Book:Raising Steam/Annotations

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The idea of a group of religiously motivated terrorists, working out of a conviction that the new way is a blasphemy, and the only ways to follow are the old ways, guided of course by the only people who correctly interpret the sacred laws and texts - us. This shadowy group live in dark caves, spare an especial bile for fellows and co-believers who interpret the Faith and the Way more liberally, and who express dissent by bringing tall towers crashing down, followed by attacks on the railways. Hmmm.

And a common remark about tyrants and dictators on Earth, at least since 1900, has been At least he got the trains running on time. (Famously said about Benito Mussolini, who in fact couldn't - there are limits to a Fascist dictator's power, and Benito discovered his was the Italian state railway. Adolf Hitler didn't have to exert himself - German state railways already ran to an incredible peak of efficiency without Nazi help. But see note about "Beamtenherrschaft", below).

This book could well be about one Tyrant's desire to get the railways running not only on time but at all possible times...

The very first trainspotter appears on page 59. Many others follow, including Ponder Stibbons, Rufus Drumknott and others. These include Young Sam Vimes who has possibly found an equally smelly but less scatological hobby.

The idea of the previously despised Goblin race finding its niche in tending complex and hazardous machinery parellels the Warhammer 40K race known as Gretchin or Grots. in the 40K universe, these are a lowly, physically puny, class of Ork who are generally despised, used as cannon-fodder, live on disgusting foodstuffs, and who have the brains to keep the war machines working.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p12 et seq: Dick Simnel is introduced. British readers will instinctively recognise his accent is meant to reflect that of Northern England, the birthplace of British (and world) railways. But which bit of northern England? The experienced dialectologist will pick out occasional words in Yorkshire, Geordie and even Cumbrian slang. But the dominant accent emerging is that of Lancashire. And one particular part of Lancashire, at that. Dick's repeated use of the word "Gradely!", a Lancashire dialect word meaning "Great! Smashing! Brilliant! Ideal!" et c, along with other little quirks, points only in one direction. Fred Dibnah (1938-2004) from Bolton, Lancashire, was a steeplejack and mechanic who embodied the old-time Northern engineer in everything he did. He became a celebrity on TV, initially for breath-taking steeplejacking, with a commentary delivered in a wry self-deprecating Northern voice, usually while hanging upside down a couple of hundred feet up. In later life, he had a second career restoring and driving old steam engines, which he loved. TV series were made about this aspect of his life. Reading Dick Simnel's dialogue in the best Bolton accent I can do, I realised there could only be one person being portrayed here. The great Fred Dibnah. Right down to the flat cap. Lots of clips are available on You-Tube but cannot be linked here.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p49: Vetinari recaps events going back to Reaper Man, especially the life and interests of Ned Simnel. These included a wife and son.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p65: Captain Angua, the most notable werewolf in the Watch... Terry chooses words with care. Can we presume there is now more than one werewolf in the City Watch?

Doubleday hardback (UK), p72: Albrecht Albrechtsson is seen to make a telling point in a heated debate by smashing his axe right into the middle of the conference table. Sam Vimes once did something similar in a time of dissent involving the conference table in the Rats Chamber, and giving it a Quirmian Polish with a very big axe. The Blackboard Monitor is known and respected among Dwarfs. Hmmm.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p88 and throughout: Swine Town - a previously unregarded bucolic backwater, which becomes a strategic location for a railway depot located halfway between two important destinations. Compare Swindon, which until the railway was built connecting London to the (then) second port city of Bristol was a very minor agricultural village. The Bristol railway, the Great Western, was built with the intention of bringing fresh perishable produce swiftly to the markets of the capital, whose river was so foul the local fish was utterly inedible. Swindon (whose name means Swine Town) became an oasis of heavy industry in Wiltshire, an otherwise entirely agricultural economy. Until privatisation, it remained a key strategic location in the British rail network, its factories building locomotives and directly feeding them into the system. Today, Britain incredibly imports railway locos and carriages from Europe and - believe this - transfers them to their destination by road. It is possible we've lost the plot somewhere.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p112 et seq:

  • This page probably holds the all-time record (outside of Soul Music) for the maximum number of sly allusions, annotations, and shout-outs to music, history, and other works of literature on a single page. To take them in order:

Line 6 - It's all about the Locomotion... The whole theme of the discussion between Mustrum Ridcully and Lu-Tze is indeed about the irresistable advent of the new. Everybody's doing a brand-new dance now! Indeed. Also, the very first George Stephenson-devised engine was called not The Rocket - that was later - but The Locomotion. Let's make a train now...

Line 9 - the Ginnungagap is placed in its correct Discworld context as the primal chaos from which an ordered world emerged, with the proviso that if left badly managed, it will slide back into that chaos again.

Lines 13-14 - The only problem I have yet to solve is how to get from the dying world into the new world... Lu-Tze is referring back to earlier history monk stories. The Abbot has no problem with this - he is an adept at being serially reincarnated from a dying world into a new one! Lu-Tze has to go about things differently.

Lines 15-16 - even the Abbot is concerned about the arrival of steam-engines when it isn't steam-engine time - an aphorism originally coined by the chronicler of strange and anomalous things, Charles Fort. The full Fortean quote is:

If human thought is a growth, like all other growths, its logic is without foundation of its own, and is only the adjusting constructiveness of all other growing things. A tree cannot find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time. (Charles Fort, Lo!)

Lines 30 - end ...even the very wise have neglected to take notice of one rather important Goddess...Pippina, the lady with the Apple of Discord. This invokes the Greek Eris, Goddess of discord, who famously incited war among Gods and men with the Golden Apple casually rolled into a roomful of vain deities, all of whom thought an apple inscribed "KALLISTI" - to the fairest one - was of course theirs by right. The fallout from the war among Gods became the ten-year Trojan War on Earth.

The following conversation between Ridcully and Lu-Tze emphasises the need for balance between Chaos and Order. This is also a central theme of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy, where the Golden Apple is a plot -point, Eris walks the earth still as Goddess of disorder, her adherents greet each other with "All Hail Eris!", and the Chaos-Order thing is symbolised as Eristic forces versus Aneristic forces.

At the top of Page 113, Lu-Tze concedes that even the history monks can become a less than beneficial force once they get complacent and become part of the established order - he deliberately uses the term "bureaucracy" to describe this danger. This not only brings the Cosmic Auditors to mind - guardians of never-changing sterility - but also Shea and Wilson's assertion that chaos is born, out of sheer desperation, from stifling strangling bureaucracy - which is Order taken to a destructive extreme. Shea and Wilson have a word for this state in their philosophy, and yes, it's a German word - Beamtenherrschaft, Bureaucracy. Beamtenherrschaft, in the original Illuminatus!, is in fact explicitly defined as the sort of state of mind that will ensure the trains run precisely on time, that their human cargo is satisfactorily documented, itemised, counted, and delivered on schedule to the right destination, who then sign for the delivery, in triplicate and in the right places - and in the midst of all the paperwork, nobody sees anything wrong or out of place with the destination being Auschwitz.

There is also a sub-plot in one of Robert A. Wilson's solo novels where, in the 1760's, a brilliant mind devises (at least on paper) a theoretically workable steam engine - only to be universally derided and laughed at, even at the advanced universities he attended. France/Italy in the 1760's was evidently not the right orchard or season for "Steam-Engine Time" to come to blossom.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p115:

  • Dick Simnel displays a familiarity with the events of Small Gods, or at least the steam-engineering aspects. while he knows about "The Un-named" (Urn's boat) via old books, does he also know the steam-engine was transferred to a landship afterwards?

