Superfluous Matter Matthew Lausch's Blog Books - 2020 Sun, 03 January 2021 12:47:00 PST What a weird and distressing year. I still read some books though!

  • The Institute, by Stephen King
  • NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
  • The Dragon Republic, by R. F. Kuang
  • Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King
  • The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
  • Agency, by William Gibson
  • Finders Keepers, by Stephen King
  • End of Watch, by Stephen King
  • Thrawn: Alliances, by Timothy Zahn
  • Thrawn: Treason, by Timothy Zahn
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
  • The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin
  • The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine
  • The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley
  • The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi
  • They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
  • Go Ahead in the Rain, by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance, by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall
  • The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Pizza, Pincushions, and Playing it Straight, by Rayne Constantine
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
  • A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers
  • Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Tyranny of Merit, by Michael J. Sandel
  • Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett
  • Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett
  • Edgedancer, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Men at Arms, by Terry Pratchett
  • Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots
  • Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, by Phil Szostak

Some of the best words I read this year were from Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet who also publishes collections of essays about his experiences with music and the greater societal context of those experiences from the point-of-view of a Black man, about my age, growing up in Ohio. I found that even when I didn't know the band he was discussing or even if I knew it but didn't like it I still received a ton of enjoyment just reading the words he wrote. He's an extremely talented writer. His perspectives and experiences around how America treats Black people seem particularly valuable for how they just pop up in his writing without a lot of warning, mirroring how everyday experience for Black people can turn on a dime, suddenly becoming hurtful or dangerous.

I also read a few books more specifically about Black experience in America: "White Fragility;" "Hood Feminism;" and "So You Want to Talk About Race." I recommend all of them to anyone looking to understand more about these important topics which can too easily be ignored when you are higher up the privilege ladder in our society.

One last social issues book I read that I can't recommend strongly enough was "Pizza, Pincushions, and Playing it Straight." It is a memoir of sorts by a Australian scientist who spent some time as a sex worker in a part of Australia where sex work in brothels is legal. She discusses the issues sex workers face in different regions based on the legal status in those regions and more importantly discusses why it is so important that sex work be fully legalized and regulated. This is all interspersed with hilarious stories from her experiences that make for a literal laugh-out-loud read. And much like the case with narcotics, when you actually look at the data it's impossible to argue against legalization plus regulation for sex work.

In lighter reading I've started to pick off Terry Pratchett's Discworld books which are delightful and I'm also now working my way through Brandon Sanderson's "Stormlight Archive" fantasy series which is positively enormous (each book's paperback edition has to be published in two volumes because they're too big to securely bind in one). Both series are great if you're into that sort of thing.

Honeymoon/First Anniversary Travel Journal Sat, 01 February 2020 11:40:00 PST Sarah and I thoroughly enjoyed our wedding in May 2018 and exactly a year later we finally got around to going on our official honeymoon. We spent ten food-filled days in Japan and then six more days relaxing on the Big Island in Hawaii.

And now, almost a year later, I've finally finished compiling the travel journal for our trip! Hope you enjoy it!

Books - 2019 Tue, 31 December 2019 14:23:00 PST blogging in 2019. But lots of reading! Here is my list for the year since my last post.

  • How Long 'til Black Future Month, by N.K. Jemisin
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Tehanu, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Tales from Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Other Wind, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Daughter of Odren, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Unreal and the Real, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
  • The Big Sheep, by Robert Kroese
  • Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Green Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Savage News, by Jessica Yellin
  • Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith
  • The Consuming Fire, by John Scalzi
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
  • Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie
  • Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie
  • The Peripheral, by William Gibson
  • Fall, by Neal Stephenson
  • The Broom of the System, by David Foster Wallace
  • The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King
  • Elevation, by Stephen King
  • Gwendy's Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
  • Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett
  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 1: The Assasin's Road, by Kazuo Koike
  • Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
  • Exhalation, by Ted Chiang

Last year my "discovery" (i.e. an author who's been around forever and I'm regrettably finding very late) was Octavia E. Butler. My failure to discover this science fiction author is almost certainly a result of the her gender and race and the fact that the science fiction space is dominated by old white men. So this year I made an attempt to consciously seek out more books in the fantasy and sci-fi space by women and people of colour and this effort was tremendously rewarding. I wish I had read Ursula K. Le Guin's "Earthsea" series as a kid instead of Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series which devolved into a ridiculous Ayn Rand love-fest. Similarly, Tomi Adeyemi's young-adult "Legacy of Orisha" series is looking incredibly promising. Ann Leckie's "Imperial Radch" books were fantastic too, and provided super interesting perspectives on the perception of gender.

