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Andrew David Thaler
Works at Benthic Mercenary
Attends Nicholas School of the Environment
Lived in Baltimore, MD
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Andrew David Thaler

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#52BooksAYear Update

Four books knocked out this month, in quick succession.

First up, The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, by Simon Monk (http://amzn.to/2bbo8vv). I like Maker projects and was looking for some cool, Doomsday Prepper-type projects to mess around with. Most of these projects are basic and, to be honest, the vast majority of "maker" guides have slightly different flavors of the same dozen projects. I did really enjoy the section on solar and pedal power but feel that, overall, the book was a bit too light. The zombie apocalypse theme is a bit too gimmicky and tacked on. If you're new to the Maker world, this could be a fun introduction, but it's too simple for more advanced hardware hackers.

I had the pleasure of reading Farley Mowat's The Boat that Wouldn't Float (http://amzn.to/2aHNMVY) while travelling through Newfoundland. A modern classic in wilderness/adventure writing, it supplants some of the more onerous piles of transcendentalist pablum about living wild and deliberately (cough Happy Walden Day cough). Mowatt is poignant, insightful, and shameless in describing his misadventures.

March, Book Three, by Congressman John Lewis (http://amzn.to/2aJ5cVq) was waiting for me when I got home. It is a masterpiece. Read the whole series.

Finally, I heard about Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite (http://amzn.to/2aJ3WBS) from Suki Kim's interview in the New Republic (https://newrepublic.com/article/133893/reluctant-memoirist). The juxtaposition between Kim's experience working around the censors in North Korea and her own publishers attempt to bury her story as a memoir rather than a serious piece of journalism is fairly damning. The book itself is a fascinating, rare look at like among North Korea's young elite in the days before the death of Kim Jung-il. 
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Andrew David Thaler

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#52BooksAYear Update

Company Town by Madeline Ashby (http://amzn.to/28NP5En)

Another great bit of near-future science fiction, exploring issues of corporate ownership, cybernetic augmentation, privacy, and power, all set among sex-workers and billionaires living on a company-owned oil-rig-cum-future-nuclear-reactor. If you've liked my other SciFi recommendations, you'll love this one.
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Andrew David Thaler

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#52BooksAYear Update

This week I caught up with the book-a-week plan, adding John Scalzi's The End of All Things (http://amzn.to/25yPMaO), Geoff Johns' DC Rebirth (http://amzn.to/1VxJO78), and Alan Moore's Writing for Comics (http://amzn.to/1Y3niUd) to the list.

The End of All things brings the Old Man's War series to a rather unsatisfying end. I love Scalzi's work, but he often sets up narratives that just vanish from the plot halfway through the second act. In the Last Colony, the colonist were plagued by monsters in the woods, which were promptly forgotten, never to be spoken of again. They were built up to be something relevant to the story, only to be cast aside. In the arc of the entire series, the spectre of the Consu, an alien race more powerful and advanced than either the colonial union, the conclave, or the independent races, looms large over the proceedings. They were built up as so significant that I was expecting them to play a role in the end game. But the Consu were totally absent from the final two books. It's a classic broken promise a la Chekhov's Gun.

DC Rebirth was, well, a lot of things, but mostly it gives me hope that the DC universe will be a little less gloomy and a little more focused on legacy.

Moore on writing was what I expected: decent advice from the crankiest man in comics. The "all this advice is stupid" post-script was delightful.
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Andrew David Thaler

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#52BooksAYear Update.

The Long Utopia by the late Terry Pratchet and Stephen Baxter: http://amzn.to/1VfpQ0I

I love the Long Earth series. It's a marvelous piece of exploratory science fiction--take one major conceit; in this case that there are infinite earths and, all of a sudden, with the help of stepper boxes, people can "step" into the next world over on either side. The world's start of slightly different (in this case, only our earth has humans, so the rest are pristine) but as you get further and further from Datum Earth, the world's get weirder.

This series is best when the main characters are just stepping deeper and deeper into the long earth, encounter new creatures and existential threats. But in a universe of infinite worlds, even planet destroyers are trivial.

The Long Utopia gets into the structure of the Long Earth itself, and how the worlds are connected, while the characters deal with the emergence of Von Neuman machines (self-replicating robots) in one of the worlds.

It's massive in scope, yet surprisingly intimate. It's also one of Terry Pratchett's last before he died.

This is not a series you can just jump into, though. You have to start with Long Earth. 
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Andrew David Thaler

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Man, It's been a while and I totally forgot to do my #52 Books a year update. But I've still been reading!

Non-Fiction: I polished off Saladin's Pastured Poultry Profits (http://amzn.to/1TlMHbJ), a guide to raising poultry on a small farm and making a some coin. Already, I've implemented the chicken tractor system with my new turkeys, so we'll see how that goes.

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (http://amzn.to/25eTCsG) was hard to read. The story of an African tribesman who was kept at the Bronx Zoo on display and the life he lead. An important piece of our history, but damn was it depressing.

Science Fiction: I been slogging through The Three Body Problem (http://amzn.to/257TIz2) for way too long. It's good, but it's slow and I couldn't get through more than an chapter at a time. Still, it picks up a lot in the final third and the build up is worth it.

Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation (http://amzn.to/20j7POC) has been sitting in my queue for almost a year, so I finally worked through it. It was... fine. I enjoyed it but it didn't capture me enough to make me want to get the rest of the series.

Comic Books: Alias (http://amzn.to/1sw6yZC) volumes 1 through 4. Worth it if you want more background on the Netflix series. A darker look at the superhero world. The art is A+.

Superman Grounded (http://amzn.to/1WHMboT) This oft maligned series features what I love most about Superman, not the god-like power, but the hope he brings.

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#52BooksAYear

Everything I want to do is Illegal: http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Want-To-Do-Illegal/dp/0963810952?ie=UTF8&keywords=everything%20i%20want%20to%20do%20is%20illegal&qid=1460130804&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1 by Joel Salatin.

Salatin is a lunatic farmer, but he's my kind of lunatic. No deep review here, since we're going to do a whole podcast on this book for What the Farm?!

Black Panther #1: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Panther-Nation-Under-Feet/dp/1302900536/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460130876&sr=1-1&keywords=black+panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Short but magnificent. Coates entrance into the comic book world is deep, rich, and wonderfully detailed. Can't wait to continue this journey into Wakanda. 
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Andrew David Thaler

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A simple writing prompt–what would it be like to sail across Titan?–has taken me on a 20,000-word journey through the intricacies of life on Saturn’s largest moon. Join the Salvager on a journey across Kraken Mare to land the score of a lifetime, if the rest of the universe doesn’t get in their way. Discover the weird, wonderful world of Titan and her coastal colonies and confront the challenges of sailing across an alien world.

A Crack in the Sky above Titan takes a lot of the ideas developed during Field Notes from the Future and extends them out into the extremely distant future. At what point do humans, heavily augmented with hardware and software, stop being human? What rights are retained when a person contains no human parts? How does art evolve in a future obsessed with technology? And how exactly do you sail via celestial navigation with no polar star and an atmosphere of dense haze.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D7ZF658
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Andrew David Thaler

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#52BooksAYear Update

The Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore (http://amzn.to/1UX4gcG): a classic of the horror comic genre, books 1 through 3 cover some heavy loads, like the environment, the nature of friendship, domestic abuse, and what it means to be human. Moore's comics (especially his early books), are high literature wrapped packaged with exceptional art.

The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer by Joel Salatin (http://amzn.to/1ty7PQR): I've finally tapped out Salatin's extensive ouvre. Lunatic is more hopeful, more optimistic, less ranty, and a better crafted book than Everything I want to do is Illegal. Definitely worth reading for his insights on small and local farmers. 
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#52BooksAYear

I just plowed through Lindy West's Shrill in one sitting. Fantastic, insightful ,hilarious. Just read it. http://amzn.to/1qHDjSr
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#52BookAYear Tally

1. Young Money by Kevin Roose: http://amzn.to/1UruNQz
2. March, Volume 1 and 2, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: http://amzn.to/1mObaYJ
3. The Internet of Garbage by Sarah Jeong: http://amzn.to/1TtXdun
4. Chicken Coops: 45 Building Ideas for Housing Your Flock by Judy Pangman: http://amzn.to/1STzxRy
5. Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA by Erin E. Murphy: http://amzn.to/1W7fTzZ
6. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke: http://amzn.to/1oZdtJl
7. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller: http://amzn.to/1Q7cjlu
8. East of (h)Eden by +Matthew Francis: http://amzn.to/1NDFyBm
9. Everything I want to do is Illegal by Joel Saladin: http://amzn.to/1TqDx8C
10. Can and Can't-ankerous by Harlan Ellison: http://amzn.to/20jbsnK
11. Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Saladin: http://amzn.to/1TlMHbJ
12. Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk: http://amzn.to/25eTCsG
13. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu: http://amzn.to/257TIz2)
14. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: http://amzn.to/20j7POC
15. Alias by Brian Bendis: http://amzn.to/1sw6yZC
16. Superman Grounded by J. Michael Straczynski: http://amzn.to/1WHMboT

Books Written
1. A Crack in the Sky Above Titan by Me: http://amzn.to/20jbXht

We're in week 20 of 2016, so I've got some catching up to do.

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Have them in circles
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Work
Occupation
Benthic Mercenary (Freeland Marine Biologist)
Employment
  • Benthic Mercenary
    Freelance Marine Biologist, present
    Doing my part to promote ocean education through teaching and research.
  • Duke University Marine Lab
    Graduate Student, 2007 - 2012
  • Duke University Marine Lab
    Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2012 - 2013
Places
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Previously
Baltimore, MD - Durham, NC - Beaufort, NC - Eleuthera, Bahamas
Story
Tagline
Deep-sea ecology, population genetics, conservation
Introduction
I'm a deep-sea ecologist and the founder and Senior Editor of Southern Fried Science. Ask me about the ocean's deepest ecosystems.
Education
  • Nicholas School of the Environment
    Marine Science and Conservation, 2007 - present
  • Duke University
    Biology, 2003 - 2007
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
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