The Coffee Table Book of Doom, by Steven Appleby and Art Lester

“A handy guide to all the ways you and everyone else might cease to exist”. The Coffee Table Book of Doom, written by Art Lester and illustrated by iconic British cartoonist Steven Appleby (creator of Captain Star), is a black-humoured tour through all the ways we, and our planet with us (and in some scenarios because of us), might perish. Light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, this book is nevertheless a serious look at the end of the world as we know it, grounded on real science and social science. Chapters such as “Cosmic Doom”, “Eco Doom”, “Geophysical Doom”, “Technological Doom”, and “Religious Doom”, among others, count their way down in a book whose pages are numbered back to front. Appleby’s distinctive (and occasionally naughty) art sometimes provides useful visual metaphors for the subjects being discussed, and sometimes underscores the ridiculousness and frequent futility of human responses. It’s a funny book, but one that will make you think, both about the real doomsday scenarios (maybe even the ones within human power to avert), and about why we have such a fascination, even a need, for a sense of impending apocalypse.