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4.1 out of 5 stars
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I loved this. It is grouped into eight chapters: Genes, Robots, Energy, The Internet, Nanotechnology, Food, Computers, and Space. So far, so much the stuff of sci-fi.

Except the authors have done extremely thorough research in what all the scientists, technologists and billionaires who are into this kind of thing are currently up to, and what they are hoping to bring into reality in the next ten to thirty years - this stuff is not very far away. The authors look at the down side of it all, and provide their own commentary with a great deal of sarcasm, an excellent sense of the ridiculous, and the occasional swear word. (To preserve their street cred.)

Babies could have their genes manipulated so they don't become left-wing voters. (You know, I would not put it past politicians to try that.....) Food is increasingly becoming more and more patented - what you put in your mouth is soon to be someone else's intellectual property. Your fridge and your toaster will be spying on you. People will be holidaying in space hotels just so they can boast of having made love in them. (Puts the Mile High Club into perspective.) And of course, robots could take over, aliens could invade, and nanobots could turn the entire planet into grey goo, but everybody knows that already.

Easygoing pop science, and great fun.
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on 26 May 2015
I picked this up as I have a great interest in the near future, in how technology will take us in the next two hundred years or so. I’ve been greatly impressed with the work of authors like Michio Kaku, whose works Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible, look at just this from a serious scientific point of view (Mr Kaku being an astrophysicist).

The Shape of S*** to Come promised to deliver just such a read, albeit in a more satirical and comedic sense. In many ways it did just that. Covering topics such as genetics, robotics, and space travel to name just a few, and doing so in an amusing and easy to understand manner, I definitely felt that I came away from the read enriched and educated. Sometimes I did feel that the authors tried a little too hard to be funny however and occasionally I felt that the sarcasm and humour got in the way of a real understanding of the issue at hand. Whereas their irreverence ensured that they avoided the pitfalls Micio Kaku occasionally falls into – e.g. a wide-eyed, innocence where the technology is concerned that leads him to conclude that the outcome will be some kind of perfect nirvana – on occasion it leads them to the other extreme.

One the whole though, while I prefer Michio Kaku’s work I have to say that The Shape of S*** to Come is a valuable addition to the cannon of furturism work and I would highly recommend it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 October 2014
Imagine a book which is able to explain, in quite simple prose, how the world is evolving and how it will evolve in the future. Starting with genetics, through technology and then ending on space (with detours around just about all of current science) the authors take us on a lesson which I found incredibly informative, well written and simple to read (I read it cover to cover over 3 days, but that isn't to say it is a brief book, just enjoyable).

Now imagine that same book with added cynicism, utter disrespect for billionaires blowing their wads on madcap schemes and a great sense of humour and you basically have The Shape of Shit To Come. Note this is not "humor", it is total British sarcasm, well formed and hitting its targets with precision, with nothing escaping the mocking tone. I say this in a good way, I thoroughly enjoyed the style and, as a result, will hunt out the other books by Lowe and McArthur.

For those of a sensitive disposition, you won't be surprised (given "Shit" is in the title) that there is a tiny bit of swearing. Including a very bad word, whose use towards the end of the book made me snort out loud on the train.

I seldom highlight phrases when reading books on my Kindle, but I found I did this about 20 times when I found phrases I wanted to share (the last one being the fact Vernor Vinge rhymes his name with dingy - ok, not knockout funny, but it made me smile). It is the sort of book you can quote to friends or actually use in an educational way, to discuss how science and technology is evolving and how the next 10-20 years are going to see major changes to the way we live.

So, it's safe to say I loved everything about this book. If you have both a passing interest in science plus a British sense of humour you will love it to.

Highly recommended.

(nb: this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)
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on 18 September 2014
TSOSTC is remarkable for two reasons (Okay, three). First, it is a near comprehensive summary of all the new and up and coming nonsense perpetrated by Man. As opposed to all the old nonsense, like wars, wiping out wildlife and poisoning the ecosphere. The second is that it is done with humour. This book is funny. Its paragraphs are structured with knockout punches. There is sarcasm, irony, reversals and tangents. All in a book on future technologies. And third, something I usually never comment on, a cover that is irresistible. It's an image of a robot covering its ears, having either heard enough, or holding its aching head in misery. Lovely.

