Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Terry Pratchett: Pyramids

Pyramids. Pyramids are like dams in the flow of time. It is this fascinating concept that Terry uses to explore the small river kingdom of Djel. It's all very quantum. At least, that's how they describe it in Djel. In Djel a man is a man, and a god is a god, except for the king who is both. Like I said, it’s all very quantum.

Teppic, the young king turned assassin, having been sent to the assassin’s school returns to his desert kingdom with lots of progressive new ideas. Unfortunately the high-priest Dios has other plans. Specifically he plans not to have any plans, and for everything to remain the same…forever. As you can see, this would not set well with the progressive young assassin king. Unfortunately Dios has been in charge for a long time…a very, very long time. So it will take all the skills of an assassin king and all of the spunk of a young handmaiden complete with bangles to face the challenge of change to come.

By the way, camels are very important. Remember that. Camels are one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They are so intelligent that they had the foresight to not let humans know they were intelligent. (Which says a lot I think) Fortunately the greatest mathematician in the entire world (A camel named You Bastard) helps the young king and spunky handmaiden with their quantum troubles. All the while calculating the vectors needed to spit a fly to the wall.

Once again in Pyramids, another aspect of my favorite subject, quantum physics, is discussed. The theory that the four dimensions of length/width/height/time can be shifted and an exploration of what would happen if they were is one of the most interesting premises of this book. Because of the stored power in a great pyramid the entire kingdom is shifted 90 degrees in time-space, thus removing it from normal interaction as it attains a 2 dimensional appearance as width is exchanged for time. This of course causes the realm to remove itself from normal time-space into its own side dimension. Being self-contained the kingdom now is forced to deal with the combined power of their collective beliefs (those beliefs having no where else to go now), and as a kingdom they believe in gods. Not just one god, many gods. Several with the same basic roles in the universe, such as making the sun rise, or move. This of course, causes fights…between the gods. As one would imagine, this is not a good thing. It does, however, emphasize the premise in quantum theory that thoughts are reality. In this kingdom the reality is a bit more immediate since it’s not diluted by outside influences, but thought is reality.

Overall, yet another fascinating exploration into the realms of emotion, humor, and quantum physics by Terry Pratchett. Definitely a must read. After all, it’s quantum.


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