‘And who, precisely, defines the monstrousness of the monsters and the tyranny of the tyrants?’ said Lord Vetinari, his voice suddenly like a scalpel–not vicious like a sword, but probing its edge into vulnerable places. Mr Betteridge shifted uneasily.  ‘Well…the hero, I suppose.’ ‘Ah.  And the theft of these rare items…I think the word that […]

* Few religions are definite about the size of Heave, but on the planet Earth the Book of Revelation (ch XXI, v.16) gives it as a cube 12,000 furlongs on a side.  This is somewhat less than 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic feet.  Even allowing that the Heavenly Host and other essential services take up at least two […]

‘Ah, well, life goes on,’ people say when someone dies.  But from the point of view of the person who has just died, it doesn’t.  It’s the universe that goes on.  Just as the deceased was getting the hang of everything it’s all whisked away, by illness or accident or, in one case, a cucumber. […]

SO…YOU’RE SAYING THAT THIS VAT COULD EXIST SOMEWHERE IN A TRULY INFINITE EVERYWHERE, AND THEREFORE IT CAN EXIST HERE? said Death. ‘Indeed,’ said Chaos. BUT IT NO LONGER EXISTS IN THE PLACE WHERE IT SHOULD EXIST. ‘No.  It should, NOW, exist here.  The maths is easy,’ said Chaos. AH?  WELL, MATHS, said Death dismissively.  GENERALLY […]

Everyone has a conditional clause in their life, some little unspoken addition tot he rules like ‘except when I really need to’ or ‘unless no one is looking’ or, indeed, ‘unless the first one was nougat’.  Soto had for centuries embraced a belief in the sanctity of all life and the ultimate uselessness of violence, […]

‘Coffee beans coated in chocolate,’ breathed Susan.  ‘They should be outlawed!’ The two women watched in horror as Lu-Tze put one in his mouth.  He gave them a surprised look. ‘Quite nice, but I prefer liquorice,’ he said. ‘You mean you don’t want another one?’ said Susan. ‘No, thank you.’ ‘Are you SURE?’ ‘Yes.  I’d […]