Raising Steam is the 40th Discworld novel, written by Terry Pratchett. It was also the last one published before his death in 2015. Originally due to be published on October 24th, 2013, it was pushed back to November 7th, 2013 (and March 18, 2014 in the U.S.) It is the finale of the Moist von Lipwig trilogy in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and features the introduction of locomotives to the Discworld (a concept mentioned in Death's Domain), and an entirely new character in Dick Simel, the inventor of the train.
The cover of the novel for the UK edition was designed by Paul Kidby and revealed on Pratchett's Facebook page on 6 August 2013.
Dick Simnel, a young self-taught engineer from Sto Lat (and whose father, Ned Simnel, appeared in Reaper Man), has invented a steam locomotive named Iron Girder. He brings his invention to Ankh-Morpork where it catches the interest of Sir Harry King, a millionaire businessman who has made his fortune in the waste and sanitation industry. Harry promises Dick sufficient investment to make the railway a success.
The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, wishing to ensure that the City has appropriate influence over the new enterprise, appoints the reformed fraudster turned civil servant Moist von Lipwig to represent the government in the management of the railway. His personal skills soon come in useful in negotiations with landowners along the route of the new line.
Throughout the story, Dwarfish fundamentalists led by a Dwarf grag named Ardent are responsible for a number of terrorist attacks, including the murder of railway workers engaged in building the new line as well as arson attacks on the towers belonging to the clacks telecommunications network. This campaign culminates in a palace coup at the seat of the Low King of the Dwarfs in Schmaltzberg, Überwald, whilst the King is away at an international summit in Quirm, over twelve hundred miles away. Vetinari declares that it is imperative to return the King to Schmaltzberg as soon as possible in order to restore political stability, and gives Moist the task of getting him there via the new railway. Moist protests that this is impossible because the railway is nowhere near its completion, but is told that achieving this target is non-negotiable.
On the journey, Moist and Vimes are faced by various problems, such as numerous attacks by Dwarfish fundamentalists, a poor attempt at infiltration, a landslide, and the revelation that the Low King is in fact a pregnant female. Nevertheless, the train eventually reaches the bridge, which has been badly damaged.
Faced with a bridge that is clearly too weak to carry the train, and insufficient time or workers to strengthen it, Moist commandeers the City's ancient golems, which are kept strictly for use only in times of national emergency. He does this is in spite of being expressly forbidden to use them by Vetinari (who knows that Moist has the necessary expertise to command the golems and, if he were so inclined orchestrate a coup with them under his control). Having tunnelled their way to the site of the bridge, the golems, concealed by mist in the gorge below, somehow contrive to carry the train safely across.
The Dwarf King retakes Schmaltzberg with little resistance, and Ardent, the leader of the fundamentalists, is held for trial. Feeling that the dwarfs are ready for a more progressive future, the King reveals that she is actually a Queen, and changes her name from Rhys to Blodwen, in honor of a dwarf who had been killed by the fundamentalists at her wedding. Following this announcement, a number of other senior dwarfs also "come out" as female.
Back in Ankh-Morpork, Dick Simnel is knighted, Harry King receives a peerage, and the City Watch officers who helped defend the train receive medals. Moist, upon questioning why he appears to be the only one not receiving a reward, is told that his reward is to remain alive. It is also revealed that Vetinari himself had been on the train, disguised as one of the locomotive's stokers, the legendary Stoker Blake, while his lookalike Charlie impersonated him back in Ankh-Morpork, and had surmised how the train had been carried across the ravine. However, he appears content that there is no evidence to prove this.
The main theme in the novel is the development of the railway network across the continent from Ankh-Morpork and there are many parallels between Discworld and Roundworld in this regard. Both have eager railway fans keeping track of the trains they see - trainspotters. Both drive a last golden spike like at Craigalachie in the Rocky Mountains when the Canadian Pacific was completed across Canada. Both have their armoured cars to ward off bandits, both have the confusion of different gauge lines, Both have problems when crossing swampy ground, steep terrain and shaky bridging. Both had first, second and third class carriages and dedicated areas for single ladies. Both had the common misconceptions about what railways would bring; miscarriage of livestock, moral degradation of the citizenry as well as railways becoming a great equalizer of class. Both led to the rich buying vacation homes in the country and seaside, to commuters taking the train to work, to suburbs being built close to the tracks and stations, to day trippers going to the seaside for the day or for vacation, etc.
The second major theme is one that is common to many of his novels, about the influence of fundamentalism over normal society when people do nothing to prevent it. In this novel, the Grags (the equivalent of the mullahs in fundamental Islam, ultra-orthodox rabbis in Judaism or the religious right in the USA) try to prevent the dwarfs from moving with the times and accepting modern ways by murdering the bride in a mixed marriage, burning the communication towers that give Uberwald access to the outside world and by trying to stop the introduction of the railway. The fact that the grags and their followers live in caves, the grags influence impressionable young men to do their dirty work while themselves staying far from harms way and view every innovation and new idea as an abomination before their god Tak resonates most strongly with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not surprising they attack the tall Clacks towers (like the World Trade center in New York) and the railways (like the various train, subway and metro bombings in London,Madrid, Paris,Moscow, etc). Finally, Moist von Lipwig is put on a hit list by the grags much like the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo and novelist Salmon Rushdie.
A third theme is the idea of immigrants starting out at basic level jobs and then improving their lot and becoming professionals, often with the disapprobation of the populace believing they are 'taking away our jobs' (ring any Roundworld bells?). Thunderbolt the troll who becomes a lawyer, much to the surprise of many including Moist, who don't realize that trolls have that level of intelligence; Teasy Weasy Fornacite, the troll who becomes a hair dresser, the goblins who find they are skilled clacks operators. The novel shows how far things have progressed in Ankh-Morpork since the days of The Colour of Magic.
A fourth theme is the use of common tools as weapons. This is a continuation of a similar theme in Snuff . Pratchett's farmers do not seem to realize that their farm implements, hoes, scythes, shovels, etc could be used to defend themselves from attack. Similarly, the railway workers have large mallets, shovels, etc but fall victim to the dwarfs' traditional weapons, swords and knives. Harry King's man with the large tool box does know what to do with his weapon of choice. In reference to the Stoker's shovel, Vimes comments late in the novel that, 'a workman's tool used cunningly could give the average watchman a real headache.'
Finally, Pratchett continues his spoofing of Steampunk in the Devices, the pseudo Victorian language and affectations (“Sorry, sir, you ‘ave to let t’steam out. It’s all about ‘arnessing t’steam.”) and the imaging of the railways which he started in Thud!
Vetinari, like many 20th century dictators is keen on not only getting the railways running on time but expanded throughout the realm and beyond. A common remark about tyrants and dictators on Earth, at least since 1900, has been At least he got the trains running on time. This was famously said about Benito Mussolini, who in fact couldn't keep the trains on time - there are limits to a Fascist dictator's power, and Benito discovered his was the Italian state railway. Adolf Hitler didn't have to exert himself - German state railways already ran to an incredible peak of efficiency without Nazi help. Pratchett uses this "trains running on time theme" in many of his novels, including a previous Moist von Lipwig book, Going Postal.
