Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents Discussion Group

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Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents Discussion Group

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:59 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2001

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Introduction

Maurice, a talking cat and the talking rats have a plan. Using a stupid looking kid with a penny whistle they’ll cause a plague of rats and then get paid to get rid of it. But when they try the trick on a town that has a sinister secret they get more than they bargained for.

--------------------------------------------

This is a book that just gets better and better. When you first read it you get an amusing story of talking animals getting the better of humans, but on subsequent readings you find a whole treasure trove of deeper meanings and allusions.

The idea for the book seems to have come from a throw away line in Reaper Man. Terry has taken that idea, built on it and produced an absolute gem of a book that deservedly won the Carnegie Medal in 2001 – a fact that Terry is justifiably proud of.

I’m looking forward to discussing this book, but let’s start off by asking you what you thought of it. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Did you think it was ok? Tell us why. :)
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby poohbcarrot » Mon Aug 03, 2009 6:55 am

Until 2 weeks ago, I did not hold this book in very high esteem. I bought it when it came out, read it maybe a couple of times and hadn't read it again for probably 7 years.

However, I thought I'd give it another shot because it was the next discussion book. I wasn't expecting much but............WOW!! It absolutely knocked me out! It suddenly all made perfect sense.

I now cannot recommend it highly enough, for reasons that will become apparent when I post my interpretation.
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Postby bikkit » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:16 am

Didn't like it at first- that was three years ago! Now I love the book. It's one of my favourites.
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Postby poohbcarrot » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:09 am

As I mentioned earlier, this book can be looked at as a combination of "Animal Farm" and Nostradamus. I believe the fact that it was published in 2001, at the very start of the Bush Presidency and the rise to power of the Neo-Cons, was no co-incidence. I think it was written as a warning for what was to come.

RAT-PUBLICANS V DEMOC-RATS

This picture shows the normal rats and the changelings;

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The main difference between them is that the normal rats are looking to the "Right", whereas the changelings are looking to the "Left".

The normal rats live in a rat-eat-rat, every-rat-for-itself, survival of the fittest world. This is a perfect description of Capitalism.

The changelings believe in rat-shall-not-eat-rat, rats-united-will-never-be-divided, rat-help-rat world. This is a perfect desciption of a liberal Social Democracy.

So I'll call the capitalist "Right-looking" rats Rat-publicans and the "Left-looking" changeling rats Democ-rats


THE NEO-RATS

Spider (Rat King) is 8 Rat-publicans tied together, forming a single entity that has power over rats. I'll call this entity the Neo-Rats. Each Rat-publican in the Neo-Rats is blind to the world outside.

The Neo-Rats seek world domination, or at the very least, a state of perpetual war.

The Neo-Rats are pure evil and don't care how many rats die in the process of achieving their goals.

By controlling minds, the Neo-Rats have the power to create any reality they choose.

The Neo-Rats use this mind control to manipulate rats to do their bidding, to fight and to die for what they pervertedly see as a noble and just cause.

OBEY ME! DON'T THINK!


BA-RAT OBA-MOUSE

Among the Democ-rats there is one rat called Dangerous Beans. I'll call him Ba-rat Oba-mouse. Not only is Ba-rat Oba-mouse a different colour to the other Democ-rats, but also he thinks differently.

Can we stop eating our fellow rats? Yes, we can!

Can we work together and help each other? Yes, we can!

Can we sit down and talk to our enemies? Yes, we can!

Ba-rat is the rat who has the ideas. Ba-rat is the rat who everyone listens to. Ba-rat is the rat who is the eloquent speaker.

The following is part of Ba-rat's speech when confronting the Neo-Rats. (I have changed the word "rats" to "people", and the words "Big Rat" to "God"). Doesn't it sound Obama-esque?

"Because, you see, you think for many people," he said. "But you don't think of them. Nor are you, for all that you say, God. Every word you utter is a lie. If there is God, and I hope there is, he would not talk of war and death. He would be made of the best we could be, not the worst we are. No, I will not join you, liar in the dark. I prefer our way. We are silly and weak sometimes. But together we are strong. You have plans for people? Well I have dreams for them."

Ba-rat Oba-mouse survives everything the Neo-Rats can throw against him and emerges victorious in the end.

swreader wrote:..the unlikely real leader is Dangerous Beans (the albino rat who alone is able to withstand and reject Spider's power). He is, in an odd way-- the commander in chief, or the president of these rats..



CONCLUSION

If this book were publishd for the first time tomorrow, it would be regarded as a thinly disguised "Anti-Neo-Conservative/Pro-Obama" analogy. However, what makes it remarkable is that it was published 8 years ago!

"The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" spookily predicts with unerring accuracy the events of the years 2001-2009 including the fall of the Neo-Cons, perpetual war, a mind-controlled population (cough Fox News cough) and even the rise to power of Barrack Obama.

