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The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day: 4 Hardcover – 11 Apr 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (11 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091949793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949792
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 188,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A brilliant new Discworld story from Terry Pratchett combined with cutting-edge science and philosophy from Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. This time the trio take on THE REALLY BIG QUESTIONS – God, the Universe and, frankly, Everything Else.

From the Inside Flap

Order in Court!
On Discworld an almighty row is brewing…


The Omnians want control of Roundworld – its very existence makes a mockery of their religion. The wizards of Unseen University, however, are extremely reluctant to part with it. After all, they created it!


Enter Roundworld librarian, Marjorie Daw (accidentally, through L-space). Perhaps, with her Jimmy Choos and her enquiring and logical mind, she can help? Especially as she’s the sort of librarian who thinks that the Bible should be filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy.


Lord Vetinari presides over the tribunal. People on both sides are getting extremely angry, There are some very big questions being asked – and someone’s got some explaining to do…


The fourth in the Science of Discworld series, JUDGEMENT DAY sees Terry Pratchett, Professor Ian Stewart and Doctor Jack Cohen create a mind-mangling mix of fiction, cutting-edge science and philosophy in an attempt to answer the REALLY big questions – this time taking on God, the Universe and, frankly, Everything Else.


Proceed with caution, you may never look at your universe(s) in the same way again.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'Science of Discworld' continues to be a slightly misleading name for this series, which is actually about real science using the Discworld as a framework and a metaphor. This fourth book is set around a Discworld court case, in which the Omnian religion is suing the Unseen University for ownership of the Roundworld.

This is one of the best science books I've read. It deals with some of the more controversial topics - the origins of the universe in particular - but in way that doesn't lecture and doesn't condescend. The writers also take the time to examine the current leading theories in a critical manner, unlike most books which can present the flavour of the month as hard and fast fact with only a small nod to future research. Here Cohen and Stewart don't shy away from acknowledging holes in our knowledge, and that only helps to emphasise one of their core messages: that science is all about doubting and testing your ideas.

Like the previous books, the chapters alternate between fiction and fact, and the Discworld story contained the usual wit and charm, although the individual chapters and the story as a whole are all too short. In contrast, the science chapters in several places are too long, and I found my attention drifting.

In combination, a welcome taste of the Discworld universe between the main novels, and an in-depth and fascinating insight into the real world of science and where it might be heading in the next few decades. I thoroughly recommend this as a great read which both educated and entertained.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like Ian Stewart as a writer; I've read and enjoyed many of his books on maths and science.

This is another workmanlike effort - not his best, but still a good read.

Except... it's supposed to be a book by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. And sadly, their voices were almost completely absent.

The first two Science of Discworld books were elegant blends of fact and fiction - alternating chapters of approximately equal length. In this one, the Discworld chapters are incredibly brief. And even then they read like Ian Stewart fiction (compare with Flatterland) with a few Discworld character names and back stories pasted on. Vetinari bothering to get involved in an inconsequential wrangle between wizards and clerics? Hardly! Ridcully coherently explaining vast tracts of hard science? I don't think so!

If you want to buy this Ian Stewart book on science, go right ahead. But don't buy this Terry Pratchett novel.

Another thing that irritates me in a more controversial sense is that I found the book very preachy about atheism. It's almost as though the authors had an axe to grind this time round, where before they contented themselves with the nobler pursuits of entertainment and education. And their views on agnosticism (a subject dear to my heart) are... eccentric.

Assuming, as I've said, that you're in the market for an Ian Stewart book. Assuming, furthermore, that you can overlook the bouts of didacticism (or at least read some Karen Armstrong for balance) this is still an interesting and up-to-date work, full of discussion of the origins of the universe, the history of science, world religion and more besides. Despite my reservations, I'm glad I bought it.
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I loved the first three science of the discworlds, they were interesting, funny and each a pretty darn broad set of topics. This one covered one; the difference between science and religion.

It's not bad, just disappointing. I expect a smorgasbord of science, wit and humour in these books and number 4 felt lacking in all three.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a degree in Chemistry and a Master's degree in Physics. I found the treatment of science, particularly physics, excellent. I think it could be difficult at times for a reader without a background of A level or equivalent. Never mind, it is possible to bleep over those bits and still enjoy the book. It hinges on different ways of seeing things and the consequent effect upon interpretation. Discworld, as in the three previous books in this series, provides the opportunity that valid laws of physics hold there. Full marks Sir Terry for achieving that.

As to the underlying story from Discworld: amusing but not comparable with the novels. I was rather disappointed that the relationship between the Unseen University librarian and Marjorie Daw, the Roundworld (Earth) librarian didn't develop further than a gift of a banana.

The conflict between science and religion is less satisfactory. I am a practicing Roman Catholic and personally I find no conflict. A point which is not made fully is that science is a rational system based on doubt and religion is irrational based on faith. These positions are not mutually exclusive; one can hold either, both or neither. The arguments against religion tend to be naive simply looking at God interfering in the physical world as required. I suspect that none of the three authors has religious faith (indeed it is specifically stated for one of them) and that is why they seem to have difficulty in really appreciating it.
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