One of the things I got for Christmas was the What If book by Randall Munroe of XKCD fame. First, an explanation. Munroe was, for a time, a robot scientist for NASA, but currently he writes the webcomic xkcd.com. This is a smart comic not in the sense that you have to be smart to get it, but smart in that he has a truly witty sense of wit about what he writes. Not everything is funny, but many are thought provoking, and yeah, you can expect the geek in him to come out every now and then and leave you without a clue of what it means.
Along with the comic, he began a blog of sorts investigating the strange what if scenarios of life. Most of them are so ludicrous as to be laughable, and this blog has become the most precious of everything he writes. The book is a conglomeration of many of the posts plus some new ones.
First, I’m a book nerd. I can appreciate a well-made book for the physical art that it represents, and this is simply a well made book (hard cover, 1st edition). The binding, the cover, the dust jacket, and the print job were all just top notch. It feels good to hold it.
Next, the articles are fast, well written, and comfortable to take on their own or as a series. I’ve long thought that Munroe just had a comfortable writing style to him, and he never misses the chance to throw out the pun. His insights into the presented situations are solid as well.
If you enjoy humorous writing, science (or not), learning the answers to truly interesting questions (the results of a baseball traveling just under the speed of light, a more-or-less nuclear hair dryer, and the space reentry properties of a nuclear submarine for example) than this book is definitely for you.
A solid four out of four stars.
Oh, and if go check out his site, make sure you catch the alt text for his pictures. Those are often where the best punch lines appear.