Adam Roberts

The QI-ification of Knowledge

Recently I read Frank Swain’s popular science book How to Make a Zombie (2013). It’s pretty good, and a fine example of its type. However, Swain’s book does not tell its readers how to make a zombie. There’s an obvious reason for this, and excellent grounds for not admitting it up front – the two words ‘you can’t’ won’t fill 250 pages, no matter how large the type used. So instead, Swain takes us on a Cook’s Tour of the myriad aspects of his topic, sprinkling interesting facts all around him. He knows a lot about biochemistry, physics, biology and psychology, and he lays these subjects before the reader with a lively style and without ever using an equation or an indigestible piece of nomenclature.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Englishmen Abroad in the Reign of Henry VIII'. Free lecture by Dr Susan Brigden, Thurs 18 Oct, 6.30pm Europe Hou… ,
    • It 'contains twists and near misses and bit-part players, everything you might expect from a true-crime story'. Ian… ,
    • Oh normally a week or two before the ceremony itself - so mid-November. ,
    • Ian Sansom reviews The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by… ,
    • 'It is hard to think of an economist who could craft such an elegantly readable account of postwar failure as this.… ,
    • Frederick Forsyth reviews The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by ,
    • . reviews What We Have Lost: The Dismantling of Great Britain by James Hamilton-Paterson ,