Home Authors Books Subjects Events Software Features Links Newsletter Gifts Blog Write Review What's New

Review - The Science of Discworld - Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen  

Visit bookshop

There's a positive franchise of books called "the science of this" and "the physics of that" - some of them very good. On the whole they take some work of fiction and explore the borders between the fictional science and reality. (Actually, and surprisingly they're not a franchise, but totally disparate - it's surprising no one spotted this early and got in on the act.)

In choosing to take this approach for the humorous fantasies of Discworld it might seem initially that Discworld creator Pratchett, mathematician Stewart and biologist Cohen had gone mad. Discworld doesn't operate on science, but magic. The cunning plan, though, was not to use Discworld as the source of the science, but rather as a vehicle for exploring the science of our world.

The book alternates chapters between the fictional Unseen University on Discworld and our own world, which it seems has been made in an experiment in the labs.

It's actually a very clever idea, that works fairly well. (In fact with practice, they have got better at it - S of D III is significantly better.) In the science bits we see how the components of our universe, the the Earth, then life was formed. The interleaved fiction is quite entertaining, though never as effective as a real Discworld novel. The science chapters are good, and the authors strive to put across information that isn't widely known. Even so, the topic is not very cohesive, and the result is not the most exciting popular science ever. It's good stuff, but it occasionally veers into the worthy or the smug. Even so it was an original and clever idea which improved with practice.

Also in hardback Visit bookshop

Reviewed by Brian Clegg

DISCLAIMERS

This site has no connection with Popular Science magazine or other sites and publications with a similar name.

Much of the content of this site is written by popular science writers or friends of popular science writers. Inevitably many of the reviews in such a small community are written by or about someone we know. We always aim to be impartial in our reviews, but there is a connection which we need make clear, as there is no intention to deceive. The content of any review or article is solely the opinion of the author and should not be read or understood on any other basis. The site exists to promote popular science writing and popular science authors and for this reason should be considered promotional material, just as the editorial reviews in an online bookshop or the blurb on the back of a book should be considered promotional.

The website should not be eaten or used where it can come into contact with water.

Disagree with our review? Want to comment on a feature? Contact us at info@ popularscience.co.uk - have your say!

Part of the Popular Science  site

Copyright Creativity Unleashed Limited 2005
Last update 05 June 2007