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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Science of Discworld IV
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 October 2013
After the 1st 20% read on Kindle it is a big disappointment to anyone who has read the 1st three books in the series
Like so many " sequels" (whether films or books) it has run out of Oomph ( particularly quirky acerbic Pratchett comments) compared to he previous 3 in the series.The science is fine but is not blended in with much " discworld" shenanigans
Not to say that it is specifically bad - just no longer good enough compared to those earlier in the series
If you are a discworld fanatic , try out the earlier ones in the series first

I have now read through to the end which has simply reinforced my snap judgement.
What is good is the update of the latest scientific thinking of Life , the Universe , and all that jazz . Unfortunately , unlike the original book in 1999 (where the wizards dabbling with magic which leads to the formation of Roundworld - used as a hands off analogy for our universe and scientific comments on it) but what is bad is that in this book there is little of Discworld and constant back references to the earlier 3 books.
Whether tackling the issues of religion(s) , existence of gods , and the impact of religions on human behaviour ( simple belief vs experiment and rational thinking) was a good idea I will leave for others to comment. Certainly the atheists viewpoint is logically expounded as is evolution vs creationism.Likely to be somewhat contentious in the USA
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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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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 2013
I've read all the other "Science of Discworld" books and this one is perhaps the least accessible because it deals wth such big concepts. I read most of the reviews before buying it, and was fascinated to find out what had so offended the god-botherers that they only gave it one star. I found their reaction ludicrously over the top. Even if you ignored the author's opinions on the existence of a god, the rest of the book is definitely worth three or four stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2014
The previous three volumes were better. This is a bit dense and not as funny, too much science and not enough wit.
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on 18 August 2013
I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the earlier ones. For a start the Discworld sections were rather short and felt a bit perfunctory. Also the Roundworld sections, basically comparative Anthropology, looking at the human tendency to create stories and myths and then let them fossilise and take over, seemed themselves to be straying into fairly deep Narrativium. Still a good read, but not so much Science.
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on 7 November 2013
Overall, I still enjoyed this book, but neither the story or the pop science bit entertained or informed me quite as much as earlier editions did. Of course, given the dire straights one of the perpetrators has been going through lately we're lucky to be getting anything at all from them, and I for one am grateful the " old firm " is still going. You keep writing them and we'll keep buying them.
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