Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Book 37 of 2013: The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen

I’ve had The Science Of Discworld on my bookcase for ages, but I held off reading it until I got to the end of the published Discworld series (of course, between starting to read the first of the series and getting to the end of it a couple more books came out which pushed it down my reading list somewhat). Technically it comes somewhere in the middle of the series, but I don’t think I missed out on anything by waiting until the end of the series to read it.

This book is a mix of events taking place within Unseen University, with those chapters written by Terry Pratchett, as the Wizards manage to create ‘Roundworld’ a spherical world inside one of the rooms of the university; and then more scientific chapters written by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen which explain the science behind what is actually happening at each stage of development of ‘Roundworld’ basically explaining the evolution of our Earth.

I really enjoyed the bits set in Unseen University. They saw the Wizards using Hex to create a universe in miniature and then trying to figure out how it can possibly work without magic. It’s fun to see them trying to influence the world and getting annoyed with it when things don’t work the way they expect them to. That said, I don’t think that those chapters on their own would necessarily work as a stand alone story without the scientific stuff to help make sense of what the Wizards are seeing happening. It’s very clever the way that aspects of the book go together to make the whole.

I also found the science stuff very interesting, but some of it did kind of go over my head. Bits of it kind of reminded me of the Horrible Histories books I used to read when I was younger (expect this is what they would’ve been like had they been written for adults). In the beginning I struggled with the physics stuff, but as the world developed into something recognisable to me and it started talking about dinosaurs and evolution I started to feel a little more at home. Though I couldn’t help but think that some of the descriptions could have done with diagrams to illustrate what was being said.

When I first started reading this book I didn’t think I was going to get into it the way I did. In the beginning I kept on looking forward to the Discworld bits because I struggled with some of the scientific bits, but as I went on I got into it more and more. By the end I think I was enjoying the two different texts fairly equally. I’d definitely like to look out for more of the Science of Discworld books (as well as any other books which offer comparisons between Discworld and the real world).

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