You Only Go Extinct Once

Stuck in the Anthropocene with the Pleistocene Blues Again

Non-Fiction - Humor/Comedy
182 Pages
Reviewed on 11/30/2023
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Author Biography

Bob Lorentson is an environmental scientist, humor writer, and serious technophobe. When not writing, he can usually be found running from the 21st century. He lives in East Haddam, CT with his wife, two rescue animals, and his fears of spontaneous combustion. Oh, and of a world dominated by artificial intelligence and real ignorance.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Bob Lorentson’s You Only Go Extinct Once is a satirical and humorous look at the evolution of pretty much all forms of life on Earth. He begins with the prospects and risks of reviving extinct species through gene editing, particularly focusing on the woolly mammoth. He deliberates on the challenges like habitat, diet, and social behaviors of resurrected creatures. Lorentson examines swaths of topics, from animal vulnerabilities to lightning strikes, hallucinogenic substance consumption among different species, historical events like the Irish potato famine, and animal deception strategies. Lorentson also fills readers in on Will Cuppy’s satirical works and personal struggles, and probes scientific explorations concerning microbial makeup, health consequences, Doomsday Prepping culture, pickleball’s rise, and societal impacts, wrapping up with diverse subjects such as rock balancing, brain function, sound bathing, human evolution controversies, and humanity’s environmental footprint.

While You Only Go Extinct Once has a lot to make a reader laugh. Bob Lorentson surprised me a bit by actually teaching me a thing or two. Or, more accurately, dozens of things. I think most people with even a tiny social media presence will be able to recognize the American phenomenon of garage sitting, where people “with perfectly good houses and perfectly good TVs plunk down in a folding chair in the opening of their garage and watch the world go by.” I had a good chuckle at Lorentson's comparing it to cavemen sitting at their rocky abode's entrance. Lorentson does an excellent job of employing a conversational and engaging tone throughout the book, frequently avoiding the taking of a staunch side and, instead, presenting various perspectives. Take, for example, his balanced approach to acknowledging the skepticism of Neanderthal deniers while subtly advocating for acceptance. Overall, this is a funny, insightful, and really well-compiled series of thoughts, and I have no doubt others will feel the same. Very highly recommended.

Nino Lobiladze

Do you want to know which animal species affects the environment almost as much as humans do? Or why we haven't had contact with aliens yet? You Only Go Extinct Once by Bob Lorentson gives us answers to these and many other burning questions in fifty humorous essays, twenty-five of which speak about animals and plants, while the other twenty-five concern humans. The essays reveal shocking facts about our relation to Neanderthals and bananas, advise us on how to prepare for the end of the world, disclose the secrets of fireflies and trees, and warn against the resurrection of the species that lived in the Pleistocene era. You Only Go Extinct Once is a thought-provoking read for fans of non-fiction humor.

In You Only Go Extinct Once, Bob Lorentson urges us to be more caring toward the environment and our planet in a friendly and interactive manner. The book takes awareness to the next level thanks to Bob's unique writing style and his sparkling humor. In short and straightforward essays, the author explores what it means to be human in this constantly changing, uncontrollable, and dangerous world. "Once we started creating civilizations, we began domesticating ourselves, and you know as well as I do what happens to domesticated animals," writes Bob in It's a Small Brain After All. Bob's keen observations make us think about the enormous responsibility we carry on our shoulders. I liked the touching tribute to Will Cuppy, a humorist who lived in the first half of the twentieth century and inspired not only the author of this book but also the creator of a beloved fairy-tale character. You Only Go Extinct Once is an educational book that I will read and re-read again.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

In You Only Go Extinct Once, Bob Lorentson discusses fifty topics about science, animals, insects, and culture. Adding whimsical elements, the author presents scientific data in a unique way, often implying a call to action without outright expressing it. The author details interesting facts, winding subjects such as cow-hugging and ferret-legging into otherwise serious debates. The retired environmental scientist chooses various subjects to help readers better understand their ecological impact and the need for better choices to balance the human footprint on the planet.

Bob Lorentson supplies factual information about animals and the amusing potential outcomes that may arise if humans do not rely on science to guide their future endeavors. Lorentson lays out his thoughts on a variety of subjects, like ocean pollution and bringing back an extinct species, in a comical context but with scientific truths that will resonate with the reader. The author's intelligence and common sense shine through in the essays as he delivers warnings about the direction in which we're going but with a humorous component. Lorentson's candid opinion on certain animals and insects is refreshing and liable to leave you with more knowledge and a funny take on the topics, like learning about companies that use castoreum (near a beaver's anus) for vanilla flavoring and the evidence of an ancient nine-foot-tall kangaroo with fangs, mentioned in this book. If you enjoy fascinating tidbits of information on biology, ecology, and sociology delivered entertainingly and emphasized with ironic wit, You Only Go Extinct Once is the perfect selection for you!