The Science of Discworld

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Overview

Not just another science book and not just another Discworld novella, The Science of Discworld is a creative, mind-bending mash-up of fiction and fact, that offers a wizard’s-eye view of our world that will forever change how you look at the universe.

Can Unseen University’s eccentric wizards and orangutan Librarian possibly shed any useful light on hard, rational Earthly science? 
 
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The Science of Discworld

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Overview

Not just another science book and not just another Discworld novella, The Science of Discworld is a creative, mind-bending mash-up of fiction and fact, that offers a wizard’s-eye view of our world that will forever change how you look at the universe.

Can Unseen University’s eccentric wizards and orangutan Librarian possibly shed any useful light on hard, rational Earthly science? 
 
In the course of an exciting experiment, the wizards of Discworld have accidentally created a new universe. Within this universe is a planet that they name Roundworld. Roundworld is, of course, Earth, and the universe is our own. As the wizards watch their creation grow, Terry Pratchett and acclaimed science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen use Discworld to examine science from the outside. Interwoven with the Pratchett’s original story are entertaining, enlightening chapters which explain key scientific principles such as the Big Bang theory and the evolution of life on earth, as well as great moments in the history of science.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/06/2014
Acclaimed fantasy writer Pratchett and mathematicians Stewart and Cohen deliver a unique and outrageously funny look at the history of our world through the eyes of the wizards of Discworld’s Unseen University. When Chief Research Wizard Ponder Stibbons splits the thaum (a unit of magic, much as the atom is a unit of matter) in a makeshift lab in the university squash court, he creates “Roundworld.” Discworld runs on narrativium, the power of story, but Roundworld has no narrativium. Instead, it runs on rules based on science. The story of the wizards’ befuddled investigation of Roundworld is interwoven with chapters on various science topics: how did the universe begin? Where did the chemical elements come from? How did the solar system form? How did life evolve on Earth? Could there be life on other planets? The science in this revised edition of a U.K. title originally published in 1999 isn’t completely up to date (Pluto is still a planet here, and the search for exoplanets has barely begun), but the writing is as entertaining as it is accessible. (June)
From the Publisher
"For Pratchett and Discworld devotees the volume is, of course, compulsory reading, but even science buffs who would normally eschew anything resembling fantasy will find much here to pique their interests.... The book adds another whimsical episode to Discworld lore and contrasts the magical 'rules' of Pratchett’s realm with the human world’s more logic-oriented science." --Booklist

"The hard science is as gripping as the fiction." --The Times (London)

"An irreverent but genuinely profound romp through the history and philosophy of science, cunningly disguised as a collection of funny stories about wizards and mobile luggage." --Frontiers
 
"Terry Pratchett is more than a magician. He is the kindest, most fascinating teacher you ever had." --Harlan Ellison

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804168946
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Series: Science of Discworld Series , #1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 83,740
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Pratchett
TERRY PRATCHETT is the acclaimed creator of the bestselling Discworld series. He has been appointed OBE and a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to literature.

IAN STEWART is a Fellow of the Royal Society, professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, and author of numerous books on math and popular science, as well as science fiction novels co-authored with Jack Cohen.

JACK COHEN is a professor of biology and honorary professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, and has co-authored several books with Ian Stewart.

Biography

Welcome to a magical world populated by the usual fantasy fare: elves and ogres, wizards and witches, dwarves and trolls. But wait—is that witch wielding a frying pan rather than a broomstick? Has that wizard just clumsily tumbled off the edge of the world? And what is with the dwarf they call Carrot, who just so happens to stand six-foot six-inches tall? Why, this is not the usual fantasy fare at all—this is Terry Pratchett's delightfully twisted Discworld!

Beloved British writer Pratchett first jump-started his career while working as a journalist for Bucks Free Press during the '60s. As luck would have it, one of his assignments was an interview with Peter Bander van Duren, a representative of a small press called Colin Smythe Limited. Pratchett took advantage of his meeting with Bander van Duren to pitch a weird story about a battle set in the pile of a frayed carpet. Bander van Duren bit, and in 1971 Pratchett's very first novel, The Carpet People, was published, setting the tone for a career characterized by wacky flights of fancy and sly humor.

Pratchett's take on fantasy fiction is quite unlike that of anyone else working in the genre. The kinds of sword-and-dragon tales popularized by fellow Brits like J.R.R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis have traditionally been characterized by their extreme self-seriousness. However, Pratchett has retooled Middle Earth and Narnia with gleeful goofiness, using his Discworld as a means to poke fun at fantasy. As Pratchett explained to Locus Magazine, "Discworld started as an antidote to bad fantasy, because there was a big explosion of fantasy in the late '70s, an awful lot of it was highly derivative, and people weren't bringing new things to it."

In 1983, Pratchett unveiled Discworld with The Color of Magic. Since then, he has added installments to the absurdly hilarious saga at the average rate of one book per year. Influenced by moderately current affairs, he has often used the series to subtly satirize aspects of the real world; the results have inspired critics to rapturous praise. ("The most breathtaking display of comic invention since PG Wodehouse," raved The Times of London.) He occasionally ventures outside the series with standalone novels like the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, a sci fi adventure sequence for young readers, or Good Omens, his bestselling collaboration with graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Sadly, in 2008 fans received the devastating news that Pratchett had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. He has described his own reaction as "fairly philosophical" and says he plans to continue writing so long as he is able.

Good To Know

Pratchett's bestselling young adult novel Only You Can Save Mankind was adapted for the British stage as a critically acclaimed musical in 2004.

Discworld is not just the subject of a bestselling series of novels. It has also inspired a series of computer games in which players play the role of the hapless wizard Rincewind.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Pratchett:

"I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat…colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up."

"The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress.

"I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener and it's in the blood. Grew really good chilies this year.

"I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not ‘celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Terence David John Pratchett
    2. Hometown:
      Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 28, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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