The Book That Changed Me: Going Postal
"They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man's mind wonderfully; unfortunately what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that it is in a body, that, in the morning, is going to be hanged."
Before I read these words, I had no idea that you could throw a bunch of things that didn't work together in a story and come up with something wonderful. After I read these words, I began to think about writing in a whole new way. While reading these words, I was holding a book called Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
Going Postal's main character, Moist von Lipwig, is hanged in the beginning of the novel. Or, almost. The head of the city he's currently in, Ankh-Morpork, decides to resurrect him to run the city's dying Post Office. The rest of the novel is how Moist takes the Post Office from decrepitness to its former glory in a world where mail has been given up in favor of semaphore communication, where golems are buying their freedom from forced subservience, where dwarves are beginning to admit they have separate genders, where trolls serve in the police department along with gnomes and werewolves.
This is the beauty of the Discworld series. It throws fantasy tropes into situations they were never meant to be—yet somehow always meant to be because they fit so well. Going Postal was the first of many Discworld novels for me; novels that made me laugh and made me think.
Discworld is different than other fantasy worlds in that the gold isn't in the magic system or the politics or the heroics or even the worlds; it's in the characters. Vampire photographer characters. Throughout the novels you see these characters invent things like postage stamps and newspapers in a fantasy world.
This is where I started thinking outside the settings. I hope you'll pick up Going Postal or one of the novels in the series. You might just love it.
Have you read Going Postal?