The Discworld, the fantastical setting for Terry Pratchett's bestselling series of novels of the same name, lies at a point near the very edge of the universe's reality spectrum. As such, it intersects with a number of other dimensions and fantastical lands, some hostile, some benign. Invasions by or interactions with the denizens of these dimensions form a major thread in the Discworld series.
Death's DomainEditSecond Article: Death's Domain Death's Domain is the home of one of the series's principal characters, Death. It is shaped by human expectation and Death's own attempts to have a life beyond his allotted task. Death's Domain (ISBN 0-552-14672-2) is also a Discworld Mapp, drawn by Paul Kidby, with additional material by Pratchett and Stephen Briggs.
The first thing visitors notice is that the Domain is black. Everything in it is black (or different colours and shades of black), except the things that are bone-white. The exceptions are purple mountains in the distance and, since Reaper Man, golden cornfields between the mountains and the Domain proper. Very few living people have entered the Domain, but among the notable exceptions are Albert, Ysabell, Mort, Susan, Rincewind, Twoflower (and, arguably, the Luggage).
Things that are black include all the plants in the garden, the house, the peacocks (although they have white skull-shaped "eyes" on their tails), the cats (Death likes cats, which are among the few beings that can perceive him) and the bees (Death also likes bees, possibly because a hive mind has no fear of him). Things that are bone-white (and indeed skeletal) include the trout in the pond, some of the birds and the garden gnomes. Death cannot create, this is why he does not play music, he can only copy things. The items in the garden are copies of things he has seen elsewhere, including the fish pond, and presumably the fish inside it.
Although nearly everything in the Domain is black, it is not all the same colour. On the Discworld, and congruent dimensions, splitting darkness with an eight-sided prism produces different colours of black.
The Domain gardens also include a hedge maze and a golf course. Since Death finds it impossible to get lost, nor has any difficulty hitting a sphere so it goes exactly where he wants, he doesn't really see the point, but they are part of his efforts to be more human.
To one side of the Domain is the Well of Souls, which spirits briefly pass through on their way to wherever they think they're going.
At the centre of the Domain is Death's house. It looks like a fairly average detached house, apart from being black and having an omega door knocker. Inside it is of infinite size, which can be crossed in an hour or an instant. Most humans who have stayed in the Domain can only deal with the size of the rooms by ignoring them, and staying on small patches of carpet surrounded by immensity. Although the interior maintains the black-on-black, skull-and-scythe motif (Death's grandfather clock has a scythe for a pendulum, and his mirror is in a skull-and-bones frame because anything else would look silly around his reflection) it is, like its outside, very ordinary and average in its design. Some assume that Death's house would look like a mausoleum or a crypt, but in fact Death knows little of cemeteries, as very few people actually die in them.
As well as the "ordinary" rooms, maintained for appearance and the benefit of Albert, the Domain contains the life-timer room, where the sands of everyone's lives drain away. Off of the life-timer room, there is another room in which the life-timers of the gods rest(as seen in "The Hogfather"). And there is the Library(of course), where everyone's "autobiography" is being written by itself. Both of these rooms are even more conceptual and arbitrary in dimension than the rest of the Domain, and the clearest example of its status as a refined metaphor.
The Dungeon Dimensions are the endless wastelands outside of space and time.
The sad, mad things that live there (a pastiche of Lovecraftian horrors) have no understanding of the world, simply craving light and shape. Therefore, they try to warm themselves by the fires of reality. It has been noted that should they ever break through, this will be like an ocean warming itself around a candle. Some of them can survive in this world under special circumstances, and become something rather like demons - though nothing like as attractive. For most though, the reality they crave is soon fatal, due to their lack of a natural morphic field.
They are jealous of all things alive and so far as their emotions can be understood, they feel mostly hatred, stemming from that jealousy, of all 'real' creatures. They are lured by heavy concentrations of magic that thin reality and may allow them an easier point to break through. Sometimes they break through into a mind, using that being's mind and body to further their own ends. Magical minds shine like beacons to them. The number eight also seems to attract most of them (especially Bel Shamharoth) which is why wizards are advised to avoid saying it.
