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4.2 out of 5 stars155
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 19 May 2013
I gave it 4 rather than the 3 I was going to give it, because the reason I thought it was so-so was because there was little there I hadn't read on Freethinker website.

Lots of ranting about the stupidity and intolerance of religion, along with an overview of the currently-under-discussion reasons for why supposedly-rational people believe such claptrap and poppycock.

Another blow-by-blow account of Why We Are Here, leavened with what stupid religiots think the answer is.

An interesting digression at the end into why the fine structure constants aren't that fine after all, which (for me) was worth the value of the book itself.

And interleaved like strips of tasty salami between many tedious slices of slimming-bread, we find a Pratchett Discworld novella, detailing how a librarian (appropriately Pratchettianly rationalistic, sensible and unflappable) arrives in Discworld through L-space to witness Vetinaru presiding over a court case as to whether Roundworld should be in the custodianship of Unseen University or the Omnians.

Every book by Pratchett seems like an ever-dwindling sequence of poignant goodbyes, and this is a rather sweet little coda in a world we Discworld fans know and love better than our own.
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2015
A very deep and thought provoking book on Science and a bit on religion.

I read a lot of the reviews about how this was an atheist rant and thought oh well they have gone all Richard Dawkins. I will get around and read it sometime and so I put it on my shelf and read other things. It got to this summer and I had finished all the other Terry Pratchett books as so I just had this one to go. So I decided it was time to read it and to my surprise I found that the reviews had been exagerated.

WhileiIt isn't that light a read although it is a lot easier than Brian Cox's recent efforts. As well as being more accessible than the current BBC science pin-up it is also much more measured and rigorous. The authors take a very cautious approach to presenting the case for atheism and they do not go on banging a drum and shouting in your face like Dawkins or Hitchens. It is all done very gently and politely and what is more they also point out the weaknesses of scientists. They in no way say that Science and religion are enemies and state that many scientists have personal views and perspectives (for example the many worlds nonsense that Cox is so keen on, they also debunk - see also the Quark and the Jaguar by Gell-mann for another rigorous debunking). They are not strident and shouty. They just point out that humans like to think of themselves as the centre of the universe and are very good at making stories to fit this. While the Universe itself pays us very little attention as it goes about its business following rules we keep trying to find, but failing because we fall into the story telling trap every-time. They point out how that is not only religion but dumb science such as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle as well. So give it a read if you want to go to the deepest layers of understanding and try not to tell yourself stories.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 June 2015
If you are new to "The Science of Discworld", welcome!
Where have you been?
it's a great series that combines the entertainment of Discworld with interesting stuff about science (from proper scientists) and some truly monumental technical funnies.
Look up "Anthill Inside" if you disbelieve me... . .
It is on a fancy holographic sticker you can put on your computer, and yes, there's one on this computer.
But why an Anthill? For the full answer to that you might have to read "The Science of Discworld" - or do a web search.
For those of you who are familiar with the series (as we are, oh yes!) this is more of the same, well up to standard, highly recommended as always.
Newcomers will almost certainly enjoy the series better if they start at the beginning and work their way up, but if you are motivated to start here for your own reasons, who am I to argue?

Wwritten by an erudite team headed by one of the UK's most successful and respected authors, who is alas no longer with us.
If it's not exactly your thing, why not get one for a friend who needs it?
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on 5 May 2013
But I always think that in these books. Loved the character of Marjorie Daw and good to see Vetinari getting an outing. The Science part (for me) turned into a bit of a rant. I very much dislike creationist thinking but believe the way to prove them wrong is with the science and not the rants.
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on 22 August 2015
Nowhere near as well-written or as inventive as the previous 3 books, and the scientific parts repeat a lot of the material in those books. Very disappointing indeed.

Fortunately, the other 3 are brilliant and absolute must-reads.
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on 9 May 2013
There are pros and cons to any book, but to this book I think finding any pro would be a pro in itself . . .

The Cons:

Quite frankly I found the book rather offensive. It was offensive in terms of what Pratchett thinks is acceptable writing for a professional writer, and in what he thinks is acceptable in terms of a human being using his novel as a vehicle for hate-speech.

The novel is quite subtle for the most part in its debate between religion and superstition against philosophy and science; it is able to cleverly work symbolism and analogy in an effective way, so that the reader feels the dry wit that its synonymous with Pratchett's work. Where it goes wrong - however - begins mainly from a speech from the main protagonist Marjorie midway through the novel.

