SPOILERS Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents Discussion Group

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Tonyblack

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#1
**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



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. :)
 
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Dec 31, 2008
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#2
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.
 
Dec 31, 2008
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#4
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;



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 said:
..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!
 

Tonyblack

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#5
Amazing! :laugh:

I saw a lot of stuff in this book that was incredibly relevant, but didn't quite see as much as you have Pooh.
 
Dec 31, 2008
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#6
That's why I didn't understand it when I read it 7 years ago because I had no reference point. 8)
 
Jul 20, 2009
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#7
Amazing ;) . I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read Maurice :oops: but after reading your story pooh I'm certainly going to :laugh: (in the near future at least ;) )
 
#8
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".
 

GrayGriffin

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Jul 27, 2009
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#9
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...
 

Jan Van Quirm

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#10
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... ;)
 

Dotsie

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#11
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit said:
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.
 

Tonyblack

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#13
Dotsie said:
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit said:
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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#14
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.
 

Dotsie

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poohbcarrot said:
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.
 

Tonyblack

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#16
The book is a bit like the Bible - you don't have to believe every word in it to get the basic message. I see the "map" reference in that way. :)
 
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#17
Dotsie said:
A. Not all of them.

B. They are lead to believe (by Darktan under Sardines' influence) that they have witnessed something supernatural.

C. 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.
A. "Not all of them"..........but some of them - they have been given the choice to question or not! None of the stupid rats can question because they are mind-controlled.

B. An example of lying about religion to manipulate people even by the intelligent rats.

C. There is a massive difference between believing 100% in God and hoping there is a God. I hope Darlington FC will win the FA Cup next year, but I don't believe they will.
 
Jul 25, 2008
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#18
Pooh, I think your interpretation is interesting--provocative but not literally correct. But I know the feeling. When I first discovered Jingo, during the early years of GW, I felt as though he was satirizing GW with the character of Lord Rust--and that would have also made him quite prescient. But, the book, I think, is more than the semi roman-a-clef your interpretation limits it to.

In an interview about Maurice, Terry talked about writing this book (and all his books) as being something like starting to carve a block of wood--that you think you know what it's going to be. But somewhere in there, the wood takes over and takes you (if you're any good) to somewhere you hadn't planned. I think that this is particularly true of this book.

He says in the interview that he originally thought of it as a whimsical little tale that he could whip out in three weeks--but that boy was he wrong. So, that says to me that he started out with the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and then got Beatrix Potter involved, and the whole question of stories or fantasies. It turned into a much more significant book than he had originally thought. But, it's late tonight, and I'm tired--so I'll write more about what I think he's writing about and the questions he's posing probably tomorrow.
 
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#19
"semi roman-a-clef" = ? o_O

semi = half
roman = old Italian (with parmesan)
a = to (French - maybe o_O )
clef = musical notation

swreader said:
So, that says to me that he started out with the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and then got Beatrix Potter involved, and the whole question of stories or fantasies.
......then he read about PNAC - the Washington based Neo-Con think tank that included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, Wolfowitz, Libby, Kristol, Kagan, Pearl (8 blind Rat-publicans)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PNAC

wikipedia said:
Section V of Rebuilding America's Defenses, entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Dominant Force", includes the sentence: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor"

(poohbcarrot "and then 9/11 happened")

Post-9/11 call for regime change in Iraq

On September 20, 2001 (nine days after the September 11, 2001 attacks), the PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush, advocating "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq," or regime change:
 

Tonyblack

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#20
Roman a clef = a novel in which actual persons and events are disguised as fictional characters. :)
 

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