At the beginning of the novel, when Vetinari travels by coach to Uberwald the comment is made that the potholes are said to cause "fundamental discomfort". "Fundament" can mean "rear end" hence a sore bum.
Dick Simnel the inventor of the train is based on George Stephenson (9 June 1781 – 12 August 1848) the English civil and mechanical engineer who was born in Northumberland in Northern England who is renowned as the "Father of Railways". Pratchett has also injected the mannerisms and life of Fred Dibnah (1938-2004) from Bolton, Lancashire, who was a steeplejack and mechanic and the epitome of the old-time Northern engineer into Dick's character as well. He became a celebrity on TV, initially for breath-taking steeplejacking, with a commentary delivered in a wry self-deprecating Northern voice, often hanging upside down a couple of hundred feet up. In later life, he had a second career restoring and driving old steam engines, which he loved and TV series were made about this aspect of his life. Although many of Dick Simnel's words stem from around northern England the key word he uses 'gradely' for 'great' or 'brilliant' identifies him with Lancashire and his other expressions and his flat cap link him to Fred. Vetinari outlines his parental lineage which was first mentioned in Reaper Man. Dick Simnel's name has obvious sexual connotations. Dick is the standard slang for a penis and 'Simnel' suggests 'seminal" which as well as the sexual meaning of 'semen' means 'groundbreaking' and 'pioneering. In effect, Dick's seed is creating the railway. In addition, Dick and Harry King make up two of the three 'everyman' figures, 'Tom, Dick and Harry" - just plain folk, suggesting that innovation and new ideas don't come from committees, aristocrats, governments and so called experts but come from regular, creative people. This is reemphasized later in the novel when Dick is told that he needs to apprentice under an expert engineer by the Guild when in fact there is no one skilled in his field to apprentice under.
The city state of Ephebe where camels can do logarithms on their toes suggests the city of Alexandria with its library and Ephesus in ancient Greece (present Turkey) - both centers of learning in the ancient world. An ephebe originally was Greek for a young man entering military training but now has come to mean a young man between 18 and 20 entering manhood.
The Pass of WIlinus is the entrance on the border of Uberwald just as Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania) is an entrance on the border to Russia. Since 'w' is pronounced 'v' in German and other Eastern European languages, there is a play on the word 'villainous' as well.
"Vox populi vox deorum" translates from the Latin as "the voice of the people is the voice of the gods."
Effie says to Harry King, "after all you're as rich as Creosote". This is a reference to the expression 'As rich as Croesus" in Roundworld. Croesus was the king of Lydia who, according to Herodotus, reigned for 14 years from 595 BC – c. 546 BC and was renowned for being incredibly rich. In Discworld, Creosote was a Seriph of Klatch from the city of Al Khali also very rich.
"Effing Forest" is another one of Pratchett's puns that might be missed by non-British readers. Epping Forest is an ancient forest in the north London area and obviously "effing" is a euphemism for "fucking".
Mr. Thunderbolt's dealings with Harry King and Dick Semnel are handled the way all people in Roundworld would like lawyers to behave, but which never happen.
The painting of the Countess Quatro Fromaggio at her Toilette by Leonard of Quirm is likely based on Giovanni Bellini's painting, Young Woman at her Toilet. "Quatro Formaggi" is Italian for "four cheeses" which is a pizza topping.
Vetinari's crossword problem is the word "lagniappe" which as Moist tells Vetinari is pronounced differently than it is spelled (/ˈlænjæp/ LAN-yap, /lænˈjæp/ lan-YAP). A lagniappe is "a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase" (such as a 13th doughnut on purchase of a dozen).
Like cities all over Roundworld, Ankh-Morpork is plagued with good farmland being taken over for housing developments and subdivisions in what is now becoming the suburbs, which is surprising given that Vetinari is a dictator and could prevent this abuse of the land, unlike in Roundworld where the developers usually have a connection to key government politicians so there is no political will to prevent it.
In regard to Iron Girder, Harry King says to Vetinari that he "wouldn't be surprised if he eventually got her to fly." This foreshadows the train 'flying' across the bridge on its way to Uberwald near the end of the novel.
Swine Town resonates with the English city of Swindon (which name also means Swine Town), which also went from being a small agricultural village between London and England's second major port, Bristol with the introduction of the Bristol railway, the Great Western, which was built with the intention of bringing fresh perishable produce swiftly to the markets of the capital. Like Ankh-Morpork, the Thames was so foul that the local fish was utterly inedible so seafood was brought in from the west country. Swindon became an oasis of heavy industry in Wiltshire in an otherwise entirely agricultural economy. Until privatisation, it remained a key strategic location in the British rail network, its factories building locomotives and directly feeding them into the system. Today, Britain incredibly imports railway locos and carriages from Europe and transfers them to their destination by road.
The train moves off with a "chuff, a jerk, another couple of chuffs, and another jerk, another chuff and suddenly they were moving". In fact, this is exactly the way a train starts up. The couplings between cars have to have some slack in between them because no engine can pull a loaded train unless it has a chance to get moving, bring the next car taut, and the next and then next in succession while it accelerates.
The small boy with his notebook in which he writes down the number 1 is the first of many trainspotters in the novel; meticulously recording every locomotive they see. In case anyone misses it, Pratchett throws in the line from Moist, "Well spotted young man".
Pratchett says that Captain Angua (was) the most notable werewolf in the Watch which hints that perhaps there may be more than one now.
Lord Vetinari says, "Let it be known that enemy action on the clacks system will be followed by the death of not only those who did it, but by those who ordered it to be done". Vetinari as tyrant has this option, whereas in Roundworld, much as people would like to see a similar fate for the Mullahs when they order a jihad against innocent people with whom they disagree, the real villains go free while their dupes blow themselves up or go to jail.
Vetinari adds, "This is a crime. There will be a punishment." - an obvious pun on Dostoyevski's novel, "Crime and Punishment" which Pratchett has referred to in other novels.
The line, "Tak never mentioned that dwarfs should cover their faces in the society of their friends", is an obvious reference to fundamentalist Muslims believing that women should cover their whole body with the burqa and their face with the niqab.
Albrecht Albrechtson's action in the heated debate when he smashes his axe into the middle of the conference table mirrors Sam Vimes' actions in the Rats Chamber during the last major period of dissent. Since the Blackboard Monitor is well known and respected among Dwarfs, Albrecht's actions are clearly a large hint to the rest of the dwarfs. "Rat" in German means 'advice' and is used in connection with governance (rathaus - city hall where decisions are made).
The derogatory reference to dwarfs as "lawn ornaments" is an obvious comment on the Round World tendency to place plastic figures of the seven dwarfs on one's lawn as a decoration. Pratchett uses this term throughout his works. Similarly, dwarf names are usually drawn from the names of these seven dwarfs, reflecting the same kinds of emotions; bashful, grumpy, dopey, sleepy, etc with a Scandinavian addition of adding 'son' to the end as in Bashfulson.
Albrechtson's calls down a "murrain" on the fundamentalists. A murrain is a curse.
