BOOK REVIEW: We Will Destroy Your Planet by David McIntee
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Intended as a guide for extra-terrestrials and time-travellers who have an eye to taking over the Earth, this book provides a run-down on the planet’s military defenses, terrain, and place in the universe, and gives advice on how to annihilate us all.
PROS: Filled with fascinating facts and pieces of trivia about Earth and the solar system.
CONS: Inconsistent audience assumptions; often switched from talking to prospective conquerors to people who’ve watched a lot of sci-fi TV; over-reliance on a hard-sciences approach to the exclusion of much biological and psychological data.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting approach to the trivia presented; educational, even if it was lacking and suffered from a bit of an identity crisis.
Intended as a manual for extraterrestrial forces to aid them in taking over Earth, We Will Destroy Your Planet takes a look at the astronomy of our solar system, Earth’s best military forces, our ways of resistance, and various other pieces of information that would be invaluable to an invading conquering force.
Unfortunately, it also seems to be a book with a bit of an identity crisis. At times, it’s clearly addressing potential alien beings and past/future visitors to this planet. At other times, it’s just as clear that the book is intended for very human fans of sci-fi across various media, or else makes the assumption that all potential invading forces have spent their prep time watching Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. In fairness, it did make mention of human media being broadcast into space, and obviously the book isn’t actually written as a primer for invading forces, but within the context of the book, it seemed to switch its intended audience quite often, making for an awkward reading experience.
Multiple times it also failed to draw a distinction between media-presented fiction and actual fact. During the section on martial arts and melee weapons, for example, it gives a description of a lightsaber and says that they’re often used by well-disciplined people with psychic powers. It doesn’t say that this is a fictional weapon used by fictional people. The closest it comes to this is in saying that the weapon isn’t feasible and can’t actually be made with our technology. This seems obvious to us, of course, but again within the context of the book, it seems like an oversight. This is just one such instant; there are a few where fiction is presented as fact, or at least hints are dropped in that direction.
It was, however, filled with a wealth of information about our planet and the universe around it. It’s a good introduction to general astronomy, physics, and a brief history of the military, all brought together in one book. It was lax on issues of biology, though, and any discussion of cultural differences or anthropological interest was nonexistent; aside from mentioning that we’re likely to resist attacks or attempts at colonization, little mention of human behavior at all was given, even in sections about gaining humans as allies. The focus was on hard sciences and military strategy, ignoring many other vastly interesting fields that would be equally applicable to an invading force.
The real treat for me was the last section, which gives a brief run-down of alien invasion stories in media from early sci-fi novels in the 1800s to recent movies and TV shows. There’s some fascinating info about the genre here, and if nothing else, it made me want to spend a solid month catching up on classic sci-fi TV shows and movies.
Despite this book’s identity crisis and information it probably ought to have included but didn’t, it was still a decent read, and a good overview of some interesting scientific facts and trivia. I wouldn’t say it’s an essential book for everyone’s collection, but it’s still worth taking a look at, if nothing else for the section on invasion stories in media.
Tagged with: David McIntee
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