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp115-116: Mister Pony tells Dick that he has to serve an apprenticeship to become a member of the Artificers' Guild, even though there is no-one in the Guild who knows anything about working with steam. According to Wikipedia, a similar thing happened to James Watt (the Scottish inventor and engineer) on Roundworld: "Watt travelled to London to study instrument-making for a year, then returned to Scotland, settling in the major commercial city of Glasgow intent on setting up his own instrument-making business. He made and repaired brass reflecting quadrants, parallel rulers, scales, parts for telescopes, and barometers, among other things. Because he had not served at least seven years as an apprentice, the Glasgow Guild of Hammermen (which had jurisdiction over any artisans using hammers) blocked his application, despite there being no other mathematical instrument makers in Scotland."

Doubleday hardback (UK), p123 (footnote): Let the train take the strain - was for many years an advertising slogan of British Rail, although it is doubtful that they had the toilets in mind. Also, a footnote explicitly refers to "Mr de Worde and wife". As both William and Sacharissa are elsewhere described as wearing wedding rings, this may point to their being married to each other. However, the reference does not elaborate as to whom William is married to. The mystery continues.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p124: Another sign of the changing times. A large troll halts the train as it slows to a bridge. The passengers hold their breath apprehensively. No, it's not a shake-down for toll money, nor is it the prelude to an anxious request as to whether the train is carrying any billy-goats, gruff optional. The troll works for the railway company. He has a red flag to prove it. The only toll he wants to exact is public recognition that his building-gang constructed the bridge the train is about to cross. As a saying about the future has it, everyone will want his five minutes of fame.... and the future is here. Why dwell on the past? Later on in the book, we see a canny Moist franchising bridges to Troll families, who are given homes in the bridge pillars - complete with lavatories - and a guaranteed herd of goats. In return they tend to and maintain their bridges. As with Best Kept Station contests in Britain, there is a lot of competition to be the troll who has the Best-Tended Bridge.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p126: Go and tell Vimesy you want to be the first Railway Policemen, then. I'd love to see his face

The British Transport Police is one of the oldest forces in the country, instituted not long after the first railways began. The same Robert Peel who founded the first regular force authorised its commissioning. Author Andrew Martin has fictionalized this period in his Railway Detective novels featuring Sergeant Jim Stringer; author Edward Marston sets his railway police novels, featuring Inspector Colbert, in a slightly later period. however, Andrew Pepper sets his railway police mystery right at the beginning: The Revenge of Captain Paine investigates violent death and sabotage on a line being built. Additionally, it is worth noting that the Signalmen were originally in control of railway traffic by use of flags and whistles, just as the regular Police controlled road traffic. Signalmen to this day are still referred to as "bobbies", for this reason.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p131: Chemin de fer is indeed both the Quirmian for "railway" and a [card game]. The card game is also known as Baccarat and it is likely the Gamblers' Guild know at least six more variations and anything up to ten alternative names.

Corgi paperback (UK), p167 Binoculars produced by Herr Fleiss in Uberwald. Famous manufactorer of optical devices in Germany is the company founded by Karl Zeiss in Jena.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p137: Two children, adventurous if ill-advised souls, are sensing the approach of a coming train by putting their heads to the track to feel the thrilling vibrations.... not just a shout-out to Western movies where the Red Indians detect coming-of-white-man's-iron-horse by this method (and WHY are they not of One-Man-Bucket's ethnicity?). Classic film The Railway Children introduces its central characters with a scene not unlike this. Although the kids here have the sense to lift their heads long before the train comes...

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! Has several referents. A a tune by Fatboy Slimtune by Fatboy Slim (1998) where these are the only lyrics, repeated incessantly, with all the insistency of a train at full throttle. Another possibility is a reference to [ the Jesus Jones song|the Jesus Jones song, which has changing times as its theme and contains the lyrics "Right here, right now/Watching the world wake up from history."

