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616: Bad Decision Theater

Awards Book Club returns for its second 2022 installment! This time it’s “The Galaxy and the Ground Within” by Becky Chambers, A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark, and The Unbroken by C.L. Clark.

Host Jason Snell with panelists Erika Ensign, Scott McNulty, Dan Moren, and Aleen Simms.

Dan:

Scott:

Erika:

Aleen:

Jason:


615: People-Positive Management Style

What do you get when you blend historical fiction, pirates, and Taika Waititi? You get “Our Flag Means Death,” an ensemble romantic comedy featuring both ship battles and biting insults.

It only makes sense that Cicero Holmes brought the most loquacious of panelists: Annette Wierstra, Moises Chuillan, Joe Rosenteel, and David J. Loehr.


614: Eternal Spotlight of the Sunless Mind

Step through the door and leave your personal biographical memories behind. Welcome. You’re now part of Lumen, a Very Friendly Company that always has your best interests at heart. We discuss the Apple TV+ series “Severance,” and try to explain why you should watch it, what shows it resembles, and just how much we liked the twists and turns of its first season.

Host Jason Snell with panelists Lex F., Glenn F., Dr. D., and Erika E.


613: Kaiju Panda

Put on your toque and be sure you’ve got your 4*Town tickets—we’re here to discuss Pixar’s “Turning Red,” a delightful coming-of-age movie about a Chinese-Canadian girl whose body is undergoing some telltale adolescent changes—you know, becoming interested in boys, rebelling against her parents, and transforming into a giant fuzzy red panda. The usual.

Host Jason Snell with panelists Moisés Chiullan, Sandra Wong, Monty Ashley, and Joy Piedmont.


612: YABM: Yet Another Batman Movie

Our panel of caped crusaders assemble to dissect 2022’s “The Batman.” The last thing we may have needed was another Batman movie, especially the grimmest, darkest, and longest one ever… but what if we actually liked it? We take apart the new approaches to classic batman stories, Robert Pattinson’s performance, souped-up batmobiles, and Gotham’s weather patterns.

Host Tony Sindelar with panelists Cicero Holmes, Dan Moren, Guy English, and Lisa Schmeiser.


611: Distributed Disinterested Dystopia

Our annual shortlist book club is back! We read two novels that were nominated for Best Novel in the Nebula Awards! SB Divya’s “Machinehood” is a near-future story of gig workers, weak AI servants, and rebellious space stations. Jason Sanford’s “Plague Birds” is a post-apocalyptic story about strong AIs and gene-altered people that’s so far in the future that it feels almost like fantasy. Plus: We recommend other books we’ve enjoyed recently!

Host Jason Snell with panelists Erika Ensign and Scott McNulty.

What have we been reading?

Scott

Erika

Jason


610: No, Mr. Blond, I Expect You to Die

Cue the electric bass and the full brass section, we’re talking Bond, James Bond this week. We make time for “No Time to Die,” of course, and the rest of the Daniel Craig era. How does it hold up, where does it go from here, what would we like to see? How does the latest movie reset the table? Were we shaken, stirred, or something in between?

Host David J. Loehr with panelists Kelly Guimont, Nathan Alderman, and Tom McGrath.


609: Chekhov's Toy Store

Old Movie Club returns with two films that imagine attempts to disrupt the United States government. In 1954’s “Suddenly,” Frank Sinatra’s going to try to kill the President. In 1964’s “Seven Days In May,” Burt Lancaster is plotting a military coup. Both films are in black and white from more than 50 years ago, and yet for some reason Phil thinks their themes may resonate even today…

Host Jason Snell with panelists Philip Michaels, Shelly Brisbin, Moises Chiullan, and David J. Loehr.


608: A Centaur, Only for Cars

Fire up your Bernoulli Conversionator and check your trunk for stowaways, because we’re entering the Wachowski sisters’ candy-colored 2008 road rally through the Uncanny Valley, “Speed Racer.” It’s an eye-searing acid trip of a movie, with groundbreaking storytelling, an earnest heart, and a curious void at its center. (There is also a chimp.) We’ll discuss how this film fits into the Wachowskis’ canon, the supporting character whose story is way more interesting than the lead‚ and the only other big-budget film since that has dared to get this stylistically weird.