Pratchett is clearly atheist, and this shows quite obviously, because - without turning this review into a religious debate - he seems to think it perfectly acceptable to attack the beliefs of those who aren't atheists. He ironically is what he accuses religious people of being: closed-minded. He ignores the fact that science and religion are not exclusive to many people. He also ignores the fact that atheists and religious people - in either group - cannot be tarred with the same brush. Instead he picks a `victor' and praises them immensely, and his `loser' is blasted with offensive language and blatant insults. This is not improved by the resolution of the court-case, in which things just turn into a farce . . .

The style of the novella is also rather embarrassing. The story reads a lot like a children's story, which - whilst not a bad thing - is not expected from an author with such a great reputation supposedly writing for adults.

The language is forced, formal, and stifled. Characters seem to be stock beings without any development or personality, who do not talk as everyday people would in any realistic situation, and - in fact - the language is so stereotyped and old-fashioned you half expect a `by Jove' or `golly gosh' to crop up at any moment. The characters are also immensely out-of-character. The worst contenders of this being the Dean, Vetinari, and Ridcully . . . but as they exist merely to espouse Pratchett's didactic message, this is to be expected.

The novella also is far too short. It can be read in the course of an hour, is only a third of the book (if that), and is incredibly simplistic and formulaic, especially in comparison to the superb prequels. I half expected a twist-ending, such as perhaps Vetinari gaining ownership of the globe, but no such luck . . .

The Good Side:

The writers of the scientific chapters have a great amount of skill. They are able to work their chapters to closely knit with the novella fiction, making the science and fiction intertwined marvellously, in a way that almost mirrors the relationship between the Roundworld and the Discworld. It reads well enough that a layman can follow, but with enough originality and complexity that a student of the sciences would find something to grip their interest. I found these chapters immensely interesting, but also far from patronising (as opposed to Pratchett and his novella).

In All:

If you like science and want a good science book, buy this book.

If you like Pratchett and science-fiction . . . you'll be very disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 7 February 2016
This is very different from the Discworld novels and the first of the 'science' series that I have read. Nevertheless it was very readable and interesting. Quite a lot of science topics are discussed and the latter part is the arguments frequently heard between science thinking and religion. There were no great shocks there and everything was quite logical. I was pleased to see that it was very much up to date with current topics and this I found to be quite unusual due to the normal writing / printing / publication time lags. Overall it was well worth reading and I would recommend it to anyone.
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on 13 April 2013
Oh dear... I have read, and loved, all the Pratchett books ever since I first picked up a cheap copy of Strata many years ago. He has been my favourite author all that time. I'll probably continue buying them for ever, in the possibly vain hope that there'll be a return to form. This however is a further sign that that form is irrevocably lost. The essence of the fictional sections of this book is merely a longish short story, interspersed with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen's factual scientifically based sections. But unlike previous Science of Discworld books, I found myself more eager to read the science chapters than the fiction.

Pratchett, whom I have always admired for his use of language, seems no longer capable of constructing a sentence without overcomplicating and over-elaborating it. The narrativium seems to have deserted him too; the story itself is childishly simple, without any depth at all.

The dialogue, which used to zing, is cumbersome and stilted; there seems to be no differentiation between characters' speech patterns. They all talk ponderously and awkwardly, with way too many clauses and sub-clauses.

It was quite a shock to realise that Stewart and Cohen were able to write more wittily and entertainingly than Pratchett in this book. The book was worth buying for their contribution, not, sadly for his...
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on 15 September 2014
Mostly good but I find the science passages not as well tied-in to the interleaved story and the story is also rather thin (and the story sections get very short after the middle of the book).

The authors do not understand the Higgs Boson and should really not have written so much about it (if Ian Stewart does understand the Higgs mechanism and related matters he did not find a way to explain it accessibly to Nomathsmen). However, the same goes for virtually all attempts to write a popular explanation of the Higgs Bosin.
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on 8 June 2016
One of Prachett's cleverest series of novels, from which the typical science geek will need to know a lot about relativity and time and suchlike, and that is just the first one.
It is noticeable that each of the novels becomes smaller up to this final one in terms of pages, but that doesn't matter as there is still a great deal to enjoy from Judgement Day. I doubt it, though, but if no one has the other three, I highly recommend you get them before buying this one, as-Oh, it doesn't matter. Do what you like.
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