On pp 91-92, two children, perhaps the same ones, make friends with Sergeant Fred Colon. The Railway Children of the film of Nesbitt's novel had a similar friendship with a police sergeant who was also older, good-natured and somewhat bumbling.

the "Railway Children" shout-out is more explicit later in the book (p309 et seq:), where a group of children flag down the Iron Girder to warn them about an avalanche which has blocked the line. Whilst Edith Nesmith does not wave her long petticoated knickers in the air to flag down the train (even in the Railway Children, Jenny Agutter got her clothes off), the similarity to the film is remarkable. Terry does say the children appeared to be flagging the train down with their pinafores, though... Although Moist von Lipwig quickly recognises that being Discworld kids, in a town which is in the orbit of Ankh-Morpork, they engineered the lineslip themselves for attention and excitement..

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp172 - 174: Moist von Lipwig, a man who normally shies away from physical combat (his weapons are other) is sized up by a shrewd assessor of personality, who realises that if his presence is going to effective in a stand-up fight, he needs chemical assistance. This is duly provided in the form of a goblin-brewed tonic, and completely alters his personality for just long enough. This evokes two similar literary accounts of similar potions, both applied to people of a Moist-like inclination. The great Victorian poltroon Sir Harry Flashman is beneficiary of an Arabian tonic administered by his lover just before a vital fight with the Russians in Flashman At The Charge. As he is the only man who can direct the fight, something to dampen his natural cowardice is essential. And in The Stainless Steel Rat, intergalactic con-man and bunco-artist Jim DiGriz realises the only way to understand his lethal adversary (and later wife), the rather spiky Angelina, is to ingest a chemical cocktail that simulates her marked anger-management problems. Sir Terry has definitely read all the Flashman books. And "Slippery" Jim and the spiky Angelina diGriz have so many suspicious similarities to Moist and Adora Belle... (now go to Reading Suggestions for more). Vimes recognises the essential Flashman-like aspect of Moist when he later reflects cowards fight harder and better as they have more consequences to fear.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p180 and perhaps throughout: The first mention of the leopard being able to change its shorts (Vimes about Moist). Wondered when this was going to come up...

Doubleday hardback (UK), p185:

  • do enjoy a quantum of frisson, she tells me. Moist cast in the James Bond role?

Doubleday hardback (UK), p190: A would-be saboteur emulates the passing of Ned Simnel and leaves this world in a massive cloud of pink steam. By the way, the steam is necessarily pink in these circumstances because.... Also, the uneasy suspicion forms in the mind of Moist Von Lipwig that the Iron Girder is sentient and somehow engineered a situation where a Dwarf who tried to do her harm was wafted to his afterlife in a cloud of hot pink steam. This is strikingly like an event in the Stephen King novel (and movie) "Christine", about a classic American car with sentience and a negative opinion of people trying to do her harm...

Doubleday hardback (UK), p218: Chief constable Upshot Feeney of the Shires is privileged to have earned the right to call his Goblin constable simply Boney. this is a ShoutOut to the books by [Arthur Upfield] and to two TV spinoffs, the seventies Australian cop show [Boney] and the nineties [Boney]. In the books the Boney of the title is Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, the one half-white, half-Aboriginal in the Queensland force, a man who uses native tracking skills and a shrewd understanding of people to resolve difficult crimes. The Upfield character is based on a man known as "Tracker Leon". The Goblin "Boney"'s real name is something far longer than Boney: his colleagues have to earn the right to abbreviate it.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p220: It has to be handed to Terry. A nice little bit of misdirection leads us to a logical outcome nobody could have foreseen. After Thud!, we all thought the forthcoming One About Railways was going to be about establishing an Underground in Ankh-Morpork using the Dwarfish Devices for propulsion, right? Wrong... the Undertaking , in this respect, is going to be created by the emancipated and newly technically-savvy Goblins. They want a safe means of connecting all major Goblin settlements and providing a means to create and link a Goblin nation. And who knows where this will go to afterwards... no mention of the Devices since.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p223 et seq: Mrs Georgina Bradshaw, the chronicler of the railway network. Refer to Wikipedia: [George Bradshaw] in the middle 1800's was a railway fan who made a living of writing traveller's guides, even meticulously collating timetables so that, ultimately, a traveller using Bradshaw guides could plot a railway journey, together with stays in recommended cities and local hotels, to confidently craft a journey from Waverley Station, Edinburgh, to Kursky station in Moscow - within five minutes of accuracy all along the way.