Pratchett's playing with the word, "new fangled" reflects his love of words. Nowadays 'fangled' is obsolete and only 'new fangled' is used. Pratchett previously played with 'gruntled' and 'disgruntled' in a similar fashion.
Dick Simnel says that knowing how to use blown glass is important in his design. Blown glass sight glasses were used in steam engines and although float switches are more common nowadays, were once a critical safety feature for monitoring the level of the water in the boiler.
"Earth, air, fire and water, the sum of everything!" is a reference to the 'four classical elements' of ancient Greece.
Harry King sends his 'boys' to guard Dick Simnel's equipment as "insurance" and no one bats an eye at the word, a far cry from The Colour of Magic, when Twoflower sells the unknown 'insurance' to the owner of the Broken Drum who burns the place and the city down.
Drumknott looks like a 'lotus eater who has run out of lotuses (or perhaps Loti). Again Pratchett is playing with language (plural of hippopotamus is hippopotami, etc). The 'lotus-eater' denotes "a person who spends their time indulging in pleasure and luxury rather than dealing with practical concerns" and comes from Greek Mythology.
Moist refers to Sto Lat as a 'nexus' for the Sto Plains and then starts to explain 'nexus' to the crossword wizard, Vetinari who stops him short saying, "I know what a nexus is." A nexus is a hub but is also a connection between groups of items.
Moist's discussion of an armoured train to Uberwald to that Vetinari can travel in safety, foreshadows the Low King of the Dwarfs travelling by train to Uberwald to reclaim his throne.
The fact that the surveyors treat Dick Simnel as an equal, just simply a different kind of engineers resonates with Roundworld where Civil, Mechanical, Structural, Chemical Engineers are all represented by Professional Engineers Associations.
The aristocrats hate 'the whole concept of the train on the basis that it would encourage the lower classes to move about and not always be available'. The trains in a very large way sped up the movement of people from the agricultural areas and farming jobs, to the cities and the manufacturing jobs located there - the mobility of the working class.
Lord Underdale is likely a combination of 'Lord Coverdale' from the TV series, Blackadder and 'Kirby Underdale' which is a town in Yorkshire.
Moist pretends to get drunk but diverts his host's alcohol to a hidden container inside his clothing. In the days of American Prohibition, FBI agent Izzie Einstein had a funnel and tube setup in the lining of his coat which allowed him to pour any alcohol he got out of illegal bars into a flask he kept in an inside coat pocket - the contents of which he would use as evidence in court.
Jimkin Bearhugger best Gin resonates with both Jim Bream Whiskey and Beefeater Gin.
Teasy Weasy Fornacite, the Troll hairdresser's name, like all Trolls' names, is derived from a rock, in this case fornacite which is a rare lead, copper chromate arsenate hydroxide mineral. Pratchett is obviously playing with the similarity to 'fornicate' in Moist's concern about Adora going to this hairdresser.
Harry tells Moist that his 'heart is in the iron... I mean, daffodils, I quite like them, but look at that sheen on the steel'. This is a common romantic kind of sentiment with a twist; 'My Heart is in the Highlands by Robert Burns, and more recently My Heart is in Havana" by Camila Cabello. Daffodils reminds the reader of the romantic poem by William Wordsworth. All this romance is tied in to the romance of the railway.
Bedwyr the dwarf is told by his mother, "this is your life and you have to live it"; a sentiment expressed in song by everyone from Johnny Clegg and Savuka in their song Cruel Crazy Beautiful World (it's your world so live in it) to Linda Ortega in her song Fall down or Fly (This your life, live it or die) to name a few.
Vetinari calls Ankh-Morpork a 'dirty old town' a reference to the Ewan MacColl song of the same name.
The line, "Civis Ankh-Morporkianus sum" is Latin for "I am a citizen of Ankh-Morpork"
Bledlows are the policemen of Unseen University. They are mostly former watchmen and soldiers, heavy-set and have quite a good turn of speed for their age. Like watchmen everywhere, they believe in the universal guilt of everybody -- in their case, the students. They have a time-honoured and arcane key ceremony at two in the morning which is like the Changing of the Guards in other cities of the Multiverse, only louder and more obtrusive, involving the Patting of the Pockets, the I'll Swear They Were Here This Morning, and the Stone Me, They Were Here All Along, and ending with the signing-over of keys between the incoming and outgoing porters.
Page 112 probably holds the record for more sly allusions, annotations, and shout-outs to music, history, and other works of literature on a single page than any other Pratchett novel outside of Soul Music.
The whole theme of the discussion between Mustrum Ridcully and Lu-Tze is about the inevitable advent of the new. The line, Everybody's doing a brand-new dance now! is from Carole King and Gerry Goffin's song, Locomotion which was a hit for their babysitter Little Eva in 1962. The song also includes the line Let's make a train, now. In fact, the very first George Stephenson-devised engine was called The Locomotion. The Rocket was later.
In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap is the bottomless abyss that was all there was prior to the creation of the cosmos, and into which the cosmos will collapse once again during Ragnarok, the “Twilight of the Gods.”
Lu-Tze says, "The only problem I have yet to solve is how to get from the dying world into the new world." Lu-Tze is referring back to earlier history monk stories. The Abbot has no problem with this - he is an adept at being serially reincarnated from a dying world into a new one! Lu-Tze has to go about things differently.
The line, "even the Abbot is concerned about the arrival of steam-engines when it isn't steam-engine time is an aphorism originally coined by the chronicler of strange and anomalous things, Charles Fort. The full quote from his novel Lo! is:
If human thought is a growth, like all other growths, its logic is without foundation of its own, and is only the adjusting constructiveness of all other growing things. A tree cannot find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time. The line "...even the very wise have neglected to take notice of one rather important Goddess...Pippina, the lady with the Apple of Discord. This invokes the Greek Eris, Goddess of Discord, who famously incited war among Gods and men with the Golden Apple casually rolled into a roomful of vain deities, all of whom thought an apple inscribed "KALLISTI" - to the fairest one - was of course theirs by right. The fallout from the war among Gods became the ten-year Trojan War on Earth. The connection to the apple causing the fall from the Garden of Eden is also obvious as is Pratchett's goddess' name - pips are the seeds in an apple and 'seeds of discontent' is a common expression regarding discord.
The conversation between Ridcully and Lu-Tze emphasises the need for balance between Chaos and Order. This is also a central theme of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy, where the Golden Apple is a plot -point, Eris walks the earth still as Goddess of Disorder, her adherents greet each other with "All Hail Eris!", and the Chaos-Order thing is symbolised as Eristic forces versus Aneristic forces.
Lu-Tze also concedes that even the history monks can become a less than beneficial force once they get complacent and become part of the established order - he deliberately uses the term "bureaucracy" to describe this danger. This not only brings the Cosmic Auditors to mind - guardians of never-changing sterility - but also Shea and Wilson's assertion that chaos is born, out of sheer desperation, from stifling strangling bureaucracy - which is Order taken to a destructive extreme. Shea and Wilson have a word for this state in their philosophy, a German word - Beamtenherrschaft, (literally 'Officials Rule' ie Bureaucracy. Beamtenherrschaft, in the original Illuminatus!, is in fact explicitly defined as the sort of state of mind that will ensure the trains run precisely on time, that their human cargo is satisfactorily documented, itemised, counted, and delivered on schedule to the right destination, who then sign for the delivery, in triplicate and in the right places - and in the midst of all the paperwork, nobody sees anything wrong or out of place with the destination being Auschwitz.
