While I’m not capable of producing comprehensive end-of-year lists these days, I could participate in a podcast panel and choose just three things “from the popular culture” that I enjoyed in 2022. Maybe. I’m unlikely to be invited, however. So here are three things I would have nominated, had I received the call.
- Television programme. Well, there are three contenders, which complicates things, because it’s not easy to choose. Both Seasons 1 & 2 of Slow Horses were on TV+ this year, so there’s that. It was excellent, perfectly realised, perfectly cast, and gave me a whole new appreciation for the books. And then there was Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is the best new Star Trek series for years, perhaps ever. But my ultimate choice is going to seem like a cheat, because it was officially first released in 2021. But in reality, it wasn’t available in the UK until 2022, so my pick as the best show out of all the television for 2022 is – because of course it is – Station Eleven.
- Book. I’ve been boring everyone with the news that I read, give or take, a book a week in 2022. Average length 379 pages, too, so no slouching around with novellas and the like. But a lot of these books were published in prior years. I really loved Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future, for example, but it was first published in 2020 (with a stretch to the paperback in 2021). Then there was the last of the Murderbot Diaries, Fugitive Telemetry, which too was published in 2021. But I’m not going to cheat this time, so I’ll choose from books published in 2022. My top three contenders are Bad Actors by Mick Herron, the most recent Slow Horses novel. I also really enjoyed The Dark Between the Trees by Fiona Barnett, which I reviewed recently. But for sheer escapism, and fun to read in my favourite genre of them all, I’m going to go with The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi. It barely qualifies as a novel because it’s under 300 pages, but it’s an example of something you might consider unpromising material which ended up surprising me. As I warned in my review: try to go into this knowing nothing about it, and you’ll enjoy it more.
- Record. This third category should be something else, really, because as previously noted, I’ve barely engaged with music this year. I’ve listened to a lot of audio, but in the form of podcasts, radio dramas, and audio books. Just haven’t been in the mood for music. I need to try harder in 2023. But I couldn’t pick a podcast or a radio drama out of all the hundreds and hundreds I’ve listened to over the past 12 months. I mean, if 52 books wasn’t enough, at a rough estimate I’d say I listened to more than 1500 podcast episodes this year, and possibly another hundred or so radio dramas. So, music it is. As with books, most of what I listened to dated to years prior to last. But there are three contenders. First is the Station Eleven soundtrack, which I really enjoyed alongside the TV series. Then there’s Miranda Lambert’s Palomino, which is great but loses out because it has too many tracks and is too long (just under an hour). So my nomination for my album of the year is the small and perfectly formed Take it Like a Man by Amanda Shires. Ten songs, 37 minutes, which seems about right.