HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

PRACTICAL SCHEMES AND SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS FOR THE ASPIRING SUPERVILLAIN

An exuberant handbook for making the world better.

A fun book about “the edges of science, the limits of what’s currently possible thanks to the technology that humans have already invented or are currently inventing.”

North, an Eisner Award–winning writer for Marvel Comics, offers an entertaining manual illustrated with suitably farcical drawings by comics artist Monardo, imparting detailed advice for becoming a supervillain with the intention of tyrannizing everything and everyone in the universe. With a career spent designing “increasingly credible world-domination schemes,” North has confidence that they could work, even though in the world of comics those schemes are always foiled by superheroes. Nevertheless, prospective supervillains would do well to find a secret base for subversive activities, establish a separate country, and unleash aggressive animals, such as dinosaurs, revived through cloning. In addition, supervillains will want to control the weather, manage the power of the internet, and achieve enduring fame, if not physical immortality. Though North’s proposals are outlandish, he grounds them in physics, biology, history, geology, zoology, computer science, genetics, paleontology, and cryogenics, not to mention politics and international law. He suggests, for example, three ways to take land away from someone else to start your own country (through stealth, force, or persuasion), and he enumerates the pros and cons of taking over Antarctica. At each step, he offers a timeline and cost analysis. As for dealing with climate change, “an obvious solution presents itself to even the neophyte supervillain: take over the world and use your iron fist to crush anyone who even thinks about emitting carbon.” Supervillains and heroes alike often face obstinate foes, requiring them to wield political influence. “The way you force people in power to do what you want,” North writes, “is by ensuring that they fear you.” The author’s spoof contains a serious subtext: The world has lots of problems—climate change, war, inequality, computer hackers, disease, and rampant greed, among others—that can be addressed through understanding, focus, and determination. Knowledge, he proposes, is the greatest superpower of all.

An exuberant handbook for making the world better.

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-19201-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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