Host Nathan Alderman with Lisa Schmeiser and Shelly Brisbin.


607: I Regret So Many Great Movies

We’re back with our third Incomparable Film Festival! Nine of us are programming a day’s worth of films, all with secret themes which will be revealed as the podcast progresses! And while we are currently unable to pull off the Incomparable Film Festival in an actual movie theater, we encourage you to watch these great movies in the comfort of your own home.

Host Jason Snell with panelists Monty Ashley, Moisés Chiullan, Shelly Brisbin, Erika Ensign, David J. Loehr, Cicero Holmes, Steven Schapansky, and Dan Moren.

Picks:

  • Monty: The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Ace in the Hole (1951), Tabloid (2010), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) (Bad Journalism)
  • Moises: Fashions of 1934 (1934), The Red Shoes (1948), In the Mood for Love (2000), Moulin Rouge (2001) (Changed the visual language)
  • Shelly: Harold and Maude (1971), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Nashville (1975), The Station Agent (2003) (Brooding introverts with a heart)
  • Erika: Top Hat (1935), The Awful Truth (1937), My Favorite Wife (1940), Funny Face (1957) (Pajama day)
  • David: Knives Out (2019), The Last of Sheila (1973), Out of Sight (1998), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) (Intricately plotted)
  • Cicero: The Sandlot (1993), Swingers (1996), This is 40 (2012), Last Vegas (2013) (Diamonds are Forever-phases of life)
  • Steven: Star Wars (1977), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) (Alternate Oscars)
  • Dan: L.A. Confidential (1997), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), The Nice Guys (2016), Logan Lucky (2017) (Neo-noir crime)
  • Jason: My Neighbor Totoro (1988), The Iron Giant (1999), Labyrinth (1986), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) (friendly monsters)

Extras

  • Monty: His Girl Friday (also The Front Page and Switching Channels)
  • Moises: Public Domain (all Horror), Nosferatu (1922), House on Haunted Hill (1959), Manos The Hands of Fate (1966), Night of the Living Dead (1968); Public Domain (one horror), short film intro: Popeye the Sailor Man Meets Sindbad The Sailor (1936), His Girl Friday (1940), Carnival of Souls (1962), Charade (1963), Just Imagine (1930); Nicolas Cage plus Paddington 2 Because Why Not, Wild at Heart (1992), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022), Paddington 2 (2017)
  • Shelly: Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Christopher Strong (1933), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), The Color Purple (1985)
  • Erika: Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, Goonies, Willow
  • David: Backups for the theme: Logan Lucky, The Brothers Bloom, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Sleuth (1972), The Sting; Modern Musicals: Encanto, In the Heights, West Side Story (2021), All That Jazz; Political Science: Manchurian Candidate, Good Night, and Good Luck, Fail-Safe, Dr. Strangelove
  • Steven: All the President’s Men (1976), The China Syndrome (1979), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Snatch (2000), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), United 93 (2006)
  • Dan: Knives Out (sniped), Zero Effect (ineligible), North by Northwest, Bridge over the River Kwai, The Sting, The Fugitive
  • Jason: Monsters Inc. (2001), ET, Ponyo, Gremlins (1984), Time Loops: Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, Palm Springs, Looper, Primer

606: The Bears Did It

We’ve drafted many things on many episodes of this podcast, but we’ve never drafted podcasts! You get it: Panelists share (and draft!) their favorite podcasts, in categories like Comedy, Narrative, Fiction, Entertainment, and more.

Host Lex Friedman with panelists David J. Loehr, Monty Ashley, Shelly Brisbin, and Brian Hamilton.

