My media consumption and recommendations in 2023 - movies, games, books

31st December 2023 – 1424 words

Here, I want to share some of my media consumption in 2023, recommend some books, movies, or games.


This year I started to read more books again. In the previous years, I frankly read almost no books at all, if any then only programming books.

Three-Body Problem (3-Suns) Trilogy

This Sci-Fi trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin was highly acclaimed. The first book has an upcoming Netflix series and has already broadcasted another one on Chinese TV series which I watched in spring. Granted, it is relatively hard to read, as first, the names of the protagonists are Chinese, so one has to get used to recognising the characters. The books are also very different. The first one is a bit like a detective story, the second one is a bit like a war story, and the third one is a bit like a philosophical story. The story and even the characters are not the main reason which makes it interesting, but a lot of great Sci-Fi ideas, such as a human-powered computer, folding and unfolding dimensions, and the whole “Dark forest” theory (no spoilers).

BattleTech books

BattleTech is a tabletop game from the 80s (which I admittedly never played). But it has a huge universe, that has a lot of Games (MechWarrior series, BattleTech by Harebrained Schemes, MechCommander, MechAssault, etc.) and - dozens of books. In my youth I read some of them, but never in order and with huge gaps - Just all books that I could get my hand on in a time before Amazon and even eBay. So, This year I started again from the beginning:

  • GDL - Gray Death Legion, Decision at Thunder Rift, Mercenary’s Star, Price of Glory.
    • The origin story of the mercenary unit Gray Death Legion. It involves a lot of non-Mech action, hand-to-hand combat, and some politics around ComStar and Marik. In the end, I found it mediocre, compared to later books. 6/10
  • Warrior Trilogy - En Garde, Riposte, Coupe
    • Great books, with a lot of interstellar politics, spying, and a lot of mech action. By the grandmaster of the genre - Michael Stackpole. He has a great writing style and keeps the story interesting. 9/10
  • Wolves on the border - Currently, I am here. Paused, as I’d like to take a break from BatteTech and “lasers hit the armor” for a moment

The Expanse - Persepolis Rising

After watching the Amazon TV series, and noticing the author received a Hugo award and Lotus Award, I decided to read the books that are following the series. There are some plot differences in the series like one character died in the series. After a relatively slow start, the story picks up and becomes interesting. The narrative style reminds me of Game Of Thrones because each chapter is written in the third person to one specific character, but we hear their thoughts, too - The chapter(s) with Amos are interesting :D. I am currently at book 7, and I am looking forward to finishing it and the last 2 books.

Ruby books - Ruby 3 + Sustainable Rails

Frankly, only overflew the Ruby 3 book, which seems to be great as a reference point, if one likes to dive deeper into specific topics, such as inheritance, modules, etc. Sustainable Rails by David Copeland has some great ideas and practices, some of which I also use in my projects.


In general, I don’t watch too many movies, the one that I remember from this year are:

  • Oppenheimer - 9/10 - watched in the cinema. Great soundtrack by Ludwig Görransson. As thrilling as you can tell a story about the development of the atomic bomb.
  • Tenet - 8/10 - finally watched it. Interesting enough, but not as great as Inception and Interstellar IMO. Still another great soundtrack by Ludwig Görransson.
  • The Batman - 7/10 - ok.
  • During our airplane travel to China, I remember to have watched:
    • Spider-Man Trilogy 7/10 - I guess ok?
    • John Wick 2-4 - 8/10 - great if you like realistic and brutal fight scenes. Otherwise a little boooriiing.
  • Mario Bros - 10/10 - watched it in the Cinema with my kids. As great as you can make a movie about … Mario.
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once - 9/10 - very interesting and unique.


I have a regular SciFi series evening with a friend, where we watch a SciFi series together. This year we watched:

  • Star Trek Strange New Worlds - 7/10 - good production quality, but too many “special” episodes, almost no classical Star Trek episodes (We come to a new planet, we have a problem, we solve it with science or diplomacy, we leave)
  • Star Trek Lower Decks - 9/10 - Very funny if you are familiar with the Star Trek universe. Tons of references, funny.
  • Star Trek Prodigy - 7/10 - originally developed for kids, but after 5-6 episodes or so it gets interesting and also references old Voyager characters.
  • Star Trek Discovery - 5/10 - compared to other Star Trek series, the character development was not as interesting for us. Burnham does not hold a candle compared to Picard, Janeway or Sisko. Also, this series is like a long movie with Rescue The Universe, instead of classical sci-fi material.

Other series:

  • The Billions - 8/10 - great main actors, like Suits a totally different world (rich people in New York), but interesting enough to keep it running while riding the bike (Zwift).


  • Everspace 2 - 9/10 - great space feel, with 6DOF, great graphics, good story. I played it for 50 hours, and I am looking forward to the full release in 2024.
  • Diablo 4 - 5/10 - bought it, to play with friends. We finished the main campaign; the grind had its moments, but in the end, we all lost interest in the end game with its - check notes 3 activities.
  • Battletech - 8/10 - fits great to the books. Relatively difficult to get the hang of it (which weapons, which mechs) and to get ahead of the power curve. Especially mid-game with medium mechs I found it relatively difficult. In the end, after I got the first heavy - a lot of fun.
  • MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries (2001) + MechWarrior 4 Vengeance, Black Knight - 9/10 - A little difficult to get running on modern Windows 10 - Just check the Abondonware forums. But - surprisingly great games, Black Knight expansion is very challenging though, many missions need several restarts. But, especially Mercenaries is still sooo much better than ….:
  • MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries + Heroes of the Inner Sphere - 5/10 - I was so looking forward to this game, but it is just mediocre. The huge difference to the more than 20-years-old MW4:merc is, that there are almost NO cohesive missions. 95% is auto-generated repetitive grind shit. Also shit shit power-curve, If you follow the recommended path, you will get shot a lot, and have to cycle through lots of mechs, fly around a lot only for boooring repairs - in the end, you almost make no money, so best to go to easier regions and grind grind grind…. The whole Mech managing and equipment thing is so bad, the equipment progression super slow. Bad example of “quantity over quality”, doesn’t hold a candle to the 20 years older games besides graphics.

Games that I played with my kids:

  • Cobra Kai - 7/10 - great brawler, especially if you are familiar with the Netflix series.
  • Ori Will of the Wisp + Ori 2 - 8/10 Great “Metroidvania”, but a little bit too hard for the kids
  • LEGO Harry Potter 1-4 - My daughter became a HP fan playing those, and is now eager to watch the movies., 5-7 is already installed and ready…
  • Sonic Team Racing 6/10 - okish, but much less fun than the previous Sonic Racing Transformed All-Stars
  • Yokus Island Express 9/10 - Fun little game, great Flipper.
  • Currently: The Santa Clause brought a Switch, so Mario Kart 8, and Mario Party are on the list…


Special shout-out to some of my Patreon subscriptions:

  • WhatsOnWeibo - Newsletter and online magazine about China, especially social media and youth culture. Helps me to get up-to-date and surprise my Chinese friends with modern slang.
  • [German] Podcasts that I support:
    • Gamespodcast
    • Stay Forever
    • Geschichte aus der Geschichte,
    • Halbe Katoffl