James’ Top 5 From 2016

Making this list was extra fun for me, because although I help select our topics–I almost never get to talk about them.  The lone exception was Final Fantasy XV —check out that episode!  Claire was surprised where our favorites overlapped, but I know she wasn’t surprised where Overwatch landed on this list.  I’m pretty sure Kyle saw that coming too.


The Big Book of Science Fiction

This book is a treasure.  I have loved science fiction since I was a kid, and only having read the introduction and a few of its many stories, I already think that this book is helping me appreciate the genre in a more thoughtful and meaningful way.    Part of our podcast’s mission is to better understand where all of our favorite nerdy topics are born and how they evolve in the cultural conversation.  Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s have worked with a thorough passion to provide that understanding to their readers. The emotional impact of something like Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”, in such a short space, took me by surprise and filled me with the anticipation of finding more jewels.  I’m willing to bet that this book has more relevance to our show in the year ahead than anything else I’ve listed here. Listen Here


Captain America: Civil War

After the first Avengers movie and The Guardians of the Galaxy, I was starting to take great Marvel ensemble films for granted.  Then I saw Age of Ultron…  Luckily, Civil War has renewed my faith!  The Russo brothers have now directed two of my favorite entries in this Disney epic film franchise, and managed not only to win me back over to the superhero team movie, but performed the most essential Marvel Studios feat: they had me looking forward to two more films before this one even ended. Listen Here



makes my number 3 of all the works we covered last year, because this isn’t a “best” list—it’s a favorites list.  And the heart wants what the heart wants.  In this case my heart wants is a beautiful woman of dubious morality who murders magic ninjas.  My heart also wants to watch Kingpin do…anything. I have literally enjoyed watching him stare at a blank wall.  This show has flaws and in season 1, it sometimes got on my nerves.  But, after season 2 gave me Élodie Young as Elektra, Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin I realized that I can’t get enough.  Also, it’s worth noting that fight choreographer, Philip J. Silvera, is as good at his craft as any other artist connected to this list. Listen Here



Sexy Robots.  Wild West shootouts.  Anthony Hopkins monologue-ing for more time and with more skill than anyone should be allowed. Beyond all these surface treats, West World takes on some of science fiction’s biggest questions: where does personhood begin? And what does personhood demand of us?  This show takes its time to heat up to the finale, but I was perpetually intrigued by watching the actors who played hosts (robots) externalize an unknowably intricate internal journey.  And I felt grateful that I could watch Anthony Hopkins perform writing this good.  We’re lucky to still be able to watch him. Listen Here



Before writing this, I joked with Claire and Kyle that Overwatch was going to be numbers one through five on this list.  I play other videogames, but I have an Overwatch habit. Part of my delight in it, is how different it is from my other favorite games.  Competitive multiplayer was always too intimidating for me. From the time I was a teenager, I’ve preferred games with a compelling narrative.  Somehow none of that matters with Overwatch.  The character design is so captivating, and the world so bright, joyful, and cool that when I first saw one of their animated shorts I knew I had to play it.  The game is so well balanced, that I liked it when I was bad at it.  Now that I’m “okay” at it—I love it.  AND I WILL GET BETTER. Listen Here