There is also a sub-plot in one of Robert A. Wilson's solo novels where, in the 1760's, a brilliant mind devises (at least on paper) a theoretically workable steam engine - only to be universally derided and laughed at, even at the advanced universities he attended - France/Italy in the 1760's evidently not the right orchard or season for "Steam-Engine Time" to come to blossom.
All (as in, 'is that all Jolson") Jolson's name is based on Al Jolson, the American singer and actor who at the peak of his career was dubbed 'the world's greatest entertainer.' In this and other Disworld novels he is a chef.
Pratchett throws in another play on words with 'waiting room' where they are waiting for the ceremony to begin but it is also the waiting room where the customers will wait for the train.
Queen Keli driving in the last golden spike is a reference to the last ceremonial spike driven to complete the continental railway lines across the USA as well as the Canadian Pacific line across Canada.
The media panic about cows miscarrying and horses bolting at the sight of the train was a common theme in print in the early days of rail to terrify an ignorant populace. One common myth was that women's uteruses would fly out of their bodies at speed and that one's face would melt at 50 miles per hour (something which Pratchett has the reporter Hardwick suggest to Dick).
The toilets on trains traditionally did empty directly onto the tracks below. Only Harry King would think to save the waste and profit from it.
Not surprising given that the novel is about railways, there are regular references to E. Nesbitt's Railway Children book and the BBC TV series in the novel. The key reference is the one where a group of children flag down the Iron Girder with their pinafores to warn them about an avalanche which has blocked the line. Unlike Nesbitt's children, Pratchett's children have engineered the landslide themselves so that they can be heroes by stopping the train in time. Pratchett also slips in a play on words here, calling the children 'kids' which makes the reader not only think about the Railway children, but also about the old song called Bill Grogan's goat (kid) popularized by Burl Ives:
Bill Grogan's Goat
There was a man, who had a goat,
He loved that goat just like a kid.
One day that goat was feeling fine,
He ate red shirts right off the line,
The farmer grabbed him by the back,
And tied him to the railroad track,
Just then a train came into sight,
And that poor goat near died of fright,
He heaved a sigh as if in vain,
Coughed up the shirts, and flagged the train.
Later on Pratchett talks about "lonely goatherds' beside the track, an obvious reference to the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music" and the song "The Lonely Goatherd". Pratchett says that there was definitely "an out-break of dirndls". A dirndl is a traditional feminine dress worn in Austria, South Tyrol and Bavaria. It is based on the traditional clothing of Alps peasants and was worn in the Sound of Music.
Pratchett raises the very legitimate question regarding the bureaucratic need for so call professional qualifications trumping actual ability in The Guild telling Dick that he needs to serve an apprenticeship even though there is no master to serve it under who knows a fraction of what Dick knows. The play on words of indentures (apprenticeship) and teeth (dentures) shows the ridiculousness of the whole thing.
The trip to the country by train raises the concerns of the journalists that they will be attacked by pheasants - a nice play on words since the expression is the concern of being attacked by peasants (the rabble in the wilderness away from the safety of the city) but in this case the game birds of the aristocrats who own property along the route.
The slogan, "Let the train take the strain" - was for many years an advertising slogan of British Rail, but they were thinking in terms of the stress of driving not having a bowel movement.
The footnote says, "Mr de Worde and wife". William and Sacharissa are described as wearing wedding rings in other parts of the novel which suggests that they have tied the knot.
When the train arrives at the bridge it is met by a large troll which halts the train. Pratchett continually plays on the old Norwegian fairy tale, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, in his novels. He wrote a short story in 1991 called "Troll Bridge as part of the Discworld series. However, times have progressed and trolls have become part of society as this troll works for the railway company and has the appropriate red signal flag. He is proud that his bridge building crew has constructed the new bridge and is also competing in the best tended bridge competition (similar to the Best Kept Station contest in Britain) with the winner getting 20 goats. Later in the novel, Moist comes up with the plan to franchise the bridges to Troll families, who are natural bridge tenders and will be given homes in the bridge pillars - complete with lavatories - and a guaranteed herd of goats.
The line, "Go and tell Vimesy you want to be the first Railway Policemen, then. I'd love to see his face" is a reference to the British Transport Police which is one of the oldest forces in the country, instituted not long after the first railways began. The same Robert Peel who founded the first regular force authorised its commissioning. Additionally, it is worth noting that the Signalmen were originally in control of railway traffic by the use of flags and whistles, just as the regular Police controlled road traffic. Signalmen to this day are still referred to as "bobbies", for this reason.
"You don't have to live in Ankh-Morpork to work in Ankh-Morpork" is a line to appeal to Discworld's first suburb dwellers and commuters.
Chemin de fer is both the French and Quirmian for "railway" and a card game also known as Baccarat.
"Ruelle" is French/Quirmian for "Alley" so Harry is saying "Right up your alley". Similarly, "manche" is "sleeve" - "keeping an ace up your sleeve".
The name of the binoculars produced by Herr Fleiss in Uberwald comes from Zeiss, the famous manufacturer of optical devices in Germany founded by Karl Zeiss in Jena.
Archchancellor Ridcully says to Stibbons, "Perhaps we should be the ones who are minding the doors, not to mention the gap". For non British readers, this is a reference to the automatic announcements when the subway (tube) reaches the station to "mind the gap" between the coach and the platform.
Moist rescues two children who lay their heads on the track to feel the vibration of the oncoming train. This is a reference to all those Western movies where the Indians detect the coming of the white man's iron horse by doing the same and in the film The Railway Children the central characters are introduced with a similar scene although they have the sense to lift their heads well before the train comes.
"RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!" is a reference to the 1990 Jesus Jones song of the same name, which has changing times as its theme and contains the lyrics "Right here, right now/Watching the world wake up from history." There is also a 1998 tune of the same name by Fatboy Slim in which these lines are the only lyrics, repeated incessantly, with all the insistency of a train at full throttle.
Pratchett plays with the notion of "getting above one's station in life" and a "railway station" - the trains as the great equalizer in allowing social and physical mobility.
The citizens living close to the border of Ankh-Morpork and Quirm speaking both languages resonates with most countries in the world which share a common open border but likely since Quirm is patterned on France, Pratchett is thinking of Alsace/Lorraine where this is particularly evident.
Moist reflecting on his escape dressed as a washerwoman resonates with Mr. Toad from Kenneth Graham's Wind and the Willows.
Pratchett's reference to the inheritance system of Quirm (Patrimony) is a reference to the French system (after all this is Quirm) that protects children from being disenfranchised from the parent's estate. That part of the estate that is earmarked for descendants (children and grandchildren) is called la réserve; that part of the estate that is freely disposable is called the quotité disponible. As the Marquis explains to Moist, the system might ensure that everyone inherits from their parents but it also guarantees that the plot of land will be ever subdivided into ultimately useless plots of land - unlike systems that give everything to the oldest son and cut the rest of the siblings out entirely.
