Moving Pictures (novel)

Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

Books: The Colour of Magic | The Light Fantastic | Equal Rites | Mort | Sourcery | Wyrd Sisters | Pyramids | Guards! Guards! | Faust Eric | Moving Pictures | Reaper Man | Witches Abroad | Main

Moving Pictures is a 1990 fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the tenth book in his Discworld series.


All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published in February 2002 by Harper, ISBN# 0-06-102063-X
  • A crude hut of driftwood had been built on the long curve of the beach, although describing it as "built" was a slander on skilled crude hut builders throughout the ages; if the sea had simply been left to pile the wood up it might have done a better job. (p. 2)
  • There's a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork, greatest of Discworld cities.
At least, there's a saying that there's a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork.
And it's wrong. All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people just walk along them the wrong way. (p. 6)
  • The senior wizard in a world of magic had the same prospects of long-term employment as a pogo stick tester in a minefield. (pp. 10-11)
  • The Archchancellor's most important job, as the Bursar saw it, was to sign things, preferably, from the Bursar's point of view, without reading them first. (p. 11)
  • What the Bursar failed to consider was that no more bangs doesn't mean they've stopped doing it, whatever it is. It just means they're doing it right. (p. 13)
  • A month went by quickly. It didn't want to hang around. (p. 21)
  • "Comes of spendin' too much time sitting indoors. A few twenty-mile runs and the Dean'd be a different man."
"Well, yes," said the Bursar. "He'd be dead."
"He'd be healthy."
"Yes, but still dead." (p. 25)
  • Of course, it is very important to be sober when you take an exam. Many worthwhile careers in the street-cleaning, fruit-picking and subway-guitar-playing industries have been founded on a lack of understanding of this simple fact. (p. 27)
  • At the gate was a large, heavy-set man, who was eyeing the queue with the smug look of minor power-wielders everywhere. (p. 46)
  • No-one with their sleeves rolled up who walks purposefully with a piece of paper held conspicuously in their hand is ever challenged. (pp. 47-48)
  • He'd looked at its ramshackle organisation, such as it was, with the eye of a lifelong salesman. There seemed nowhere in it for him, but this wasn't a problem. There was always room at the top. (p. 53)
  • "She hwas dusting," said Mrs. Whitlow, helpfully. When Mrs. Whitlow was in the grip of acute class consciousness she could create aitches where nature never intended them to be. (p. 77)
  • Probably only one person in the world had been interested in whether the old man lived or died, and he'd been the first to know. (p. 91)
  • Victor had never worked for anything in his life. In his experience, jobs were things that happened to other people. (p. 93)
  • "What did she just say to that troll?" he said, as a deep wave of laughter rolled across the room.
Rock scratched his nose. "Is play on words," he said. "Very hard to translate. But basically, she say ‘Is that the legendary Sceptre of Magma who was King of the Mountain, Smiter of Thousands, Yea, Even Tens of Thousands, Ruler of the Golden River, Master of the Bridges, Delver in Dark Places, Crusher of Many Enemies,'" he took a deep breath, "'in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?'" (p. 100)
  • "They're pretty high mountains," said Azhural, his voice now edged with doubt.
"Slope go up, slope go down," said M'bu gnomically.
"That's true," said Azhural. "Like, on average, it's flat all the way." (p. 138)
  • "You know what the greatest tragedy in the whole world is?" said Ginger, not paying him the least attention. "It's all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they're really good at. It's all the sons who become blacksmiths because their fathers were blacksmiths. It's all the people who could be really fantastic flute players who grow old and die without ever seeing a musical instrument, so they become bad plowmen instead. It's all the people with talents who never even find out. Maybe they are never even born in a time when it's even possible to find out." (pp. 141-142)
  • "Pictographic writing doesn't work like that. It's all down to context, you see." He racked his brains to think of some of the books he'd seen. "For example, in the Agatean language the signs for ‘woman' and ‘slave' written down together actually mean ‘wife.'" (p. 161)
  • "I heard once where there was this city that was so wicked that the gods turned it into a puddle of molten glass," said Gaspode, apropos of nothing. "And the only person who saw it happen was turned into a pillar of salt by day and a cheese shaker by night."
"Gosh. What had the people been doing?"
"Dunno. Prob'ly not much. It doesn't take much to annoy gods." (p. 164)
