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The Science of the Discworld III Darwin's Watch: Terry Pratchett, I. Stewart, J. Cohen - It's science Jim, but not as we know it
on 25 July 2012
The Science of the Discworld III is another highly readable book from Pratchett, Stewart and Cohen that uses the interaction between the Discworld and the Wizards accidental `roundworld' universe to teach some interesting ideas about evolution.
The story is set on the Discworld. The Wizards of Unseen University have accidentally created a universe. But this is a universe without magic, where worlds are spherical rather than discs. They set about observing this universe from its creation through to the formation of life. This time around the Wizards are interested in evolution, and the ideas of a certain C. Darwin.
Each chapter of the entertaining and usually hilarious Discworld story from Pratchett alternates with a chapter of real science from Stewart and Cohen (both great communicators with wry senses of humour) which explains in our terms what just happened in the Discworld story.
It's well written, easy to follow, introduced me to many scientific concepts that I did not know about previously, and is probably the most educational book I have ever read. So many of the ideas and explanations were firmly lodged in my mind after reading this, many more than remain from my student days, when I was supposed to be studying this kind of thing! (But which I didn't really study too hard because I spent most of my time reading Terry Pratchett books...)
The one niggle here is that it doesn't flow quite as well as the previous two book. This feels like a set of essays strung together rather than a uniform piece, and Pratchett's Discworld short story never quite seems to catch fire. But it's a minor point, it is only compared to previous books that this feels a little weak, it is still a strong and educational read in it's own right.
It's an excellent book, one that I recommend. 4 stars.