Book Review: How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler
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How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
By Ryan North
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release date: September 18, 2018

So, you find yourself traveling through time and then suddenly you get the quantum equivalent of a blown radiator. Luckily you have a repair manual, right? Well, sort of. What you actually get is How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler! So, on the off chance you are stuck, then you can create a new civilization from scratch. And not just that, but also way faster thanks to this handy guide.

The first of many amazing chapters deals with figuring out just exactly what time period you landed in and how you can determine your next move. Next up is how to invent language, should you find yourself way off track (unless you meant to be there…). Mathematics and science soon follows, with special emphasis on how the written word just messes everything up in ways you cannot even fathom. The applied use of all of this is to create a caloric surplus, thereby ensuring the survival of humanity by giving birth to civilization. This is greatly simplified, obviously. I mean, I really did just compress about 7,000 years into three sentences, so there is a bit of wiggle room. Do not blame me if you cannot keep up, blame your higher (or lower) learning institutions.

Moving on a bit, this handy, dandy book speaks to a universal measuring system. It specifically calls out those few countries that insist on using archaic systems, unlike the amazing and universally versatile metric system. I mean, it is not like the Standard system caused actual spacecraft to hit planets, right? Oh, wait. Yes, it did. Anyway, this wonderful tome will help guide you down the path to success, rather than forcing you to make it all up as you go along. Of course, farming and plant development was a huge deal, so there is a lot of info on that. The veggies that we know today are not precisely the same as they were originally. Oftentimes, we have selectively bred them larger and tastier over time. Sometimes purposefully and sometimes accidentally! Besides, imagine life without chocolate. Horrifying, is it not?

There is a chapter on animals and wildlife. You know, like domesticating them for pets, friends, farm use, or food. It breaks the major species down to best practices and uses. This is all followed by practical information about healthy diets, balanced intake, and how to purify your foods and drinks for basic consumption. Heck, there is even a tidbit on preserving food for later use! But, by and large, the best section is about creating your own alcoholic beverages. You are stranded in another time, you are going to need to get drunk regularly. Or maybe that is juts me. Oh well, whatever. It is in there if you need it.

Creating scientific tools, basic machinery, and medical items are a no brainer. These are must-haves for any society. Birth, birth control, and necessary knowledge is also available here. Followed, oddly enough, by the process of refining iron ore into steel. And welding it together and whatnot. You will need this to make all that stuff I mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, duh. Once you have that, you can create the paper and press mentioned thereafter, notes and reading material are going to be pivotal in keeping this new society going. You will not live forever, you know!

Transportation, communication, and education. It is in here. There is also art, music, computers, and more. Lots and lots of data are available herein. Which is good, because you probably have a bit of time on your hands if you got stuck while time traveling. The important thing is to look forward. It is not like you have a lot of choice in the matter, you know?

This wonderful book also has a plethora of appendices to help support the data being thrown your way. It even has a bibliography that will be completely useless unless you brought all those reference books with you. Which is highly unlikely unless you planned to be marooned in time. Wait, did you? Of course not, that would be ludicrous!

I recommend this to any time traveler or world builder who is in the market for a fresh civilization. This is certainly one of those “better to have and not need rather than need and not have” books, folks. So run out and grab this. Ryan North, the author, swears he has no recollection of writing it, but if it was a future version of himself, then of course he would not remember. And no worries about that butterfly effect, it is total hokum, I hear. Cheers and try not to get lost in any prehistoric eras!

The only book you need if you’re going back in time

What would you do if a time machine hurled you thousands of years into the past. . . and then broke? How would you survive? Could you improve on humanity’s original timeline? And how hard would it be to domesticate a giant wombat?

With this book as your guide, you’ll survive–and thrive–in any period in Earth’s history. Bestselling author and time-travel enthusiast Ryan North shows you how to invent all the modern conveniences we take for granted–from first principles. This illustrated manual contains all the science, engineering, art, philosophy, facts, and figures required for even the most clueless time traveler to build a civilization from the ground up. Deeply researched, irreverent, and significantly more fun than being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, How to Invent Everything will make you smarter, more competent, and completely prepared to become the most important and influential person ever. You’re about to make history. . . better.

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