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The Science of Discworld, by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, is one half Discworld novel, in which the wizards accidentally create a universe without magic and are fascinated by the way it develops its own rules in the absence of Narrative Causality, and one half popular science text, as Stewart and Cohen explain how the Roundworld Project (i.e., our universe) actually works.

It was followed by two sequels: The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, in which the wizards must stop The Fair Folk preying on the superstitious folk of Elizabethan Roundworld, while Stewart and Cohen talk about the nature of storytelling and belief, and The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, in which the wizards stop the God of Evolution from seriously confusing Charles Darwin, while Stewart and Cohen discuss his theory in more detail than they had to spare in the first book.


The Science of Discworld series contains examples of:

  • Alternate History: several in the later books, all of them ending with humanity failing to invent the Space Elevator before it's Giant Snowball Time.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Shakespeare and Darwin, amongst others, are greatly influenced by the wizards.
  • Bigger Is Better: The Lecturer in Recent Runes' attitude to creating life that will withstand Roundworld's regular cataclysms - it's a limpet with a base a mile across, that eats whales.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Roundworld itself, as Rincewind and Twoflower briefly travel there in The Colour of Magic.
  • Exact Words: What are the chances of Ponder's thaum-splitting magical reactor "just blowin' up and destroyin' the entire university?" None at all. If it goes up, it won't just blow up the university - it'll destroy the entire Discworld.
  • The Fair Folk: In volume 2.
  • Gainax Ending: The first book. "Recursion Is Occurring".
  • In Spite of a Nail: Apparently, if Darwin had become a believer in what we'd now call "intelligent design", Richard Dawkins would have been the author of The Origin Of Species, sadly too late to make a difference. Which suggests that there's a historical imperative that Dawkins must be a Darwinist, even if Darwin isn't.
    • The data is there to be found, Darwin or no Darwin, but in this scenario Richard Dawkins is the only person bloody-minded enough to go against an established authority and mine out the inconsistencies of the widely accepted model. It's unlikely that Darwin's theory had anything in itself to do with Dawkins becoming an atheist in the first place.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Rincewind repeatedly puts a fish back into the water, not realizing it's adapting to life on land rather than trying to kill itself.
  • Lies to Children: The Trope Namer.
  • Mage in Manhattan
  • Magic Versus Science: The Roundworld Project's original intention was to create a place where magic could not exist, which was thought to be impossible.
  • Magitek: Hex of course, and the Thaumic Engine is the magical equivalent of a nuclear reactor (going back to Pratchett's roots, as he made many similar comparisons in The Colour of Magic).
  • Measuring the Marigolds: Averted in the science parts of the books.
  • No Export for You: Not sold at most American bookstores, no matter how many other Discworld books they sell. It is exported to other countries like Canada, though.
  • Noodle Implements: While preparing for Shakespeare to write A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Wizards run into various problems that Ridcully solves via a set of noodle implements. Most of the time the reader can easily figure out what he is going to do with them (The sole exception being related to a folk remedy that is explained in one of the science chapters).
  • No Name Given: Reaches its climax here, with the wizards even naming elements things like "Runium" and "Wranglium" after their titles rather than their actual (unknown) names.
  • Oh Crap: "Loko...isn't that where there's that big deep perfectly circular valley surrounded by a ring of mountains, full of magically mutated creatures?"
  • Parodic Table of the Elements: It's the standard table, except with extra space for narrativium and octium.
  • Space Elevator: One appears in Book One. In the later books, the wizards' goal is the continued existence of a timeline that contains it.
  • Welcome to The Real World
  • What Could Have Been: The programme for the 2006 Discworld Convention reveals the synopsis of a completely different Science of Discworld III, in which the wizards visit assorted fictional Marses, culminating in the Discworld-universe's own version of Barsoom: a flat square planet, on the back of four thoats on the back of a giant zitidar, while Ankh-Morpork was invaded by the Martian tripods.
    • As it is, the first book contains a paragraph speculating about how, if sentient crabs had evolved on the Earth in humans' place, three of them might be writing The Science of Dishworld, about a bowl-shaped world that's carried on the backs of gigantic marine invertebrates.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Rincewind experiences this in The Science of Discworld II after the wizards spend the night drinking with William Shakespeare.
  • Zany Scheme: The wizards' interventions. Particularly the Noodle Implements-heavy one in volume 2, where they invoke various folk remedies to ensure William Shakespeare is born a boy.
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