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The Universe is trying to kill you.
—From the introduction.
A mix of hard science and science fiction written by the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, Death From The Skies!" is a book dedicated to astronomical events that could wipe out humanity.
- After the End: the dead, half-melted Earth orbiting a red giant Sun.
- Alien Invasion: The berserker probe subverts this a bit, since the probe is not intelligent and its creators are probably long-dead. Also very much a Grey Goo scenario, despite the probe's "children" being macroscopic.
- Apocalypse How: Every possible scenario is covered, with some of Plait's situations covering half a dozen of them at once.
- Cosmic Horror: there are things that would make Cthulhu crap its pants... and they're real.
- Downer Ending
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel: The book's entire premise is this, but there are some particularly disturbing moments:
- The radiation deaths of the International Space Station crew as the Earth is hit with radiation and debris from a relatively nearby supernova.
- The berserker Von Neumann probe that eats the Earth's entire biosphere, with Earth's entire stock of weaponry presumably unable to stop it... and then it sends off new probes to do it to another planet. The final line of the story section is one of the most chilling lines in the entire book: "Man's dream of reaching the stars was finally achieved, but not quite in the manner in which he thought."
- The excruciating description of the Earth being eaten from within by a tiny black hole the same mass as the planet -- it's even squickier than the scenario of a drive-by scarfing by a more typical black hole, which merely spaghettifies the Earth over the space of a couple of days.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: there is no need to say anything else.
- It Gets Worse: The solar flare scenario takes place in the dead of winter, knocking out power around the world, and humanity has barely had time to breathe and bury the dead when another nasty-looking patch of sunspots appears...
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Plait is better known as a science writer and professional skeptic, but he has a frighteningly vivid imagination -- and his horror stories seem to excite him. (Then again, he is a scientist -- geeks in general have strange senses of humor.)
- The End of the World as We Know It: in this case, more literal than usual, when Plait talks about a false vacuum collapse, which would essentially shred the fabric of the entire universe in an ever expanding bubble, replacing it with... something we don't know.
- The Stars Are Going Out during the heat death of the universe at an excruciatingly slow pace, over an unimaginably long period of time.