"Fusion Cuisine" is usually used to describe the best combinations of two cultures' cooking not the worst, with 11 the emphasis being on worst on the English/Ankh-Morpork end of the menu - Lobster and Mash and spotted Dick.
The Marquis tells Moist that he will pay "dans le nez" and get "ze job done before les poules auront les dents" - pay "through the nose" and "get the job done before hens have teeth." The second expression is similar to the English one "when pigs get wings". The first on is a literal translation of the English and would not be used in French. The proper expressions would be "payez le prix fort".
Moist and the Marquis continue their discussion of the differences between their countries - Ankh-Morpork/Britain got humor (Monty Pythons, Beyond the Fringe, the Goon Show, the list is endless) while Quirm/France got love making and fine dining. The debate is to which country got the better deal.
An oubliette or bottle dungeon is a form of dungeon which is accessible only from a hatch or hole in a high ceiling. "Oublier" means to forget in French so the prisoner was dumped in this hole and "forgotten". The question, "is it like a privy?" is correct in that both are only accessible from above.
The line, "when Tak needs you, you will be contacted again" is the kind of statement that one would expect if involved in some Jihad or plot on behalf of some fundamentalist fringe group plotting to blow up a train, metro, building, etc.
"NagNav" the navigation system for horses is an obvious play on 'satnav" GPS based satellite navigation systems.
Of the Twilight the Darkness says, "if you cut me, do I not bleed?" which is a reference to Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. The parallel between the goblins in Discworld and the Jews in Roundworld as epitomes of downtrodden and persecuted races is obvious. The goblin is less pacifistic however, continuing that he will cut anyone who tries to cut him.
The Marquis asks Of the Twilight the Darkness if he drinks wine, a variation on a line that Pratchett uses over and over in his novels in reference to the vampires. "I don't drink....wine" The original line, immortalized by Bela Legosi, with the dramatic pause before the word 'wine', appeared in many subsequent movie versions of Dracula, down to the Francis Ford Coppola 1992 remake Bram Stoker's Dracula. It originally came from the Hamilton Deane stage play Dracula which was popular in New York in the 1920s.
Monsieur Bidet is seen by Moist as a human not as a bathroom fixture.
Of the Twilight the Darkness tells Moist that Goblin tastes like chicken which is a common Roundworld joke to describe any meat that is out of the ordinary.
During the fight with the dwarfs where Moist von Lipwig (normally a coward) leads the goblins, he is assessed by the goblins as in need of strong drink to give him courage and which is duly provided in the form of a goblin-brewed tonic which completely alters his personality for just long enough, turning him into a killing machine. This scene evokes two similar literary accounts of similar potions, both applied to people of a Moist-like inclination. The great Victorian poltroon Sir Harry Flashman is beneficiary of an Arabian tonic administered by his lover just before a vital fight with the Russians in Flashman At The Charge. As he is the only man who can direct the fight, something to dampen his natural cowardice is essential. In The Stainless Steel Rat, intergalactic con-man and bunco-artist Jim DiGriz realises the only way to understand his lethal adversary (and later wife), the rather spiky Angelina, is to ingest a chemical cocktail that simulates her marked anger-management problems. Pratchett had definitely read all of the Flashman books and "Slippery" Jim and the spiky Angelina diGriz have so many suspicious similarities to Moist and Adora Belle. When Vimes interviews Moist later, he recognises the essential Flashman-like aspect of Moist when he later reflects cowards fight harder and better as they have more consequences to fear.
The expression "bettter out than in" has many references in Roundworld, most to do with bodily functions; one of which is the idea that throwing up after getting too drunk is better than keeping the poison in. In Moist's case it comes from him killing the dwarfs and being sick about the idea of himself as a murderer. The character Shrek in the movies of the same name, regularly uses this line and the British grafitti artist Banksy used it for a series of residency art works in New York in 2013, drawing on a quote from Paul Cezanne “All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside.”
Moist says to Adora, "I've brought you some little presents, say it with goblins, as you might say." The line, 'say it with flowers' was originally an advertising slogan created in 1917, by the Florists' Telegraph Delivery group (FTD).
The Tump Tower is clearly a reference to Donald Trump's "Trump Towers" in New York among other places but Pratchett gives it a delightful twist since a "tump" is a small hill or hummock - a far cry from the image of masculinity, virility and machismo Donald Trump is projecting with his buildings but perhaps more accurate given his small hands.
Moist refers to Vimes as Chuckles when being interviewed by Angua. This is a common nickname for people who are deadly serious - the antithesis of Chuckles the Clown who was a fictional character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970–1977). His character is best known for his off-camera death in the episode "Chuckles Bites the Dust".
The trolley bus is an obvious pun on a trolley bus which is an electric bus powered by overhead wires not a ride on an actual troll. In Unseen Academicals, it is pointed out that this is a safe method of transportation because no one would mug a troll.
It was only a matter of when not if Pratchett would use the line "The leopard doesn't change its shorts" in the novel, resisting the urge until page 180. This is a malapropism play on the old saying "the leopard doesn't change its spots" (people don't reform or change) as well as the idea of 'having to change one's shorts" after having an accident in them from being scared. This line is used throughout Pratchett's novels.
"Dance to Mr. Trooper's tune" means a date on the end of a rope with the Ankh-Morpork hangman named Daniel Trooper.
Vetinari tells Moist that "one of the golem horses arrived here declaring 'give me livery or give me death'". This is a typical Pratchett style bad pun based on the Patrick Henry speech "Give me liberty or give me death." at the time of the American Revolution. "Livery" on the other hand is a uniform worn by servants and, in this case, a stable.
Adora tells Vetinari that Moist "enjoy(s) a quantum of frisson". - a play on the 2008 James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig Quantum of Solace. Excitement versus comfort.
Aeron says to the Low King of the Dwarfs, "I can see this is taking a lot out of you.... And you do have another card to play". and then "there was the sound of a kiss." This clearly foreshadows the king coming out as a female, her pregnancy and the fact that Aeron is her lover.
When the would-be dwarf saboteur emulates the passing of Ned Simnel and leaves the world in a massive cloud of pink steam, the uneasy suspicion forms in the mind of Moist Von Lipwig that Iron Girder is sentient and somehow engineered the situation. This is much like an event in the Stephen King novel (and movie) "Christine", about a classic American car with sentience and a negative opinion of people trying to do her harm. Fortunately, Iron Girder is only malevolently inclined towards people who are actively attempting to injure her. She is definitely better adjusted to a human rival than Stephen King's Christine: she is heard to purr approval to Emily King buffing up her nameplate till it shines, and indicating her affection for Dick Simnel.
The dwarf saboteur says to Death that "I was doing the work of Tak, who will now welcome me into paradise with open arms!" This thought mirrors the kinds of statements made by Islamic extremists - the 72 virgins waiting in paradise for the martyr, etc. Death replies, "TAK MIGHT INDEED BE GENTLE, .....OR....NOT" Just like extremists in the Roundworld cannot really know if the dogma their priests are spouting has validity or not, so it is in Discworld. Death, however, does know and reflects what most people hope to be true.
