The Forgiven (John Michael McDonagh 2022)

and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about John Michael McDonagh’s The Forgiven (2022), which we watched because I really quite liked The Guard (2011) and Calvary (2014), even though the director clearly drew the short straw and his brother got both Brendan Gleeson and the west coast of Ireland that year, is that bad things do happen to these awful people, although sadly those bad things are not bad enough and do not happen to enough of them or anywhere near quickly enough…

The absurdly large book challenge of 2023

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (or, very often, arithmetic), but last night I started reading Mariana Enriquez’s Our Share of Night (2022), which so far is pretty good (not yet clear if I’ll want to keep it) but also a really awkward size and shape (233mm x 158mm x 52mm and 0.7kg in paperback).

Now, I like big books, I cannot lie, but what I can’t abide is unnecessarily large volumes. There is no physical reason why Our Share of Night could not have been published as an A-format paperback, rather than this ridiculously-dimensioned trade paperback.

Which reminded me of all the book-packing and lugging involved in moving house last year (150 boxes in the 20 litre range), and how much space in those boxes is taken up by ginormous books I want to read but probably don’t want to keep. So it’s time to bring some order to my life/box-stacks and challenge myself to plough through one of these unnecessarily humungous tomes per month this year – and then probably pass it on to a friend an enemy or to the only charity shop within staggering distance (although, obviously, with these behemoths I would prefer one that represented a cause of which I do not wholly approve).

Thus in addition to combining reading with an upper-body and core strength workout and the possibility of petty revenge, by December I will have succeeded in disposing not only of 12.427kg or (I think) 33908.807cm3 of books but also any sense of joy reading them might otherwise entail.

N.B. I haven’t yet decided which one I’ll read in which month because what I really need now is an accurate word-count for each book so as to figure out the most efficient order in which to read them  – i.e., the one that most speedily clears some goddam room in this house.

White Sands (Roger Donaldson 1992)

and so anyway, having now visited White Sands, New Mexico, it turns out that the best thing about White Sands (Roger Donaldson 1992) is, as I thought thirty years ago when I paid good money to see it in the cinema, not its amazing and far-too-good-for-this-rubbish cast, including Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Samuel L. Jackson, M. Emmet Walsh, Maura Tierney, Miguel Sandoval, Mimi Rogers and John P. Ryan, all of whom now look like baby versions of themselves, apart maybe from Walsh and Ryan, but the fact that it manages to draw together all the elements needed for a really tense, tight little B-movie paranoid noir thriller…except for a director capable of making one

Ambulance (Michael Bay 2022)

and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Ambulance (Michael Bay 2022) is not the hilarious overuse of drone cameras or the odd shot pretending to be in infrared that accidentally recapitulates something of Tony Scott’s much more interesting chaos cinema stylisations in Domino (2005) or the hilarious series of endings offering redemption to characters – rather, ‘characters’ – no one could possibly give a fuck about in slow motion so as to help to drag out the run time to almost twice the length of the Danish film Ambulacen (Laurits Munch-Petersen 2005) it’s based on – though that could partly because Los Angeles is a lot bigger than Copenhagen – no, the best thing about Ambulance is that is finally fucking over and, should I choose to continue to subject myself to Michael Bay films even though Nick is no longer my student working on Michael Bay films, it will be a few years until his next one (Robopocalypse, stuck in pre-production hell) rocks up to make me question my life choices….

My top 23 films of 2022

This year, I have watched 332 films, 208 for the first time – and of those 208, my top 22 were…

No, wait, first some awards

Brownest film
Le daim/Deerskin (Quentin Dupieux 2019)

Best opening sequence containing bad dancing
Limbo (Ben Sharrock 2020)

Best dog
In joint first place Dog (Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum 2022) and Paterson (Jim Jarmusch 2016) – but definitely not Dog (Andrea Arnold 2010)

Best performance by Daniel Radcliffe
Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert 2016), as a farting corpse

Best accidental thematic double bill
Titane (Julia Ducournau 2021) and Trafic (Jacques Tati 1971)

Best (and most unexpected) appearance of a character based on Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Tawny Pipit (Bernard Miles and Charles Saunders 1944)

Best (and most unexpected) scene of English schoolchildren being taught to sing ‘The Internationale’
Tawny Pipit (Bernard Miles and Charles Saunders 1944)

Best (and most expected) appearance of a Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit (Bernard Miles and Charles Saunders 1944)

Here’s my top 23 in roughly this order
Earwig (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2022)
Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror 1972)
Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland 2022)
Nope (Jordan Peele 2022)
Radio On (Chris Petit 1979)
X (Ti West 2022)
He qi dao/Hapkido (Feng Huanh 1972)
Bu san/Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Ming-liang Tsai 2003)
Chemi bebia/My Grandmother (Kote Mikaberidze 1929)
Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch 1984)
Xian si jue/Duel to the Death (Siu-Tung Ching 1983)
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt 2006)
Un monde/Playground (Laura Wandel 2021)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinart 2022)
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch 2017)
Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho 2019)
RRR (S.S. Rajamouli 2022)
Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer 2019)
Dorosute no hare de bokura/Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (Junta Yamaguchi 2020)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson 2022)
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh 2022)
Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs (Stuart Cooper 1974)
The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour 2016

And here is the full list:
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (Jack Sher 1960)
4 mosche di velluto grigio/Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Dario Argento 1971)
6 donne per l’assassino/Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava 1964)
2040 (Damon Gameau 2019)
The 355 (Simon Kinberg 2022)
20 Million Miles to Earth (Nathan Juran 1957)