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp228-229 and footnote p228: The inevitable spin-off: model railways and train sets. Lady Effie is heard to complain that the trackside model of Sir Harry King makes him look too fat... a Fat Controller? whatever will they think of next...

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp229-230: Although Iron Girder is (fortunately) better adjusted to a human rival than Stephen King's Christine: she is heard to purr approval to Emily King buffing up her nameplate till it shines, and indicating her affection for Dick Simnel. it would appear I.G. is only malevolently inclined towards people who are actively attempting to injure her.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p237: Lord Vetinari is seen playing with one of the new scale model railway sets. To model rail buffs, miniature systems where the engines run on live steam are the most expensive, deluxe, desirable models there could possibly be. Yet Vetinari is seen catching one as it derails and leaps over the edge of the table. Is he deliberately experimenting with crashes and getting an idea of what could go wrong with a railway in the event of misadventure or sabotage? All this calls to mind the patriarch of the Addams Family, Gomez, as he relaxes with his idea of what the model railway hobby should be... and Gomez has a wife who inescapably brings to mind Margalotta von Überwald...

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp244-245: An, er Brief Encounter takes place at a railway station...

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp250-251: An even more explicit shout-out to the Stainless Steel Rat novels of Harry Harrison. In The Stainless Steel Rat for President!, the opening scene is of the outraged police chief, Inskipp, sending men round to arrest the diGriz husband for embezzlement and mis-use of Special Corps funds. The spiky Angelina diGriz, taking exception at having her beauty sleep interrupted, intervenes with a large and unfriendly weapon so as to suggest good manners be considered on the part of the arresting officers. She takes charge and suggests the incriminatingly large sum of cash to be found in her husband's bank account is all down to one of those little book-keeping errors. Inskipp reluctantly agrees. Then takes revenge by sending the whole diGriz family out on one of those little missions involving death or glory but very little actual financial reward.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p262: A call-back to Pyramids, as Moist contemplates the nature of the pyramid, its associations, and how it all has to fit together absolutely perfectly and in the right order and sequence.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p263 et seq: The desperate attempt to restore Rhys to the Low Kingship, involving running a train all the way to Überwald despite frequent attacks and attempts to derail it: this is a shout-out to war movie von Ryan's Express, where a hijacked train carrying a lot of battle-hardened tough cases trying to make it to safety is subjected to all manner of attacks by increasingly desperate Germans. There are other movies with the same sort of theme: 1948's Berlin Express references similar ideas, set in Germany during the Cold War at its coldest, with the Russians monitoring activities closely, as the train is in East Germany...

Strange people aboard a train whose stories don't fit, sleeper carriages on a long-distance express heading in the Discworld referent of East.... Murder on the Orient Express... all it needs is a murder and a French-speaking detective... although it all began in Quirm... and on page 370. Vimes lets slip that Lady Sybil has decreed the next Ramkin family holiday will be on the Überwald Express. He notes, in a metter of fact sort of way, that it doesn't matter if he's on holiday or not. He will inevitably walk into a crime. Is a sequel being set up here?

