In the second part of The Last Continent, the wizards come up with a theory. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For talk of spiders at the end of the review.
OH, SO MUCH COMMENTARY TO MAKE.
Wasn’t it a basic principle never to let your employer know what it is you actually do all day?
OKAY, I REMEMBERED TO TELL THIS STORY. Years ago – before I started at Buzznet, actually – I got a job as a copy editor / site manager for this awful, awful company that ran an online escort service. The work itself was fine, and the sex workers I met were almost always lovely people. My problem was the guy who owned the company. He was such a nightmare that I soon began to believe any story about bad bosses right from the start. Mine was so terrible that everyone else’s stories seemed credible just by comparison. This guy did a lot of drugs, and it led to a chaotic environment in the office. This resulted in me randomly being assigned a sales position because the owner got ina FIST FIGHT with another sales guy. Instead of hiring someone else, they literally connected a phone at my desk, and said, “Good luck!”
I was lucky in one sense: the guy whose job I got randomly assigned was really good at his job, so I met his quotas in two days just by answering email as him so as not to let his clients know that he’d been sacked. Unfortunately, this also happened right as a new policy was instituted in the office: all sales people now had to be on the phone 75% of each hour. That’s right, we were timed. If our phone was not operating for 45 minutes of each hour, we could lose our bonuses.
I was on my way out of there. I knew that. I had just interviewed at Buzznet and a few other places, and I hated the environment where I was at. So I just gave up, and I would call hotlines. For anything. Government agencies. The IRS. Department of Housing. State agencies. Local ones. I would sit on hold for nearly all my hour, I’d answer emails as if I was the last guy, and that’s it. I did maybe half an hour of work a day at most; emails are very easy to answer, and most sales were automated. The rest of the time? I wrote. I read books. I chatted with people on MySpace. And I kept waiting for those higher up to notice what I was doing.
A day went by. A week. Two weeks. It was over three and a half weeks later that my direct superior realized what I’d been doing and she begrudgingly fired me. Not because I hadn’t been doing my job; the sales were still there! She just knew that HER boss would probably kill me.
I was very proud of that.
But the primitive techniques used hiterto, based on ancient spells like Weezencake’s Unreliable Algorithm, had meant that it took years to put together event he ghost of a page of an unwritten book.
The Last Continent wanders a bit in this section; once Pratchett introduced the invisible writing, I kept waiting for the big punchline, or at least some meaningful reason for Ponder using it. It’s totally possible that it’ll come up later, for the record! It’s just that Pratchett moves on from that to Ridcully’s obsession with defining job descriptions and having an organized “company” at Unseen University. Then I wondered what that had to do with the story at-large, and the book jumped to a new subject: Ponder’s new obsession with the shape of creatures.
I felt lost, more so than usual, and it’s because Pratchett piles one thread on top of another without resolving the last one. I’m sure they’re all for a point (though maybe not the “banana-and-sushi pizza,” which clearly exists just to gross me out), but I can’t figure out why. It wasn’t until we got to the Bursar and the chaotic library that the book really grabbed me again. I spoke in the last review about taking things for granted with the Discworld books; now, the characters in this very book realize they’ve taken the Librarian for granted. Who is supposed to control all the magical books in the Library without him?
And this is how two plots arise: One is the suggestion that the wizards find Rincewind and bring him back in order to take over the Library, since he once worked there. The other? Well, in order to cure the Librarian’s magical illness, they’ll need to know his real name. GUESS WHICH ONE OF THESE I AM MOST EXCITED FOR. Because y’all, aside from Ridcully, none of these characters have been named. Does this mean I might learn all of their names in the process???
Actually, that’s not entirely correct; after learning that the Luggage was inside that gem, I’m quite interested in what’s happening over in XXXX. How did the Luggage get inside that thing? Where is Rincewind???
A man who thought of spiders as harmless little creatures had experienced only a couple of nasty shocks when, by now, this approach should have left him with arms the size of beer barrels that glowed in the dark.
If this book is going to poke fun at Australia, allow me to lob the first flame: What is wrong with your spiders? I want you all to know that I once went to Disneyland with Seanan McGuire and in the super fancy restaurant inside California Adventure, she regaled me with the tale of discovering a Huntsman spider in her hotel room, and I cannot tell the rest of this story because it makes me want to forcibly eject my soul from my body, but just know it involves some kind of special reptile gloves and NOPE NOPE NOPE.
I feel like the whole continent was designed to destroy humanity, so humanity was like FUCK IT, WHO CARES, WE DON’T TAKE SHIT FROM NO ONE. Oh my god, I can’t wait to finally visit Australia some day, though. I am a coward and I STILL WANT TO GO.
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