Great Leap Years review
As someone who has literally grown up as a Stephen Fry fan, from A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, to Jeeves And Wooster, to QI. This review may seem somewhat biased. If Mr Fry puts his name to something then you can rest assured it will be quality. Having said that, I don’t think he did a podcast before this one. So is this another notch on his tally of greatness, or is it an uncharacteristic fail? Read on and see.
So what’s it about?
This series covers the history of human invention. That may sound like a lot, and indeed it is, but thankfully Stephen skips through the first 10,000 years or so rather quickly so we can get down to more “recent” technological achievement, starting in the middle ages.
Each episode follows along in a somewhat chronological order. Starting in earnest with the invention of the Gutenberg Press, and ending with the invention of computers, maybe even glimpses of the real bleeding edge of advancement.
I guarantee you there will be lots of facts here that you will have never heard before, even if you know about the actual inventions. The way that the most revolutionary things get invented, either by accident or as a “plan b” is truly mind-blowing, and goes to show that these guys are (usually) just ordinary people.
I think my favourite episode here was the reason I found this podcast (after hearing Penn Jillette mention it on his Sunday School podcast) about Fritz Haber, who was responsible for saving more people than anyone else in history, then killing more people than anyone else, and then saving people again. That one is as heartbreaking as it is fascinating, and goes to show the duality of technological advancement, especially during war time.
Is it any good?
If you like learning new things in a fun and interesting way then you’ll love this series. If that previous sentence doesn’t apply to you, I suggest you go back to Joe Rogan. Seeing as an awful lot of people know Stephen Fry from QI, then a series about obscure fact on well known subjects won’t be anything new.
Stephen Fry has a real talent for making things interesting. I suspect this is because he is genuinely interested in the subject matter too. I think this is why there are so many bad teachers in the world. They just aren’t really interested in their own subject matter, but I digress.
Imagine, if you will, the chapters on recent earth history in The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy, and you’ll be somewhat close to this show. Yes, I know that Mr. Fry narrated that particular work of genius for the audiobook. That’s why I said it. He has now become as inexoravbly linked to that, as he has to the works of P.G. Wodehouse. Which is no bad thing.
The only thing that stops this being the best podcast I’ve ever heard is the fact that there is so much information that my brain does start to fry after a few episodes. If you’re not as greedy as I am, and you listen to one or two episodes a day then I’m sure you’ll agree that this is practically perfect in every way.
You can get Stephen Fry’s Great Leap Years here:
Or wherever you get your podcasts.