From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd, What If? gives hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Millions visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. Fans ask him a lot of strange questions. How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British Empire? When will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than living? How many humans would a T Rex rampaging through New York need to eat a day? In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations and consults nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind - or at least a really big explosion.
This audiobook edition is read by geek icon Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me, The Big Bang Theory) and has been adapted for audio in collaboration with the author.
©2014 xkcd inc (P)2014 Blackstone Audio
What a fantastically geeky, funny, serious and entertaining book. I've been reading XKCD for years but only found out about this book yesterday. Then finished it this afternoon. Any book read by Will Wheaton is always a treat and he puts in a perfect performance here. What a combination - Munroe and Wheaton. Get this book and prepare to be entertained, learn something and have a laugh.
"Good fun that descends into silliness"
Certainly Wil, who is high energy and adds an awful lot to what's here. Randall perhaps on the basis of his overall reputation or as seriously light relief. Not on the basis of this book!
This isn't really that kind of book. It's comedy nonfiction bite sized chapters on different topics. I chose it for going to bed or quick moments to listen, and it suits that. The whole book in one go is a bit too much of the same and it stops being funny.
I went in expecting something like the New Scientist series of light hearted questions to things you've always wanted to know. I liked this book less, because how it works is a reader puts forward a completely strange question, Randall answers that question in about half the chapter, and the second half is taken up with an even more outlandish aside to the question that interests Randall. This invariably involves MORE explosions, MORE mass deaths, or MORE planets being destroyed.
I can see some readers really enjoying that,but I found it same-y.
"Amazing book for Geeks"
I certainly would. What if answers all the questions you wanted ask but didn't know who to ask.
Will Weatons narration
The question about the periodic table
Just get it, its amazing.. Please do another!!!
"Brilliant, just brilliant!"
Funny insightful entertaining
Not nearly as funny, but just as informative - Death from the Skies by Phil Plait
I love the website, and the book is even better. Wil Wheaton was a perfect choice for narrating this, he really makes this book and brings it to life.
Recommend this for anyone who has ever pondered what would happen if the Earth suddenly stopped, if the sun has ever set on the British Empire or what would happen if a baseball was pitched at you at the speed of light. Couple this with Randall Munroe's almost obsessive need to blow things up in ever increasingly bizarre ways and you have an excellent read! Hope he releases a volume 2..
"Exactly what it says on the tin"
I read a lot of popular science books and I'm really in two minds about this one. On the one hand, it's entertaining and extremely well read by Will Wheaton. On the other hand, the questions really are absurd and hypothetical, to the point of me listening for 7 hours and learning basically nothing (except perhaps that many scenarios lead to the world being destroyed!!) but maybe that never was the point. Worth a try but, for me, 3 out of 5.
What a load of rubbish, Why oh why did I buy this?
Synopsis: someone with far too much time on their hands answers some unbelievably stupid questions.
"Great and Thought Provoking"
A really accessible book, very interesting every day concepts and questions answered using math and science. Great fun
"If you love wacky pointless but fun science then this is for you!"
If you love wacky pointless but fun science then this is for you! The narrator is great as well he really fits the book.
I've only listened to the audio version, but of course if you're familiar with XKCD then you know that this would be great in print too.
The questions are intrinsically interesting so each chapter is compelling. Each answer is very well structured and they frequently become comic without losing the point. A definite pleasure of the book is following the snowballing lunacy of each consequence. Chapters often end with a great comic twist.
Frankly it's just a bonus to have Wil Wheaton narrating. As you'd expect, his performance is clear, nuanced and enthusiastic - a great fit for the content.
I wouldn't advise anyone to make a film of this: way too dangerous. Some sort of ask-the-expert TV series: perhaps.
Just buy it.
"entertaining and educational?"
It was an interesting listen, I enjoyed the explanations. I've now discovered the website too.
"Interesting subject matter."
Very interesting although very US centric. I think reading the book would have been better as there were times the explanations required re-reading to understand what was being explained, this is difficult if listening to the book. Wil Wheaton is an excellent narrator.
Nothing stands out.
Probably difficult to transform into a TV show.
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