Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Escape to L-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:
(1) Silence
(2) Books must be returned by the last date stamped
(3) 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.

Painting: the Science of Discworld




Blogger neal said...

The General Theory of L-Space suggests that, in that case, out of the place and we'll liberate a couple of horses and escape with the treasure. The lower regions of the l-Space, where they become uncodified and concrete they also seek to escape from the complex regime into the stability.



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