Abaddon (Jesica Aran 2018)
The Adam Project (Shawn Levy 2022)
Advantageous (Jennifer Phang 2015)
Aelita (Yakov Protazanov 1924)
A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg 2001)
Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker 1992)
Aladdin (Guy Ritchie 2019)
Algoritmo/Algorithm (Thiago Foresti 2020)
Alien (Ridley Scott 1979)
Alien (Ridley Scott 1979)
All the Old Knives (Janus Metz Pedersen 2022)
Alone (John Hyams 2020)
American Evil (Georgina Lightning 2008)
Aniara (Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja 2018)
The Apartment (Billy Wilder 1960)
The Appointment (Lindsey C. Vickers 1981)
Arsenal (Aleksandr Dovzhenko 1929)
Avril et la monde truqué/April and the Extraordinary World (Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci 2015))

Baby Face (Alfred E. Green 1931)
Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho 2019)
The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour 2016)
Bait (Mark Jenkin 2019)
Bait (Mark Jenkin 2019)
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh 2022)
The Batman (Matt Reeves 2022)
Battletruck (Harley Cokeliss 1982)
Before I Hang (Nick Grinde 1940)
Be My Wife (Max Linder 1921)
The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis 1955)
The Bishop’s Wife (Henry Koster 1947)
Black Friday (Casey Tebo 2021)
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler 2018)
The Black Room (Roy William Neill 1935)
Blacula (William Crain 1972)
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott 2007)
Blonde Crazy (Roy Del Ruth 1931)
Boiling Point (Philip Barantini 2021)
The Boogie Man Will Get You (Lew Landers 1942)
The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutiérrez 2014)
Boss Level (Joe Carnahan 2020)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah 1974)
A Broken Fan (Before the Big Collapse) (Assaad Khoueiry 2022)
Bubba Ho-Tep (Don Coscarelli 2002)
Bu san/Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Ming-liang Tsai 2003)

CALL END (Hakima Benjamin 2022)
Cat People (Jacques Tourneur 1942)
Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond 2021)
The Challenge (John Frankenheimer 1982)
Chaos Walking (Doug Liman 2021)
Chemi bebia/My Grandmother (Kote Mikaberidze 1929)
Chibusa yo eien nare/Forever a Woman (Kinuyo Tanaka 1955)
Circle (Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione 2015)
Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina 2017)
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Madeleine Olnek 2011)
Come Dancing (Bill Douglas 1971)
The Contractor (Tarik Saleh 2022)
Cop Car (John Watts 2015)
Copshop (Joe Carnahan 2021)
Les Créatures (Agnès Varda 1965)
Creep (Patrick Brice 2014)
Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg 2022)
Crumbs (Miguel Llansó 2015)
Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa 1997)

Le daim/Deerskin (Quentin Dupieux 2019)
Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (Gordon Flemyng 1966)
The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak 1946)
Day Shift (J.J. Perry 2022)
Dead Slow Ahead (Mauro Herce 2015)
Dementia (John Parker and Bruno Ve Sota 1955)
Un dessert pour Constance/A Dessert for Constance (Sarah Maldoror 1981)
The Devil Commands (Edward Dmytryk 1941)
Diabolik (Mario Bava 1968)
Diabolik (Antonio and Marco Manetti 2021)
Ditadura Roxa/Purple Dictatorship (Matheus Moura 2020)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Sam Raimi 2022)
Dog (Andrea Arnold 2010)
Dog (Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum 2022)
Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer 2019)
Don’t Breathe 2 (Rodo Sayagues 2021)
Don’t Look Up (Adam McKay 2021)
Dorosute no hare de bokura/Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (Junta Yamaguchi 2020)
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944)
Dr. Who and the Daleks (Gordon Flemyng 1965)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (Alan Gibson 1972)
The Driver (Walter Hill 1978)
Druk/Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg 2020)
Druk/Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg 2020)
Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam/The Man Who Saved the World/Turkish Star Wars (Çetin Inanç 1982)

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (Fred F. Sears 1956)
Earwig (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2022)
En fin de conte/A Fairy Tale (Zoé Arène 2021)
Eternals (Chloé Zhao 2021)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinart 2022)
Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi 1987)
Évolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2015)
Évolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2015)
Executive Decision (Stuart Baird 1996)
Extraction (Sam Hargrave 2020)

Fast and Furious 8 (F. Gary Gray 2017)
Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw (David Leitch 2019)
Fast and Furious 9 (Justin Lin 2021)
A Field in England (Ben Wheatley 2013)
File Under Miscellaneous (Jeff Barnaby 2010)
Filmed in Supermarionation (Stephen La Rivière 2014)
Fire of Love (Sara Dosa 2022)
First Cow (Kelly Reichardt 2019)
First Men in the Moon (Nathan Juran 1964)
Flash Gordon (Mike Hodges 1980)
Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland 2022)
Foo gwai lip che/Millionaire’s Express (Sammo Hung 1986)
Forbidden World (Allan Holzman 1982)
Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky 1948)
Fractured (Brad Anderson 2019)
Freaky (Christopher Landon 2020)
Free Guy (Shawn Levy 2021)
A Free Soul (Clarence Brown 1931)
La frusta e il corpo/The Whip and the Body (Mario Bava 1963)
Fury (Fritz Lang 1936)

Gakusei romansu: Wakaki hi/Days of Youth (Yasujiro Ozu 1929)
Gesetze der Liebe/Laws of Love (Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Oswald 1927)
Get on the Bus (Spike Lee 1995)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Jason Reitman 2021)
Giornata near per l’ariete/The Fifth Cord (Luigi Bazzoni 1971)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson 2022)
The Golden Age (Hannah Hamalian 2021)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (Gordon Hessler 1973)
Gonawindua (Giuliano Cavalli and Jorge Mario Suárez 2011)
The Gray Man (Anthony and Joe Russo 2022)
The Guilty (Antoine Fuqua 2021)

