In “Going Postal” It is mentioned that the older clacks towers need line of sight to work.
Bearing in mind that most of the ‘technology’ in discworld is based on real world technology at least a hundred years old, how is this achieved?
And which book (if any) is mostly about the introduction of clacks towers? (I’ve noticed that often the books are about the establishment of a service. The truth was about the introdcution of a Newspaper to Ankh-Morpork. Going Postal is obviously about the re-introduction of the postal service)
Not sure what you mean… they’ve just built a butt-load of towers across the continent, each one just within visual range of the next. Dunno if they use telescopes to cross the less settled areas or what. It would make sense, but I don’t recall any specific mention of their use in a clacks tower. Technologically, there’s nothing at all fancy here: it’s considerably less sophisticated than the telegraph, although conversely much more complicated. Training up enough cryptologists to man all those thousands and thousands of clacks towers must be a tremendous bottleneck, not to mention building and provisioning the towers themselves. Far more expensive than a wooden pole and some copper wire with an operator at each end.
There isn’t a book that focuses on the invention/introduction of the clacks towers, unless you count Going Postal. It’s just sort of grown up in the background of a bunch of other novels.
For Miller and others. By line of sight, I mean there is a direct path between towers for light to travel. Maybe I mis-read the passage but it implied that new towers work even if there is something in the way between towers.
Lobsang, I recall that there was a subplot about John Dearheart having invented a new clacks system that was more efficient than the old one, but I don’t recall anything about it not needing line-of-sight. If there was something about that, it wasn’t explained in any more detail than you’ve already read, nor does it materially impact the plot of the novel. All the clacks towers featured in the novel use line-of-sight to communicate between cities.
If I had to guess, I’d assume he’d invented a proper telegraph. It doesn’t really require any technology that the Disc doesn’t already have, or couldn’t reasonably invent from what they already know.
I’m not all the way through the book, yet, but I think somewhere there is a mention of
Unmanned towers that can bounce a signal, maybe using a mirror of some sort. The implication seemed to be that you could bend the signal around an obstacle that way, without setting up a complete clacks tower.
Being that I’m too cheap to buy hardcover, I’m always a little behind in Discworld novels. In fact, I’m on just finishing up Monstrous Regiment.
One of the characters, Lt. Blouse, starts talking about theories he has as to improve the efficiency of the clacks. Of course, since his religion finds them an abomination, he never had practicle experience.
Maybe after that book, he was allowed to put some of his ideas to the test.