The Science Of Discworld II: The Globe: 2 and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Vous voulez voir cette page en français ? Cliquez ici.

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading The Science Of Discworld II: The Globe: 2 on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Science of Discworld II [Paperback]

Terry Pratchett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition CDN $9.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback CDN $13.68  
Paperback, May 2003 --  

Book Description

May 2003 Science of Discworld (Book 2)
The acclaimed Science of Discworld centred around an original Pratchett story about the Wizards of Discworld. In it they accidentally witnessed the creation and evolution of our universe, a plot which was interleaved with a Cohen & Stewart non-fiction narrative about Big Science. In The Science of Discworld II our authors join forces again to see just what happens when the wizards meddle with history in a battle against the elves for the future of humanity on Earth. London is replaced by a dozy Neanderthal village. The Renaissance is given a push. The role of fat women in art is developed. And one very famous playwright gets born and writes The Play. 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, this is a book in which 'the hard science is as gripping as the fiction'. (The Times)

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought


Product Details


Product Description

From Amazon

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

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 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.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars The emergence of the storytelling ape April 9 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and entertaining at once Oct. 22 2003
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.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Literacy Oct. 21 2003
By CG
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.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The emergence of the storytelling ape Oct. 12 2006
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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. This trio of authors reminds us that this picture is false for humans. After a good start, our ancestors simply halted in place, keeping social, mental and technological progress at bay. The "pause" went on for a hundred millennia. At some point about fifty thousand years ago, all that changed. We went from the "standing ape" to become "the storytelling ape". Thinking and speaking resulted in story-telling.

In trying to understand ourselves and our surroundings, Pratchett and his colleagues see humans as inventing stories for explanations of nature's mysteries. Magic, allied with the element "narrativium", runs the Discworld. On the Roundworld, magic has to be invented. Narratives are the means to bring it about and spread it around. Every human society forges its own stories which are imparted to children as "Make-A-Human Kits". Each society creates explanations which become legends which become religions as one example. While we might dispute whether we've "progressed" argue the authors, there's no question that once the process started, humans changed rapidly resulting in what we see around us today. This "advance", they argue, was not inevitable. While we may not yet understand what prompted this change, we can list alternatives and reject the impossible or implausible. That's why the Discworld parallel story comprises part of this book. It teaches you how to recognise the difference.

To long-standing Discworld fans, this book will be a serious challenge. Unlike the "laugh per page" of Pratchett's other works, he and his colleagues confront the most serious of issues: "where do we come from?" and "where are we going?". Cohen and Stewart, who have dealt these questions elsewhere, and Terry Pratchett, who posits them with every book, have produced a significant contribution in attempting an answer. The use of the parallel story line offers great opportunities for the reader to "step outside the box" and consider life and beliefs from a detached view. Pratchett has long confronted us with ourselves. Adding Cohen and Stewart's scientific and cognitive abilities to his imagination results in a compelling and informative read. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertainment and insight in one package Oct. 15 2005
By John D. Barr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The authors have conspired to make use of Terry Pratchett's popularity to inject some extremely thought provoking scientific theory and philosophy into the Fantasy reading community. Pratchett's Discworld characters muddle their usual way through a story that offsets the points that Stewart and Cohen make in the 'Hard Science' chapters. Stewart and Cohen maintain Pratchett's familiar voice throughout, and there are frequent references to other Pratchett stories, a feature that serious Pratchett readers will enjoy while not detracting from the enjoyment of first time readers.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and entertaining at once Oct. 22 2003
By Jeremy Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Homo Narrans Explained March 4 2007
By James D. DeWitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The goal, I suppose, is to make science more attractive to readers. The approach is for Terry Pratchett to write a chapter and then for Stewart and Cohen to write a chapter explicating science principles out of Pratchett's story. The science in this case is sociology, psychology, anthropology, linguistics and, heaven help us, sociobiology. You'll note those are soft sciences.

Pratchett's premise is that the evil Elves have invaded Roundworld, using it to their nasty ends. It's up to the wizard faculty of Unseen University, aided by Hex, the Discworld's equivalent of a computer, to save the day. After several false starts, one of them resulting in the memorable Shell Midden People, the Wizards hit on a way to save the day: instead of Arthur J. Nightingale being Roundworld's greatest playwright, they'll slide in a ringer named William Shakespeare. It's not Pratchett's most inspired effort, but it does have its moments.

