Ok, we’re more like 65% of the way through the year. I still felt like looking back on what media I’ve enjoyed in 2022 and offer some recommendations. If you’ve read/watched/played one of these and agree with my assessment (or have a different one!) feel free to leave a note in the comments.
I’ve read 26 out of the 42 book goal I set for myself this year. Most of them were good; some were excellent. The one I was looking forward to the most was SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel. If you loved STATION ELVEN (or the show), give it a read. The book showcases Canada and the world at different points in time, carrying a narrative thread from 1912 to a futuristic moon colony. It’s a strange and sometimes painful book, with a lot of references back to STATION ELEVEN as well as another book of hers I liked, THE GLASS HOTEL. All of her stuff is just terrific.
PROJECT HAIL MARY is the first Andy Weir book I’ve read. I saw THE MARTIAN, but never read it. I might read it now after having enjoyed HAIL MARY so much. It’s an exciting book that delves deeply into xenobiology and what a truly alien species would look like.
I’ve never read or watched any superhero stories quite like THE REIGN OF THE KINGFISHER. The most unusual feature of the book, I thought, is that you never hear the hero’s perspective. You don’t learn anything about his origin story or where his powers came from. But you see the effects his existence has on the people around him and on the city of Chicago. Brilliant, moving, strange.
Hands down, my favorite book this year was INTERIOR CHINATOWN. Charles Yu brings together threads of immigration, race, culture, and representation in a fantastic script/novel that shows hero Willis Wu’s journey to break out of his recurring TV roles as Generic Asian Man and one day reach the pinnacle of Kung Fu Guy. And it’s fun as hell.
Finally, I’m halfway through Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga. I finished JADE CITY earlier this month and am now powering through JADE WAR. In an alternate reality Earth (maybe?) on the island of Kekon, jade can grant superhuman abilities to warriors who train their whole lives to be able to wear it. These Green Bones protect their followers and the people of the city by serving their clan. When the No Peak clan and the Mountain clan go to war, though, the fallout might tear the city apart.
One of the best things about working in video games is I can play games all the time and call it research. >.> After yet another playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077, I was able to tear myself away and try out some different games.
CULTIST SIMULATOR was my next obsession. It’s a weird little game that’s as much about figuring out how to play it as it is about actually playing it. You’ve been touched by forbidden lore and have to found a cult if you want to become strong enough to enter the Mansus and join the godlike Hours in the realm beyond dreams. I sank almost 300 hours into this baby. Can’t wait for the new offering, BOOK OF HOURS, coming later this year.
Continuing the Cthulhian theme, I loved CALL OF THE SEA by Spanish company Out Of The Blue Games. When your archaeologist husband goes missing in the South Pacific in the 1930s, you embark on a point-and-click/puzzle style adventure to discover what happened to his expedition. But dark mysteries await you on the island…
I liked STRANGE HORTICULTURE a lot. I did wish it had a bit more content. I don’t mind short games (I actually am starting to prefer them). CALL OF THE SEA took me ~6 hours, for example. But STRANGE HORTICULTURE was so sweet and whimsical and creepy, I felt as though it could have done a little more for the main story, maybe get it closer to six hours than four. But I enjoyed the game a lot, and multiple endings give it replayability.
I think my favorite game so far this year has been THE ARTFUL ESCAPE by Beethoven and Dinosaur/Annapurna. You play the nephew of a beloved late folk musician, about to play your first concert as a folk artist following in his footsteps. But secretly, you’re an electric guitar shredding outer space rock star. If you show your true self, you’re afraid no one will accept you. Then an actual outer space rock star appears, offering you the gig of a lifetime. It’s a sort of walking simulator/light platformer with a lot of heart and rad music.
You’ve probably heard this a million times already, but EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE was phenomenal. I can’t explain how much I love this movie. A wacky multiverse romp with a painful family drama at its core, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
THE GRAY MAN was a surprisingly great action romp. I went in expecting a fun family popcorn movie, and that was what I got, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the story and characters. I’d love to see more made in this universe.
I finally got around to watching season 3 of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. What a fun, freaky show that is. I don’t think it was as strong as earlier seaons (the ending was particularly baffling), but it has some musical numbers that make up for it. Also it was great to see how well they treated Elliot Page in the writing.
We also binged through MONEY HEIST this year. The first “story” (seasons 1-3) was *chef’s kiss* superb. I didn’t feel the second story as much, but it had some good moments. If I was doing it over again I might stop after the first story.
That’s all for now! Remember, if you click and buy through any of the links in this page, I get nothing whatsoever. I am too lazy to manage a commissions account.
Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash