Ponder Stibbons is a wizard in the fictional universe of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. He is employed at the Unseen University as the Head of Inadvisably Applied Magic, Praelector, and as the Reader in Invisible Writings. He does most of his work in collaboration with students at the University's High Energy Magic building.
Ponder Stibbons and Harry Potter have a number of similarities, but Ponder's character, including illustrations, appeared in fiction long before Potter's.
His first appearance is as a student wizard in Moving Pictures (1990). His roommate was Victor Tugelbend, who gained a large inheritance by always getting an exam score of between 80% and 88% (his inheritance would be taken from him if he ever got less than 80%, and he didn't want to get 88% (passing grade) or more because being a graduate wizard was something he did not look forward to). The senior wizards decided to trap Victor and gave him an exam paper with only one question: "what is your name?" Victor, however, missed that particular exam and Ponder, having accidentally destroyed his own exam paper, used Victor's instead. He was surprised to find only one question and tried to take as long as possible answering it: "The answer to question One is: Ponder Stibbons. Which is what my name is."
His entry in The New Discworld Companion states: 'originally rather lazy by nature, he seems to have blossomed to become the youngest and most depressingly keen member of the UU faculty... as one of the few wizards at the University with his head screwed on in any fashion, he appears, quite against his will, to be in the front line'. From here onwards he is one of the major wizards in the books. Ponder likes to think of himself as the University's token sane person.
In The Science of Discworld, a book which interleaved a story set on the Discworld and real world science, Stibbons creates a device for splitting the thaum, once believed to be the smallest unit of magical radiation particles. The creation of this device borrows heavily from the real world splitting of the atom.
Stibbons' most successful creation is Hex, a magical computer composed of glass tubes full of ants, and other assorted complex systems, such as mice. Hex is initially capable only of simple arithmetic; however as the series continues, and more complex additions are made to Hex, it develops the semi-sapience of a child, the ability to add to and redesign itself, and the ability to do complex spells much, much more rapidly than a team of wizards could (For example, when they were searching for Rincewind in Interesting Times, Hex did in a day what would have taken the UU Faculty several years). Several notable components of Hex are the wheel of ram skulls, the beachball that goes "parp" every fourteen minutes, the Unreal Time Clock and the F.T.B. (Fluffy Teddy Bear).
On Stage and Screen Edit
Stephen Briggs' stage adaptation of Mort includes a wizard named "Stibbons" in place of Rincewind's role in the book. The adaptation was made after Ponder was introduced in the novels, but before he became a recurring character, and was intended to avoid having to create Rincewind's distinctive appearance for a minor role.