The basic problem can be summed up as Man has made a mess, and is turning to science to correct it with a far bigger mess. Inspirations are uninspired. The wealthy elite are playing God. Sensible people should shriek in horror.

The humour saves it from being unbearably dark. In discussing the internet of things, talk turns to "toast 3.0" that your newly empowered toaster will be expected to produce. What that is, nobody knows. Nanotechnologists are also known as little people, which neatly tucks that topic away. And many paragraphs end by questioning themselves, as in: statement, Really? No, not really. OK, maybe. Think about it.

They also have an ear tuned to people's names, forever congratulating them on neat-sounding ones. A consistent sidelight throughout this roller coaster read.

Surprisingly, this is a largely well researched effort, citing a wide variety of scientists and authorities. References are noted. Facts are laid out for all to judge. It doesn't look good, but the spoonful of sugar helps.

David Wineberg
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on 5 December 2014

A satirical (if not frighteningly accurate) look at the scientific developments that have the potential to shape our future.


I will never claim to be one of life’s great thinkers. I hold a fair level of intelligence and I can hold my own in topical debate. However, the dirge of my academic life has always been science (closely followed by maths). I just never took to it as a subject. In actual fact I failed my GCSE exam in it but shrugged it off in a “That’s life” sort of way.

As I have gotten older I admit my curiosity has peaked (not enough to re-sit my science GCSE – this was recently offered to me by my former science teacher who is now my colleague in my place of employment) and I take a more active interest in how science shapes our lives.

This inquisitiveness led me to The Shape of Shit to Come. I must say that this is a brilliant book – not just because of the fascinating topics that it covers (robotics, space travel and jellyfish to name but a few) but also because it is damn hilarious. The chapters are peppered with funny little intrusions from the authors and quite frankly their ludicrous interludes provide comic relief to, what comes across as, some seriously scary science.

I still wouldn’t say that I am totally clued up about all the recent advances in science but I know I won’t be put off by books about these contentious issues either. If science is your passion then this is definitely a book for you. If, like me, you have a growing scientific curiosity then give this a try. What you may lack in smarts when it comes to understanding the technical stuff you can more than find amusement in the writing style.

The Shape of Shit to Come by Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe is available now.
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on 14 December 2013
Having read and loved the hilarious "is everything s*** or is it just me" lampooning our current times I came to this book with some expectations of having a good laugh. In this I was not disappointed at all with the author covering technological advances in biotechnology, robots, computers, the internet, food and space with great laugh out loud humour, albeit emphasising at the same time the seriousness of advancing scientific knowledge's impact on these areas. Because we can't put the faerie back in the bottle,and can do very little about it, its important that we can at least have a joke about it. I suppose as a backdrop to this book is the notion that the scientific enterprise is not entirely laudable - science has lead to the explosion of greenhouse gases, the pill ethic in medicine, the depletion of the environment through use of fertilisers and pesticides and has lead to more and better killing machines that make for more devastating wars, and even made life into a more artificial and lonelier existence. excellent
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on 19 October 2014
Humour books are a bit of a hit or miss with me. Take the humour of Pratchett. Can't stand it. Far too self congratulatory and knowing. But I thought I'd give this book a try because I was feeling pretty fed up and needed a good laugh. Did I get one? Well...

The book is fairly depressing in its take on what we as a species have done to our planet. There is a lot of humour there and there were many places where I smiled wryly. No belly laughs though.

If you liked "Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit?" you'll love this. It just didn't hit my funny bone.
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on 18 November 2014
I actually really enjoyed this book & it kept me entertained enough to want to keep reading it. I've not read any of the other books on the series but this was informative, funny and a freaky glimpse into what out future could be (or not really)
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on 20 January 2013
Funny prose but didn't grip me the way I expected. Worth a read though. It's trying too hard to be smart rather than delivering its own message.
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on 18 September 2013
If you liked their other stuff then you'll like this. Laugh out loud funny, don't read it with your mouth full. Depressing because some of the quotes from the so called intelligentsia are outrageous, tragic & frankly, quite troubling. May be a bit sweary for some (I like sweary, in the right context it is big & clever).
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