Halloween Kills (David Gordon Green 2021)
The Harder They Fall (Jeymes Samuel 2021)
Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby 1971)
He qi dao/Hapkido (Feng Huanh 1972)
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Alexander Hall 1941)
High Noon (Fred Zinnemann 1952)
The Hill (Sidney Lumet 1965)
His House (Remi Weekes 2020)
His Wooden Wedding (Leo McCarey 1925)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax 2012)
Hoverboard (Sydney Freeland 2012)
El hoyo/The Platform (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia 2019)
Hrútar/Rams (Grímur Hákonarson 2015)

Ice (Robert Kramer 1970)
Ichimei/Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Takashi Miike 2011)
Idi I smotri/Come and See (Elem Klimov 1985)
Infinite (Antoine Fuqua 2021)
Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2004)
In the Earth (Ben Wheatley 2021)
Invasão Espacial/Space Invasion (Thiago Foresti 2019)
It Came from Beneath the Sea (Robert Gordon 1955)
I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur 1943)

Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey 1963)
Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama 2009)
Jewel Robbery (William Dieterle 1932)
Jingle All the Way (Brian Levant 1996)
Jiu xian shi ba die/World of the Drunken Master (Joseph Kuo 1979)
Jodorowsky’s Dune (Frank Pavitch 2013)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Brad Peyton 2012)
Jue quan/Seven Grandmasters (Joseph Kuo 1977)
Jupiter holdja/Jupiter’s Moon (Kornél Mundruczó 2017)

Kajillionaire (Miranda July 2020)
Kajillionaire (Miranda July 2020)
Kaleidoscope (Rupert Jones 2016)
Killer’s Kiss (Stanley Kubrick 1955)
Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik 2012)
Kimi no na wa/Your Name (Makoto Shinkai 2016)
King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack 1933)
The King’s Man (Matthew Vaughn 2021)
Kona fer í stríð/Woman at War (Benedikt Erlingsson 2018)
Kozure Ôkami: Ko wo kasha ude kasha tsukamatsuru/Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kenji Misumi 1972)

Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson 2021)
Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright 2021)
Let Us Be Seen (Elspeth Vischer 2022)
Limbo (Ben Sharrock 2020)
Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs (Stuart Cooper 1974)
Liu lang di qiu/The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo 2019)
Locked In (Our Lockdown Stories) (William Powers, Lucy Groenewoud and Amy Browne 2022)
Lola Montes (Max Ophuls 1955)
Looper (Rian Johnson 2012)
The Lost City (Aaron and Adam Nee 2022)
Lou (Anna Foerster 2022)
The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson 2009)
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch 2017)

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (George Miller 1981)
Malignant (James Wan 2021)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos 2018)
The Man from Toronto (Patrick Hughes 2022)
The Man They Could Not Hang (Nick Grinde 1939)
The Man with Nine Lives (Nick Grinde 1940)
Marlina si pembunuh dalam empat babak?Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly Surya 2017)
Marlina si pembunuh dalam empat babak?Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly Surya 2017)
Marlina si pembunuh dalam empat babak?Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly Surya 2017)
Marte: Loga/LOGA – Mars Projections (Jane de Almeida 2021)
Marte: Loga/LOGA – Mars Projections (Jane de Almeida 2021)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir 2003)
Matango/Attack of the Mushroom People (Ishirô Honda 1963)
The Matrix Resurrections (Lana Wachowski 2021)
Max Wants a Divorce (Max Linder 1917)
Mayhem (Joe Lynch 2017)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt 2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt 2010)
Men (Alex Garland 2022)
Mi quan san shi liu shao/The 36 Deadly Styles (Joseph Kuo 1979)
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Preston Sturges 1944)
Missão Berço Esplêndido/Mission Splendid Cradle (Joel Caetano 2021)
Un monde/Playground (Laura Wandel 2021)
Moonfall (Roland Emmerich 2022)
Morgan (Luke Scott 2016)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson 1992)
My Childhood (Bill Douglas 1972)
My Ain Folk (Bill Douglas 1973)
Mysterious Island (Cy Endfield 1961)
My Way Home (Bill Douglas 1978)

Nectar (Lucile Hadzihalilovic 2014)
Neptune Frost (Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams 2021)
Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro 2021)
Night of the Eagle (Sidney Hayers 1962)
No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen 2007)
Nope (Jordan Peele 2022)
The Northman (Robert Eggers 2021)
Nuevo Rico (Kristian Mercado 2021)

O Brother, Where Art Thou (Joel and Ethan Coen 2000)
Okja (Bong Joon Ho 2017)
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt 2006)
One Night in Miami… (Regina King 2020)
The Outfit (Graham Moore 2022)

The Pajama Game (George Abbott and Stanley Donen 1957)
Pariah (Dee Rees 2011)
Paris Blues (Martin Ritt 1961)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch 2016)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch 2016)
The Path Without End (Elizabeth LaPensée 2011)
Petit Maman (Céline Sciamma 2021)
Pet Sematary (Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer 2019)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson 2017)
Phase II (Kelly L. Sears 2022)
Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon 1959) 
Pin Cushion (Deborah Haywood 2017)
Playtime (Jacques Tati 1967)
Pleins feux sur l’assassin/Spotlight on a Murderer (Georges Franju 1961)
Poetic Justice (John Singleton 1993)
Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow 1991)
Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper 1982)
Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg 2020)
Princess Tam Tam (Edmond T. Gréville 1935)
The Proposal (Anne Fletcher 2009)
The Purge (James DeMonaco 2013)

Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas 2019)