After Iron Girder steams the sabateur and Fred Colon comes close to insulting her, he quickly corrects himself before he is at risk himself by saying, "Wonderful machine, though, aint'she, Nobby! Look at those beautiful smooth lines!" This speech resonates with the Monty Python dead parrot sketch, "Remarkable bird...Beautiful plumage!"
In his conversation between Moist and Harry King. King refers to "knobs" and "knoblyess obligay". Pratchett puns on nobs (slang for nobility or upper class people) and noblesse oblige (the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged) in this line.
"Black Ribboners" are vampire "teetotallers" who have forsworn drinking human "b-vord" (blood). The name comes from the Christian Women's Temperance League who forswore drinking alcohol and wore white ribbons to indicate this.
The Dwarf hoping to escape from the grags remembers the old Djellibeybi legend about how to get an ass down from a minaret and hopes she is going to be the jackass that got out of that minaret. In Jingo, the Patrician persuades the donkey to come down out of the minaret - likely in typical Vetinari fashion by using his power of persuasion to force his will on the donkey.
The new crossword complier stumps Vetinari with 'quaestuary'. Not surprisingly given his previous life, Moist gives Vetinari the correct definition of the word - someone doing business only for profit.
Vetinari tells Moist that he "needs to get the train to run to Uberwald on time." This was a common line said about Mussolini during WW2 that at least he made the trains run on time. In fact he didn't.
Vetinari tells Moist "The world lives between those who say it can't be done and those who say it can. And in my experience those who say it can are be done are usually telling the truth." This is a variation on the quote by George Bernard Shaw, "People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it".
The name of the Quirm express train, "Fierte d'Quirm" is French for "Pride of Quirm".
The wife of the Marquis is "enceinte" or "pregnant".
The "Fruits de Mer" Express means the "Seafood" Express.
Chief constable Upshot Feeney of the Shires is privileged to have earned the right to call his Goblin constable simply Boney. Boney is likely a reference to the books of Arthur Upfield and to two 1970s and 1990s Australian TV cop shows. In the books the Boney of the title is Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, the half-white, half-Aboriginal in the Queensland force, a man who uses native tracking skills and a shrewd understanding of people to resolve difficult crimes. The Upfield character is based on a man known as "Tracker Leon".
In Thud!, Pratchett left the reader with a red herring; all indications were that the forthcoming novel about railways was going to involve Dwarfs building an Underground in Ankh-Morpork using the Dwarfish Devices for propulsion. Instead, the railway goes overland and the 'Undertaking' (Underground) is going to be created by the emancipated and newly technically-savvy Goblins who want a safe means of connecting all the major Goblin settlements and providing a means to create and link a Goblin nation. The Dwarfs, whose activities looked so promising in Thud! are instead the major impediment to the railway scheme and there is no further mention of the Devices.
Pratchett, through Feeney Upshot addresses the unfortunate conundrum about a race of people (the goblins) learning and developing the characteristics of the dominant culture (Ankh-Morporkian) until their own culture is submerged and vanishes. This has happened over and over around the Roundworld as western man, and white Englishman in particular, has expanded his sphere of influence and the local cultures have been absorbed, either willingly because they want the trappings of white society, or reluctantly because they recognize it will be at the cost of their own culture, or forcibly because the white man sees the native culture's value only as an impediment to exploiting the natives' labour.
Mrs Georgina Bradshaw, the chronicler of the railway network is based on George Bradshaw who, in the middle 1800's was a railway fan who made a living of writing traveller's guides, even meticulously collating timetables so that, ultimately, a traveller using Bradshaw guides could plot a railway journey, together with stays in recommended cities and local hotels, to confidently craft a journey from Waverley Station, Edinburgh, to Kursky station in Moscow - within five minutes of accuracy all along the way.
Mrs. Bradshaw comments that Morporkian has become the 'ligua Quirma' of Discworld, a reference to English becoming the 'lingua franca' and replacing French as the universal language of Roundworld.
The Ankh-Morpork Times hires a railway correspondent, Mr. Raymond Shuttle. In fact, from the early days of railways well in the last century, newspapers did employ a railway correspondent.
With the interest in trains comes the inevitable spin-off: model railways and train sets as seen in Roundworld; everything from working steam engines, to electric to wooden Brio. Lady Effie is heard to complain that the trackside model of Sir Harry King makes him look too fat - an obvious reference to the Fat Controller in the Thomas the Tank Engine Series on British TV and based on the The Railway Series of books by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher.
Moist goes to sleep with "the dancing toadstools and Mr. Whoopee". Mr. Whoopee is an ice-cream van featured in every 3D Universe game except Grand Theft Auto Advance. The Dancing Toadstools are featured in the Disney movie Fantasia but also resonate with hallucinogenic magic mushrooms given their impact on Moist.
Firkytootle or Firkydoodle was a 17 th century term, obsolete by the 19 th century, meaning to caress sexually, to pet, what is known today as foreplay.
Aeron asks the low King about "the other thing" foreshadowing the revelation about her pregnancy.
Slake is described as a place to avoid unless you liked bad cooking and banjos - a reference to places like the Ozarks and the deep south as portrayed in the movies Deliverance and Green Fried Tomatoes.
Lord Vetinari is seen playing with one of the new scale model railway sets. To model rail buffs, miniature systems where the engines run on live steam are the most expensive, deluxe, desirable models of all but Vetinari is seen catching one as it derails and leaps over the edge of the table. His comments about rock slides and sabotage hint at what is to come in the novel and show that, as usual, Vetinari is remarkably prescient about what is going on around him.
The liason between the two people at the railway station is a reference to the 1945 David Lean movie, Brief Encounter.
Little boys and big ones all around the world lay pennies on the track to flatten them.
The 'Netherglades' are an obvious reference to the Florida 'Everglades'.
'Shankydoodle' is an obvious reference to the well know song Yankee Doodle which dated from the American Revolutions. Naturally, Shankydoodle is a great exporter of racehorses since the song itself refers to horses and "shank's mare" means to go on foot.
Schmaltzberg means "Fat mountain" in German. Schmaltz is rendered chicken or goose fat. It has also come to mean excessively sentimental or cheesy.
The watchwords of 'restoring order' and 'going back to the basics of true dwarfishness' resonate strongly in the Roundworld of today; in the anti-immigration rhetoric throughout Europe, the slogans of "Make America great again" and "family values" etc emanating from the US president, Trump. Ardent's comments about not believing the stone images of the Troll King and Dwarf King playing Thud in Koom Valley also fit in with Trump's outcry about 'fake news' -denying what is in front of your face. Similarly, Ardent refusing to recognize the goblins as equals resonates with every despotic leader from Hitler and his remarks about the Jews to Trump and his comments on the Mexicans.
