"The metaphysicians of Tlön are not looking for truth or even an approximation to it: they are after a kind of amazement." Complete World Knowledge
—Poor Richard's Almanack
, 1733 edition note
is a critically-acclaimed series of fake almanacks written by John Hodgman (aka the PC in the "Mac vs. PC" commercials
). They include:
Also related was the podcast "Today in the Past", containing some snippets from the Complete World Knowledge series. Known for their absurdist sense of humour, bizarre running jokes and high degree of cohesion between volumes, absolutely deadpan writing style, and sheer breadth of subject matter, ranging from cheese to axolotls to aliens to hoboes to mole-men to celebrity status to zeppelins to lobsters to ancient and unspeakable ones.
Although each book has its own page, the series as a whole provides examples of:
- Berserk Button: Sports.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Many historical figures have exciting, pulpy adventures.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Historical Hilarity
- Historical Injoke
- Homage: Frequent subjects include Doctor Who, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Watership Down.
- Little Known Facts: Pretty much the whole point.
- Long List
- Mockumentary: In book form!
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Inverted. Each books starts with a reminder that John Hodgman is making this up. Although he has insisted that one blurb on the back of the first book, a letter of praise from a magus of the Church of Satan, is, in fact, genuine, although Hodgman himself is not a Satanist.
- Running Gag: Various forms of Ancient Conspiracy, Masturbation, eels, and Benjamin Franklin are jokes that carry across the entire series, although he tones down the masturbation jokes in the latter volumes.
- Satire/Parody/Pastiche: A pastiche of almanacks in general, frequently parodies of specific ones, and occasionally satirical on various subjects.
- Shout-Out: Usually to Jonathan Coulton (often in the form of a Take That), members of They Might Be Giants, Ira Glass, Sarah Vowell, Jon Stewart, and other American intellectual types. And Bruce Campbell.
- Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: The first two books only.
- Shown Their Work: Ironically enough
- Take That: Frequent attacks on Jonathan Coulton, Benjamin Franklin, and Nick Nolte. Hodgman and Coulton are actually great friends, but Hodgman seems to genuinely dislike Franklin.
- Weasel Mascot: All three books involve this, even on the covers. The front cover of Information shows Hodgman holding a ferret, to be used to steal a diamond. More shows him holding a ferret, claiming "New ferret, same old con", and All shows him posing with the skeleton of a ferret...hopefully not the same ferret as the first two.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Read these books. Then take a year's worth of university courses. Then read them again. It's a wholly different experience.