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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday October 21 2018, @09:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the documenting-our-tech-tree dept.

Imagine that in the future you can rent time machines just as easily as you can rent a car. Paradoxes are nicely sidestepped, and you even get the handy pamphlet "1001 Fun Ways to kill Hitler". Sounds great, right? Suppose that time machine breaks down. Turns out it's easier to re-invent civilization than it is to fix said machine, and that's what this book purports to do.

This book is chock full of tidbits, like this on buttons. People wore buttons for thousands of years as ornaments. It was only fairly recently someone realized they could hold clothes closed. This is disgraceful and embarrassing. You can do better.

Scalzi's page describes this book much better than I can. Need to know which animals to domesticate? Covered. Foods to cultivate? Covered. Crop rotation? Compass? Non-sucky numbers? Forge? Birth Control? Logic? Chemistry? Steel? check, check, check, check, ...., check.

This is not a textbook, there is no math, and minimal theory on why things work. It's focused on why and how, not "how does it work?".

I got my copy from the library and, after an hour or two, ordered my own copy from Amazon. I'm sure my fellow Soylenters will also love this book.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Monday October 22 2018, @12:41AM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday October 22 2018, @12:41AM (#751828) Journal

    There's an awful lot of knowledge that would not have to be rediscovered. If you already know the Periodic Table of the Elements, all the most useful recipes of metallurgy and chemistry, maps of the whole world that include geology info about mineral deposits, knowledge of electricity and the electromagnetic spectrum, some knowledge of engineering, biology, medicine, and modern agriculture, you could advance quickly, skipping all the mistakes and wrong ideas the ancients had. Wouldn't take long to harness some serious power, and soon after that things would really take off.

    Now if you have to start all the way from scratch, Old Stone Age level, with no crop plants, no domesticated species of animals, no metals of any sort readily available and no mines, and in a relatively hostile climate maybe with freezing cold winters so that you have to devote much time to hunting for food and making furs and leather and such (clothmaking being way too labor intensive to start up in one season), an even knapping stones to make spear points and the like, then yeah, that's going to slow things down. Worse is if you are in a nasty swampy tropical place with all those lovely diseases such as malaria, and tsetse flies and the like, your best bet would probably be to move, on foot, to better ground first, if possible to do so without becoming dinner for large predators such as big cats, crocs, hyenas, and wolf packs. Poisonous snakes could be another big problem. In that case, wilderness survival training would be vital. Even so it wouldn't take that much longer, if you didn't succumb to the many dangers of the wild.

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