My other favourite new author of the year was Ted Chiang, a short story science fiction writer. His "Story of Your Life" was the basis of the spectacular film "Arrival" and every story of his I read leaves me thinking about it for days afterwards. He is exceptionally talented.

Other noteworth novels from the list above were: "The Mars Trilogy," "The Sparrow," "The Library at Mount Char," and the always enticing Neal Stephenson's "Fall."

I always feel like I should read more non-fiction, but I never really get to it. However I'm very glad I made time for "Open Borders" this year as it was fantastic. I won't argue its points here, but it is a very thoroughly researched graphic novel (illustrated by one of my favourite web comic artists) which basically destroys almost every anti-immigration argument out there. It advocates for fully open borders without limit all over the world and backs up every claim. Read it, it's fascinating.

Books - Catch-up!! Thu, 03 January 2019 09:01:00 PST I failed almost completely at blogging for most of last year, but that doesn't mean I didn't read anything. In the hopes of returning to more regular posting this will be a quick catch up post listing all of the books I've read since my last book post in April.

  • The Gunslinger (revised edition), by Stephen King
  • The Drawing of the Three, by Stephen King
  • The Waste Lands, by Stephen King
  • Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King
  • The Little Sisters of Eluria, by Stephen King
  • The Wind Through the Keyhole, by Stephen King
  • Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King
  • Song of Susannah, by Stephen King
  • The Dark Tower, by Stephen King
  • The Dark Tower Omnibus Edition (comic), by Robin Furth
  • Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Authority, by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Star Wars: Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston
  • The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Rogue Protocol, by Martha Wells
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
  • The Oracle Year, by Charles Soule
  • The Seamstress, by Frances de Pontes Peebles
  • Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Power, by Naomi Alderman
  • Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman
  • Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Parable of the Talents, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Mind of my Mind, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Clay's Ark, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Patternmaster, by Octavia E. Butler
  • Watching Porn, by Lynsey G
  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi
  • Machine Learning, by Hugh Howey
  • Paper Girls, issues 1-20 (comic), by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
  • Sex Criminals, issues 1-20 (comic), by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
  • Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Infinity Gauntlet (comic), by Jim Starlin
  • We Stand On Guard issues 1-6 (comic), by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang
  • Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King
  • Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz
  • The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, by Deborah Eisenberg

The main take-away from this list for me is that eBooks from the library dramatically increase the amount of reading I do. So that's pretty great. More specifically I'd like to call out a few items from the list for special mention.

I re-read the Gunslinger books for the n-th time and still really enjoyed them. I hadn't re-read anything in quite a while and was pleased to find I still like to do that.

I can't believe I'm just finding Octavia E. Butler. She's fantastic. Superb writing all around. I'm going to read the rest of her books soon. Her short stories in Bloodchild were especially enjoyable, and I really liked her "Parable" books too. Her Patternist series was epic!

My favourite standalone books of the year were Warlight (Ondaatje continues to be fantastic), The Seamstress (surprisingly gripping), and The Power (really interesting ideas). And if you string them all together the Murderbot Diaries novellas make an excellent full-length novel that was super fun.

I'm currently in progress on the enormous collection of short stories from Deborah Eisenberg. They're excellent but it's a long and dense collection so I'm moving slowly. I'd compare them favourably to Alice Munro -- excellent stories about real people and their feelings.

More reading to come!

December 29, 2018 Wed, 31 December 1969 16:00:00 PST NIKON D90 -- f/9.0 -- 1/320s -- 18mm

December 29, 2018 Wed, 31 December 1969 16:00:00 PST NIKON D90 -- f/8.0 -- 1/250s -- 18mm

December 22, 2018 Fri, 07 June 6830 15:45:50 PDT NIKON D90 -- f/5.6 -- 1/800s -- 200mm

Tinymoons Travel Journal Fri, 30 November 2018 20:59:00 PST Sarah and I had a wonderful wedding back in May, but with family visiting from out of town and immigration details to sort out we chose to postpone our "real" honeymoon until 2019. Instead we went on two "tinymoons" within the United States, one to Utah and the other to Asheville, North Carolina.

I've just posted a combined travel journal for the two trips, check it out!

September 9, 2018 Tue, 07 June 3583 15:36:51 PDT NIKON D90 -- f/7.1 -- 1/200s -- 18mm

September 8, 2018 Fri, 07 June 5765 15:36:43 PDT NIKON D90 -- f/10.0 -- 1/400s -- 18mm