In the eleventh chapter of Darwin’s Watch, the wizards decide that they’ve had enough. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Science of Discworld III.
Yo, I didn’t expect that we’d actually get a sampling of the 1,457 reasons why Darwin never came to write The Origin of Species, but here we are!!! However, it soon became apparent to me how deliberate this was. On the one hand, it’s just flat-out funny. The giant squid makes another appearance, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite recurring jokes. But there’s just so much absurdity here, too! Stung to death by wasps. HIT BY A METEORITE. In which universe did the Beagle somehow make it to NORWAY??? No, don’t tell me. It’s the ridiculousness nature of it all that matters, and I can’t believe I didn’t put this together sooner. Y’all, which character in this bunch has been on the receiving end of seemingly perpetual waves of absurd plot twists? Which wizard knows what it is like to feel like you are a pawn of a god who is just doing as many things as possible to you in order to mess up your whole life?
‘Why not just take it for granted that someone is out to get you?’ said Rincewind. ‘That’s what I do. Don’t bother to work out the fine detail.’
It’s so OBVIOUS in hindsight that Rincewind would figure this out before anyone else. Of course!!! And not only is he used to this, he has a sense of why someone or something would behave this way:
‘Something down there is frightened. It’s so frightened that it’s not even going to let him get on the boat.’
And he takes it one step futher:
‘Then if it was me, I’d say that something’s got really worried,’ said Rincewind. ‘They don’t mind if The Ology doesn’t get written in just one universe, but they hate the idea of The Origin being written at all.’
I know I give the wizards a harder time than most recurring characters, but this one twist made me appreciate how much this story is uniquely linked to Rincewind and what the wizards have experienced in these three Science books. I don’t know if they’re officially considered part of the canon, but they absolutely fit within the larger stories being told, especially when it comes to characterization. Rincewind is the perfect character to shift the expectations and motivations of the entire bunch! And once he does, this chapter gains a spectacular amount of momentum. Ridcully realizes that someone is messing with HIS Roundworld, and he won’t stand for that!
‘I don’t think you can fight a whole universe, sir!’
‘It’s the prerogative of every life form, Mr. Stibbons!’
And thus, this story changes. It’s not just about changing minute details in Darwin’s life. As pointed out by the text, every “fix” gives birth to a new set of problems to be fixed. By the time Ponder gets his nodality “map” up and running outside of the university, it’s clear just how convoluted and fucked up Darwin’s timelines in the multiverse are. The color coded nodes helped me understand what the wizards would have to do, versus what Hex could do. There are so many damn malignities just in getting Darwin on the Beagle and keeping him there. Once Ponder zooms out, so to speak, there are countless diversions that prevent The Origin of Species from existing.
So, we’ve got a framework: the wizards are going to be assigned tasks to bring Darwin back on track, but there’s now a much bigger issue: Who or what is the intelligent force deliberately fucking up every timeline so that this book is never published in any universe? Who would be so terrified of it existing?? I genuinely don’t know! Is it a force from Roundworld? Someone we haven’t met? I AM DEEPLY INVESTED IN THIS.
Mark Links Stuff
– The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now up for pre-order! It comes out on May 7, 2019. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.