2023 highlights

The end of 2023 is upon us — well, nearly. A time of great feasting, but also a time to like back at the year past.

2023 in books

So, let’s get cracking. First up, book! A lot of cool books came out this year. Well, a lot of cool books come out every year, probably more than one person could read, but I limit myself to Fantasy and Science Fiction. However, this year I managed to set a new personal record by reading 48 books. So, enough source material.

First up, Sleep No More by Seanan McGuire came out. The seventeenth entry in the October Daye series. Whoop, whoop. In fact, not one, but two books came out. See the review under the link. I was really excited for this one. But I am sad, because now I’ll have to wait forever for the next one.

Staying in urban fantasy, I read the Inheritance series by AK Faulkner this year, and zipped right on through to the latest entry: Runes of Fall. It’s a really cool series about a florist and an aristocrat with super powers, living in San Diego. Hopefully next year will see the conclusion of the second series of five books — go write, Amelia!

This summer The Archive Undying came out, by Emma Mieko Candon. It really breathes post apocalyptic cyberpunk, and does very interesting things with viewpoints. A post-apocalyptic story with huge mechs, what’s not to like? Okay. Well. It can be hard to follow at times.

I ended this year with System Collapse by Martha Wells, the newest entry in the Murderbot series. I love the series, and I happily made my way through this one. And if you need more reasons to read the series, it’s going to be a TV show.

I haven’t gotten around to Across the Sorrow Sea by Anthony Ryan, the next installment in the Seven Swords series. I binged the first four parts earlier this year, but that was a while before the fifth one came out, so part five ended up on my to-read list. Anthony Ryan is a great writer and this is bite-sized no-nonsense hacking and slashing at its best.

Oh, right, I can’t end this without mentioning the four secret novels by Brandon Sanderson. They were trickled through my mailbox over the year, and they’re great. Of course, raising 41 million on Kickstarter means it clearly doesn’t need more attention from me.

2023 in video games

I played a number of video games this year, but since games often require triple-digit hours of investment, I don’t get around to playing as many as I can read books. I also had some older games yet to play, leading me to only play two that came out this year.

At the top of my — and a lot of other people’s list — is Baldur’s Gate 3. Duh. It’s an awesome game, and right up my alley. From a story perspestive, it’s a breath-takingly complicated game. It gives you so much choice, it’s mind-boggling. Couple that with a really good turn-based combat system, great visuals, and brilliant acting, and you’ve got one of the best games I’ve played in years.

The other newer game I’ve played is Spider-man 2. I only reviewed it last week, so I won’t regurgitate that this week, but it was really great to play.

I played other games, of course. Finally got around to Pillars of Eternity, played a lot of Darktide (which I still need to review), and loved Plague Tale: Requiem. But those are — of course — from previous years. Hah, but I still name-dropped them 🙂

2023 in movies

I have a nice home cinema setup, a young daughter, and I hate crowds.

Why am I telling you this? Well, those three things all contribute to me not going to the movies this year. There was a time that I went every other week, but that time has passed. I’m old, I guess. These days, it’s mostly streaming services.

I still watch movies, but not as many as I used to, and usually a bit older ones. That all leads up to the following confession: I haven’t watched any movie that came out this year. I still want to watch many of them (Barbie, Oppenheimer, Guardians 3. Across the Spider-verse), but I haven’t gotten around to any yet.

I have a small excuse in the form of the strikes earlier this year. If not for those, I would have gone to Dune part 2, but alas, that will have to wait for next year.

So, 2023 in movies… well, you know as much as I do, if not more. I recommend the four I just named, because they interest me, but I can’t speak from experience.

2023 in TV shows

Phew, TV shows went a little better. I did watch some of those.

First and foremost I must name Willow. I loved Willow. Part of it came out in 2022, but the tail end is from this year. You should watch it. Unfortunately, you can’t. Disney, in its full corporate dipshittery, decided to pull it only a few months after release to cut costs. Remember the strikes I mentioned. That was in part because of income from streaming services. Disney didn’t want to pay those, so they threw Willow to the bin. Fuck you, Bob Iger.

There was some controversy around its perceived handling of the source material. This happens as soon as somebody tries to take a beloved franchise into a new direction (Stargate Universe, The Laste Jedi). Basically, you can’t take a franchise somewhere new, but have to remake it in a new guise, in which case it will be automatically be a bland copy.

For Willow, there was a second problem. As is unfortunately common these days, a lot of the negativity feels like a weak attempt to hide criticism of the lesbian content and female protagonist: “no, I’m not a bigot, I just didn’t like the acting and the story was so different from the original.”

What you can watch is the Wheel of Time season 2. It came out earlier this fall. And it was really good. My only gripe was that Moiraine — Rosamund Pike — was really mean for most of the season. As in, utterly nasty. There are reasons, but still, she seems to go out of her way to insult and hurt those around her. The season finale is really cool, and as a long-time fan of the series, I was very pleased.

Finally, this year featured the return of Star Trek the Next Generation. Oh wait, no. It was Picard Season 3. Amazon managed to bring the whole Next Generation cast together, giving them a well-earned reunion. The show had some unsung heroes too. In general, it was okay, but it leaned more on the nostalgia train than on good storytelling, and it suffers from problems that a lot of TV shows suffer from in the streaming age. And when speaking of bland remakes of an original. Well, let’s say Picard Season 3 did not try to travel new roads.

Summary

All in all, it was a good year for books, shows, and games. And movies too. Probably.

If you stuck around all the way to this point, then I wish you a happy new year, and a bountiful 2024!

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands