip; he stays dead.

I was surprised to find that the novel had something to say outside of being just a wacky fantasy story. Pratchett makes a commentary about digital versus traditional communications, and how we sacrifice humanity for speed of delivery as he pits the traditional Ankh-Morpork post office against the local, corrupt telegraph company. It helps give the novel a lasting impression beyond the story itself. And even the story itself is pretty dang good.

So, will I read the others? Maybe. The series is up to 39 books now, which is a little intimidating. I mean, I’m reluctant to pick up The Wheel of Time because I don’t want to be locked in to reading fourteen books, so it’s hard to imagine reading 37 more. But the reason I picked up Going Postal is because I heard it was easy to read as a standalone book in the series. Can anyone recommend others that follow that characteristic?