Doubleday hardback (UK), p290: Too much travelling on the railways could make you a philosopher, although not a very good one. A reference to the very popular radio philosopher of the 1940's. Doctor Joad, whose pronouncements were witty, down to earth and listenable, was a fixture on BBC panel show The Brains Trust. Joad often travelled by rail and used railway analogies to explain philosophical conundrums, including the inevitable life is a journey.. to explain determinism/free will. (Joad's analogy was that life is a train journey. The lines are fixed - determinism - but you have a choice of routes - free will Your starting point - birth - and terminus - death - are also predetermined. But in between your choices of stations and routes are your own - free will.). Unfortunately, Joad's exercise of his own free will granted him the power to evade his fares and travel for nothing. Determinism caught up with him in the form of a ticket inspector. After the court case for fare evasion, Joad was sacked by the BBC and faded into obscurity...

Doubleday hardback (UK), p293-294 et seq: Moist von Lipwig gets practice at moving safely and confidently on the roof of a moving train and leaping from carriage to carriage. Why do you feel this is building up to the regular movie cliché of the protaganist slugging it out with the bad guy on the said pitching and rolling roof of a hypothetical moving train... Moist is seen getting practice in early, as if out of Narrativium nudging him and advising that this is something the good guy about to engage in battle aboard a train needs to learn, really quickly.

Also, Moist thinks of it as another extreme sport: like Edificeering or Extreme Sneezing. It could just be that he has introduced the Discworld to the Roundworld do-not-try-this-at-home of Train Surfing.

Fittingly, both he and Sam Vimes - and an unremarked stoker with a shovel - all get to do this together in a stand-up fight, as befits Narrativium.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p296: On the social heirarchy of railway workers and their being hard-drinking men on their down time. Wheeltappers and shunters are mentioned. A popular TV show of the 1970's was The Wheeltappers and Shunters' Social Club, a live cabaret set in a fictitious Northern working-mens' club of a sort rooted in everyday reality. The real-life W&S Club would have been set up by and for wheeltappers and shunters; all other trades by invitation only. The show was hosted by the egregious Bernard Manning - think of a Harry King who also made money from muck, in this case dirty and doubtful jokes. Manning was a larger-than-life character who could have been a Roundworld Harry King, both in looks and attitude.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p299: Downsized Abbey. Heh.

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp309-312: The reference is to Edith Nesbit1, The Railway Children, originally serialised in The London Magazine during 1905 and first published in book form in 1906. It has been adapted for the screen several times.
1But see also Oswald Barron and Ada J. Graves; it's quite complicated.

Doubleday hardback (UK), pp317-320: A King, on a mission to rescue a people from the Forces of Darkness, is stalled in impenetrable forest. with his way forward blocked, the forest-dwelling race, who are somewhat behind the times, timidly step out begging not to be hunted or killed. They provide the key to forward progress, and the King vows they will evermore have his protection. The whole scene between the Low Monarch and the forest Gnomes echoes King Theoden and the Wild Men of the Druadan forest in Lord of the Rings.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p336:

A gender revelation receives the response from Moist von Lipwig: "Well, nobody's perfect, your majesty." This is an echo of the response to a reverse relevation in Some Like it Hot.

Doubleday hardback (UK), p361: Tak save The Queen! Almost the opening line of a national anthem. And one whose first verse at least will be almost as easy to remember as Gold! Gold, Gold, Gold!

Doubleday hardback (UK), p364-366: The Brick Joke from the beginning of the book : the brick finally drops as Iron Girder reveals who she really is. It hearkens right back to the very first page.

Corgi Paperback (UK), p468: "the queen has changed her name to Blodwen". Blodwen is the name of the first opera in the Welsh (Llamedos) language and of the main character in it. In the opera the real father of Blowdwen is Rhys Gwyn. So both the male and female names of the Low King seem to refer to the opera. See

Unsorted and needing page reference; the scene where Moist is seen pretending to get drunk but diverting his host's alcohol to a hidden container inside his clothing. This wasn't made up. In the interesting days of American Prohibition, FBI agent Izzie Einstein had a funnel and tube setup in the lining of his coat which allowed him to have any alcohol he got out of illegal bars poured into a flask he kept in an inside coat pocket - the contents of which he would use as evidence in court.