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Going Postal
Terry Pratchett
Corgi, 480 pages

Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

SF Site Reading List: Terry Pratchett
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch
SF Site Review: The Art of Discworld
SF Site Review: Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collector's Edition 2005
SF Site Review: Going Postal
SF Site Review: Monstrous Regiment
SF Site Review: The Wee Free Men
SF Site Review: The New Discworld Companion
SF Site Review: Night Watch
SF Site Review: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
SF Site Review: Thief of Time
SF Site Review: Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
SF Site Review: The Truth
SF Site Review: City Watch Trilogy
SF Site Review: The Fifth Elephant
SF Site Review: The Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld
SF Site Review: The Last Continent
SF Site Review: Hogfather
SF Site Review: Jingo
SF Site Review: Feet of Clay
SF Site Review: Maskerade

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Going Postal I haven't read many of Terry Pratchett's books, so I came to Going Postal without any background on Discworld and its inhabitants, and I'm pleased to say that I didn't need it. This novel stands perfectly well on its own as the tale of a con man given a choice between hanging from his neck until dead or running the utterly moribund post office of Ankh-Morpork.

Death is about the only incentive that could get Moist von Lipwig (or anybody else) to consider the job of postmaster. To begin with, the monumental post office building is crammed with guano-encrusted letters that haven't been delivered since the postal service collapsed decades before. In the meantime, modern technology has bypassed them. The "clacks," run by the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, can deliver a message far faster than any horse could possibly run with a bag of mail.

Oh, and then there's the fate of the last few postmasters who all met with swift and fatal accidents in the bowels of the building. Fortunately, von Lipwig's former career as a con artist has polished his skills in areas such as thinking on his feet, convincing people to believe the improbable, and evading retribution -- all abilities he will need in abundance.

The correct word for a novel like this is "romp." It's an amusing read with eccentric characters and a plot that gathers momentum as von Lipwig keeps impulsively raising the stakes. The quirky setting is fun, too, along with the ironic wordplay.

Pratchett is able to sustain his over-the-top joke right to the end by making von Lipwig a charming character, reluctantly sliding towards redemption. This is a good rainy day book for pretty much anybody.

Copyright © 2005 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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