Radio On (Chris Petit 1979)
Random Acts of Violence (Jay Baruchel 2019)
The Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls 1949)
Red-Headed Woman (Jack Conway 1932)
Red Notice (Rawson Marshall Thurber 2021)
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (Johannes Roberts 2021)
Robin Hood (Ridley Scott 2010)
Roman Holiday (William Wyler 1953)
RRR (S.S. Rajamouli 2022)
Ryojin nikki/The Hunter’s Diary (Kô Nakahira 1964)

Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror 1972)
Scary Places/Shapes and Places (Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran 2020)
Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang 1947)
See Us Come Together (Alyssa Suico 2022)
Seungriho/Space Sweepers (Sung-hee Jo 2021)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan Juran 1958)
Shao Lin Si shi ba tong ren/The 18 Bronzeman (Joseph Kuo 1976)
Shao Lin xiao zi/The Shaolin Kids (Joseph Kuo 1975)
Sharpe’s Company (Tom Clegg 1994)
Sharpe’s Honour (Tom Clegg 1994)
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright 2004)
Shelley (Ali Abbasi 2016)
Sherlock Holmes (Albert Parker 1922)
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton 1924)
Shi fu chu ma/The Old Master (Joseph Kuo 1979)
Shock (Mario Bava 1977)
Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven 1995)
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (Sam Wanamaker 1977)
Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly 1952)
Smokey and the Bandit (Hal Needham 1977)
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (Robert Schwentke 2021)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Jon Watts 2021)
Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch 1984)
The Suicide Squad (James Gunn 2021)
Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert 2016)

Tawny Pipit (Bernard Miles and Charles Saunders 1944)
Tayne pechati drakona/The Iron Mask (Oleg Stepchenko 2019)
Tenebrae (Dario Argento 1982)
Terminal (Vaughn Stein 2018)
A Terrible Beauty (Iram Ghufran 2022)
A Terrible Beauty (Iram Ghufran 2022)
Terrore nello Spazio/Planet of the Vampires (Mario Bava 1965)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (David Blue Garcia 2022)
They Live (John Carpenter 1988)
The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh 1924)
Thor: Love and Thunder (Taika Waititi 2022)
Tie zhang xuan feng tui/Lady Whirlwind (Feng Huang1972)
Titane (Julia Ducournau 2021)
Trafic (Jacques Tati 1971)
Tremors (Ron Underwood 1990)
Troll (Roar Uthuag 2022)
Twin Town (Kevin Allen 1997)
The Twonky (Arch Oboler 1953)

Uchûjin Tôkyô ni arawaru/Warning from Space (Kôji Shima 1956)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Tom Gormican 2022)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Tom Gormican 2022)
Uncharted (Ruben Fleischer 2022)
Uncle Buck (John Hughes 1989)
Upstream Color (Shane Carruth 2013)
Us (Jordan Peele 2019)

Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn 2009)
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Andy Serkis 2021)
Vuelven/Tigers Are Not Afraid (Issa López 2017)

Warui yatsu hodo yoku menuru/The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa 1960)
Who Killed Captain Alex? (Nabwana I.G.G. 2010)
Who Killed Captain Alex? (Nabwana I.G.G. 2010)
The Woman in the Window (Joe Wright 2021)
Work It Class! (Pol Diggler 2021)

X (Ti West 2022)
Xian si jue/Duel to the Death (Siu-Tung Ching 1983)
Xing xing wang/The Mighty Peking Man (Meng-Hua Ho 1977)
Xiu chun dao/Brotherhood of BladeYang Lu 2014)
Yi dai jian wang/The Swordsman of All Swordsmen (Joseph Kuo 1968)
Yip Man ngoi zn: Cheung Tin Cheu/Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy (Woo-Ping Yuen 2018)
You Don’t Nomi (Jeffrey McHale 2019)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Zack Snyder 2021)
Zola (Janicza Bravo 2020)
Zvenigora (Alexander Dovzhenko 192

My top 22 books of 2022

In 2022, I read 258 books (250 of them for the first time). Of these, 114 were by straight white men writing in English, 127 were by the rest of the world (but only 71 by women), with 19 multi-authored or otherwise too complicated to fit into those categories.

Of them, my favourite 18 works of fiction, in roughly this order but with the Delany definitely way out in front of everything else, were:
Samuel R. Delany, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2011)
Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver (1982)
Nelson Algren, The Neon Wilderness (1947)
Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 (2014)
Max Porter, Lanny (2019)
Rivers Solomon, Sorrowland (2021)
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, The Time Regulation Institute (1962)
Olympe Bhêly-Quénum, Snares without End (1978)
Brooke Bolander, The Only Harmless Great Thing (2018)
Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman (2013)
Richard Powers, Bewilderment (2021)
Gretchen Felker-Martin, Manhunt (2022)
M.E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi, Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune 2052–2072 (2022)
Gabino Iglesias, The Devil Takes You Home (2022)
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
Ruthanna Emrys, A Half-Built Garden (2022)
Lee Maracle, Celia’s Song (2014)
Kathleen Ann Goonan, In War Times (2007)

And my favourite 4 works of non-fiction, in roughly this order, were:
Andreas Malm and the Zetkin Collective, White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism (2021)
Yasmin El-Rifae, Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution (2022)
China Miéville, A Spectre, Haunting: On The Communist Manifesto (2022)
Robert T. Tally, Jr., For a Ruthless Critique of All that Exists: Literature in an Age of Capitalist Realism (2022)