- For the mathematical Lp and spaces, see Lp space
L-space, short for library-space, is the ultimate portrayal of Pratchett's concept that the written word has powerful magical properties on the Discworld, and that in large quantities all books warp space and time around them. The principle of L-space revolves around a seemingly logical equation; it is an extension of the aphorism 'Knowledge is Power':
Large quantities of magical and mundane books create portals into L-space that can be accessed using innate powers of librarianship that are taught by the Librarians of Time and Space to those deemed worthy across the multiverse. Because libraries with enough books to open a portal are often large and sprawling, those venturing into L-space may not necessarily know that they have arrived. The floor and ceiling of L-space follow the floor and ceiling of the library used to access it; the best example of this is that the central dome of Unseen University's library is "always overhead" . In every direction and as far as the eye can see bookshelves stretch off, meaning the nature of any walls are unknown.
Alternatively, it can be said that L-space manifests in our world in those obscure, hidden bookstores that, logic and the laws of physics insist, cannot possibly be as large on the outside as they appear on the inside. Somehow, after scraping one's shoulders against the improbably small door, one finds one's self turning one unseen corner after another, seemingly going on forever into further and more obscure sections as yet unobserved by human eyes. The town of Hay-on-Wye, known for having more bookshops per square mile than anywhere else in the world, contains many examples of this, and may be a substantial access point to L-space. Essentially, all bookstores are potentially infinite in extent; gateways into literary hyperspace: "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read."
Because L-space links every library, it is possible to reach any one of these throughout space, time and the multiverse. This means that there are potentially other forms of data storage other than books as it represents every library anywhere. Additionally, one can read any book ever written, any book that will be written at some point and books that were planned for writing that were not, as well as any book that could possibly be written. As this is a form of interdimensional and time travel, there are strict limits on its use, and the Librarians of Time and Space, that is those who have access to L-space have developed three simple rules to ensure abuse is kept to a minimum:
- Books must be returned by the last date stamped
- Do not interfere with the nature of causality
Senior librarians are also taught how to deal with the dangers of navigating L-space, such as the "harmless kickstool crabs, large and heavy wandering thesauri, the .303 bookworm and the dreaded cliches, which must be avoided at all costs". Adventurers may find markings and scribbled notes on the shelves to help them navigate.
The Librarian moves through L-space back in time to discover when the book on the summoning of noble dragons was stolen and to confirm that it was stolen by the Elucidated Brethren. During his journey he sees himself asleep at his desk and is tempted to communicate, but realises that this would be breaking the third rule and stops himself. He does however leave the library and follow the thief through the streets, demonstrating how L-space can be used for time travel outside of the library itself.
The Librarian joins the Wizards in a Lancre adventure to stop elves from ruining the wedding, and ending the lives, of the new royal family, which includes former witch Magrat Garlick. Within this we learn "the thaumic mathematics are complex, but boil down to the fact that all books, everywhere, affect all other books." From there the nature of bi-directionalism is revealed to demonstrate that any book ever to be written can be found in any book not yet written. In mathematical terms, as noted in The Science of Discworld, L-Space represents a form of phase space. This made possible the study of invisible writings (also based on a similar theory to do with the infinite nature of Pi, and the ways in which, if one was to transcribe alphabetical values to the numbers of Pi, one could hypothetically find the contents of every book ever written, for more information see Bloody Stupid Johnson and the New Pie, featured in Going Postal).
After Vorbis has ordered the soldiers and Brutha to burn down the Ephebian library, and the flames start to rise higher, there is a paragraph describing how the Librarian appears with a sack, and then describes how several scrolls appear in the Unseen University Library, which were thought to have been destroyed in the great fire.
A parasite universe (a play on parallel universe and parasite) is a universe cut off from the past and future; like a pond that water cannot flow into or out of it grows stagnant. A creature from such a world experiences the flow of time as a sensation akin to constantly falling forward, which soon drives it mad. Like the fairylands of legend, time doesn't pass in any meaningful sense in a parasite universe; after what may feel like only a few months, one could return to one's home world to find generations have come and gone. A parasite universe will latch onto another universe to syphon off time for itself. If this occurs while the borders between universes are weak which is known as "circle time" (when crop circles appear around the Discworld) then lifeforms may travel between these universes. Gateways to parasite universes, such as stone circles, often demonstrate delays in time; the sun will take longer to fade from inside a circle than outside it, for instance.
