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Andrew David Thaler
Deep-sea ecology, population genetics, conservation
Deep-sea ecology, population genetics, conservation

Andrew David's posts

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Meet me in Atlantis by Mark Adams (

A slow read but provides insight into how people become obsessed with lost, mysterious, or mythological places. Adams has a lot of empathy for his subjects who are consumed by an often misguided obsession with the ancient city. 

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Hayduke Lives! (

The sequel to Edward Abbey's subversive classic, The Monkeywrench Gang, is every bit as raw, radical, and revolutionary as the original. George Washington Hayduke is back, and, this time, he has his sights set on the largest land machine ever built, GOLIATH, a monstrous walking dragline built to excavate uranium from the desert southwest.

The Monkeywrench Gang was formative in my early years, and I'm actually a bit surprised I never picked up the sequel until now. Hayduke Lives! is a fitting sequel and a bittersweet final note for Abbey's prolific career. More nuanced than the Monkeywrench Gang, Hayduke Lives! has plenty critical to say about Earth First! and the state of the environmental movement in the late 1980s. Hayduke and his gang are a dying breed, willing to get dirty, fuck things up, and throw a literal wrench in the machine.

His characters are brutally real, these are not idyllic tree-huggers living in perfect balance with the earth, but rascals and revolutionaries, as much driven by their desire to protect the Desert Solitude as they are career misfits, who are never happy unless they're breaking the status quo. It's a refreshingly human look at a movement that is often too self-righteous for its own good.

If you haven't read the Monkeywrench Gang, start there, but don't miss Hayduke Lives!. 

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By my count this is book 27 for #52booksayear, so the pace is not going great right now.

I finished Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - - last night. It's not exactly a fun read, and part of the reason I'm so far behind is that this is the kind of book you need to sit and digest chapter by chapter. But damn, is it powerful.

I could have done without the weird tacked-on epilog, though. 

#52BooksAYear Update

Four books knocked out this month, in quick succession.

First up, The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, by Simon Monk ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( from Suki Kim's interview in the New Republic ( 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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#52BooksAYear Update

Company Town by Madeline Ashby (

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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#52BooksAYear Update

The Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore ( 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 ( 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 Update

This week I caught up with the book-a-week plan, adding John Scalzi's The End of All Things (, Geoff Johns' DC Rebirth (, and Alan Moore's Writing for Comics ( 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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I just plowed through Lindy West's Shrill in one sitting. Fantastic, insightful ,hilarious. Just read it.

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#52BooksAYear Update.

The Long Utopia by the late Terry Pratchet and Stephen Baxter:

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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#52BookAYear Tally

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

Books Written
1. A Crack in the Sky Above Titan by Me:

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

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