A Flat Earth Encore: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

By David L. Brown

I had some fun yesterday writing about people who believe in a flat Earth and how their ideas compare with climate change deniers. As I reread my essay this morning I was reminded of the fact that one of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, has made a career writing about a fictional flat planet. His Discworld fantasy-humor novels are set on just such a planet as Flat Earthers may envision for the Earth. Here is an illustration of the Discworld:

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Remember, this is fantasy, not reality. Do not plan trips for business or pleasure, especially ocean cruises, or attempt to follow world events by referring to this map. Discworld is a magical planet. Its Sun is about the size of a basketball and revolves around the flat planet. And, yes, the oceans flow off the edge into space in a continuous cascade. The fact that Discworld’s oceans never dry out is obviously due to magic rather than conventional physics.

What this illustration does not show is that the Discworld rides on the backs of four enormous elephants, which in turn are standing on the shell of Great A’Tuin the stellar tortoise. It would be best if you try not to imagine the Earth in that way, unless you are really comfortable with the idea of cosmic animals the size of continents.

Discworld is populated by an amusing collection of strangely familiar characters, including dwarves, trolls, vampires, werewolves, wizards and witches, not to mention dragons and even heroes such as Ghenghiz Cohen, commonly known as Cohen the Barbarian.

Despite its obvious differences, Discworld has many similarities to our own planet. In fact, as you will soon realize, it is high satire on the foibles of humanity. If you are intrigued by the idea of Discworld, Pratchett has written 20 or 30 vastly entertaining books set in this fantasy world. The first is called “The Color of Magic,” and the most recent is titled “Thud.” I can promise many hours of reading pleasure replete with chuckles and even the occasional guffaw.

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