Comedy:
* Shelly: ICYMI
* Brian: The Flophouse
* David: No Such Thing As A Fish
* Lex: Judge John Hodgman
* Monty: Comedy Bang Bang

Narrative:
* Shelly: Ear Hustle
* Brian: The Dream
* David: If I Go Missing: The Witches Did It
* Lex: Over My Dead Body
* Monty: Cocaine and Rhinestones

Fiction:
* Shelly: Bronzeville
* Brian: Alice Isn’t Dead
* David: Give Me Away
* Lex: Hello From The Magic Tavern
* Monty: Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast

Entertainment:
* Shelly: Gates McFadden Investigates
* Brian: The Besties
* David: Films To Be Buried With
* Lex: Smartless (not Conan, HDTGM, or WTF)
* Monty: Blank Check

Wildcard:
* Shelly: NitrateVille Radio [You Must Remember This, Crimetown, NYT Book Review, Hit Parade]
* Brian: My Brother, My Brother, and Me [You’re Wrong About, We Have Concerns]
* David: The Memory Palace [99% Invisible, Twenty Thousand Hertz, Infinite Monkey Cage, A Degree Absolute ]
* Lex: Threedom [Missing Richard Simmons, The West Wing Weekly, Reply All]
* Monty: Bonusnanas for Bonusnanza [Bonanas for Bonanza, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Podcast: The Ride, Good Christian Fun]


605: Apocalypse Doctoring

Get out your pocket knife and stick to the Wheel—we’re a traveling band of podcasters who move from town to town to re-enact conversations from before the apocalypse! Or at least that’s who we’d be in our version of the HBO Max miniseries, “Station Eleven.” We discuss the moving, optimistic post-apocalyptic tale that is told in a fractured time sequence and features lots of Shakespeare and a suspiciously powerful self-published graphic novel. And though there’s definitely no “Station Twelve” on the horizon, we can’t help but imagine what other stories are there just waiting to never be told.

Host Jason Snell with panelists John Siracusa, Aleen Simms, Jean MacDonald, and Annette Wierstra.


604: Team Creepy

Let’s hold hands and sneak through some eerie city ruins. Video game club is back in session to discuss “Little Nightmares II”, the creepy prequel to the beloved spooky platformer, Little Nightmares. We play as Mono, a bag-faced boy, as he and his companion navigate a world of puzzles and monsters lurking in the dark, only to be led to his own nightmare.

Host Tiff Arment with panelists Brian Hamilton and James Thomson.


603: Witness for the Airship

This episode features a book with fantasy zombies and a book with alien hive minds. Talk about range! Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss the fantasy mystery “Witness for the Dead,” a standalone book set in the world of “The Goblin Emperor”, and “A Desolation Called Peace,” the conclusion of the duology begun in the award-winning “A Memory Called Empire.” Plus: What are we reading?

Host Jason Snell with panelists Dan Moren, Scott McNulty, Glenn Fleishman, and Erika Ensign.

What are we reading?

Scott:

Erika:

Glenn:

Dan

Jason:

Time codes for skippers:

00:06:53 - Discussion of “Witness for the Dead”

00:35:43 - Discussion for “A Desolation Called Peace”

01:02:51 - “What Are we Reading?”


602: The Show You Think You Saw

Remember that cool bounty hunter from The Empire Strikes Back? What happens when you give him his own show? “The Book of Boba Fett” is the answer—or is it? After all, parts of this show are really episodes of a different, arguably better show. Our panel discusses the seven-episode season and tries to figure out if this mess is hot or cold.

Hosted by Dan Moren with panelists Kathy Campbell, Erika Ensign, and Chip Sudderth.


601: The Most Holden Move

In this episode we break down the final season of Prime Video’s “The Expanse.” Was it too abrupt? What was all that Laconia stuff? Then, after a brief intermission for TV viewers to depart, we discuss “Leviathan Falls” and the end of the Expanse book series. One story, so many endings!

Host Jason Snell with panelists Chip Sudderth, Jen Burt, Dan Moren, and Aleen Simms.


600: The Machine Was a Vampire

In this six-hundredth episode of The Incomparable, recorded across two separate sessions, we talk about a whole bunch of novels—namely, our picks for the best SF/F novels of the first decade of The Incomparable, the 2010s! For our purposes, we’re designating the “decade” as 2010-2019. Along the way, we may ponder the most important question a reader should ask: Are there Zeppelins?

