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    Review of MAKING MONEY by Terry Pratchett (see his website)


    HarperCollins, September 2007

    A year or so before, Moist von Lipwig was up to his eyeballs in trouble, saddled with the job of re-creating Ankh-Morpork's post office. But the thrill goes out of a job when it goes from adventure to, well, work. Now, Moist is entertaining himself by breaking into his own post office and risking mob death. All that changes when Patrician Vetinary calls him back to the palace. Vetinary has a new job for him, running the royal bank of Ankh-Morpork. Vetinary has ideas of city improvement and will need a loan. Which may be a challenge considering that the bank manages to lose money on most of the coins it mints.

    With his experience in the post office and with stamps, Moist knows that value doesn't come from gold buried in the cellar. It comes from the flow of commerce through a city. Knowing this, and communicating it to the rest of the city, though, is likely to be a challenge. Fortunately, there are a lot of people who remember the post office and who think Moist can work miracles. Unfortunately, the family of the former chairman will do just about anything to get rid of Moist. Keeping Vetinary happy is important--indeed, failing to keep him happy is likely to be fatal. In this case, though, keeping him happy may also be fatal for Moist.

    Author Terry Pratchett (see more reviews of fantasy by Pratchett) continues his wonderful Discworld series with a thoughtful and often hilariously funny novel about the way the world works. Discworld happens to be a world in the shape of a disc that sits on the back of a bunch of elephants, so it definitely works differently than other worlds, but at the bottom, wealth flows from work and output. As Moist soon realizes, the value of Ankh-Morpork has nothing to do with the gold in the bank's vaults and everything to do with the flow of commerce. Incredibly, Pratchett manages to give a bit of an economics lesson in an enjoyable format. Money, it turns out, really does create value from nothing.

    Fans of the Discworld series will be happy to see the return of favorite characters from the Watch, Igors, golems (and their liberation) Vetinary, and Moist himself (see also our review of Going Postal). Of course, Pratchett keeps a running line of jokes throughout. There is a deeper message to the story, one that comes out when Vetinary considers the problems of too many golems and remembers the adage that 'if you want war prepare for war.'

    For the most part, the story works. Pratchett escalates the danger, lets us see the absurdity of digging gold from holes in the ground only to put it in other holes in the ground, manages some in-group jokes that are likely to be mostly funny to economists and computer historians, and delivers an entertaining read. I couldn't put it down.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/29/07

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