I ENDORSE: Moving Pictures by (Sir) Terry Pratchett

Imagine the highest tower of Ankh-Morpork, a 50 foot tall woman climbing to its peak holding a screaming ape in one hand (the Librarian for Discworld buffs), swatting a couple of wizards flying around on a broomstick.

This is the sort of thing you'd expect from a Discworld novel called Moving Pictures. I originally bought this book to read Pratchett's thoughts on movies (as he has a way of wonderfully lacing his opinions into his stories), and secondly because I know I'm always in safe hands when I'm reading a Discworld novel. To my delightful surprise, it turned out to be more of a love-letter to H.P. Lovecraft and all that eldritch lore.

I was satisfied with my need for Pratchett's thoughts on movies with the following passage:
 'I was doing OK,' she said. 'Nothing special, but OK. I was getting quite a lot of work. People thought I was reliable. I was building a career--'
 'You can't build a career on Holy Wood,' said Victor. 'That's like building a house on a swamp. Nothing's real.'
Which pretty much sums up my job, and anyone's job in the movies, only the difference is you can build a career in Hollywood. It almost seems unsettling, which is why it perhaps leads so well into Lovecraftian territory.

This post is not a review, it is a recommendation, so I don't want to spoil too much. The story represents more of the earlier days of film, it never gets past the silent-film era, for example. However the films are in colour, not in black and white, since the technology involves little imps painting images really quickly, then projected out of the 'other-end' of a light-eating lizard. There are examples of how films turned into commercial endeavours from artistic endeavours, the whole studio-system of the pre-50s, the guilds and union systems, primitive special-effects, talking animals and perhaps some other things I've left out.

Perhaps it is not a book that so much enriches the exploration of Discworld, and maybe it was written as a way for Terry Pratchett to reach his quota of two books a year, or probably it is just some funny idea he had that seemed to solidify itself. Despite these thoughts which came to my mind it is still enriching and satisfying on its own merit, and so far my personal favourite.

So, go on you monkeys! Get out of the house and read a book!!

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe I've taken this long to get around to reading the article - and indeed, the book. You've gotten me very interested. Seems this book was written for guys like us.