Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of The Science of Discworld II, the wizards come up with a tentative (and very flimsy) plan to go after the elves. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

I feel like the plot for this book has a much stronger narrative than the first one, which largely involved the wizards getting stranded, making a bad decision (and then a thousand more), and trying to get their way back to the Disc. If I understand what’s happening here—and it’s entirely possible that I do not—then the story here is about repair. The Roundworld has been corrupted, in a sense, by the elves. Somehow, they’ve infiltrated this world and changed the actual timeline enough that humanity has changed. We’re not where we’re supposed to be, and thus, the wizards have taken it upon themselves to repair what’s been ruined. 

That damage, though, is pretty subtle at this point, and there’s not a strong impression of how the world has been altered. It’s more a feeling than anything else, though I have to be amused at the fact that the very presence of the wizards also has the possibility to change the timeline. Y’all, they’re openly doing magic in front of Dee. Isn’t that going to complicate things? Probably not, in the long run at least, though I’m guessing we’ll find out that the wizards influenced something. 

But why millions of years in the past? Why would the elves travel so far back in time? Wouldn’t there be more for them to feed off of in later periods, simply because there are more people? As the Dean notes:

“But there was nothing back there,” said the Dean, watching Ponder work on the circle. “There wasn’t even anyone you could call people, Hex says.”

So, the theory that Hex has (and I hesitate to even call it a theory, because Hex is pretty much always right) is that the elves did something to humanity’s ancestors and changed humans that way. So, they went to the source, so to speak. And what we know of elves is that fear is very, very appealing to them, so… maybe they made humans more afraid? Or more easily afraid? I don’t quite know how that happens, but it certainly would be a pretty fucked up way of getting what they need. There’s one line that makes me think that:

Stories were where the monsters died.

So: maybe the elves got rid of the desire or compulsion that humanity had to make up stories! Then, without those stories, the elves could reign as monsters. It would fit with the Roundworld sections, too, which have addressed the power of the narrative. Plus, we finally get our next big Shakespeare reference in the form of one of his bits of writing. I saw that as evidence that the elves hadn’t actually affected humanity just quite yet, that there was still time. Unfortunately, once the wizards leave the Librarian behind, this happens:

And the floor vanished. And the house vanished. And the city vanished. And the Librarian landed in the swamp.

An instantaneous change in the environment, so drastic that it has to be the ramifications of what the elves did. Meaning… EVERYTHING is gone. No humans, no cities, nothing. WHAT DID THEY DO?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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