Host Jason Snell with panelists Scott McNulty, Dan Moren, Glenn Fleishman. And also Host Jason Snell with panelists Aleen Simms, Erika Ensign, and David J. Loehr.

Round One:

  • Scott - The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer
  • Dan - The Rook - Daniel O’Malley
  • Glenn - This Is How You Lose the Time War - Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
  • Jason - Among Others - Jo Walton
  • Aleen - The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
  • Erika - A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers
  • David - The Human Division - John Scalzi

Round Two:

  • Scott - My Real Children - Jo Walton
  • Dan - Caliban’s War - James S.A. Corey
  • Glenn - The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstein
  • Jason - 11/22/63 - Stephen King
  • Aleen - The Calculating Stars - Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Erika - The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison
  • David - The Haunting of Tram Car 015 - P. Djeli Clark

Round Three:

  • Scott - Luna: New Moon - Ian McDonald
  • Dan - Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
  • Glenn - The Magician’s Land - Lev Grossman
  • Jason - A Memory Called Empire - Arkady Martine
  • Aleen - The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin
  • Erika - Borderline - Mishell Baker
  • David - The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

Round Four:

  • Scott - Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City - KJ Parker
  • Dan - Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance - Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Glenn - The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker
  • Jason - Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
  • Aleen - Strange Practice - Vivian Shaw
  • Erika - Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines
  • David - Day of the Doctor - Steven Moffat

Round Five:

  • Scott - New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Dan - City of Miracles - Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Glenn - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin
  • Jason - Gnomon - Nick Harkaway
  • Aleen - Hollow Kingdom - Kyra Jane Buxton
  • Erika - Delia’s Shadow - Jamie Lee Moyer
  • David - Noir - Christopher Moore

Also Mentioned/Not Picked (Compiled by Listener AJ):

Glenn:

  • Uprooted - Naomi Novik (also Jason, Erika)
  • Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu
  • Exhalation: Stories (including The Lifecycle of Software Objects) - Ted Chiang

Scott:

  • Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
  • Barsk - Lawrence M. Schoen (also Jason)
  • Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
  • Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone

Dan:

  • Gideon the Ninth (but not so much Harrow the Ninth) - Tamsyn Muir
  • The Martian - Andy Weir
  • The “Penric and Desdemona” series of novellas, starting with Penric’s Demon - Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman (also Aleen)
  • The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton
  • Foundryside - Robert Jackson Bennett

Jason:

  • The Galaxy and the Ground Within - Becky Chambers (also Dan)
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter - Theodora Goss
  • Tiamat’s Wrath - James S A Corey
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built - Becky Chambers (2020s)

Aleen:

  • The Ghost Bride - Yangsze Choo (also the Netflix series)
  • The Caledonian Gambit - Dan Moren

Erika: - The Midnight Bargain - C. L. Polk (bonus 2020s pick!) - Summer in Orcus - T Kingfisher - Terminal Alliance - Jim C. Hines - School for Sidekicks - Kelly McCullough

David:

  • Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang (also kind of Glenn, on his blog)
  • The Paper Menagerie - Ken Liu
  • Blackout (but maybe not All Clear, which is the second half of the same book?) - Connie Willis
  • Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty
  • Trail of Lightning - Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Alif the Unseen - G Willow Wilson
  • The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle
  • The Light Brigade - Kameron Hurley

599: Have You Tried This Arrow?

It’s time to channel that Tired Dad Energy, because we’re going to discuss Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” bro. Kate Bishop! Yelena! Echo! Surprise cameos, including one by an owl! It’s a TV series nobody watching “The Avengers” would have ever wanted, yet a worn and exasperated Jeremy Renner as the mentor to a young woman with strong archery skills ends up being a delightful holiday adventure.

Host Jason Snell with guests Cicero Holmes, Dan Moren, Lisa Schmeiser, and Chip Sudderth.


598: Tropiest of Spaghetti Westerns

We’ve rounded up a posse and are saddling up to discuss the Netflix original film “The Harder They Fall,” a revisionist western starring Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, and Regina King. This movie is more ornery than a pole cat with a hangnail! We ride at noon!

Host Cicero Holmes with panelists Nathan Alderman and Shareef Jackson.

