While I couldn’t come up with a better title than that, I did have a pretty spectacular year. I joined my first band in many years and have played some shows in Tokyo, I continued to expand the Splatter Elf universe, and I’ve interviewed some great folks on The Grim Tidings Podcast. Those who know my introverted nature probably think “How in the turquoise hell is Phil doing a podcast and being in a band?” I don’t know. I’m Superman or some shit.
So without further ado, here are some things that were definitely not shitty, but were awesome shit nonetheless.
Note: I’m also aware that not all of these things may have been released in 2015, but that’s when I came in contact with them so…yeah.
Best Novel: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
I was on a novel downturn this year for various reasons. I was starting and stopping a lot of novels and just constantly buying new work throughout the year. Beyond Redemption was one of the few constants that survived numerous abandoned novels. While I’m slow as fuck at reading, I’ve been reading this one every chance I get. Everyone and their mother has called it dark, including me, but that doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a unique take on a fantasy world with interesting characters that go deeper than their crusty exteriors. Taking mental disorders and making them manifest themselves into reality is a clever way to make an already insane world even more dangerous. Fans of R. Scott Bakker, Steven Erikson, and Joe Abercrombie would be pleased with Fletcher’s particular take on the fantastical.
Other Awesome Novels I’ve Read or Have Been Reading: Ten Thousand Days by C.D. Gallant-King, Betrayal’s Shadow by Dave deBurgh, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson, The Builders by Daniel Polansky, Time of Contetmpt by Andrzej Sapkowski
Best Short Story: The Fisher Queen by Alyssa Wong
This story was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2014, so I guess it’s not technically a 2015 story, but I read it then so I’m counting it. There are numerous stories I could have included from the loads of short story collections and anthologies I purchased this year. However, this one resonated with me the most. A strange and disturbing take on mermaids, Wong approaches the fantastical from the darkest parts of humanity. Highly recommended. You can read her thoughts about the nomination here: Alyssa Wong
Best Video Game I Played: Pillars of Eternity
While I know a lot of people may say Witcher 3 or something else here, Pillars of Eternity hit on all the things I love about games. Deep story, inventive world, familiar mechanics, awesome characters, and the possibility for multiple playthroughs. I love the vibe of everything, definitely familiar to those who played Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale. And if you haven’t played those, for shame! Get on it! In any case, I’m loving this game and I hope for more sequels down the line.
Best TV Show: Fargo
Featuring standout performances by Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, this is one of the best TV shows I saw this year. Again, I’m sure this came out earlier than 2015, but I saw the first season this year through Amazon. Just as darkly funny and deadly serious as the original movie, this is a must-watch for anyone that wants something intriguing, horrific, and hilarious at the same time.
Best Movie: Mad Max: Fury Road
A very close call for my favorite movie this year, but Mad Max: Fury Road was simply the best action movie I’d ever seen. It was non-stop insanity without suffering from flat characters or stupid dialogue. It did what it needed to do: kick the shit out of everyone and leave you wanting more.
Best Star Wars Movie: Stars Wars: The Force Awakens
OK, so I can’t leave off Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Best Star Wars Movie is a cop-out title. Maybe better would be Most Anticipated and Exceeded All Expectations Movie. I loved this film more than I expected. I know now some people are picking apart some elements of it, but I think that’s what makes it great. People are discussing a Star Wars movie with passion and vigor again. I can’t wait to see what is coming down the pipeline. Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren are some of my new favorites in the Star Wars universe.
Best Animated TV Show: BoJack Horseman
This was one that had to grow on me, but when it did, wow, I absolutely loved it. Everyone keeps telling me to watch Rick and Morty and I’m sure 2016 will get me caught up with that, but BoJack Horseman nailed all the things I love: talking animals, weird storylines, interesting characters, funny dialogue, and 90s sitcoms. Boom. Go watch it.
So that concludes my year end list. Lots of fun shit to do and I enjoyed talking to so many people with The Grim Tidings Podcast (too many to name!) Punch 2016 in the neck!