Top critical review
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Between two stools.
on 8 May 2003
As a big Pratchett fan and someone who enjoys popular science books, I was looking forward to this. I enjoyed the first Science of Discworld book and hoped for more. Ultimately, though, I was left feeling rather let down.
As for the first TSOD book, this interweaves chapters outlining the development of our own planet with a Discworld story. Ultimately, though, I didn't think that either strand was that good. The Discworld part of the story does give the impression of having been thrown together to try and link the science parts together - far more so than TSOD I.
The factual section is a real struggle in parts. Not because the science involved is that difficult, but rather because there is so little of it. The central thesis is that language and story-telling played (and continue to play) a central role in human development. And that's about it. The authors really do labour the point and I was left with the impression that the book could be half its present size and convey the same message.
I thought the last third of the book picked up after I seemed to be reading the same thing again and again in consecutive chapters. Overall, though, I found whole sections to be rather dull. There are similar books covering this same subject that are far more tightly written and much more interesting.
In some way I found the Discworld/factual combination to be a hindrance. I can't imagine anyone interested in the factual side but unfamiliar with Pratchett finding this particular Discworld story. Likewise, I think the people who bought it (like me) because of the Pratchett link would be better served trying out the Popular Science section of their local bookshop. I think that, in this case, we were served a bit of a muddle.