Link: The Resurrection of Bass Reeves


597: Get Me Pictures of Seven Spider-Men!

Get your college applications ready and prepare to gross out about organic web shooters—it’s time for us to discuss “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the conclusion of Tom Holland’s origin trilogy as the web-slinging hero… and a surprisingly substantial follow-up to five other Spider-Man movies, too. It’s “Spider-Man: Endgame,” and with great podcasts, there must also come great responsibility… to talk about Spider-Man.

Host Jason Snell with panelists Dan Moren, Kelly Guimont, and Chip Sudderth.


596: Tom Bombadilification

More than three decades since the Wheel of Time book series began, it’s arrived as a TV series on Prime Video. We discuss the first season with the help of our resident Wheel of Time book expert and three non-book-readers. How much is or isn’t it the “next Game of Thrones?” Why would it need to be be? And how does a book series that was wildly progressive for the 1990s approach a modern audience?

Guest Host Moisés Chiullan with panelists Glenn Fleishman, Kathy Campbell, and John Siracusa.


595: I Didn't Have a Tab - The Best of 2021

Hot dog! It’s time for our annual look back at the year gone by. And it was certainly a year! Some of us caught up on stuff, while others who usually abandon their lists as winter turns to spring decided not to bother making lists at all! As is traditional, our panelists and listeners pick favorite Incomparable episodes and moments in this episode. Did the best moment of the year happen in last year’s clip show? Are there multiple clip loops running now? Has The Incomparable finally ground Jason down into mush? The answers are within!

Our picks:

  • Steve - Ted Lasso (TV), One Cut of the Dead (Film), Persona 4 Golden (VG)
  • Erika - Covert Affairs (TV), Local Podcasts
  • Jean - Dune (Film), WandaVision (TV), Vera Stanhope series (audiobooks)
  • Dan - No Time To Die (Film), Leverage: Redemption (TV), The Mask of Mirrors (book), Learned League (game)
  • David - In The Heights (Film), Only Murders in the Building (TV), Murder Under Her Skin (Books)
  • Monty - RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars S6E3 (TV), Malignant (Movie), Cyberpunk 2077 (VG)
  • Moises - Metroid Dread (VG), The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened (documentary), What We Do in the Shadows (TV), For All Mankind (TV), Killing Eve (TV), Search Party, The Other Two
  • Jason - Piranesi (Book), For All Mankind/Hacks (TV), Promising Young Woman (Film)

594: Money in His Underwear

Merry Kilmas to all who celebrate the works of Val Kilmer! This year, our Kilmas selection is “The Saint,” a very 90s spy movie featuring surprise sweater reveals, tension-free water pipe escapes, and a wide collection of accents, wigs, and pseudonyms—all from Val Kilmer, of course.

Host Jason Snell with Aleen Simms, Dan Moren, David J. Loehr, Jean MacDonald, and Moisés Chiullan.


593: The Beatles Need Me!

We watched all eight hours of the Disney+ documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” and now we’re going to talk about it. Toast, vests, London Bobbies sucking on their chin straps, Debbie the receptionist, Paul as “second boss”, Yoko’s knitting, George Harrison’s pinstripes, and most importantly, the amazing view of a bunch of musical geniuses having a very difficult time creating anything at all.

Extras: Podcast app features we could use, and jazz gummies are legal in Canada.

Host Jason Snell with guests Amy Gruber, Guy English, Monty Ashley, and Steven Schapansky.


592: A Glorious Mess

Grab your Tamagotchi Baby Monitor, because it’s time to discuss “Doctor Who: Flux,” a six-episode season that had a lot of plot, a lot of characters, and a lot of questions, many of them unanswered! We discuss what worked this season and what didn’t, anticipate the 2022 run of specials to end Jodie Whitaker’s era, and ponder what Modern Doctor Who looks like when Russell T Davies takes over the show (again) in 2023.


591: That Poor Pie

We discuss Marvel’s weird and epic “Eternals,” which breaks a lot of Marvel-movie conventions while attempting to tell a different kind of story with a whole lot of new characters. It’s full of interesting choices, some of which pay off, while others end up amounting to not very much.


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