Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Darwin's Watch: Science of Discworld III

I finished Darwin's Watch this morning. It has to be said that the subtitle "Science of Discworld" is a complete misnomer as the books are very much about the science of "Roundworld" (Earth), not the Discworld.

I thoroughly enjoyed Darwin's Watch; I suspect that I found the science more accessible than The Globe, because I already had some knowledge of Darwin and his The Origin of the Species. I read it several years ago in a fit of self-improvement relating to science books (I also read, as I recall, Simon Singh's Fermat's Last Theorem and Dava Sobell's Longitude). Unfortunately, despite my background in computers, most science sails straight over my head - I don't seem to have the right kind of mental attitude or something, to understand much science or mathematics-related material. Therefore, if I recommend a book like Darwin's Watch, you can guarantee that as a Humanities person, I find it fairly accessible. Of course, the accompanying misadventures of Terry Pratchett's wizards is a definite bonus: poor old Ponder, who despairs of getting Ridcully and co. to understand him; Ridcully, who's a lot brighter than he appears under all that shouting and heartiness; wimpish Rincewind, who runs away from everything (which is nevertheless a fairly sensible action on many occasions !); and of course, the fantastic Librarian, who is easily my favourite character from the Unseen University.

"Science of" books about fictional universes are becoming very popular - I've also got Henry Gee's The Science of Middle-earth is also lurking on my pending pile (on loan from the same friend who has loaned me Darwin's Watch), and I read The Science of His Dark Materials last year (also loaned by the same generous friend, for which my thanks go to JEM). Roger Highfield has also produced The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works - which I have not seen as yet. I think these books are a good idea - I know that I often read that too few children are going into the sciences these days, so hopefully such books as these will spark interest in a few more children and lead them into the sciences.

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Jeremy Mercer has given the Guardian a list of his 10 favourite bookshops. It makes interesting reading, and apparently he's written a book (Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs) about them:

"Bookstores are sanctuaries. Places to lose yourself, escape the harsh demands of daily life, find new ways to dream and new sources of inspiration. I love all booksellers; anybody who helps spread the word is doing noble work. But my favourite bookstores are the small eccentric independents run by passionate and usually slightly mad book lovers. These are some of the best."

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