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Making Money

(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 3)

Before J. K. Rowling introduced the enormously successful Harry Potter series, Terry Pratchett was the best-selling author in the United Kingdom and is best known for his Discworld fantasy series. There have been more than thirty books in the series since the first novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. The authors parodied in the various books include J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, William Shakespeare, Ayn Rand, and many others. Making Money is the second novel in the series to feature Moist von Lipwig, introduced in Going Postal (2004), and there is a hint at the end of Making Money that he will return in a future book. Normally, each of the Discworld books stands on its own and can be read in any order. However, in this case, readers would be better served if they read Going Postal first. Going Postal and Making Money are also atypical Discworld books in that they are divided into chapters.

Discworld is a satirical fantasy universe in which the world is flat and disk-shaped. It is balanced on the backs of four gigantic elephants who themselves stand on the back of an even more gigantic turtle, Great A’Tuin, who swims through space. In this universe, magic works, and there are magical creatures such as golems, werewolves, trolls, and vampires. In Making Money, a group of wizards, called the Department of Postmortem Communications at the Unseen University, summon the ghost of Professor Flead, a wizard who has been dead for three hundred years. This ghost takes a lecherous interest in von Lipwig’s girlfriend and likes to haunt the Pink Pussycat Club, Ankh-Morpork’s leading exotic-dancing club, where he occupies seat number seven in the center of the front row.

Golems, creatures created from clay, play a particularly important role in both Going Postal and Making Money. On Discworld, they are traditionally slaves who do not require food, drink, sleep, sex, or vacations. They cannot die of natural causes and are extremely difficult to kill. Anghammarad, a golem in Going Postal, for example, is 19,000 years old. Although there is a strong golems’ rights movement to grant them freedom and equality, they still compete with humans for jobs at the low end of the pay scale, if only to raise the money to buy other golems their freedom. In Going Postal, the most prominent golem is Mr. Pump, who received his name after tending a water pump one hundred feet underground for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for 240 years without a break. His only job is to be von Lipwig’s parole officer. Adora Belle Dearheart (nicknamed “Spike”), von Lipwig’s girlfriend, works for the Golem Trust, a charity that finds golems, sets them free, and ensures that they have decent working conditions. She makes sure that Mr. Pump and the other golems get at least one day off each week, even if they do not know what to do with their leisure time.

In Making Money, the most prominent golem is Gladys, first introduced in Going Postal. In the earlier novel, Miss Maccalariat, the senior female post office employee, insisted that only a female golem be allowed to clean the ladies’ restroom. (Miss Maccalariat also objects to hiring female dwarfs, because their beards make them impossible to distinguish from the male dwarfs, who might then sneak into the restroom for a peak at half-dressed human females.) The problem with determining golem gender is that golems do not have any sex organs; they are neither male nor female. Traditionally, they are referred to as male. Von Lipwig, as head of the post office, addresses the problem by selecting a seven-foot-tall golem, renaming it Gladys, and having it wear a dress. By Making Money, Gladys has acquired female gender by reading publications such as Ladies’ Own Magazine , studying women’s fashions, learning to cook, and listening to the conversations that women have among themselves. She also acts as a mother figure to von Lipwig, making sure that he eats regularly and gets enough sleep....

(The entire section is 1,754 words.)