Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions
There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as
- what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
- From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
- Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
- If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans
There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.
Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!
A wave that wipes out most of the US, Pirates have taken over New York. Those two lines is all it took for me to grab this book. There is no clear introduction to the world of this novel but over its first few chapters as you are introduced to its characters to get a brief indication of what has taken place, which i shall now condense into an easily disseminated version. The story takes place 3 years after an unknown even in the North Atlantic/possibly Arctic Ocean causes a massive wave to wash over almost all of the US leaving only the area around Seattle, and all of Alaska untouched. it also wipes out a fair chunk of Canada and Mexico. The exact method of this eradication isn’t elaborated it is just referred to as a “wave” and the people who are killed are merely referenced to as the “disappeared”.
As one would imagine much like the GFC of a few years ago what ever happens in the US has a domino effect on the world. The story does not explicitly explain the events that occurred after the wave but throughout the story it just throws out random bits of information and references them as if the reader already knows what happened. The world is thrown into chaos, there is a civil war in china, a second holocaust of some kind in Africa, Israel launches a war against someone. The middle east is nuked back to the stone age. A mass exodus of people of the Muslim faith into European countries. Needless to say it is a world far removed from ours. However governments still exist and people do work and pay taxes etc. I’m not sure why the author likes to make throw away comments about world events, without a further explanation of them i don’t feel it adds to the story and is more of a distraction. and to be honest i have seen many authors do this and i really don’t like it . I crave information, you cant tell me a little snippet of something and refuse to further explain it. Its like when you were a kid and a friend says i’ve got a secret but i cant tell you. well why the heck mention you have a secret in the first place? unless just to annoy me
Most interestingly is since New York’s population is wiped out, pirates and marauders have moved in. a bit more time (in the book) is used to explain this but basically, after the wave Somali pirates started raiding New York, Then Russian mafia and other European peoples start raiding New York for goods and then pretty much soon all kinds of US goods and clothing are flooding the European markets
The story is broken up into essentially 4 points of view.There is the story of the US president as he tries to retake New York from the pirates. There is a story of a US spy who is based in the UK as she tracks down a target that made an attempt to kill her family and there is a story following 2 smugglers as they try to enter New York to track down a specific item for their client. These 3 stories are quite interwoven and related. oddly enough there is one last story of a immigrant in Texas. In the US bid to resettle its vacant land it offers up land for settlers to work on and raise cattle and other stock. to pay back the government for bringing them to the US. Either way the story of this rancher feels like an after thought and irrelevant to the story as a whole because at least the other 3 stories meet up and are involved in the same situations but this rancher is just out on his own, to be honest it becomes quite boring reading of him and i just want to return to the story of the other 3.
Having been to New York, and using the descriptions and detailed narrative of the battles in New York, i really could imagine the scope of their ordeal and thoroughly enjoyed that story line. The presidents story was really quite powerful seeing such a powerful man simply as a human and dealing with the emotions based on his decisions was quite enjoying to read
As the narrative picked up in speed, i simply couldn’t put the book down. i had to see it through to its conclusion and watch as the president finally came to terms with the decisions he has to make and then watch it play out. such a great read even with the silly throw away story of the rancher in there. From killing pirates to wiping out terrorists this book has it all. i would highly recommend it to anyone and i will definitely keep my eye out for more books from this author for sure!