The Scone of Stone is an obvious reference to the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny on which the Scottish Kings and later British rulers weare crowned. Both it and its Round World counterpart were stolen by nationalists to return it to its rightful place in its country of origin. The name makes a natural parody for the dwarfs since a scone is a type of baked good and they make stone hard bread to use as food and weapons. The Round World version is kept in the ruins of Scone Abbey in Scone, Scotland. The actual theft is referred to as a stupid crime because as Vimes points out, "other people would notice if you had a great rock up your jumper." In the Round World, the thieves did in fact get away without being caught. It is clear that, even though most of the dwarfs now live in Ankh-Morpork rather than in Uberwald, those leaders in Uberwald believe its rightful place in Schmaltzberg, not in Ankh-Morpork as some of the new breed of dwarfs would wish.
The king of the Dwarfs is referred to as the Low King since Dwarfs live underground and the farther underground one is the more important the Dwarf. The name Low King is an obvious play on Roundworld's High King, both fiction and real life where the High King is the supreme ruler. Examples include CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles and in real life Brian Boru, The High King of Ireland and the Roundworld equivalent of the Dwarfs' first king B'hrian Bloodaxe.
The system of tokens to prevent head on collisions was in fact used until there became too many lines and too many trains to make it effective at which point lights were introduced. It is still used in some parts of the world where there are single tracks, either a token, shaft or key being passed back and forth between the trains.
The bureaucratic middle manager trying to save time by duplicating the token is so typical of the corporate world - conveniently forgetting what the purpose of the procedure was in the interest of saving time or money.
"Tsort wasn't built in a day" is an obvious reference to the line "Rome wasn't built in a day" which itself originated in medieval France and was published in Li Proverbe au Vilain, in 1190.
The baby born on the train receiving a free season's pass is also common in Roundworld where, depending n the railway or ferry system, the baby often receives anything from free passage until adulthood to a life time pass.
In British slang a 'herbert' is a foolish man or scruffy child.
The scene involving Adora aiming the crossbow at the palace guards who have interrupted her sleep is a very explicit reference to the Stainless Steel Rat novels of Harry Harrison. In The Stainless Steel Rat for President!, the opening scene is of the outraged police chief, Inskipp, sending men round to arrest the diGriz husband for embezzlement and mis-use of Special Corps funds. The spiky Angelina diGriz, taking exception at having her beauty sleep interrupted, intervenes with a large and unfriendly weapon and suggests that good manners be used by the arresting officers.
Moist says to Vetinari, "Miracles are us, sir!" an obvious reference to the company "ToysRUS".
Detritus's crossbow which fires multiple arrows is called the "Piecemaker" which is a take off on the Colt 45 Army revolver known as the Peacemaker.
Moist's comparison of the rail journey with all its pieces which need to be in the right order to a pyramid is a reference back to the earlier novel Pyramids; Moist contemplating the nature of the pyramid, its associations, and how it all has to fit together absolutely perfectly in the right sequence.
The plan to restore Rhys to the Low Kingship, involving running a train all the way to Überwald despite frequent attacks and attempts to derail it is a shout-out to war movies like von Ryan's Express, where a hijacked train carrying a lot of battle-hardened tough cases trying to make it to safety is subjected to all manner of attacks by increasingly desperate Germans. There are other movies with the same sort of theme: 1948's Berlin Express references similar ideas, set in Germany during the Cold War at its height, with the Russians monitoring activities closely, since the train is in East Germany. Similarly, the train has strange people aboard a train whose stories don't fit, sleeper carriages on a long-distance express heading toward the Discworld's equivalent of the East. Since Lady Sybil had decreed the next Ramkin family holiday would be on the Überwald Express, perhaps Pratchett had a Murder on the Orient Express type novel in mind for his next Vimes chapter if he had lived.
Moist says, "everything that ought to be attached still is, isn't that right, Adora Belle?" In short, he hasn't had his head lopped off or been castrated.
Mrs. Simnel serves 'pease pudding in t'pot' and mentions that Dick likes it cold - a reference to the old nursery rhyme,
Pease pudding hot/pease pudding cold/pease pudding in the pot/nine days old/some like it hot/some like it cold/some like it in the pot/nine days old.
Dick's mom, the midwife, clearly recognizes that the king of the Dwarfs is pregnant although at this point it is only foreshadowing and it isn't revealed until the end of the novel.
When Vimes shows his forearm to the Dwarf, the Dwarf freaks out knowing its connection to death and to 'Blackboard monitor Vimes'. The symbol for the summoning dark (the eye with the long squiggly tail) has many parallels in Roundworld from the Third eye of enlightenment in the middle of the forehead in Buddhism to the "evil eye" painted on the bows of fishing boats in the eastern Mediterranean to ward off evil and misfortune. In literature,beginning with Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island the Black Spot is given to a pirate if he is about to be deposed as leader, usually by violent means so it is a source of great fear. In the JK Rowling, Harry Potter series, the dark mark that appears on the arms of Voldemort's supporters is a sign that he is summoning them and both it and Vimes mark glow and throb when in use. The symbol Pratchett uses has an obvious resemblance to a sperm.
Moist's idea of sorting the mail on the train while it is in transit was a common practice on railways around the world where special cars with specially trained staff were used until the 1970s. The trains did not even stop but used a hook suspended beside the track and a scoop system to move the bag from the bag into the carriage.
Brassica World in Big Cabbage resonates with such theme parks as Disney World and Jurassic Park.
The line that 'too much travelling on the railways could make you a philosopher, although not a very good one." is a reference to the very popular radio philosopher of the 1940's n BBC panel show The Brains Trust. Doctor Joad, whose pronouncements were witty, down to earth and listenable, often travelled by rail and used railway analogies to explain philosophical conundrums, including the inevitable life is a journey.. to explain determinism/free will. (Joad's analogy was that life is a train journey. The lines are fixed - determinism - but you have a choice of routes - free will Your starting point - birth - and terminus - death - are also predetermined. But in between your choices of stations and routes are your own - free will.). Unfortunately, Joad's exercise of his own free will granted him the power to evade his fares and travel for nothing. Determinism caught up with him in the form of a ticket inspector. After the court case for fare evasion, Joad was sacked by the BBC and faded into obscurity.
Moist von Lipwig gets practice at moving safely and confidently on the roof of a moving train and leaping from carriage to carriage. The good guy battling it out on the roof of railway carriage is a standard movie cliche in everything from five James Bond movies (Skyfall most noteworthy) to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to Mission Impossible to Spiderman to name but a few. Perhaps Moist knows subconsciously that the villain and hero inevitably battle it out on the roof and he decides to practice first. Fittingly, both he and Sam Vimes - and an unremarked stoker with a shovel - all get to do this together in a stand-up fight later on. During the fight, Moist is about to die when the train enters a tunnel and the Dwarf standing above him appears likely to be hit by the tunnel roof. This scenario is another common movie cliche seen in everything from Warner Brothers cartoon The Roadrunner to James Bond but Pratchett doesn't use it; instead Moist uses the distraction to knock the Dwarf off the roof.
