Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld II’: Chapter 17 / Chapter 18, Part I

In the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of The Science of Discworld II, the wizards confront the Queen of the Elves; we learn about information. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

So, this will admittedly be a shorter review because aside from the fiction section, I didn’t really find much to respond to in these chapters. I don’t really have much to relate to or tell stories about in regards to information and DNA, but I did want to talk about the Queen. I still think that the Discworld story in this book is much more interesting than in the first Science book, so there’s a part of me that kind of wants to just read all the fiction chapters because HOW!!! How are these wizards going to fix this problem? I still don’t see a solution, though I do think chapter eighteen gives us a major clue. As the text puts it, the elves gave humans stories but no information. The Queen gloats because she knows she’s put the wizards in the midst of a disaster. This isn’t technically their world; the elves have left the Disc alone. But in Roundworld, they’ve successfully set humans on a new path. Their lives are full of stories, but without information, without context, all they do is… well, they just believe them. And that kind of world is probably one where humans are just perpetually terrified. They believe in things that are not there and cannot happen, and that leads into them believing  more: 

“They believe in it here, and it doesn’t,” said the Queen. “And thus they believe in it even more, while ceasing to believe in themselves. Isn’t it astonishing?” 

Thus, the wizards are now outliers; they want to save a world that doesn’t believe that worlds can be saved. They want to be heroes for a world that doesn’t think that heroes exist. They are truly alone in this, because narrativium has not given humans a need to rise above a sort of default immorality. So how the hell do the wizards give humans context? Where the hell does that come from? I gotta say, though, that I immensely enjoyed this exchange, now that I know who Ponder is referring to:

“We we didn’t stop it, we got people like Dee, head half full of rubbish.”

“I know someone who’d be right at home with this problem,” said Ridcully, thoughtfully.” 

Seriously, who else has to deal with people whose heads are half full of rubbish ALL THE TIME? Granny Weatherwax. But how are they going to get her to care? This is Roundworld, not Discworld. Is she going to even want to help them at all? I don’t know, but I’m also excited for another reason: we haven’t had witches and wizards interacting in the same book for a long time, so I know this is gonna be a treat. 

Anyway! I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of conversations arise in the comments regarding chapter eighteen. I’ve wracked my brain but I honestly don’t have anything terribly interesting to share with y’all.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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