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The Science of Discworld II - The Globe

Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Ebury Press

Published : 2002

Copyright : Terry & Lyn Pratchett, Joat Enterprises, Jack Cohen 2002

ISBN-10 : HB 0-09-188273-7
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-09-188273-0

Publisher's Write-Up

The planet Earth has picked up a parasite life form - elves. They get everywhere. And they like humans to be superstitious, fearful and frightened of thunder. They're after our future and must be stopped... but by who?

Enter the wizards of the Unseen University who, in the best-selling The Science of Discworld unwittingly created Earth and our own universe. At the time they quite failed to notice humanity. (Well, we've only been around for a million years, so we're easily overlooked...) But now, at last, they've found us.

In The Science of Discworld II science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen join forces again with fantasy author Terry Pratchett to see just what happens as the wizards battle against the elves. The Renaissance, for example, is given a push. London is replaced by a dozy Neanderthal village. The role of fat women in art is developed. And one very famous playwright gets born and writes The Play.

The Globe is a unique book, weaving together a fast-paced Discworld novelette with cutting-edge scientific commentary on the evolution and development of the human mind, culture, language, art, and science. The result - as the wizards grapple with the nature of Good and Evil, and history is rewritten several times over - is a fascinating and brilliantly original view of the world we live in.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (010902) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
As with the first The Science of Discworld book this instalment is split into two parts, alternating odd and even chapters with a Discworld story (odd) written by Terry Pratchett and non-fiction science (even) written by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen.

The Discworld story is about the Wizards and how they jump around through Earth's history to try and correct a little mistake they made the first time they jumped around through Earths history... if you see what I mean.

As told at the end of The Science of Discworld man escapes the earth just before a big rock wipes out all life. After a bit of meddling by Ridcully and crew, earth's evolution is taking a different path and man will be lucky to discover fire before the big one. How to put things right?

The science bits examine how the wizards interact with life on the planet to try and create a 'thinking' being that is capable of building space craft. How did we get from slime to man? What allows you to read and understand (hopefully) the words I have written? A good question that this book tries to answer.

One of the bits I particularly enjoyed was the pop at religion… a good example being the development of the priesthood:

'The idea that there is a Rain Goddess who decides when it will rain, or a Lion God who can either keep you safe from lion attacks or unleash them upon you, therefore has irresistible advantages. You can't control rain, and of course you can't control a Rain Goddess either, but, with the proper rituals, you can hope to influence her decisions.

This is where the priesthood comes in, because they can act as an intermediary between everybody else and the gods. They can prescribe the appropriate rituals - and, like all good politicians, they can claim the credit when things work out and blame someone else when they go wrong.

'What, Henry was eaten by a lion? Well then, he must not have shown proper respect when making his daily sacrifice to the Lion God.'

'How do you know that?'

'Well, if he had shown proper respect, he wouldn't have been eaten.'

Ally that to the priests' soon-acquired power to throw you to the earthly representatives of the Lion God if you disagree, and you can see that the Cult of the Lion God has an awful lot going for it.'

As for the Discworld story, this is up to the usual standard with some classic scenes, such as:

'Yesterday the Librarian and I went to the theatre' says Rincewind.

They'd got the cheapest ticket, but the Librarian paid for two bags of nuts.
They'd found, once they had settled into this period, that there was no point in trying to disguise the librarian too heavily. With a jerkin, a big floppy hood and a false beard he looked, on the whole, an improvement on most of the people in the cheap seats, the cheap seats in this case being so cheap they consisted, in fact, of standing up. The cheap feets, in fact.
The play had been called The Hunchback King, by Arthur J. Nightingale. It hadn't been very good. In fact, Rincewind had never seen a worse written play. The librarian had amused himself throughout by surreptitiously bouncing nuts off the king's fake hump. But people had watched it in rapt fascination, especially the scene where the king was addressing his nobles and uttered the memorable line: 'Now is the December of our discontent - I want whichever bastard is doing that to stop it right now!'

Another excellent collaboration, but in my opinion not as good as the first, but only because as an engineer The Science of Discworld was more my cup of tea.
Nigel (1st September 2002)

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