Guys so listen. I have a lot of books, okay? You already knew that. What you probably did not know is that I’ve had some of these books since I was but a wee grub, and have never gotten rid of them. I guess not very surprisingly for a hyperlexic, autistic kid, I loved trivia, facts, random science and history stuff; it didn’t necessarily have to be organized or collated for me to obsess over it. So what did my parents buy me when they saw it? That’s right, ONE THOUSAND AND ONE INTERESTING FACTS. FIVE HUNDRED FACTS. EVEN MORE INTERESTING FACTS! UPDATED: ONE THOUSAND AND TWO INTERESTING FACTS.
So when I was asked by my editor to come up with some fun ‘siense’ facts to put on our pre-order postcards, I think I screamed out loud. “I WOULD LOVE TO,” I said, or screamed or whatever, thinking I could have fun remixing the facts in these books that I had grown up with and read a billion times.
But, you know how sometimes you look back at things and you’re like ‘Uh oh’ because (say) a book that you found perfectly fine when you were seven is now a little… is with, let us say, the benefit of time and experience, a bit… is… uh… well let’s dive in to one of them, shall we?
FIFTEEN HUNDRED FASCINATING FACTS! My God, that’s so many facts! How could they have known so many facts in…let’s see here… 1983? In Great Britain? They must have people out there just like, collecting facts full time to have so many facts! Surely there must be some in here I can use!
The ionosphere! Fantastic! Well, that’s certainly a fact, with some other facts. What else have we got?
The most important rocks, hmmm. Well, that’s. I mean… that’s a bit of a value judgement there, but all right, I’ll accept it.
Um. Wow. I don’t think you can just… MOVING RIGHT ALONG
Marjoram! This seems useful to know in case I ever encounter the Devil!
(I should add, the illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful, even when they accompany things that are sort of more… opinion… than fact… sort of.) ANYWAY
Honestly, are we going for hurt feelings here? Are we? How incredibly rude. I AM SORRY, PROBOSCIS MONKEYS.
OKAY IS THIS TRUE. HAS THIS EVER BEEN RECORDED. HONESTLY. NEXT.
THAT’S NOT WHAT AN AXOLOTL IS
WHAT THE ABSOLUTE… okay, okay, Jesus. Well I’m sure the rest of the book isn’t this bad, right?
YOU JUST…I… NEXT, WHAT ELSE HAVE WE GOT
Okay! Okay. Well this looks a lot more like a fact, doesn’t it? There’s a diagram and everything. The… the greatest… tank, probably. Yes. Indisputable fact there. (There are more, large, full-colour paintings of this tank on the next few pages. This book possesses an enormous and lavishly illustrated chapter on war and stuff. And stuff to do war with. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the development of my budding personality.)
Most… most businessmen. Yes. A fact.
Um, actually it’s often cited as… er… anyway, moving on. Unrelatedly, is it odd that I’m going to be spending most of my time at this convention in April with a David and a Jonathan? Am I the third wheel? Fifth wheel? If only there were a book of facts that could tell me, perhaps containing such facts also as
BECAUSE IT. WAS THE. BEST. THING. AROUND. NEXT.
*suspiciously* What? Who says that about the smallest pig in the litter? Who… why would… how… yes okay, we’re almost at the end of the book, thank God, there probably isn’t anything left that isn’t racist or colonialist or opinion or a sort of vague drunken guess but is instead absolutely and definitively a fact, right?
*tosses book out window*
OKAY FINE I’LL JUST COME UP WITH MY OWN FACTS
(The actual process was: I harvested a bunch of individual things from here and Twitter, made a cup of tea, and just started writing down whatever came to mind as Sientiffic Fact in a blank document. Sorry folks. But honestly, it is amazing how many of these I remembered, and also remembered being slightly pestered by the memory of when I went to university and was like ‘ACTUALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT ROCKS ARE’ in my early earth science classes. If there’s a moral of the story, it’s ‘For God’s sake, vet the books you buy for your kids so they don’t spend their lunch hours confidently repeating hazy guesses about the fate of Atlantis on the playground and thereby screwing up all the other kids.’
Make sure you only teach them TRUE FACTS from my SIENSE POSTCARDS!)