Mark Reads ‘Raising Steam’: Part 2

In the second part of Raising Steam, Dick Simnel is given an opportunity, and Harry King is happy to provide it. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

I like that Pratchett is willing to take something that is certain and regular and expected, and then throw it to the wind. Sir Harry King has been the King of the Golden River for a long, long time. And while he has played a large part in recent events—specifically around Unseen Academicals—his actual job and role in the city has basically stayed the same. 

But time changes us all. And even Harry King, who has made an enormous fortune handling all the shit that people would like to not think about (literally), can want to do something different. Part of that motivation comes from his wife, Effie, but I can also see how Harry feels like his business has lost that initial spark he once felt. It’s just not exciting as it once was. 

Enter Dick Simnel, who BRILLIANTLY seeks out Harry for a possible investment in his steam engine pro-to-type. Oh, what a good idea, y’all! Harry has the money, first of all, but he also helps manage the city’s trash, something that would benefit greatly from steam power. And not just transporting the garbage, right? I could see Harry King finding a means of using steam for other processes in his facilities. Of course, while Harry recognizes an opportunity when it arrives, he’s not a fool. He has to know it actually works, and in this, Harry King has his match. Dick Simnel is a lot of fun, and in a way, he reminds me of what Moist von Lipwig was like back in Going Postal. Well, minus all the crime. You know, that thing. Dick is smooth-talking, excitable, and has a way with words. He doesn’t have quite the amount of confidence as Moist, in part because he has no experience talking to “grand folk.” (You know, since he never robbed any grand folk, either.) 

Still: he does a fine job. He is clear and direct with Harry King, and he sets out a spectacle as he constructs a track for his steam engine around Harry’s property. Actually, the one detail I found most exciting was this: 

And Harry couldn’t help noticing that the look of the engine had changed and it now seemed somehow… smoother than before. 

DICK SIMNEL MADE THE ENGINE BETTER IN TWO DAYS. Holy shit??? I made a comment on video that he’ll probably need to shorten the warming up period, but now I’m not worried about that at all. If he can improve his design that quickly, what else is he capable of? Especially with Harry King’s money??? Well, and a lawyer; I respect that Harry was very honest with Dick about what he’ll need in the coming days. There are so many people who could come out of the woodwork to try and take advantage of him. This steam engine is clearly going to be the next big thing!

It’s absolutely going to be interesting to see how this is going to initiate a massive change in this series. Pratchett gives us other hints of things that’ll play a part in all this. Namely: MOIST AND ADORA BELLE!!!! Oh, I’m so, so happy that I’m getting another Moist von Lipwig book, especially since this one is already building off the last ones. Moist and Adora Belle are now married, they live on Scoone Avenue, they have a butler and a handyman, and they’re both completely submersed in their own lives. I am guessing right now that once the steam engine must involve Ankh-Morpork, Vetinari is going to tag in Moist to handle things. And why not? Moist’s POV in this split makes a strong case that he helps run a huge part of Ankh-Morpork. Plus, Harry’s right. How many criminals and businessmen will try to take control of the rail system? Who better to combat them than the master criminal, Moist von Lipwig?

I’m also going to guess that the goblins will play a part in this, too, and that Adora Belle, who now works with a lot of them in the clacks system, is going to oversee them. She did such a wonderful job with the golems (and BLESS that pun in the footnote about the Golem Trust), and I can’t imagine a better person to be in that role. Again, I’m making an assumption here, but it’s one based on Pratchett nudging me in that direction. He pointed out that the “villains of the storybooks had found their place in society” in the clacks. Technology is coming. How will the goblins respond to that, especially when they already are captivated by the technology of the clacks?

And what of that story told by the old boy about the Treacle Road miners? During a disaster, a bunch of miners stormed armed guards in order to save miners who were trapped. It’s a noble story, but I think the reason for its conclusion is the final line:

“Of course, that was the old days. I wish it still was.”

Generally, the “old” days are more conservative and less forgiving, but Pratchett flips this saying on its head. There’s too much animosity in the mines of Ankh-Morpork. So what’s coming that will upset the already delicate balance between dwarf, troll, and human?

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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