The full list of 258 is below:
Brian W. Aldiss, Greybeard (1964)
Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues (1995)
Nelson Algren, The Neon Wilderness (1947)
Tariq Ali, Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes (2022)
Charlie Jane Anders, Victories Greater Than Death (2021)
Jake Arnott, He Kills Coppers (2001)
Catherine Asaro, Spherical Harmonic (2001)
Madeline Ashby, Company Town (2016)
Mike Ashley, ed., The Platform Edge: Uncanny Tales of the Railways (2019)
Edward Ashton, Mickey7 (2022)
Paul Auster, Travels in the Scriptorium (2006)
–. Man in the Dark (2008)
–. Invisible (2009)
–. Sunset Park (2010)
Richard Ayoade, Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (2014)

Samit Basu, The City Inside (2020)
Stephen Baxter, Ring (1994)
Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Nights (2019)
Virginia Bergin, Who Runs the World? (2017)
Adele Bertei, Why Labelle Matters (2021)
Lauren Beukes, Afterland (2020)
Khavita Bhanot, ed., Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (2011)
Olympe Bhêly-Quénum, Snares without End (1978)
Brian Bilston, Diary of a Somebody (2019)
Lawrence Block, The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes (2015)
Brooke Bolander, The Only Harmless Great Thing (2018)
Guy Boothby, A Bid for Fortune (1895)
–. Dr Nikola (1896)
David Bowles, The Smoking Mirror (2015)
Gracie Mae Bradley and Luke de Noronha, Against Borders: The Case for Abolition (2022)
Benjamin Bratton, The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (2021)
Will Brooker, Using the Force: Creativity, Community and Star Wars Fans (2002)
Max Brooks, Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre (2020)
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland (1798)
–. Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist (1803)
Fredric Brown, What Mad Universe (1949)
–. The Lights in the Sky are Stars (1953)
–. Martians, Go Home (1955)
–. Rogue in Space (1957)
–. The Mind Thing (1961)
Jayna Brown, Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds (2021)
Jenny Brown, Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now (2022)
William Brown, Non-Cinema: Global Digital Film-making and the Multitude (2018)
Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies (2013)
John Buchan, Prester John (1910)
Samuel Butler, Erewhon: or, Over the Range (1872)

Alex Callinicos, Trotskyism (1990)
Bill Campbell, Koontown Killing Kaper (2012)
M.R. Carey, The Girl with all the Gifts (2014)
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus (1984)
B. Catling, Earwig (2019)
David Caute, Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century (2022)
Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World (1666)
J.C. Cervantes, The Storm Runner (2018)
James Chapman, Cinemas of the World: Film and Society from 1895 to the Present (2003)
Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel (1953)
Vivek Chibber, Confronting Capitalism: How the World Works and How to Change It (2022)
René Clair, Reflections on the Cinema (1953)
Wilkie Collins, The Frozen Deep (1874)
Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate (1959)
Thomas Cripps, Hollywood’s High Noon: Moviemaking and Society Before Television (1997)

Jack Dann, Terrorism (2013)
Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990)
Samuel R. Delany, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2011)
James De Mille, A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (1888)
Kay Dick, They (1977)
Philip K. Dick, Time Out of Joint (1959)
Joël Dicker, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (2012)
Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003)
–. Little Brother (2008)
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
Jean-Claude Dunyach, The Thieves of Silence (2009)

Oliver Eagleton, The Starmer Project: A Journey to the Right (2022)
Greg Egan, Axiomatic (1995)
–. Luminous (1998)
Yasmin El-Rifae, Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution (2022)
Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater (2018)
Ruthanna Emrys, A Half-Built Garden (2022)
Steven Erikson, Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart (2018)

D.O. Fagunwa, Forest of a Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga (1939)
Lee Falk and Ray Moore, The Phantom, the complete newspaper dailies: volume one 1936–1937 (1936–37)
Gretchen Felker-Martin, Manhunt (2022)
George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman (1969)
Robert Fraser, Victorian Quest Romance: Stevenson, Haggard, Kipling and Conan Doyle (1998)

David Gaffney, Out of the Dark (2022)
Basma Ghalayini, ed., Palestine + 100 (2019)
Kristen Ghodsee, Red Valkyries: Feminist Lessons from Five Revolutionary Women (2022)
John Gibbs, Mise-en-scène: Film Style and Interpretation (2002)
David Gillespie, Early Soviet Cinema: Innovation, Ideology and Propaganda (2000)
Inez Haynes Gilmore, Angel Island (1914)
Saverio Giovacchini, Hollywood Modernism: Film and Politics in the Age of the New Deal (2001)
Jennifer Givhan, Trinity Sight (2019)
Basil Glynn, The Mummy on Screen: Orientalism and Monstrosity in Horror Cinema (2021)
Francis Godwin, The Man in the Moone (1638)
Kathleen Ann Goonan, In War Times (2007)
Vivian Gornick, Taking a Long Look: Essays on Culture, Literature, and Feminism in Our Time (2021)
Alex Grecian, The Yard (2012)
Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter (1948)

Blake M. Hausman, Riding the Trail of Tears (2011)
Joel Hawkes, Alex Christie and Thomas Nienhuis, American Science Fiction Television and Space: Productions and (Re)configurations, 1987–2021 (2022)
Nathalie Henneberg, The Green Gods (2010)
Matt Hills, Fan Cultures (2002)
Ernest Hogan, Smoking Mirror Blues (2001)
Stark Holborn, Ten Low (2021)
Michel Houellebecq, Atomised (1999)
Robert E. Howard, El Borak and Other Desert Adventures (2010)

Gabino Iglesias, The Devil Takes You Home (2022)
Rachel Ingalls, Mrs Caliban (1982)
Simon Ings, Wolves (2014)

Kevin Jackson, Constellation of Genius – 1922: Modernism and All That Jazz (2012)
Fredric Jameson, Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality (2016)
Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver (1982)
N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, Far Sector (2020–21)
Hao Jingfang, Vagabonds (2016)
Kij Johnson, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (2016)
Mat Johnson, Pym (2011)

