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Literature: Nomes Trilogy

A trilogy of novels for younger readers by Terry Pratchett, consisting of Truckers, Diggers and Wings.

It begins with a small (and shrinking) tribe of Nomes, tiny people who live in woodland near a motorway. Among their few and valued possessions is the Thing, a black cube that is reputed to talk and give good advice.

And one day it does talk, and reveals that it knows the true history of Nomes, how they came to be where they are, and how they can get Home.

There's just one or two small problems they need to overcome first...

Whilst Truckers is unambiguously the first in the trilogy, the second and third are a little more tangled. In short, the first part of Diggers is the direct sequel to Truckers, the end of Diggers and most of Wings happen simultaneously, and the end of Wings is the end of the trilogy.

Truckers has been adapted for television by Cosgrove Hall animation. A movie version is in Development Hell.

The trilogy provides examples of:

  • Ancient Astronauts: The Nomes are implied to be the cause of the various "little people" legends of humanity — all stories of fairies, elves, gnomes, dwarves, pixies, etcetera ultimately stemming from the early Nomish attempts to communicate with and educate humans before they eventually devolved to the point that it became impossible and lost all knowledge of their ancestry.
  • Buffy Speak: The nomes tend to describe new things in terms of things they already understand, leading to this. For example, a JCB is "a truck with teeth" and a space shuttle is a "going-straight-up jet".
  • Canon Welding: The first book is set in the real town of Grimethorpe, although it mentions the Neil Armstrong Shopping Centre. Since the Neil Armstrong Shopping Centre is a major location in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, the later books (and the TV series) say the Store was in Blackbury.
  • Cargo Cult: The Store nomes worship Arnold Bros Est. 1905, and the nomes of Florida worship NASA.
  • City in a Bottle: The nomes who live in the Store never go outside, and many regard "the Outside" as a myth.
  • Dinky Drivers: Occurs in all three books.
    • Truckers - the nomes drive a truck.
    • Diggers - the nomes drive a JCB backhoe.
    • Wings - Subverted; Angalo wants to fly a Concorde jet, but is foiled. A plan to fly the Space Shuttle was also briefly considered...
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The chapter headings feature epigraphs from The Book of Nome (a religious text) in the first two books and A Scientific Encyclopedia For The Enquiring Young Nome (which misunderstands things almost as much, but in a different way) in the third.
  • Frogs and Toads: In Wings, a certain species of tiny frogs that only live in the water-filled interiors of Bromeliad flowers is mentioned several times. Grimma, in particular, sees them as such an obvious metaphor in regards the Nomes themselves that one of the last things The Ship does before leaving Earth is to stop and harvest a frog-filled flower. The series is even sometimes referred to as the Bromeliad Trilogy.
  • Giant Flyer: Relatively speaking, the migrating geese.
  • Gulliver Tie Down:
    • Discussed in Truckers after one of the Nomes sees the illustration in a copy of Gulliver's Travels. Masklin concludes that the most impressive thing about it is the amount of co-operation required; if a group of Nomes tried it, they'd start arguing and never get the job done.
    • In Diggers, Masklin turns out to be wrong; the Nomes achieve it after becoming very, very angry at poison being put down for what the humans think are rats.
  • Human Aliens: Aside from their size and the Time Dissonance issues, the Nomes are more or less identical to humans.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: A very rare example where this does not impress or intimidate the Nomes. Humans are huge and incomprehensible, but at the same time they are slow, the Nomes don't understand how many there are or how powerful they are (they actually believe humans are less intelligent than rats are, because of their inability to understand what humans do), and most importantly humans not only have problems noticing the Nomes, but seem to be quite docile. In a world where every fox, dog, cat, hawk, owl or even an oversized frog is a potential killer, the giant creatures that are actively apathetic to your presence just aren't scary.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: The Nomes, as mentioned above, find humans quite baffling because they just don't comprehend what they are.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Nomes referring to space shuttles as "Going Straight Up Jets".
    • "Grandson Richard, 39" is always referred to as that, because that's what the newspaper called him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Duke De Habedasheri. He is initially quite contemptuous of the outsiders. When his son (Angelo) goes missing on a lorry, however, he resolves to give Maslkin all the help he can give (which, as the head of a Department, is considerable) for a chance to see his son again.
  • Lilliputians
  • Mouse World
  • Mr. Exposition: The Thing.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Granny Morky is one tough old Nome and everybody knows it.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: They're tiny Human Aliens who exist on Earth because, untold centuries ago, their scouting vessel crash-landed, leaving them stranded and with no way to get back to their mothership.
  • Reactionless Drive: The Nomes' Ship has one, which initially confuses Masklin in how it can hover 'without flames or smoke coming out'. The Thing reassures him that 'flames and smoke are not required'.
  • Scavenged Punk
  • The Shangri-La: The Klothians, a mystical society of Store nomes who live on the top floor of the Store, and get their food from the staffroom rather than the delicatessen (meaning they live on tea and yoghurt).
  • Take a Third Option: To quote the back cover blurb of Diggers:
    "And Grimma said, We have two choices. We can run, or we hide. And they said, Which shall we do? She said, We shall Fight."
  • Technology Porn: Especially in the description of Concorde.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The plot of Truckers involves having to get the various squabbling factions of Store nomes to work together to avoid disaster.
  • Time Dissonance: As with Reaper Man (which includes a similar description at the beginning), because nomes only live about ten years usually, they also experience time ten times faster than humans—which is the main reason why humans are unaware of their existence, they move too fast.

The TV series provides examples of:

  • Bowdlerise: In the original broadcast of Episode 1, there was a brief scene showing Mr Mert being grabbed and eaten by a fox. The VHS release edited this scene so that we didn't actually see it happening (nor did we hear his subsequent screams). The scene was restored for the DVD release.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Many of the characters were modeled on recognisable TV personalities. The Abbot, for example, was based on Malcom Muggeridge.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Granny Morky does this to one of the Bandits, flooring him with a punch while he's showing off his skills.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the sequence where the Nomes are searching for the bottle of 'Drink Me' (in itself a shout out to Alice in Wonderland), we get a brief glimpse of some Danger Mouse VHS tapes, with the old Video Collection International and Thames Video logos visible. Shortly afterwards, a Nome turns on a television showing clips from both Danger Mouse and Cosgrove Hall's version of The Wind in the Willows.
    • At one point, as in the book, Masklin delivers the line, "It's a small step for a man, but it's a giant leap for Nomekind."

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alternative title(s): Truckers; Diggers; Wings; Nomes Trilogy
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