Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Copyright © 2005 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

“There’s a Silicon Anti-Defamation League march in Water Street, and I’ve got traffic backed up all the way to Least Gate—”

“I’m sure it can wait, Commander.”

“Yes, sir. That’s the trouble, sir. That’s what it’s doing.”

Vetinari waved a languid hand. “Full carts congesting the street, Vimes, is a sign of progress,” he declared.

“Only in the figurative sense, sir,” said Vimes.

You ignored the writing on the walls at your peril. Sometimes it was the city’s way of telling you if not what was on its bubbling mind then at least what was in its creaking heart.

He preached the superiority of dwarf over troll, and that the duty of every dwarf was to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers and remove trollkind from the face of the world. It was written in some holy book, apparently, so that made it okay, and probably compulsory.

Young dwarfs listened to him, because he talked about history and destiny and all the other words that always got trotted out to put a gloss on slaughter. It was heady stuff, except that brains weren’t involved.



Vimes itched to arrest him. Technically, he was doing nothing wrong, but that was no barrier to a copper who knew his business.
In these areas, Nobby and Fred considered, there wasn’t much peace, so it was a waste of effort to keep what little was left of it, right? You wouldn’t try keeping sheep in places where all the sheep got eaten by wolves, right? It stood to reason. It would look silly. Whereas in big streets like Broad Way there was lots of peace, which, obviously, needed keeping. Common sense told them this was true.



You could barely understand the man, he was that posh. It was not so much speech as modulated yawning.

He knew in his heart that spinning upside down around a pole wearing a costume you could floss with definitely was not Art, and being painted lying on a bed wearing nothing but a smile and a small bunch of grapes was good solid Art, but putting your finger on why this was the case was a bit tricky.

“No urns,” he said at last.

“What urns?” said Nobby.

“Nude women are only Art if there’s an urn in it,” said Fred Colon. This sounded a bit weak even to him, so he added: “Or a plinth. Best is both, o’course. It’s a secret sign, see, that they put in to say that it’s Art and okay to look at.”

“What about a potted plant?”

“That’s okay if it’s in an urn.”



“He said the government hushed it up.”

“Yeah, but your mate Dave says the government always hushes things up, Nobby,” said Fred.

“Well, they do.”

“Except he always gets to hear about ’em, and he never gets hushed up,” said Fred.

“I know you like to point the finger of scoff, Sarge, but there’s a lot goes on that we don’t know about.”

“Like what, exactly?” Colon retorted. “Name me one thing that’s going on that you don’t know about. There— you can’t, can you?”



Logic (examples)

“All this scrapping over something that happened thousands of years ago! I don’t know why they don’t get back to where they came from if they want to do that!”

“Most of ’em come from here now,” observed Nobby.

Fred grunted his disdain for a mere fact of geography.

“War, Nobby. Huh! What is it good for?” he said.

“Dunno, Sarge. Freeing slaves, maybe?”

“Abso—well, okay.”

“Defending yourself against a totalitarian aggressor?”

“All right, I’ll grant you that, but—”

“Saving civilization from a horde of—”

“It doesn’t do any good in the long run is what I’m saying, Nobby, if you’d listen for five seconds together,” said Fred Colon sharply.

“Yeah, but in the long run, what does, Sarge?”



“When you say ‘he has seen the light’ you sound as if you mean ‘corrupted,’ ” he said.

“Something like that, yes. Different worlds, Commander. Down here, it would be unwise to trust your metaphors. To see the light is to be blinded. Do you not know that in the darkness, the eyes open wider?”

It doesn’t take many people to turn a worried, anxious crowd into a mob. A shout here, a shove there, something thrown here . .  and with care, every hesitant, nervous individual is being drawn into a majority that does not, in fact, exist.


The Majority

Vimes maintained three trays: In, Out, and Shake It All About; the last one was where he put everything he was too busy, angry, tired, or bewildered to do anything about.
He unslung the Piecemaker, the crossbow he had personally built from a converted siege weapon, the multiple bolts of which tended to shatter in the air from the sheer stress of acceleration. They could remove a door not simply from its frame but also from the world of objects bigger than a matchstick. Its incredible inaccuracy was part of its charm. The rest of the squad very quickly got behind him.



Light only ruined your vision, it blinded you. You stared into the dark until it blinked. You stared it down.

Ye gods, it was so much better when there was just four of us up against that bloody great dragon, Vimes thought as they walked on. Of course, we nearly got burned alive a few times, but at least it wasn’t complicated. It was a damn great dragon. You could see it coming. It didn’t get political on you.

“A little advice, sir. The important thing is to get in front of them and dodge the first blow. They always leave themselves open and sir may then step smartly forward and select sir’s target of choice.”

“Er, what if . . . if I’m not in front of one when it tries to hit me?” A. E. Pessimal said, hypnotized by the description and dropping the sword again. “What if it is, in fact, behind me?”

“Ah, well, I am afraid that in that case sir has to go back and start all over again, sir.”

“And . . . er . . . how do I do that?”

“Being born is traditionally the first step, sir,” said Willikins, shaking his head.



Coffee was only a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your slightly older self.



I mean, what would really happen if there was real proof that, say, the dwarfs ambushed the trolls? Nothing that isn’t happening already, that’s what. You can always find an excuse that your side will accept, and who cares what the enemy thinks?



Beating people up in little rooms . . . he knew where that led. And if you did it for a good reason, you’d do it for a bad one. You couldn’t say “we’re the good guys” and do bad-guy things. Sometimes the watching watchman inside every good copper’s head could use an extra pair of eyes.



“I used to be good at tiddley-rats* when I was a nipper, though.”

*A famous Ankh-Morpork gutter sport, second only to dead-rat conkers. Turd races in the gutter appear to have died out, despite an attempt to take them upmarket with the name Poosticks.



“You know, your religion really messes people up,” said Vimes.

“Not in comparison to what they do to one another,” said Bashfullsson, calmly folding the dead dwarf’s hands across his chest. “And it is not a religion, Commander. Tak wrote the World and the Laws, and then He left us. He does not require that we think of Him, only that we think.”



Fun. What is it good for?

It’s not pleasure, joy, delight, enjoyment, or glee. It’s a hollow, cruel, vicious little bastard, a word for something sought with a hilarious couple of wobbly antennae on your head and the words I WANT IT! on your shirt, and it tends to leave you waking up with your face stuck to the street.

“And that’s why I don’t like magic, Captain. ’cos it’s magic. You can’t ask questions, it’s magic. It doesn’t explain anything, it’s magic. You don’t know where it comes from, it’s magic! That’s what I don’t like about magic, it does everything by magic!”



And his mind worked fast, flying in emergency supplies of common sense, as human minds do, to construct a huge anchor in sanity and prove that what happened hadn’t really happened and, if it had happened, hadn’t happened much.

“I believe the term is ‘eminent domain.’ ”

“Ah, yes. That means ‘theft by the government,’ ” said Vetinari.

text checked (see note) Dec 2005

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