Brain Pickings

A is for Armageddon: An Illustrated Guide to the Apocalypse

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What rock-paper-scissors has to do with nuclear energy and the primordial soup.

We don’t have to listen too closely to the media to get their predominant message, loud and clear: The world as we know it is coming to an end. But rather than recoiling into paranoia at the all hopeless prospects out there, why not have some fun with it, all the while doing our best to prevent the apocalypse in an informed and intelligent way? That’s exactly what author and illustrator Richard Horne of 101 Things to Do Before You Die fame does in his latest gem, A Is for Armageddon: An Illustrated Catalogue of Disasters — a potent blend of serious science and serious snark exploring the most pessimistic possibilities for mankind’s impending demise.

From religious warfare to grey goo to deforestation, Horne combines science, superstition and sociology in a beautifully illustrated, delightfully dystopian guide to the apocalypse. Underlying the wickedly entertaining tone, however, is a grounded, non-preachy crusade for awareness that exudes the call of urgency none of us want to hear but all of us must.

Edifying and entertaining, A Is for Armageddon came out just after our selection of the best books of 2010, but would’ve absolutely made our list.

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