Honestly, although it’s been a trashfire for the world at large, and also for many of my friends, 2017 was … okay for me. Not outstanding, but fine. And one thing which has helped has been escapism through media.
This list isn’t ranked, it’s only ordered vaguely by chronology, and I’ve probably forgotten a million things. Well, a dozen things.
I don’t see many movies, so this isn’t so much a list of my favourites as a list of … what I saw:
- Moana — thoroughly enjoyable; parts of the soundtrack are still in high rotation in my personal playlist.
- Hidden Figures — I had some Opinions about this as an adaptation of history in general and the book in particular, but I still loved it.
- Wonder Woman — I almost didn’t see this at all, because I’m so burnt out on superheroes, and I don’t find Wonder Woman all that interesting as a character. But I loved it! And her!
- Thor: Ragnarok — Another one I had no intention of seeing, yet surprised myself by loving.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi — Put it this way: I barely ever see movies once, let alone twice. But I just made plans to see it again tomorrow afternoon.
Here are some albums which have stayed with me this year:
- Rainbow by Kesha — I really like Kesha as a person, and didn’t mind her early songs, but this was such a solid, heartfelt, open and vulnerable album. That also has a track about dating Godzilla. (*whispers* I think it might be a metaphor!) I hope she goes from strength to strength.
- Melodrama by Lorde — Discussed at length over on No Award. I managed to attend the last show of her world tour, and she was every bit as magnetic and dorky and talented as she seems.
- MASSEDUCTION by St Vincent — All my friends are laughing at me for only just now discovering St Vincent, but I make no apologies for experiencing things in my own time.
As for individual songs … “Fire Drills” by Dessa is 2017 in musical form, and I can’t wait for her new album next year.
Television (and streaming, obviously)
Things I’ve watched and liked:
- The Expanse — I also read the books, and enjoy how few concessions the TV series makes to people who aren’t familiar with the source. The first two seasons suffer from the same problem as the first book — too much of That Annoying White Guy Character — but somewhat make up for it by introducing key female characters ahead of time.
- The Handmaid’s Tale — I didn’t agree with every choice the adaptation made, especially it’s weird reliance on Nina Simone for scenes about white women. And it definitely didn’t need an episode about what’s his face the chauffeur’s manpain. But it was taut and interesting, and visually stunning.
- Doctor Who — The introduction of Bill revived the series, and finally made me like Twelve. It suffered at the end from the unintentional but inevitable side effects of having an all-white writing team, but it was a great send off for Capaldi.
- Star Trek: Discovery — I liked this a bit. It was okay. *eyedart*
- The Good Place — I tried to explain this to my mother: “It’s a sitcom? Set in the afterlife? But it’s about philosophy and ethics, and also it’s kind of like if C S Lewis’s Screwtape Letters were expanded and adapted as a sitcom? Set in the afterlife? But it’s…” It’s forking good is what it is.
- The Americans — Season five is sooooooooooo slooooooow. Nothing is happening! And it’s great! We’re just taking our time, watching Paige Jennings and the Soviet Union both unravel in slow motion.
2017 was the year I completely screwed up any hope of reading mostly books by women, on account of how I accidentally read and reread a whole lot of series by men. Eh, it happens. And it may happen again, because, having listened to the whole of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series in audiobook form, I’m now inclined to read the paperbacks.
Anyway, series I have enjoyed:
- The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch — in which a young police officer accidentally becomes heir to the traditions and wisdoms of British magic. It’s not really to everyone’s taste — I have a lot of friends who found the narrative voice too male gazey to enjoy, although that tapers down as the books progress and Peter becomes more mature — but I enjoy the setting and the plots and the cheerful digressions into whatever research hole Aaronovitch has been falling down lately.
- The Expanse by James S. A. Corey — it’s space opera, but (mostly) confined to our own solar system, and the aliens are truly alien. I found the first book hard going, loved the next few, and struggled with the most recent one — but I think that’s because I’m exhausted and have eye strain and maybe shouldn’t have been trying to read an ebook at this time of year.
- Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones — I can’t believe I managed to go my whole life without reading these books, which combine Blyton-esque tropes with one of my favourite scenarios: the child wizard who grows up to become a stressed out bureaucrat whose children are forever in and out of trouble. (Yes, I also loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, why do you ask?)
Some individual books I loved:
- Everything Vikki Wakefield has published. She has a knack for writing about the sorts of heroines you don’t often see in Australian YA — the marginalised, the homeless, girls from rural communities, girls who drop out of school and have to get jobs.
- Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu — fierce, angry feminist YA about music, zines and the power of collective action.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — more fierce and angry YA, this time about the murder of a African American boy by police.
- The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke — Clarke’s funny (and fierce and angry) memoir of growing up black in suburban Australia.
- The Radium Girls: The dark story of America’s shining women by Kate Moore — A piece of history about the radium dial painters who were effectively sacrificed for capitalism.
Finally, some books I hated and didn’t finish:
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline — as I explained to a guy at work, who was surprised I wasn’t excited about the trailer for the film, if you hang around nerd communities long enough, you meet people — usually men — who are less interested in having a conversation than regurgitating trivia at you. This is those guys, but in book form.
- The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers — apparently this is in the subgenre of “hopepunk”, which is meant to be nice, reassuring science fiction or fantasy, the opposite of grimdark. It wasn’t bad, just unspeakably boring.