This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
Several years ago, Randall Munroe, the creator of XKCD (my favourite webcomic) started a spin-off website called What If? People submit questions ranging from innocuous to ridiculous and Randall answers them with a scientific precision and a flair for the dramatic.
This a selection of the answers from the website plus a bunch of new ones exclusive to the book.
A surprising number of the answers start with "you would die" or "everyone would die" and then they get really interesting! The inaugural What If? post was about a baseball pitcher throwing the ball at relativistic speeds. It is amazing.
Just like the How To book (written after What If?), it is a wonderful collection of essays that are funny, informative, insane and brilliant. They are of course accompanied by Randall’s signature illustrations.
While most of the chapters are wonderful, I did feel a little less engaged than with the How To book. Some of the topics didn’t draw me in, or failed to keep me intrigued. This may well be my failing, but sometimes I had to slog through a few pages which never happened with How To. Maybe I shouldn’t have read it cover to cover, oh well.
Still, it’s a wonderful book, ending on a perfect note and if you’ve got an interest in science, technology or world destruction, you’ll love it.