Richard Kadrey, The Grand Dark (2019)
Matthew Kaopio, Written in the Sky (2005)
John Kessel, The Moon and the Other (2017)
Hari Kunzru, Red Pill (2020)
Ambelin Kwaymullina, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (2014)

Christopher Landon, Ice Cold in Alex (1957)
Joe R. Lansdale, Lost Echoes (2007)
–. Rusty Puppy (2017)
Matthew Lawrence and Laurie Laybourn-Langton, Planet on Fire: A Manifesto for the Age of Environmental Breakdown (2021)
Alain le Drimeur, The Future City (1890)
Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (2014)
Stan Lee, et al, Marvel Essential: The Fantastic Four, volume one (1961–64)
Stan Lee, et al, Marvel Essential: The Sub-Mariner, volume one (1965–68)
Stan Lee, et al., Marvel Essential: Avengers, volume two (1966–67)
Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller, Bad Gays: A Homosexual History (2022)
Fritz Leiber, Gather, Darkness! (1943)
Doris Lessing, Shikasta (1979)
–. The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980)
–. The Sirian Experiments (1980)
–. The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982)
–. The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983)
Kelly Link, Get In Trouble (2015)
Darcie Little Badger, Elatsoe (2020)
John Litweiler, Ornette Coleman: The Harmolodic Life (1992)
M.J. Locke, Up Against It (2011)
Mark Lynas, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2007)

Paul J. McAuley, Eternal Light (1991)
–. A Very British History: The Best Science Fiction Stories of Paul McAuley, 1985– 2011 (2013)
Mike McCormack, Notes from a Coma (2005)
Laura Jean McKay, The Animals in That Country (2020)
Andreas Malm and the Zetkin Collective, White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism (2021)
Barry N. Malzberg (as K.M. O’Donnell), Gather in the Hall of Planets (1971)
–. In the Pocket and Other S-F Stories (1971)
Lee Maracle, Celia’s Song (2014)
Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Tomorrows (2016)
Lary May, The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way (2000)
Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy (1913)
China Miéville, A Spectre, Haunting: On The Communist Manifesto (2022)
Sam J. Miller, Blackfish City (2018)
Denise Mina, The Red Road (2013)
David Mitchell,  Slade House (2015)
Alejandro Morales, The Rag Doll Plagues (1992)
Joanne Morreale, The Outer Limits (2022)
Bill Morris, Motor City Burning (2014)
Walter Mosley, The Right Mistake (2008)
Chantal Mouffe, Towards a Green Democratic Revolution: Left Populism and the Power of Affects (2022)
Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 (2014)
Howard L. Myers, The Creatures of Man (2003)

Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (1935)
Kim Newman, The Quorum…and Other Stories (1994/2013)
Jeff Noon, Falling Out of Cars (2002)

M.E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi, Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune 2052–2072 (2022)
Vladimir Obruchev, Sannikov Land (1926)
Nnedi Okorafor, Noor (2021)
Chad Oliver, The Shores of Another Sea (1971)

Michelle Paver, Dark Matter (2010)
Victor Pelevin, S.N.U.F.F.: A Utopia (2011)
Robert G. Penner, ed., Big Echo Anthology (2021)
Alexander Pierce and Mimi Mondal, eds., Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler (2017)
Max Porter, Lanny (2019)
Richard Powers, Bewilderment (2021)
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth (2012)
Douglas Pye, Movies and Tone (2007)

Chen Quifan, Waste Tide (2013)
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (1992)

Robert B. Ray, How a Film Theory Got Lost and Other Mysteries in Cultural Studies (2001)
The Red Nation, The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save the Earth (2021)
Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
John Rieder, Speculative Epistemologies: An Eccentric Account of SF from the 1960s to the Present (2021)
Dylan Riley, Microverses: Observations from a Shattered Present (2022)
Rebecca Roanhorse, Black Sun (2020)
Adam Roberts, The Thing Itself (2015)
David Roberts, Andrew Milner and Peter Murphy, Science Fiction and Narrative Form (2023?)
Keith Roberts, The Lordly Ones (1986)
Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman (2013)
Sam Rohdie, Montage (2006)
J.H. Rosny-Aîné, Quest for Fire (1911)
Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune (2015)
Victor Rousseau, The Messiah of the Cylinder (1917)
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow (1996)

William Sanders, Journey to Fusang (1988)
Robert J. Sawyer, End of an Era (1994)
Joshua Schuster and Derek Woods, eds, Calamity Theory: Three Critiques of Existential Risk (2021)
Richard Seymour, The Disenchanted Earth: Reflections on Ecosocialism and Barbarism (2022)
Stephen Shapiro and Mark Storey, The Cambridge Companion to American Horror (2022)
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures (2020)
Lucius Shepard, Kalimantan (1990)
Robert Silverberg, Downward to the Earth (1970)
Clifford D. Simak, Time and Again (1951)
Vandana Singh, Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories (2018)
Olga Slavnikova, 2017 (2006)
Iain Robert Smith, The Hollywood Meme: Transnational Adaptations in World Cinema (2017)
Martin Cruz Smith, The Girl from Venice (2017)
Rivers Solomon, Sorrowland (2021)
Neal Stephenson, Termination Shock (2021)
Francis Stevens, The Citadel of Fear (1918)
Alfredo Suppia, Southerly Short Circuits: The Brazilian Science Fiction Film (2024)
Christina Sweeney-Baird, The End of Men (2021)
E.J. Swift, The Coral Bones (2022)

