Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett

This is another highly-delayed, but slightly more positive-goings-on book review. My health seems to have been improving a bit: I started listening to this book as an audio book, and finished reading it in paper form.

I remember enjoying Moving Pictures when I read it many, many years ago, but I don't think I've re-read it since until now. It's pretty much peak early Discworld, and very good. The world is well settled-in. It's no longer a parody of other fantasy stories, and the wizards are present without focusing on Rincewind. It's a very solid backdrop.

Reading this after Witches Abroad, it's another exploration of the theme of stories, albeit from a different angle: The stories here are exogenous, pan-dimensional, and a threat to the Discworld. They're also an excuse for a vast number of classic movie references, of which I'm sure I only caught a fraction.

At the same time, it's a reasonably thoughtful exploration of the ideas behind Hollywood and the movies. About the power of dreams, and the fundamental ridiculousness of it, with people famous simply for being famous.

It's also pretty representative of the "Discworld threatened by the Dungeon Dimensions" era - the earlier books where the major threat to the world was change, rather than the latter books where Ankh-Morpork recognisably modernises. I'd forgotten how effective Terry was at building up the sense of foreboding and extra-dimensional threat during this period. It's surprisingly tense!

There are a few other things I'd forgotten that I enjoyed rediscovering. It's the start of the modern, stable Unseen University, with the introduction of Mustrum Ridcully and Ponder Stibbons. At this point the bursar seems quite sane; perhaps he really was just driven mad by Ridcully.

I had also totally forgotten about Dibbler! Usually a minor character, CMOT Dibbler, purveyor of dreams in the form of wonderful-smelling, sizzling sausages that turn out to be disgusting, most appropriately takes centre stage as a movie mogul.

All-in-all, it's just as good as I remember it to be. Pyramids for some reason remains my personal favourite early Discworld book, but this is way up there with it.

Posted 2024-02-02.