The Disc's principal Parasite Universe, known as Fairyland, is the domain of the Queen of the Elves and her sociopathic brethren. The crossing over of the elves into the Discworld is featured in the novels Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men. Fairyland is described similarly in both novels, though the details are different. It is a land of eternal winter, where the sun does not shine, nor night ever fall. It was, at one point, a far more pleasant place, with summers and flowers, but was frozen over when the Queen, furious at the departure of the King, ceased to be happy. The sky of Fairyland is described in Lords and Ladies as having all the colours of the aurora, though in The Wee Free Men it is described as having little definition at all, as if the featureless white ground and the featureless horizon were one and the same. Objects like trees don't become clearer the closer one gets to them; rather they sketch themselves into existence as if added by a hasty artist.
It is home not only to Elves but also to various other fairytale creatures such as grimhounds, unicorns and Jenny Greenteeth, though the Nac Mac Feegle, themselves former residents of the place, claim that nothing in Fairyland is actually native to it, unless it was made by the Queen herself. Creatures from such places are very weak to iron. One race captured by the Queen and pressed into her service are the dromes; huge, vaguely humanoid beings with grey, doughy flesh, toothless mouths and tiny eyes. They can project dreams and make them real, using them to ensnare their prey until it starves to death.
The Queen uses dromes to herd dreams, in much the same way that a shepherd herds sheep, and indeed dreams are her main mode of enslavement for those she captures. Someone trapped in a web of dreams within dreams within dreams soon loses any sense of what is real.
The Dark Desert is a transition phase between life and afterlife on the Discworld. It is described as having brilliantly-lit black sand, under a black sky studded with cold bright stars, stretching away to distant mountains (where judgement awaits). Living people can cross into it, however, it is then harder to come back. Thousands, possibly even millions of people cross it at any one time, though totally unaware of each other, though glimpses may be caught of their movement. It is very important not to fall asleep.
It has been mentioned in the following Discworld books:
- Small Gods - The desert is encountered multiple times, each time a character dies.
- Interesting Times - Mr Saveloy dies and comes here.
- The Truth - Mr Tulip and Pin die and come here.
- A Hat Full of Sky - Tiffany Aching enters here to show the hiver how to die.
- Going Postal - The golem Anghammarad dies and stays here.
Roundworld is the Discworld term for both planet Earth and the "real" universe itself. From a Discworld point of view it exists in a glass sphere at Unseen University, where it is taken care of by Rincewind. It was created by Hex to use up a huge excess of magic, created after the wizards split the thaum. The key point of Roundworld, however, is that it doesn't contain any magic. The wizards are fascinated, however, by the fact it does seem to have rules of its own.
Roundworld is the focus of all three Science of Discworld novels. While it is not referred to as Roundworld yet, it makes its first appearance during a scene in The Colour of Magic when Rincewind and Twoflower are transported into the bodies of Earth people aboard an airplane for a brief time.
Also known as Tabernae Vagrantes. These are the mysterious shops from which people buy magical items, only to return when there turns out to be a problem (as there always does), and find the shop is vanished (as seen in H.G. Wells' "The Magic Shop", and various other fantasy stories).
One of these shops appears in The Light Fantastic, under the name "Wang, Yrxle!yt, Bunglestiff, Cwmlad and Patel. Estblshd Various. PURVEYORS". The proprietor explains that he operates under a curse, having failed to supply an item requested by a sourcerer, and being irritating about it. Twoflower apparently gained the Luggage from a similar shop.
Another, specialising in enchanted musical instruments, was encountered by some members of the Band With Rocks In during the events described in Soul Music, while they were trying to replace a ruined musical instrument. They were there able to buy the guitar which brought the Band fame (or which caused all the trouble, depending on your point of view). When two members of the Band came back to try to get more information about the guitar they were wholly unsuccessful, but after leaving, the presence of a faded '1' on the guitar caused one Band member to wonder who could have pawned the guitar:
"... but, I mean, number one. Even the conch shell was number fifty-two. Who used to own the guitar?"to which his companion responds:
"Don't know, but I hope they never come back for it."An equally interesting conundrum is - whom did he pawn it to?
- The L-Space Web, popular site with details of many Discworld aspects, including the Annotated Pratchett File; annotations of all the Discworld books.
- "What is this L-Space thing?" at The L-Space web
- L-space for GURPS has additional, unofficial rules for l-space in GURPS.