Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld II’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of The Science of Discworld II, Rincewind reluctantly stops being dull. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

You know, I have never been a Powerpoint person. It’s partially because I have such difficult time translating what’s in my mind into the world outside of it. I wish I had a reason for that, but I’ve always struggled with it. I can’t draw. I can’t do design in any way, shape, or form. I often have difficulty taking written descriptions and visualizing them, which is why I’m so thankful when I read a writer who can handle complicated action scenes in ways that allow me to get past this flaw of mine. (Which also makes me wonder… is that why some things go over my head? I’ve never put those two ideas together, but maybe there’s something there. Bah, just a stray thought.) I remember the first time I got assigned a PowerPoint presentation in 8th grade and I was petrified the entire time I was making it. I just could not replicate anything I’d learned, and I swore to myself that unless I was forced to, I would never, ever use one again. I am weirdly proud to say that aside from a mandatory one in high school, I HAVE NEVER GIVEN A PRESENTATION LIKE PONDER DOES HERE SINCE THEN. Which is so silly, I know, especially because I actually learn a lot from that style of presenting. I AM A WALKING CONTRADICTION, OKAY. Because I would actually have loved to have seen Ponder’s full bit on what L-space actually is.

Thankfully, this book comes after many, many other scenes and bits involving L-space, so it’s not like it was necessary. I just like knowing more about the worldbuilding for a fantastical world, and that’s still the case for the Disc. There are so many places I haven’t seen yet or gotten stories for, you know? So, I was excited about the idea of spending a little bit of time in L-space, and readers, I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. I’ve written about my love for libraries and how important they were to me growing up in an isolated, insular environment. In many ways, they were my glimpse of the outside world. But I continued to use them as I got older. When I was homeless in my 20s, I don’t know how I would have gotten jobs without Internet access in libraries. (And they were, generally speaking, a safer option to go to the bathroom in than others. It sorta depended on which library you chose, though, but that’s a completely separate post I’ll make some other day.) Nearly all of the research that I conducted for Anger Is A Gift and my next book was out of a library, too. So, there’s no question in my heart that the L-space makes 100% sense, not just as a means of connecting all libraries, but as a commentary on the mere collection of books. I loved that Pratchett did not try to be restrictive about what counts as a library because that opens this world up to so many possibilities. Does the big red bookshelf in my house count as a library? (There’s certainly not enough shelf space, so I feel like that qualifies it all by itself.) What about a pile of books at a yard sale? I say that based on this line:

It wasn’t much of a library, but Rincewind knew how this worked. Two books were a library—for a lot of people, two books were an enormous library. But even one book could be a library, if it was a book that made a big enough dimple in L-space.

I love that Pratchett reminds people of access to books, that some of us are used to be surrounded by them, while others are not. So those two books that a person might have are incredibly important. But Pratchett also takes it a step further:

Sometimes, though, even one book could do that. Even one line. Even one word, in the right place and the right time.

It’s true, isn’t it? I read a lot as a kid, and I don’t remember a lot of those books. I read just for the sake of it, and many of the books I consumed were absolutely not for kids. Why the hell did I read both It and The Stand by the time I was ten? Because they were there, because the challenge excited me, because I could. I took me like another ten years to actually understand them. So, even though I may not have comprehended these books, some of them imprinted on me. Stephen King certainly influenced my love of horror and suspense. Jane Austen got me into romance. I remember getting assigned Bless Me, Ultima in middle school and enjoying that, though I didn’t really relate to it. That was saved for The House on Mango Street, then later I latched on to The Stranger. These days, there are probably too many books to count, too many lines, too many words in the right place and the right time. That’s a good thing. Having difficulty narrowing it down to just one? Makes me feel full of life. 

So! I still don’t know what role the elves will play, and I absolutely DO NOT want to see a shaved orangutan. The worst part is that I am tempted to Google this (as I once saw a shaved bear and wanted to immediately expire), but I must resist. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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