In the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of The Science of Discworld, the wizards mess things up, and no one is surprised, and we also delve into plate tectonics and the everchanging Earth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
WHO IS SURPRISED? NOT I. I knew they’d fuck it up, but even then, I didn’t expect this fuck-up to be so SPECTACULAR. The wizards created multiple suns, flung them at the globe in The Project, and nearly obliterated that little planet in that new universe. Like???? The Dean is actually bragging about the fact that his sun bounced off? THAT ISN’T A GOOD THING, Y’ALL MESSED UP EVERYTHING.
It’s with this chapter that I came up with a theory: that little universe that comprises the Project is either OUR world, or it is a nearly identical parallel to it. It was the following Roundworld chapter that felt like a confirmation to me, since the science chapters are mirroring the events in the prose ones. Oh god, so that means life will spring up in The Project soon, right??? LMAO, THE WIZARDS ARE GONNA FUCK THAT UP, TOO.
I experienced my first earthquake just over a year after I moved to southern California from Boise.
It’s one of those memories I have that has always been vivid. You don’t forget something like that. I was ten years old when the Northridge quake struck. The epicenter was about 80 miles away from where my home was, and it didn’t seem to matter. See, I have this weird, preternatural ability to wake up just minutes before an earthquake hits. I do not think I have ever slept through one that was perceptible to most people, and IT’S SO SCARY. In this instance, I was awakened by the dogs in our neighborhood – including the three dogs we had – completely losing their shit. My parents’ home is on a corner, and there was a giant, empty lot that sat behind it. Across the street was a huge nature preserve. We learned early on that animals or creepy weirdos often spent time in that plot, so I figured that something was sitting on the brick wall and making the dogs freak out.
I heard the earthquake first. It was a low rumble, and then it sounded like a train was about to rush by, but even that didn’t initially bother me. Lots of trucks used the street behind our house as a shortcut. When the rolling hit, though, I didn’t actually move for the first ten seconds or so. It seemed so surreal, even now as I think back on it. You take for granted how stable the ground is under your feet, and the first time it betrays that sense of comfort, it is deeply, deeply frightening. I remember bolting out of bed and heading for the doorframe. At that time, the general advice we’d been given at school was that doorframes or desks were the best places to take shelter during an earthquake, and there was no way I was going to make it to the desk in the living room. I looked down the hallway, and my brother was standing in the doorway to his room, yelling for our parents. My mother told us to stay calm right as my sister started screaming.
And surprisingly, we stayed calm. That earthquake seemed to last a lifetime, and I found out later that it actually was an abnormally long quake. We had to survey our home for damage because the shaking was so bad, but that was after the HORRIFYING aftershock that hit LITERALLY A MINUTE AFTER IT WAS OVER. Imagine stumbling around your home in the dark, so uncertain and terrified over what had just happened, wondering if the world had ended, and then it hit again.
But my most vivid memory of that earthquake came eleven hours later, in the midst of the afternoon, as our family was crowded around the television. The damage was unreal, and images of the Northridge Meadows apartment complex still haunt me. The same with that Newhall overpass that collapsed, claiming the life of a poor soul who didn’t know that there wasn’t roadway in front of him anymore. We were watching a live broadcast when a sharp aftershock hit, and – I am getting goosebumps typing this – we watched the woman reporting react to it and knew that it was coming to us next. There was a delay, and the seconds waiting for it to arrive were just unbearable. That aftershock wasn’t as rolling as the initial quake; it was intense, and I found it way more frightening than the first one.
It was a traumatic event in that sense, so I get why it’s been stuck in my mind so vividly all these years. I lived through countless earthquakes in the time following that, though none of them were ever as bad as the Northridge quake. One of the last ones I can recall experiencing was in the Bay Area in 2015, which – SURPRISE! – I woke up before it hit, and then sat there in terrified silence, wondering if it was the Big One, that illusive earthquake that’s supposed to devastate the West Coast. There was a smaller quake in the Los Angeles area a year or so ago, and I’ll end this with a funny tale: I woke up before that one hit, freaked out, and woke up Baize, who had slept through it. I asked him if he had felt the earthquake, and he rolled over to me, looked at me with complete disinterest, and then rolled back and promptly fell asleep.
Even earthquakes can’t fuck with his sleep.
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