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The Science of Discworld (Science of Discworld #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  7,609 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own. And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 416 pages
Published May 2nd 2002 by Ebury Press (first published 1999)
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Phạm Hà I don't think so. Science of Discworld is more about the science of our Roundworld with a touch of narrative in it. It does not have clear narrative…moreI don't think so. Science of Discworld is more about the science of our Roundworld with a touch of narrative in it. It does not have clear narrative connection to other stories except for some shared characters of the Unseen Academy and some mentioning of events in other books.(less)

Community Reviews

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Feb 16, 2012 Nataliya rated it it was amazing
Real review to follow.

Once upon a time, there was Discworld. There still is an adequate supply.
Discworld is the flat world, carried through space on the back of a giant turtle, which has been the source of, so far, twenty-three novels, four maps, an encyclopaedia, two animated series, t-shirts, scarves, models, badges, beer, embroidery, pens, posters, and probably, by the time this is published, talcum powder and body splash (if not, it can only be a matter of time).

Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pratchett, science
Back in the late 90s, there was a whole slew of "Science Of...." books. The science of Star Trek, X-Files, Star Wars, all of them did their best to explain the fantastic in terms of what we already knew about science. They weren't trying to disprove these worlds - saying that warp speed is impossible, for example, or how The Force violates any number of natural laws - but rather they tried to figure out how we could explain these things, and perhaps, someday, make them real.

This isn't that sort
Dec 26, 2016 George rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, fantasy
Unfortunately the Science in this book was too basic for me, but I must applaud the authors for their approach through Discworld. Now, what kept me reading was the story of the wizards. I must point out that it was difficult not to cheat and skip over all the science chapters. But I would enjoy this book even more if I was younger.
Jan 21, 2017 YouKneeK rated it liked it
The Science of Discworld is an odd sort of Discworld book. Based on the name, I had thought it was going to delve into more detail about the fictional workings of the Discworld. Like, say, how the giant turtle and the elephants stay alive outside of an atmosphere or how water on the Discworld gets replenished when it keeps falling off the disc… If that last sentence makes it sound like I’ve gone off the deep end, then you clearly haven’t tried reading Discworld.

The science in this book is actual
Tristia Watson
Imagine sitting down to read a book from your favorite author. At the end of the first chapter your friend takes away the book and replaces it with a transcript of the show Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson. You like Cosmos and Mr Tyson is interesting so you read it. At the first break, your friend takes away Cosmos and replaces it with the book by your favorite author that you had started reading. Now imagine doing this 45 more times and you have the idea behind The Science of Discworld.

The Terry
Apr 23, 2012 Criticalsock rated it it was amazing
My girlfriend tried to buy this book for me while we were browsing a second hand bookshop. I said "No thanks" and I said it firmly because I really don't like those series tie in books that people write which might have the original authors name on the cover but are actually written by second rate hacks hired by the publisher to milk the last drop of cash from the cow.

Luckily my girlfriend ignored me completely and bought it anyway because this is not one of those books.

This book doesn't try and
Noli Watson
Feb 18, 2015 Noli Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended for people who have had the following thoughts:
"I've heard a lot about this Discworld business, but I wish it had, like, science, you know?"
"I love Discworld, but I wish there was a book that was even more of the wizards of Unseen University being dicks to each other."
"I love popular science nonfiction, but what if I could read a fantasy novel at the same time?"

The wizards of Unseen University (and Rincewind) have accidentally created a pocket universe, and in that universe is a worl
Jun 01, 2011 Sesana rated it it was amazing
Although I loved the book, the title is maybe a little misleading. Unlike The Science of Star Trek or The Science of Harry Potter, which will explain in exhaustive detail how it might be scientifically possible to build a transporter or a flying broom, The Science of Discworld uses the wizards of Discworld to explain science in our world. Which on the Disc is called Roundworld, and is a wizard's experiment to see how a world without magic or narrativium works.

There's no attempt to explain anythi
Ralph McEwen
Jun 20, 2009 Ralph McEwen rated it it was amazing
I think this is a really good book. I was surprised to find that it had alternating chapters of Discworld focus (entertainment) and our real world focus (science). I think many people would enjoy this Discworld portion and get a better grasp of what science can and can not accomplish by reading this book . I would get a kick out of seeing this book listed in the bibliography of some high school science report. There is enough real information to be used in that manner.

