[Dave Birch] The title of this post comes from a book that I’m reading at the moment. No, not a scholarly treatise on the nature of money or the history of transactional commerce, but “Making Money”, the latest of the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels. I can’t say I’m a particular fan of Pratchett, but it is easy to read and it potters along at sufficient pace to make it a tolerable diversion. I read a couple of the Discworld books many years ago and found them mildly amusing in places but not compelling. I realise I’m risking opprobrium by advertising my indifference, since Terry’s fans are legion and dedicated, but there you go: it should not put you off reading the book. I was the only person in Britain who didn’t like the Harry Potter books either, but who am I against so many? No. 1 son, on the other hand, rather likes the Discworld series so it seemed only fair to allow him to present an alternative opinion, to whit:

I think that the discworld novels are very good because they are well written with a lot of imagination and are very funny. One of my favorite parts of ‘the light fantastic’ is when he describes the great a’tuin ( the giant turtle on which discworld rests ) as very intelligent, and as the humans found it easy to read it’s mind, they also took ages to get information, because, although smart, with neurons the size of roads, thought would generally be quite slow. This was one of the funniest parts of the book, in my opinion. One of the parts with the most imagination was when Pratchett described one witch, because he noted that she had two bodies- she was not two people, just one person with an extra body. I thought that this was extremely clever.

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Why on Earth am I going on about this here? Well, the central idea of the new book — without giving anything anyway — is the creation of a central bank. This naturally involves some amusing diversions on the nature of money and satirical comments on the relationship between money, banking and society. What’s more, it also mentions one of my favourite case studies in technological innovation, the use of excrement in tanning. It therefore makes pleasant holiday reading for denizens of Digital Money. It also makes for unpredictably timely reading. As one reviewer said about the book, it covers

sharp questions about why we trust banks and good reasons why we shouldn’t, as well as the nature of money itself. Banking [as one of the characters says] rests on “a tacit understanding that we will honour our promise to exchange a dollar for a dollar’s worth of gold provided we are not, in point of fact, asked to”. Which would be funny if the customers of Northern Rock hadn’t just discovered how true it actually is.

Naturally, in the now long-established tradition of this great blog, I happen to have a copy of “Making Money” (signed by the author himself!) at my side, ready to be dispatched post haste to the first person to reply to this thread with the name of the capital city of Discworld in which the story is set. Also in the now traditional fashion, the offer is open to all except for employees of Consult Hyperion and members of my immediate family. There are no cash alternatives. Oh, and no-one can win more than one of these blog competitions per year.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


  1. Discworld is not a single political entity, it has no capital city per se; Ankh-Morpork just happens to be the largest city in their world. Saying Bombay is the capital of Earth would be similarly misleading.
    [Dave Birch] My mistake.

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