  • After all, Ankh-Morpork itself was generally considered as wicked a city as you could hope to find in a year of shore leaves, and seemed to have avoided any kind of supernatural vengeance, although it was always possible that it had taken place and no one had noticed. (pp. 174-175)
  • His brow furrowed, as if he'd just been listening to his own voice and hadn't understood it. (p. 176)
  • Fate doesn't like it when people take up more space than they ought to. Everybody knows that. (p. 178)
  • Magic wasn't difficult. That was the big secret that the whole baroque edifice of wizardry had been set up to conceal. Anyone with a bit of intelligence and a bit of perseverance could do magic, which was why the wizards cloaked it with rituals and the whole pointy-hat business. (pp. 178-179)
  • The important thing to remember was that Holy Wood wasn't a real place at all. (p. 179)
  • "Come on," said Gaspode. "It's not right, you being alone in a lady's boodwah."
"I'm not alone," Victor said. "She's with me." (pp. 179-180)
  • The universe contains any amount of horrible ways to be woken up, such as the noise of the mob breaking down the front door, the scream of fire engines, or the realization that today is the Monday which on Friday night was a comfortably long way off. (p. 193)
  • "Why is it all Mr. Dibbler's films are set against the background of a world gone mad?" said the dwarf.
Soll's eyes narrowed. "Because Mr. Dibbler," he growled, "is a very observant man." (p. 207)
  • It was totally confusing, just like real life. (p. 208)
  • According to the history books, the decisive battle that ended the Ankh-Morpork Civil War was fought between two handfuls of bone-weary men in a swamp early one misty morning and, although one side claimed victory, ended with a practical score of Humans 0, ravens 1,000, which is the case with most battles. (p. 216)
  • The Bursar locked his study door behind him. You had to do that. The Archchancellor thought that knocking on doors was something that happened to other people. (p. 224)
  • The whole of life is just like watching a click, he thought. Only it's as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it all out yourself from the clues.
And you never, never get a chance to stay in your seat for the second house. (p. 238)
  • Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened. (p. 263)
  • They were, he (the Patrician) had to admit, a pleasant enough young couple. He just wasn't sure why he was sitting next to them, and why they were so important.
He was used to important people, or at least to people who thought they were important. Wizards became important through high deeds of magic. Thieves became important for daring robberies and so, in a slightly different way, did merchants. Warriors became important through winning battles and staying alive. Assassins became important through skillful inhumations. There were many roads to prominence, but you could see them, you could work them out. They made some sort of sense.
Whereas these two people had merely moved interestingly in front of this new-fangled moving-picture machinery. The rankest actor in the city's theater was a multi-skilled master of thespianism by comparison to them, but it wouldn't occur to anyone to line the streets and shout out his name. (pp. 279-280)
  • He had not got where he was today by bothering how things worked. It was how people worked that intrigued him. (p. 282)
  • She was a beefy young woman and, whatever piece of music she was playing, it was definitely losing. (p. 283)
  • His mind raced. What was it they said about the gods? They wouldn't exist if there weren't people to believe in them? And that applied to everything. Reality was what went on inside people's heads. And in front of him were hundreds of people really believing what they were seeing... (p. 286)
  • The machine whirred on, winding reality from the future to the past. (p. 286)
  • Supposing there was somewhere reality was a little thinner than usual? And supposing you did something there that weakened reality even more. Books wouldn't do it. Even ordinary theater wouldn't do it, because in your heart you knew it was just people in funny clothes on a stage. But Holy Wood went straight from the eye into the brain. In your heart you thought it was real. The clicks would do it. (p. 286)
  • She wasn't certain what the future held, but coffee would be involved if she had any say in the matter. (p. 310)
  • "Why us?" he said. "Why is it happening to us?"
"Everything has to happen to someone," said Ginger. (p. 314)
  • Being trampled almost to death by a preoccupied troll is almost the ideal cure for a person confused about what is real and what isn't. Reality is something walking heavily up your spine. (p. 319)
  • Oh, I suppose if you're a powerful merchant it's nice to have a famous wife. It's like owning jewelry. (p. 330)
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