But Practhett's far better than Stewart and Cohen. Their premise is that, while there may not be any narrativium on Roundworld, it is stories that make us human; that instead of Homo sapiens we should be called Homo narrans. That without the spark of story, the stories we invent about ourselves and the world around us, we wouldn't be any better off than the Shell Midden People.

None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who has read "Hogfather," which does a much better job of making this point. But then Stewart and Cohen are constrained by Roundworld science, and Pratchett gets to use the Discworld.

For those of us familiar with the canon works, the near omnipotence of Hex is a little disturbing. For those of us familiar with literature, despite Stewart's and Cohen's contention, there are other important authors than Shakespeare. On the other hand, the correspondence between the power of narrative on the Discworld and the role of story-telling in our culture is well-developed. But that's unsurprising. Pratchett's Discworld has always a funhouse mirror of our world. He uses that funhouse mirror of to make points about our world. Which leaves Stewart and Cohen, in this case, in the unenviable position of explaining to the audience how the magician does his tricks.

I applaud any effort to increase the reach of science, to make it accessible, interesting and attractive. The effort here isn't wholly successful, and the science is soft, but still the book is worth the read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How a little magic is necessary to science Dec 1 2012
By Vincent Poirier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the British Science of Discworld series, comic fantasy author Terry Pratchett collaborates with science authors Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen to explain what science is and how it works.

In fiction, stories develop following rules of narrative that satisfy our sense of how things _should_ be, while in science things are described as they actually are without reference as to what we wish them to be. It sounds simple but in the previous volume in this series, the authors demonstrated how subtle this distinction could be. The hypotheses don't always make sense to us, for example we cannot understand quantum physics in terms of our everyday experience. Worse, what we find out often offends people: think of Galileo trying to convince us Copernicus was right to place the sun at the center of the solar system, or how some people still cannot accept Darwin's demonstration of evolution. This difference between fiction and science points to a deep characteristic of people: we like stories and once we have a story we like, we don't want to change it. We resist change even as new discoveries force it on us.

This is all wonderfully explained in the first volume of this series. Pratchett's Discworld is a world where things happen because someone somewhere thinks they should happen this or that way; things happen by magic. The wizards of Discworld accidentally create a bubble where there is no magic. That bubble is our universe, and in that bubble, a thing happens because something else caused it to happen and for no other reason. Cohen and Stewart then explain how science looks at and describes the world. They patiently explain cause and effect, they show us that the universe is at once deterministic but unpredictable. And they describe how our knowledge is made up of stories that explain the world. Science's job is to make sure the stories are correct using experiments and observations. In a magical place like Discworld the stories remain true and unchanged while the world changes to suit them. In a deterministic universe without magic, we must change our stories to match the facts we find.

But how do we come up with the stories in the first place? That's a bit of a mystery and the authors don't explain it. To be honest they don't really try because I suspect they know it can't be done. What they do know is that coming up with stories is vital to the scientific enterprise.

In this Discworld story, something goes wrong inside the magicless bubble, our world which the wizards call Roundworld. Life appears, then we appear, and by lunchtime the wizards know we survive. When they return from lunch, the wizards find us gone: Roundworld was invaded by elves who changed something. The wizards try to fix it by going inside the bubble, finding our ancestors and convincing them not to believe in elves or in magic. In a world without magic, why would anyone need to believe in magic? The wizards return to Discworld but we still don't survive. Disaster strikes our world and we disappear because we never came up with the technology that would have saved us. What went wrong? Didn't removing the obsession with magic the elves forced on us fix things?

In turns out that we need to believe in magic in order to come up with science. Not just because studying astrology leads to discovering astronomy, and alchemy to chemistry, but for a deeper reason. Believing in magic is part of our urge to make up stories. If we simply suppress our need to believe in magic, we destroy our ability to come up with good stories. Arthur C. Clarke famously said that any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic. The magical wonder we feel fuels our storytelling and this is what gives science the raw material it needs to come with the stories that explain how the universe works.

So the wizards go back and nudge things in such a way that stone age shamans paint the caves at Lascaux and that authors write plays. We need to believe in magic to come up with good storytellers and we need storytelling to come up with explanations of how the world works. The wonderful conclusion reached in The Science of Discworld--The Globe is this: to progress, science needs Shakespeare.

Vincent Poirier, Montreal
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews
ARRAY(0xba556f6c)

Look for similar items by category


Feedback