Wole Talabi, ed., Africanfuturism: An Anthology (2020)
Robert T. Tally, Jr., For a Ruthless Critique of All that Exists: Literature in an Age of Capitalist Realism (2022)
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, The Time Regulation Institute (1962)
Ben Tarnoff, Internet for the People: The Fight for Our Digital Future (2022)
Roy Thomas, et al., Marvel Essential: Avengers, volume three (1967–68)
Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Perez et al, Marvel Essential Fantastic Four, volume 8 (1975–77)
Amy Thomson, The Color of Distance (1995)
Tade Thompson, Far From the Light of Heaven (2021)
Tatyana Tolstaya, The Slynx (2003)
Karen Traviss, City of Pearl (2004)
Tlotlo Tsamaase, The Silence of the Wilting Skin (2020)
Yasutaka Tsutsui, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (1967)
Cadwell Turnbull, The Lesson (2019)
Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952)

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Governing the World without World Government (2022)

Tomás Vergara, Estranging History: Alterity and Capialism in Speculative Fiction (2024)
Gerald Vizenor, Darkness in St Louis Bearheart (1978)
Antoine Volodine, Radiant Terminus (2014)

Isabel Waidner, Sterling Karat Gold (2021)
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999)
Rosie Warren, ed., Salvage 11: Already, Not Yet (2022)
–. Salvage 12: A Ceaseless Storm (2022)
Harry Warwick, The Aesthetics of Enclosure: Dystopia and Dispossession in the Hollywood Science Fiction Film, 1979–1917 (2022?)
Ian Watson, Evil Water and Other Stories (1987)
Franz Wedekind, Mine-Haha or, On the Bodily Education of Young Girls (1903)
Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary (2021)
Martha Wells, All Systems Red (2017)
–. Artificial Condition (2018)
–. Rogue Protocol (2018)
–. Exit Strategy (2018)
–. Network Effect (2020)
–. Fugitive Telemetry (2021)
Ian Whates, ed., Stories of Hope and Wonder: In Support of the UK’s Health Workers (2020)
Aliya Whiteley, Skyward Inn (2021)
Jack Williamson, The Legion of Time (1938/52)
Connie Willis, Blackout (2010)
–. All Clear (2010)
Don Winslow, The Force (2017)
Herman Wouk, The ‘Caine’ Mutiny (1951) – can’t believe I finally read my old A-format paperback of this, which has travelled tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of miles in my luggage as my emergency small-big book
Lawrence Wright, The End of October (2020)

Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown (2020)

Rachel Zadok, Sister-Sister (2013)
Chen Zo, Black Water Sister (2021)

Random Murderbot reflection by jaded British academic

I love the way Martha Wells promptly switched to titling the Murderbot series like late 80s/early 90s erotic thrillers: an Adjective Noun combination that bears a tangential but potentially evocative relationship to the contents of the story (Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect, Fugitive Telemetry). Next up I want to see

Special Measures. In which Murderbot is contracted to take over running an inner city school that failed its OFSTED inspection.

Research Excellence. In which Murderbot is contracted to waste vast sums of public money to ensure research funding is primarily distributed to the already-wealthiest universities.

Reasonable Adjustment. In which Murderbot is contracted to replace absurdly complex legacy systems for deadline extensions for students with SpLDs and other ongoing issues.

Peer Review. In which Murderbot is contracted to assess the contribution made to human happiness by Reviewer 2.

The stuff what I done in 2022

2022 was my first year as a professor and/but was mostly spent trying to buy and move into a new house.

It took a mere seven months from making the offer to getting the keys, and most of an eighth month before I was finally fully moved in. Probably the lowest, yet also most typical, point of this terrible process was when the deal fell through, and we thought fuck it, we’ll go away for a week’s holiday in Devon to regroup before picking up the pieces. I caught Covid on the train down there; got the all-clear on the morning we had to get the train back.

Still, we now live –  surrounded by 150+ boxes of books and DVDs, which will remain unpacked while we have some pretty major conversion work done – in Wales.

Just barely in Wales.

As in, by the first train station, in one of the villages built to house workers digging the Severn Tunnel.  

It is a marginally quicker commute to work in north Bristol than it was from my old home in south Bristol. I just have to get used to being reliant on a train or two (rather than multiple buses) per hour.

And to there being almost nothing in way of emergency grocery/wine suppliers en route home.

And to having to leave fun nights out in Bristol earlier than everyone else in order to get the last train back.

Otherwise, the first half of the year was pretty much taken up with promotional work for and spin-offs from The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture, including:

I’ve also given three very different versions of this related paper:

  • ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban Science Fiction’, Once and Future Fantasies, University of Glasgow, 13–17 July 2022
  • ‘Climate Change in Suburban Science Fiction’, The Future: To Whom Will It Belong? Scientific Film and Science Fiction, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, 17 November 2022
  • ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban Science Fiction’, Literary and Visual Landscape seminar series, University of Bristol, 23 November 2022)

which is forthcoming as ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban SF’ in Ania Malinowska, ed., Anthropocenes: Reworking the Wound (Intellect 2023?)

and one profoundly curtailed version of this related paper:

  • ‘Cli-fi/Sci-fi Cinema: Some Tendencies’, FilmeCiência: IV Festival de Filmes Científicos, Banco do Brasil Cinema Cultural Center, São Paolo, Brazil, 16 November 2022

I’d already cut it to the bone, and then at the last moment discovered the live simultaneous translation was actually live sequential translation, so while Alfredo was bravely making sense of what I was saying and turning it into Portuguese, I was busy editing each next paragraph down into a digestible sentence or two. I like to think no one noticed. (Everyone did.) It is forthcoming as ‘Cli-Fi’ in J.P. Telotte, ed., The Oxford Handbook of New Science Fiction Cinemas (Oxford UP, 2023?).

