the science of discworld

Sometimes scientists change their minds. New developments cause a rethink. If this bothers you, consider how much damage is being done to the world by people for whom new developments do not cause a rethink.
—  Terry Pratchett - The Science Of Discworld

“That would be unethical, Dean,” said Ridcully.
“Why? We’re the Good Guys, aren’t we?”
“Yes, but that rather hinges on doing certain things and not doing others, sir,” said Ponder.

– calling yourself good isn’t enough | Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch

[…teachers know this, and use it to demonstrate why universities are truly storehouses of knowledge: students arrive from school confident 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.]

hollow graduate student laughing in the distance

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.
—  Terry Pratchett - The Science Of Discworld

Which Discworld should you read first? Here have this friendly flowchart, start at the Upper left corner, the orange bubble.

Readers, as well as wizards, continuously underestimate the importance of Ponder Stibbons.

‘Would it help to talk to someone? I mean, you’ve got a good life out there in the sea, no sense in throwing it all away, is there? There’s always a silver lining if you know where to look. Okay, okay, life’s a beach. And you’re a pretty ugly fish. But, you know, beauty is only sk- scale deep, and…’

[”Science of Discworld” or “how Rincewind tried to convince an evolving fish not to commit suicide”]

Rincewind stared at the glass sphere that was the current above of Hex.
“Hex, is the world ready for the William Shakespeare of whom we spoke?”
“It is.”
“And he exists?”
“No. Two of his grandparents did not meet. His mother was never born.”
“In his hollow voice, Hex recounted the sad history, in detail. The wizards took notes.
“Right,” said Ridcully, rubbing his hands together when Hex finished. “This at least is a simple problem. We shall need a length of string, a leather ball of some kind, and a large bunch of flowers…”

Later, Rincewind stared at the glass sphere that was the current abode of Hex.
“Hex, now is this wold ready for the William Shakespeare of whom we spoke?”
“It is.”
“And he exists?”
“Violet Shakespeare exists. She married Josiah Slink at the age of sixteen. No plays have been written, but there have been eight children of which five have survived. Her time is fully occupied.”
The wizards exchanged glances.
“Perhaps if we offered to babysit?” said Rincewind.
“Too many problems,” said Ridcully firmly. “Still it’s a change to have an easy one for once. We will need the probable date of conception, a stepladder and a gallon of black paint.” 

Rincewind stared at the glass sphere that was the current abode of Hex.
“Hex, is this world ready for the William Shakespeare of whom we spoke?”
“It is.”
“And he exists?”
“He was born, but died at the age of 18 months. Details follow…”
The wizards listened. Ridcully looked thoughtful for a moment.
“This will require some strong disinfectant,” he said. “And a lot of carbolic soap.”

Rincewind stared at the glass sphere that was the current abode of Hex.
“Hex, is this world ready for the William Shakespeare of whom we spoke?”
“It is.”
“And he exists?”
“No. He was born, successfully survived several childhood illnesses, but was shot dead one night while poaching game at the age of thirteen. Details follow…”
“Another easy one,” said Ridcully, standing up. “We shall need… let me see… some drab clothing, a dark lantern and a very large cosh.”

Rincewind stared at the glass sphere that was the current abode of Hex.
“Hex, is this world ready for the William Shakespeare of whom we spoke? Please?”
“It is.”
“And he exists?”
“Yes.”
The wizards tried not to look hopeful. There had been too many false dawns in the last week.
“Alive?” said Rincewind. “Male? Sane? Not in the Americas? Not struck by a meteorite? Not left incapacitated by a hake during an unusual fall of fish? Or killed in a duel?”
“No. At this moment he is in the tavern that you gentlemen frequent.”
“Does he have all his arms and legs?”
“Yes,” said Hex. “And… Rincewind?”
“Yes?”
“As one of two unexpected collateral events to this latest interference, the potato has been brought to these shores.”
“Hot damn!”
“And Arthur J. Nightingale is a ploughman and never learned to write.”
“Near miss there,” said Ridcully.

– shenanigans | Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe

We categorize too much on the basis of unreliable assumption. A literary novel written by Brian Aldiss must be science fiction, because he is a known science fiction writer; a science fiction novel by Margaret Atwood is literature because she is a literary novelist. Recent Discworld books have spun on such concerns as the nature of belief, politics and even of journalistic freedom, but put in one lousy dragon and they call you a fantasy writer.
This is not, on the whole, a complaint. But as I have said, it seems to me that dragons are not really the pure quill of fantasy, when properly done. Real fantasy is that a man with a printing press might defy an entire government because of some half-formed belief that there may be such a thing as the truth.
—  Terry Pratchettโ€™s 2001 Carnegie Medal award speech.

New Writeblr

To anyone who stumbles upon this - Hi!

So, I’m sort of new to this community and just thought I’d introduce myself properly.

My name is Julie. I read a lot and try to write a little bit every day. I have anxiety, so I try to stay as calm as possible (to varying success). I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. I try to read stories from different time periods - myths, and books by authors such as Tolkien and Lovecraft alongside more modern stuff like Robin Hobb. I also love other media - like Doctor Who, Marvel movies and Harry Potter.

Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do - I just always have made up intricate stories in my head to amuse myself. I started writing every day as a way to deal with my mental health issues - every sentence was a form of defiance for me, at a time when I had deep depression.

I like to write stories that are kind of hard to explain - they tend to be fantastical, mythology based, with modern elements. It kind of depends on what peaks my interest at the time.

My current favourite writers are Robin Hobb (The Realm of the Elderlings books are so awesome) and Terry Pratchett (his stories were so funny and profound at the same time)

Originally posted by parliamentarysovereigntyvsduguit

I could go on rambling here, but I think this is enough for now 😊