This book was equal parts hilarious and utter nightmare fuel. I have never had such an emotionally confusing reading experience. One second, snorting my drink up my nose from laughter, the next trying to shove down the sudden and complete terror I’m experiencing because I’ve been forced to imagine trying to survive in six atmospheres of pressure brought upon by an expanding Earth, or collapsing into a pile of human goo because I’ve lost my DNA, and doing so has reminded me of my mortality and oh there goes a panic attack WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OF LIGHTNING AND RADIATION POISONING AND THEN GET EATEN BY CATS. Unlikely potential experiences, to be sure, but that’s why you don’t give someone like me a book like this. Unlikely experiences are just as easy to imagine and fear irrationally and without control as likely ones, and they only stimulate the bad parts of my imagination. I am now more afraid of a global windstorm brought on by the cessation of the Earth’s rotation potentially killing all life on Earth than I am of being murdered or getting a fatal disease.
All that is to say, I am most likely not this book’s target audience, being a completely ridiculous ball of anxiety over things that nearly 100% will never, ever, ever happen. (I have been reading XKCD since college, though. It is a constant fixture in my life, and is not terrifying.)
As a result, it’s hard to quantify my experience with this book. So let’s add up the points:
+5 stars for being so smart and clever and creative
-5 stars for answering all the questions where we all die and/or the Earth is destroyed
+1 star for including the weird and worrying questions from the inbox that he refused to answer–we should know our limits, people
-1 star for being entirely too preoccupied with questions that involve danger
+1 star for my favorite question in the book, the one about calling random people on the telephone and saying “God Bless You,” hoping to get someone who’s just sneezed
-1 star for not having more ridiculous questions like that instead of ones where all your blood is drawn out of your finger by a ridiculously high density bullet, forming a giant blood bubble around said bullet and killing you
-1000 stars for me waiting the entire fucking book for the question involving the T-Rex being lowered into the Sarlacc pit. This question does not exist. I have been lied to.
+999 stars for the extremely obscure Kyp Durron reference that only 1 out of every 100,000 people will get (or some other number that hasn’t been pulled out of my ass)
+1 star for every other Star Wars reference, all of which were clever and relevant
+1 star for the funny illustrations
+1 star for the recurring joke about the Netherlands (and the way he incorporates things like that into all his answers)
-1 star for not including in the Human Computer chapter the obvious potential scenario that the little girl was trying to lasso the cat, and the vase was knocked over in the confusion
+1 star for SCIENCE!!
-1 star for MATH :(
+1 stars for ending the book on a happy note, “Sometimes it’s nice not to destroy the world for a change.”
+1 star because the stars I ended up with didn’t seem like enough
You can do the math for yourselves. Or, you know, look up at my star rating there.