Marjorie Daw is a librarian, and takes her job - and indeed the truth of words - very seriously. She doesn't know it, but her world and ours - Roundworld - is in big trouble. On Discworld, a colossal row is brewing.
The Wizards of Unseen University feel responsible for Roundworld (as one would for a pet gerbil). After all, they brought it into existence by bungling an experiment in Quantum ThaumoDynamics. But legal action is being brought against them by Omnians, who say that the Wizards' god-like actions make a mockery of their noble religion.
As the finest legal brains in Discworld (a zombie and a priest) gird their loins to do battle - and when the Great Big Thing in the High Energy Magic Laboratory is switched on - Marjorie Daw finds herself thrown across the multiverse and right in the middle of the whole explosive affair.
Reviewed on 26th April 2013
'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.