And the Italian translation of The Anthropocene Unconscious came out, courtesy of the smart, lovely and helpfully bilingual Marta Olivi.

The only completely new things I managed to write this year were a reminiscence/ article:

  • ‘ghetto jazz mumbo jumbo’, Foundation: The International Journal of Science Fiction 51.2 (2022): 33–40.

and the first postscript I’ve ever been asked to contribute to an edited collection (in which I seize the opportunity to make elaborate connections between Captain Scarlet and Walter Benjamin’s ninth thesis on the philosophy of history):

  • ‘Postscript: Screening Futures: From Scarlet to Ebon’ in Joel Hawkes, ed., American Science Fiction Television and the (Re)configuration of Space, 1987-2021 (Palgrave Macmillan 2023?)

and a book review which, despite the urgent tone with which it was commissioned, has still not appeared:

  • ‘Joshua Schuster and Derek Woods, Calamity Theory: Three Critiques of Existential Risk’, American Literary History Review

and all but the last two boring leftover bits for Mark Bould and Steven Shaviro, eds, This is Not a Science Fiction Textbook (Goldsmith Press/MIT Press 2023?), the manuscript of which will finally be submitted early in January.

I also got to do two live on-stage interviews with directors after screenings of their films.

Hanging out with Lucile Hadzihalilovic (the only-slightly-bemused recipient of a copy of The Anthropocene Unconscious, the cover image of which comes from her film Evolution) and then discussing Earwig with her and a properly and appropriately stunned audience (Watershed, Bristol 11 June 2022) was a real lift in the middle of our house-buying ordeal:          

MB (naïvely): Will you ever let your audience see the sky in one of your films?

LH (deadpan): Of course you can’t see the sky, because then you could breathe…

Jane de Almeida, director of Loga, Marte, was rather less terrifying – and also one of our fabulous hosts at FilmeCiência: IV Festival de Filmes Científicos, Banco do Brasil Cinema Cultural Center, São Paolo, Brazil (November 2022)

Also, in Brazil, I was part of a plenary panel

  • ‘Science, Science Education, Scientific Film and Science Fiction Cinema in Times of Pandemic and the Extreme Right’ with Oliver Gaycken and Alfredo Suppia, The Future: To Whom Will It Belong? Scientific Film and Science Fiction, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, 17 November 2022

Other public events:

  • ‘SF and Utopian Art as a Model for the Future’, a public talk at Bristol Transformed Festival, Malcolm X Centre, Bristol 15 May 2022
  • introducing Ridley Scott’s Alien for Horror Without End, the Lansdown, Bristol 5 July 2022
  • banging on about Crimes of the Future with Nick Chandler for it-will-feel-like-hours on Reel Talk
  • introducing Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut for Film Noir UK, Curzon Cinema & Arts, Clevedon 9 September 2022 (although I was not actually there in person since we were birthday partying in London with China)

I also joined the advisory editorial board of the soon-to-launch journal The Incredible Nineteenth Century: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fairy Tale, and examined a pair of rather tasty PhDs

  • Iram Ghufran, Situating Documentary Film in a Speculative Future: An Exploration in Multi-Species Entanglements (University of Westminster 2022)
  • Guangzhao Lyu, The Boom and the Boom: Historical Rupture and Political Economy in Contemporary Chinese and British Science Fiction (University College London 2022)

Oh, and I had a couple of quite serious seizure-like events (March, September) and then a really serious one (December) which left me spasming unconscious in the street. Doctors are now considering whether it is not in fact a neurological problem (i.e., not technically seizures) but a cardiological one.

As in, sometimes, for unknown reasons, my heart just stops beating.

And then, after a while and for equally unknown reasons, starts up again. (So far.)

I’ll be having a subcutaneous heart monitor inserted some time in the new year.

David Gaffney, Out of the Dark (2022)

Thanks to a mutual friend (also called David), David Gaffney sent me a copy of his new novel about a traumatised man obsessed with an obscure British film noir.

Set primarily in the Midlands of the 1980s, Out of the Dark falls somewhere in the terrain triangulated by Mike Hodges’s Get Carter (1971), Chris Petit’s Radio On (1979) and Andrea Arnold’s Red Road (2006).

It is also under the influence of JG Ballard. But its motorways are not London’s near-future-but-never-happened orbitals, nor are its high-rises desublimating enclaves of bourgeois acquisitiveness and hierarchical obsession. Rather, it all takes place in actually-existing concrete landscapes of marginalisation, disconnection and dereliction –  ‘neither in Walsall nor West Bromwich’ and thus ‘equally inconvenient’ in all directions. And it is rather more grungily quotidian and irreal-adjacent than anything in Ballard – closer, perhaps, to M. John Harrison or Ramsey Campbell.

And while the story it tells is full of twists and turns, genre-playfulness and sharp observations – as is the story within the story – what I loved most about Out of the Dark is something much more personal. I was born in Staffordshire, in a small-now-swallowed-in-the-conurbation Staffordshire village, but all my family were from Birmingham, from the Perry Barr/Perry Beeches parts of Great Barr, with outliers in Handsworth and West Bromwich; and behind my paternal grandparents mid-terrace two-up/two-down (with an outside loo), on the far side of the allotments onto which the garden backed, was an aerial stretch of the M6. And although we moved down to Devon when I was four years old, there is something ineffable about the litany of place names threaded through the novel: in chapter five alone, Perry Barr, Great Barr, Sarehole Mill, Kings Heath, Cotteridge, the impossibly distant Worcester, Bourneville, Harborne, Dudley Road, Perry Barr Island, Aston Lane, Swan Island, Billesley, Walsall…

And if this is nostalgia, it is not inappropriate for a novel enamoured of noir – especially when, for me, it is so oneiric and bittersweet.