I think this format of tea
Mar 23, 2009 Cyk rated it it was amazing
OK..first off I'd like too point out i have a slightly better than average grasp on the 3 main sciences...but only slightly.
the science isn't really "dumbed down" much, but even if that fly's right over your head the comedy is still gold and worth a read.

the way Terry wrote this was in alternating chapters, one with stories of "our" science, then one with the sciences from the last chapter looked at and explained from the point of view of the diskworld wizards looking at it "in a bottle"....i gu
Gabriele Russo
Jan 30, 2017 Gabriele Russo rated it liked it
This was a fun way to learn about evolution and space. Sadly, it did not make me more of an environmentalist as it pretty much agreed with my take on all this: humans can destroy themselves, but not the planet... The reverse, however, might well be true ;)
Apr 09, 2015 K7Reads rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
First of all, I would like to say that after the first 10 chapters, I decided to skip every Earthen science chapter. I found all these science chapters to be incredibly tedious and boring.
Therefore, this review will mainly be my thoughts on the other portion of the book.

~Spoiler Free~

+ The characters in this book were phenomenal. They're so entertaining and hilarious.

+ The humor in this book is actually funny. I laughed out loud several times.


- Obviously, I
Feb 27, 2012 Silent_count rated it really liked it
I wonder if math and sciences would be more popular if they had writers of Pratchett's quality to write the textbooks. I mean, a phone book provides information but isn't exactly pleasurable to read, much like many textbooks I've come across which are undoubtedly informative but dull and utterly unenjoyable. Would there be more (for example) biologists if the writing quality of the textbooks were such that students would want to read them rather than being forced to by a teacher or parent?

Amelia Brogan
Feb 16, 2016 Amelia Brogan rated it liked it
It almost feels like a betrayal of the Discworld fandom to give this book a mediocre three-star rating, but honestly I didn't enjoy it very much. Normally I'll devour a Pratchett book in a few hours and delight in every moment. This one took me a week and a half, and felt like a slog. The reason for this is that it's not just a Pratchett book - it's a Pratchett book split up into chapters which are interspersed with science lectures. The science is interesting and Steward and Cohen make an effor ...more
Dec 06, 2011 K. rated it it was ok
From the true beginning of the universe to the end of "humanity". The Science of Discworld takes us through this journey in 2 ways. First is via our own beginnings... from the big bang, the creation of atoms, the creation of worlds, the evolution of life & the evolution of intelligence. The second is comparing this through a parallel narrative set in the Unseen University where the wizards are studying a newly-formed universe in a ball. This is to help our own mind-boggling science seem a li ...more
Nick Gotch
Dec 24, 2014 Nick Gotch rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully fun science book. It takes s different approach than most "science of" type books. Instead of trying to explain the science behind the story Universe, The Science of Discworld has the wizards of Unseen University create their own little baby Universe and watch it evolve.
The book works by switching back and forth between the story narrative and explaining the science (of the real world, aka Roundworld.) It's a delightfully fresh approach and has a satisfying effect.
The scien
Joe Kendall
Jul 28, 2016 Joe Kendall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So you may be wondering how a book can be both fantasy and non-fiction. Well Terry Pratchett and his co-writers have done it here. This book is a short story cobbled together by Pratchett while Ian Stewart and Jack Cohan wrote about sciency stuff between the chapters. Actually there was much more science then there was Disc-world story. That was probably a good thing (even though I love love love Terry Pratchett), the story just wasn't very engaging. But the science and explanations of our unive ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Benny rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone considering the Discworld series.
Recommended to Benny by: Leo Laporte
Shelves: scifi, fantasy
If you are considering delving into the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, I would suggest starting here first. Not only will it give some insight as to the authors point of view, it will actually explain the scientific plausibility of many of the fantastic ideas he explores. I describe this series to my friends and family as "if Monty Python had written Harry Potter." I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that "Technology, sufficient advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." Pratchett, s ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Corey rated it really liked it
This is not about how "science" works in Diskworld, as the author says "that would be silly". It is a walk-through of scientific discoveries and conceptions of cosmology taken from an outside perspective (the lens of the Diskworld magicians in their parallel academia).

It is about how human narratives and expectations channel how and what we study, how we perceive our results, and what our expectations are. It is about how we are taught science, what he calls "lies-to-children" and how we maint
Aug 13, 2013 Angelica rated it really liked it
Shelves: ma
For some reason, I was under the impression that this book was a collection of short stories set on Discworld. I'm not sure why I thought that.

