This Monday I’m giving a talk to an English class at Mount Allison on Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men, and the importance of stories. It’s partially drawn from my section on Pratchett in Quests and Kingdoms, but updated, and I think I’ll be bringing quite a bit from The Science of Discworld II: the Globe into it.
If you haven’t read the three Science of Discworld books, and are interested in Roundworld science (i.e. the primary world), you should give them a go. They’re not “How a warp-drive/magic works” intellectual games; they’re real books on real science, in which the chapters on science (by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) alternate with a Discworld novella about the wizards of Unseen University, who have created a universe in a glass globe. Sometimes they observe it, sometimes they shake it up like a snow-globe to see if it will do anything interesting, or put it away on a shelf because nothing has, and sometimes they end up trapped inside, muddling around on a particular world which strikes them as very poorly organized: no narrativium, no magic, and it keeps getting hit by big lumps of ice from space. The first Science of Discworld is mostly about physics, chemistry, and the universe, the second about humanity (why we are what we are inside our heads), and the third is about evolution. They’re also a nice chance to see Ridcully, Rincewind, the Librarian, Ponder Stibbons, the Dean and the rest of the faculty in action as the main characters, not just supporting cast.