Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. ★★★1/2
Moving Pictures is the tenth book in the Discworld series and a stand alone. While stronger than many of its predecessors, I still find it to be one of the weaker books in the series. I would recommend starting with books such as Guards! Guards!, Small Gods, or Going Postal instead.
In Moving Pictures, due to a leakage in reality, the idea of Hollywood comes to Discworld. The Alchemists’ Guild invents a sort of film with the pictures painted by imps inside the camera. Needing a place to work, they move to sand dunes of Holy Wood. Victor, a student wizard, makes his way to Holy Wood and becomes a major star. But the leakage in reality is attracting monsters from the Dungeon Dimensions…
Its almost guaranteed that if a Discworld book involves the Dungeon Dimensions, it will be an inferior one. The Dungeon Dimensions turn up too often in early Discworld novels as a plot device, and it gets old really quickly. In this case, the plot actually tied together better than in some of the other Dungeon Dimension books. Everything felt coherent and focused, and there wasn’t any unstructured bouncing around.
The best thing about Moving Pictures is that it finally stabilizes the faculty of the Unseen University. All previous books had a different set of forgettable wizards with each book, so it’s a relief to see the now familiar faculty introduced. In addition to the Unseen University crowd, Moving Pictures also uses a lot of reoccurring characters, such as C.M.O.T. Dibbler, which gives it a feeling of continuity with the other books in the series.
However, the main characters, Victor and Ginger, the female lead, are never heard from again. They are better than the characters in, say, Pyramids, but they still aren’t very interesting or memorable.
The main focus of the book is on the Hollywood jokes and references, of which there are plenty. There’s a bit on the idea of the nature of fame and people wanting to be famous just for fame’s sake, but it feels more like the topic is introduced than explored. So in the end, Moving Pictures doesn’t go much beyond the parody. It is missing that poignancy that fills the better Discworld novels.
All in all it’s a fairly solid installment to the Discworld series, even if it’s far from the best. I would recommend it to Discworld fans or to people who have an interest in the Golden Age of Hollywood – you’ll probably get more of the jokes than I did.