On Discworld the Neo-Rats were stopped before they could unleash their terrible destructive forces on the world.
Unfortunately on Roundworld, we weren't so lucky.
But we had been warned!

AMAZING!
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:18 am

Amazing! :D

I saw a lot of stuff in this book that was incredibly relevant, but didn't quite see as much as you have Pooh.
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Postby poohbcarrot » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:21 am

That's why I didn't understand it when I read it 7 years ago because I had no reference point. 8)
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:22 pm

Amazing :wink: . I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read Maurice :oops: but after reading your story pooh I'm certainly going to :D (in the near future at least :wink: )
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:38 pm

It really is a good book. I found it to have a few more story lines than I like, but they work and mesh together in the long run.

I am just not a fan of the "con man/mouse/rat" bit. Even the boy who play the flute agrees with me on that part. Although the phrase "ok, your job is to widdle in the flour and stick your tongue out then run away" is fairly cute.

The mayors daughter is quite bright and I like her character.

I felt sorry for the rats over the confusion of the sacred words and when they found out that their sacred words were not really sacred? is that the word I am looking for? Wasn't it a Beatrix Potter type book they were learning from?

Maurice is funny when he hunts. Like all cats, he stalks his prey stealthily and then loses all street cred when he wiggles his bum before jumping and asking "Can you talk?????" I find that to be an adorable, humorous trait in cats of all sizes and makes and models. It shows a higher level of "humaneness" in him that he does not want to eat anything that is "aware of it's existence".
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby GrayGriffin » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:30 am

I think I almost cried at the bit where Maurice asks Death to take two of his own lives. Shows that he really cares about the rats after all.

And Pooh, that's a very interesting interpretation. I must say I never thought of it that way. Of course, I also read it a while ago...
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:53 am

Always interesting when Life appears to imitate Art - will keep looking in to see whether this epiphany turns out to be remarkable prescience on Terry's part or is purely down to his equally remarkable ability to define and rationalise stereotypes and then reinvent them for whichever shelf of existence he needs to place them on... :wink:
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:52 am

Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit wrote:I felt sorry for the rats over the confusion of the sacred words and when they found out that their sacred words were not really sacred?


I did too, but then I wasn't sure why - I don't believe in a god, & I don't keep that a secret from anyone who does. So I knew that their realisation would be a good thing. But why did they come to religion almost immediately? Because they've been humanised, & that's what we do too? Also, despite the loss of their book & most of their sacred words, they don't give up on religion. Witnessing a "miracle" gives something new to focus on.

I can't imagine that it would be possible to write about a proto-civilisation without mentioning a new belief in a deity of some kind, it wouldn't be as believable.
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Postby bikkit » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:54 am

Changing subject here, Who is your favourite rat? I love sardiens because.. Because I just do!
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:04 am

Dotsie wrote:
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit wrote:I felt sorry for the rats over the confusion of the sacred words and when they found out that their sacred words were not really sacred?


I did too, but then I wasn't sure why - I don't believe in a god, & I don't keep that a secret from anyone who does. So I knew that their realisation would be a good thing. But why did they come to religion almost immediately? Because they've been humanised, & that's what we do too? Also, despite the loss of their book & most of their sacred words, they don't give up on religion. Witnessing a "miracle" gives something new to focus on.

I can't imagine that it would be possible to write about a proto-civilisation without mentioning a new belief in a deity of some kind, it wouldn't be as believable.
This is something that Terry goes into in more detail in Nation I think. The rats had counted on the book as their guide to dealing with humans. They had based their new lives on the book even when it didn't really fit and then they had proof that it was just a made up story for small kids. This really hits Dangerous Beans very hard and he doubts everything he's believed in. This is Terry (I think) being anti-religious again. He's saying that you can't find all your answers to life in a book - sometimes you have to live life and solve your own problems.

My favourite rat would be DarkTan I think. He's a reluctant leader who finds himself in charge by default. The rats have changed considerably from their lives before the change. Before the change he might have been one of the rats to challenge Hamnpork for leadership and mating rights - but that's changed now. He's not interested in being leader but he's more or less elected as an intelligent choice of who would make the best leader. The rats are thinking more like humans and that's very clear here. :)
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Postby poohbcarrot » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:58 pm

As far as religion goes in the book I'd say;

The stupid rats (Rat-publicans) have all been brainwashed into believing in God. Spider claims to be God. They are all wrong.

The intelligent rats (Democ-rats) question the existence of God.
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:06 pm

poohbcarrot wrote:As far as religion goes in the book I'd say;

The stupid rats (Rat-publicans) have all been brainwashed into believing in God. Spider claims to be God. They are all wrong.

The intelligent rats (Democ-rats) question the existence of God.


Not all of them. They are lead to believe (by Darktan under Sardines' influence) that they have witnessed something supernatural. And Dangerous Beans says that he hopes there really is a Big Rat, and also refers to the book as a map (even after he knows the truth). And that was talking to Darktan and Peaches, both of whom have no faith in the book at that time.
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