Roundworld is in trouble again, and this time it looks fatal. Having created it in the first place, the wizards of Unseen University feel vaguely responsible for its safety. They know the creatures who lived there escaped the impending Big Freeze by inventing the space elevator - they even intervened to rid the planet of a plague of elves, who attempted to divert humanity onto a different time track. But now it's all gone wrong - Victorian England has stagnated and the pace of progress would embarrass a limping snail.
Unless something drastic is done, there won't be time for anyone to invent spaceflight and the human race will be turned into ice pops. Why, though, did history come adrift? Was it Sir Arthur Nightingale's dismal book about natural selection? Or was it the devastating response by an obscure country vicar called Charles Darwin, whose bestselling Theology of Species made it impossible to refute the divine design of living creatures? Either way, it's no easy task to change history, as the wizards discover to their cost. Can the God of Evolution come to humanity's aid and ensure Darwin writes a very different book? And who stopped him writing it in the first place?
©2012 Terry and Lyn Pratchett, Joat Enterprises and Jack Cohen (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
This book is pretty difficult to classify - as a popular science book, it touches on subjects ranging from cosmology to evolution, with history of science and the history of societies that allowed science to blossom weaved in.
Most of the science was already familiar to me, though it was a pleasure to listen to so well presented. The insight into how the society has to be ready for a development, to provide fertile ground for new things to "take off", was one that I hadn't given much thought to before.
The book is perhaps 80% science, 20% ficition - with the story of the Wizards trying to make things right on roundworld being told in separate, shorter chapters, in between longer chapters on science and history. I quite liked this approach.
The narrator was very good, with the exception of quite annoyingly misspronouncing a couple of words. The narrator clearly didn't pay attention in biology class, because one would think that most people would know how to pronounce "allele". And "meme" in the word "meme-plex" rhymes with "gene". The "me-me-plex" pronounciation really grated on my nerves. A tip for any narrators: if a word is new to you, and you haven't heard it spoken out loud before, look up the pronounciation, don't just guess.
That's a rather minor complaint though, in a generally good reading of a very good book.
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