Moist comments on Iron Girder's new found and every increasing strength and says "Earth, fire, wind and rain, all combined in one element of speed. This is a variation on the four traditional elements of earth, fire, air and water and since Pratchett is so cognizant of the words he chooses is likely a reference to Earth Wind and Fire, the American R&B, funk and soul band popular in the 1970s. Interestingly enough, in one episode of the TV show Chuck, Big Mike mentions that he was a member of that band and was known as "Rain." Whether Pratchett was thinking of this is unknown but it is the kind of subtle detail he would use. The fifth traditional element on Discworld is 'surprise' which fits in well with what Iron Girder has in store for the villains.
Wheeltappers and shunters are mentioned in the discussion about railwaymen and their hierarchy as well as their activities in their down time. A popular TV show of the 1970's was The Wheeltappers and Shunters' Social Club, a live cabaret set in a fictitious Northern working-mens' club of a sort rooted in everyday reality. The real-life W&S Club would have been set up by and for wheeltappers and shunters; all other trades by invitation only. The show was hosted by the egregious Bernard Manning - very much like Harry King - who also made money from muck, in this case dirty and doubtful jokes. Manning was a larger-than-life character who could have been a Roundworld Harry King, both in looks and attitude.
The Low King says there will be no 'auto-da-fé when the rogue Dwarfs are apprehended. An auto-da-fé or auto-de-fé (from Portuguese meaning "act of faith") was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish, Portuguese or Mexican Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the carrying out by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed.
"Copasetic" is American slang for 'in excellent shape'.
Downsized Abbey is too obvious to elaborate on.
Zemphis likely draws its name from Memphis in Egypt rather than Tennessee given that there are camels.
The Paps of Scilla are likely named for the Paps of Jura in Scotland or the Paps of Anu in Ireland, so named because they resemble breasts.
The Klatchian migratory bog truffle which "was extremely rare and therefore a delicacy", is Pratchett's shot at the way humans covet rare species and hasten their extinction by ascribing some exotic attribute (usually sexual prowess) to them - rhino horns, bear gall bladders, elephant ivory, etc.
Sorortanium is said to mean the sister of iron but really combines 'soror' (Latin for sister) with 'tanium' (likely titanium). Iron is Ferrum in Latin.
Like all Troll, Blue John takes his name from a mineral, in this case Blue John also known as Derbyshire Spar) which is a semi-precious mineral, a form of fluorite with bands of a purple-blue or yellowish colour. In the UK it is only found in Castletown in Derbyshire.
When the children create the landslide to make themselves out as heroes saving the train, Moist suggests that tin future they not wave their pinafores when flagging the train as it could give the wrong impression - ie that they were prostitutes looking for customers.
The scene where the Flyer is derailed and the whole expedition is held up in the forest and the Low King is helped by the forest Gnomes, echoes King Theoden and the Wild Men of the Druadan forest in Lord of the Ring - A King, on a mission to rescue a people from the Forces of Darkness, is stalled in impenetrable forest. with his way forward blocked, the forest-dwelling race, who are somewhat behind the times, timidly step out begging not to be hunted or killed. They provide the key to forward progress, and the King vows they will for evermore have his protection.
The common line said about the goblins throughout the novel is that they smell, Albrecht Albrechtson comments that they smell of old sculleries and southernwood, in other words they don't smell of the artificial perfumes of the modern world but smell of their natural world. A similar line is often said about foreigners in Roundworld because westerners are not use to the smell of their cooking which naturally permeates everything.
When the Low King reveals to Moist that he is a she, Moist replies, "Well, nobody's perfect, your majesty." This is an echo of the response to a similar type of revelation in the 1959 movie Some Like it Hot starring Marilyn Monroe.
Moist's words to Dick when he walks out into the canyon apparently on thin air, "Do you believe, Do you really believe?" resonate with JM Barrie's Peter Pan when Peter asks the reader/audience if they believe in fairies to save Tinkerbell's life.
Moist "grabbed a 'jim crow' and opened the trap door on the roof". Pratchett's choice of the word 'jim crow' instead of 'crowbar' is an interesting one. There is a common misconception that 'crow bar' stems from 'jim crow' because black slaves used the crow bar in their work. In fact the term comes from at least the 1400s in England and stems from the fact that the end of the bar looks like a crow's beak or foot. The term, 'jim crow' didnt' arise until the 1800 about 100 years after blacks began being called 'crows' because of their colour and 300 years after 'crowbar' came on the scene. No one calls a 'crow bar' a 'jim crow' but there have been attempts to purge 'crowbar' from the language and replace it with 'prybar' because of this misconception. Either Pratchett is fooled by the common misconception or is aware of it and playing with the reader to see if they can figure it out.
The line, "Tak save The Queen!" would make a good opening to a national anthem if a similar line wasn't already taken. In any case the Dwarfs have the famous "Gold! Gold, Gold, Gold!"
The Queen says to the assembled Dwarfs, "Well well, the world is upside down." This is a reference to the English ballad "The World Turned Upside Down" which was first published on a broadside in the middle of the 1640s as a protest against the policies of Parliament relating to the celebration of Christmas. Parliament believed the holiday should be a solemn occasion, and outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations. According to American legend, the British army band under Lord Cornwallis played this tune when they surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown (1781) but that is likely apocryphal as the legend first surface 100 years after the fact.
The Brick Joke from the beginning of the book : the brick finally drops as Iron Girder reveals who she really is, hearkening back to the very first page.
At the end of the novel the Low King comes out as a Low Queen and changes her name to Blodwen" after the Dwarf bride killed at her wedding by the Deep Downer Dwarfs. Blodwen is the name of the first opera in the Welsh (Llamedos) language and the name of the main character. In the opera the real father of Blowdwen is Rhys Gwyn. So both the male and female names of the Low King take their names from the opera.
The Goblin who invents the velocipede presages the next big development in Discworld; the mobility of man as an individual, first by bicycle and then by automobile perhaps. Vetinari tells the goblin, Of the Wheel the Spoke to present his idea to Vimes. The image of the British Bobby (policemen) on his bicycle is an iconic one.
Interesting Additional Features
In a promotional tour for Making Money, Pratchett hinted a new Moist Von Lipwig book to be titled Raising Taxes and in that earlier novel there are hints that Vetinari has a new job in mind for Moist when the tax man Mr. Creaser. Previous books had also hinted that Vetinari was considering using the dwarfs' mining skills to build an underground metro so readers were initially surprised by Moist's new venture, above ground. Perhaps Vetinari and Pratchett realized Moist's people skills would be lost in the dismal world of tax collection and would be better suited on the railways.
Doubleday hardback features an expanded two page map of the book Central Sea region on pp8-9, (or at least of its Hubwards side), which provides interesting detail as to locations of places previously only hinted at or else vaguely located. The map covers the region Quirm-Ankh-Morpork - Scrote - Überwald - Lancre with The Chalk, Sheepridge and the Octarine Grass Country shading in. No indication of scale is given, save for the incidental detail in the text that the completed railway line from Ankh-Morpork to Überwald is 1,200 miles long.
The Doubleday hardback special edition contained an additional extra short story Humphrey Newt's Thunderbolt Carriage.
This book had two deleted scenes cut from it called 'The Skeleton in the Cavern' and 'Counterblast.' These were reprinted in the convention exclusive Terry Pratchett's Folio.