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Science of Discworld II Paperback – May 1 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (May 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780091888053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091888053
  • ASIN: 0091888050
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #394,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Like its predecessor, The Science of Discworld II contains a short Discworld fantasy by Terry Pratchett whose chapters alternate with popular science commentary from Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen.

In the Discworld strand, the bickering Unseen University wizards revisit their accidental creation Roundworld--that astonishing place where there's no magic. Our world, in fact. But it's being influenced by elves (bad news in the Pratchett cosmos), who bring superstition and irrational terrors to evolving humanity. They feed on fear.

This is the cue for Stewart and Cohen to develop their ideas of stories as a shaping power in the evolution of human intelligence. Whether they're called spells, memes, creeds, theorems, artworks or lies, satisfying stories are Roundworld's equivalent of Discworld magic. It's just that it all happens in our heads: "headology" as top witch Granny Weatherwax puts it.

Struggling to make Roundworld history come out right despite elvish interference, the wizards entangle themselves in complications of time travel and must eventually beg advice from Granny. To encourage a rational attitude to facts, it seems, Roundworld needs transcendent fictions--represented, in narrative shorthand, by the works of one William Shakespeare. The trick is to make sure he gets born...

The racy exposition of the non-fiction chapters covers plenty of ground, including astrology, cargo cults, phase spaces, information theory, and the evolution of species, art, science and religion, all reflecting the human tendency not to let facts spoil a good story. Meanwhile the Discworld chapters--though sometimes disappointingly short--are fast and funny, climaxing with much unscripted action at the first night of a famous play. The Science of Discworld II is ultimately entertaining and genuinely thought-provoking, as expected from this team. Laugh and learn! --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A book in which the hard science is as gripping as the fiction" The Times 20040426 "Superb, neatly fulfilling its goal of introducing science without being boring of didactic. This is a genuinely mind-expanding and very funny book." Good Book Guide 20040426 "Entertaining, instructive and illuminating" New Scientist 20040426

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Format: Hardcover
Try enlivening a party with this question: "What's on your mind?" When the babble has become truly raucous, ask another: "How did it get in there?" This book is about those questions, how we came to consider them, and how we've tried to learn to understand them. Interleaving a fantasy story with analyses of scientific thinking about thinking carries certain risks. In the hands of this trio, however, the balance is successfully achieved. Don't be deceived by the name of Terry Pratchett as lead author of this volume. There are wonderful touches of humour in this book, but the basic theme is a serious question: "Who are we, and how did we get to be this way?"
This book repeats a technique used in The Science of Discworld I - two stories in parallel. Discworld is a mirror of Roundworld. The wizards used the computer Hex to construct Roundworld in SoD I. They were shocked at the many differences. Shape was only a beginning. They were confronted with the many ways in which life evolved on Roundworld. They were also forced to reflect on how illogical it seemed for living things to struggle for survival, only to be snuffed out by natural forces. In this sequel, the most advanced life form is going to be confronted with an extinction threat noted in the first book. How to deal with it? It turns out that the best solution is to ally with a great evil force.
Humanity has a strange and illogical heritage, this book tells us. As our forebears learned to cope with changing conditions on the African savannah [or on lake shores or even in the sea] they learned to stand upright, to grasp tools, and to think. This has always seemed like a long, continuous progression of small improvements over time - a process in the best Darwinian gradualist sense.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors use the Discworld setting to provide some genuine insight into the way in which we think about the world around us. This is science in the biggest sense, as a way of understanding the world and our minds, not just a set of rules for how molecules are constructed. The Discworld frame story is entertaining -- kind of slight, I suppose, but more compelling and plot driven than the frame from the previous Science of Discworld book.
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By tarotlover on Aug. 30 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a total Terry Pratchett fan. So I have to read it to see what happens. It is number two of four volumes. I had to buy it to read the rest.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too much science for a fan of TP's humour, but if you like science then its a great read!
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1 of 19 people found the following review helpful By CG on Oct. 21 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ok first of all I love Terry Pratchett books, particularly the Discworld Series. However I really hate it when people who write reviews are not (Ali or not even) literate [sorry [...] For example the review before mine read as follows;
Reviewer: b from Bland
I haven't read it but it looks good all terry prafetchett books are goos and thir one has science 2.
Okay b from Bland maybe next time try not writing a review and then I will not make fun of you.
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