While it's definitely not what I expected (duh), it was a very enjoyable read. I love Pratchett's way of reading, he can make anything interesting. And, being a major science nerd, the subject was already interesting to me. Maybe it was a very superficial approach to the science, but it gives you a very good, general idea of astronomy and physics (at leas
Aug 08, 2016 Gavin rated it really liked it
Two of my favourite things, Discworld and science, got married! Naturally, their child is bright-eyed, good-humoured, and a lot of fun. I was skeptical of the two co-authors at first but they were continuously brilliant and insightful. Science can be rather bleak sometimes; it was nice to have some cheeky interjections. I give this 4 rather than 5 stars, because the blend between the Discworld story and the scientific commentary was less seamless than I would have liked.
Nen Simmons
Jun 01, 2015 Nen Simmons rated it it was ok
The format of this book - a chapter of a discworld story, followed by a chapter of a popular science book on the origins of earth - made it impossible to "get in to". It's a shame, because I probably would have enjoyed both books, had I read them separately. The writing is excellent and witty, the plot of the discworld story is good, and the science is accessible without being too basic. But I hated the format.
Dec 19, 2016 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition wasn't bad. I guess I just don't like to read sciency-stuff and the only thing that made it bearable was, of course, the Wizards and their way of dealing with stuff. I think a short book about the Wizards "creating" the Round planet would've been much more interesting.
Ben Ringel
Oct 01, 2014 Ben Ringel rated it it was amazing
Dr Jack Cohen Podiatrist or dpm wrote a great book - Jack Cohen dpm
Feb 27, 2015 Liz marked it as to-read
Listening on audiobook.
Na'ama Yehuda
Aug 31, 2014 Na'ama Yehuda rated it liked it
Shelves: great-fiction
It was okay, but I have read better titles by this author.
Allison Sees
Jan 05, 2017 Allison Sees rated it really liked it
I wish there was a little more magic to balance out the science but the book is called the SCIENCE of Discworld. Plus, I learned a thing or two.
Jun 26, 2017 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
There are a ton of these auxiliary-Discworld books out there, and most of them have typically been difficult to find. Luckily, it looks like they're getting easier to track down, which is exciting.

I wasn't sure what to expect opening the book, but I'm happy with how it was presented -- alternating chapters of the Wizards (who I never felt had enough books in the latter half of Pratchett's writings) and a deep dive into a pop science topic. While the information in many cases is already dated (!)
Jun 04, 2017 Kim rated it really liked it
I think this is a spectacular book if you want to delve deeper into space and time, and the beginning of everything. It's basically the wizards of Unseen University stumbling around an accidental universe that is creating a "round world," with frequent jumps in between science and Discworld.

I will say that I wash Discworld was explained a tad more, since it seems to not be the main focus here, but it is definitely an interesting book. I especially liked listening to the audio book, which was rel
Gil T.
Feb 26, 2017 Gil T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved that this audiobook not only provides the fun interaction of wizards of Discworld but also provides some factual Science and Math. The Wizards are trying to create a universe and succeed but are surprised at the outcome. Evolution, physics, genetics and more science stuff are discussed. Learn and enjly
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Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel,
More about Terry Pratchett...

Other Books in the Series

Science of Discworld (4 books)
  • The Science of Discworld II: The Globe
  • The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch
  • Judgement Day (The Science of Discworld #4)

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“Wizards can put up with any amount of deprivation and discomfort, provided it is not happening to them.” 4 likes
“As humans, we have invented lots of useful kinds of lie. As well as lies-to-children ('as much as they can understand') there are lies-to-bosses ('as much as they need to know') lies-to-patients ('they won't worry about what they don't know') and, for all sorts of reasons, lies-to-ourselves. Lies-to-children is simply a prevalent and necessary kind of lie. Universities are very familiar with bright, qualified school-leavers who arrive and then go into shock on finding that biology or physics isn't quite what they've been taught so far. 'Yes, but you needed to understand that,' they are told, 'so that now we can tell you why it isn't exactly true.' Discworld teachers know this, and use it to demonstrate why universities are truly storehouses of knowledge: students arrive from school confident that they know very nearly everything, and they leave years later certain that they know practically nothing. Where did the knowledge go in the meantime? Into the university, of course, where it is carefully dried and stored.” 3 likes
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