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The best of 2021! Our guests wrap up the last 12 months

Updated: Apr 30

Meet the 12 writers and presenters who joined the podcast last year, and discover their top picks of recent popular culture

As we launch into the new year, bright-eyed and ready for the future, it’s traditional to spend a moment looking back.


Last year we had 12 guests on Robby The Robot’s Waiting. Those episodes gave us an opportunity to talk about some amazing classic films and TV shows (from The Black Hole to Minority Report via Terry Pratchett and Supernatural) and also celebrate some of the big stories of the 2021 itself. After the pandemic shutdown of 2020, cinemas starting opening again so we finally saw the latest James Bond film and the Fast & Furious crew finally went into space.


Our podcast guests are drawn from authors, critics, genre journalists and industry-insider pals of ours from around the world. We polled them about their thoughts on 2021’s highs and lows. In this post, we’ll celebrate some of the highlights of the last 12 months through their eyes. You can read more about our guests at the bottom of the page. So if you’re looking for recommendations of what to read or watch, check out these top picks of 2021...


Best new film of 2021?

Some clear consensus means we can rank these in order...

  1. Dune – dominated our informal poll by a mile. (“Perfect in every way!” commented Jayne Nelson.)

  2. Spider-Man: No Way Home – a long way behind, but still a decisive second place

  3. Free Guy

  4. Space Sweepers

  5. The Green Knight and A Quiet Place Part II [tied]


Best new book or comic of 2021?

A wide variety of suggested reading material here, and no two were the same so this is in no particular order:


BOOKS

  • Star Wars: The High Republic series, mainly those by Cavan Scott

  • Leave The World Behind, by Rumaan Alam

  • Sunrise, by Kelly Vero

  • The Library Of The Dead, by TL Huchu

  • Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  • Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao

  • Age Of Ash, by Daniel Abraham (we agree this is great, but somebody’s had an advance reviewers’ copy – it’s not officially published until February 2022)

COMICS

  • Marvel's Immortal Hulk

  • 2000 AD (“Dredd still rules,” commented Guy Haley.)


Best new TV show of 2021?

  1. WandaVision – another clear winner, being cited by half our guests (“It kept me guessing right to the end, and was insanely inventive,” commented Jayne Nelson.)

  2. Ghosts

  3. Tied for third place, an honourable mention for these shows which got one nod each: Arcane, Attack On Titan, The Book Of Boba Fett, Station Eleven, The Watch, Yellowjackets, Hawkeye, What We Do in the Shadows.

How many of these films, books, comics and shows have you seen? Drop us a line and let us know.


Time to get more specific...

Jonathan Wright

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

I read a lot of Diana Wynne Jones books to my daughter in 2021. Diana was wise, funny and even now it’s not widely recognised enough just how good she was.

Fun fact about you?

When I was a kid we had neighbours who had an actual Gerry Anderson puppet. Or at least I thought it was kosher and have no reason to doubt it wasn’t.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Travel!


Jayne Nelson

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

A nod to BBC's Ghosts for not letting us down and remaining the loveliest thing in the world... and Hailee Steinfeld in Hawkeye for making us fall in love with her in the blink of an eye.

Fun fact about you?

I twitch whenever someone on TV says "What is this place?" It's the most overused phrase in popular culture and I judge any writer who still uses it without realising...

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Go to Paris on a Before Sunset pilgrimage, visiting Shakespeare & Company bookshop where Ethan Hawke's character gives a book reading. (Not sci-fi, of course, but what the heck - he's made sci-fi films before!)


Joe McCabe

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

NieR:Automata is still the best SF video game in the world.

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

Prep for the Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman with my book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die!

Fun fact about you?

I am currently addicted to LEGO Marvel and DC superhero video games.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Go to a great big comic book convention again.


John Singh

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

Of course, the best part of 2021 was being a guest on Robby the Robot’s Waiting! And while it isn’t sci-fi, fantasy or horror (except real-life horror), Long Shadow, about 9/11, was the best podcast (other than Robby) I heard — and I highly recommend it!

Fun fact about you?

I’m the only person you’ll ever meet who threw his back out and still gets physical therapy for it because he picked up a live Ewok the wrong way. The poor guy was exhausted!

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Get an agent for my novel! Know any?


Yael Tygiel

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

Doctor Who: The Edge Of Reality video game.

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

The Official Leverage: Redemption Aftershow on the Electric Now app.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Traveling to attend more comic cons!


Guy Haley

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

I really enjoyed the conclusion to the BBC's Lovecraft Investigations podcast this year.

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

This year saw the release of a totally rewritten, collected version of my near future detective Richards and Klein novels. It's called Richards And Klein. Check it out!

Fun fact about you?

I have started mountaineering. In November I did the Tower Ridge route on Ben Nevis.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Launch a new line of books.


Rhian Drinkwater

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

Animal Crossing on Switch is a great antidote to COVID stress

Fun fact about you?

I'm very crafty and enjoy knitting, crocheting and stitching many geeky projects. I've made crocheted superheroes, a scarf based on the carpet in The Shining and a TARDIS baby jumper amongst many others, and I'm currently working on a Babel Fish cross stitch and David Bowie lightning bolt jumper.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Run a marathon! And read many, many more good books.


Andrew Glester

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

I survived thanks to science (again).

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

The Cosmic Shed podcast.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Hear that Denis Villeneuve's Rendezvous With Rana is definitely happening and going well.


Matt Maytum

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

Total Film magazine.

Fun fact about you?

I visited the sets of Avengers: Infinity War and Tenet (I mean, a lot of people know that because I mention it at every available opportunity!)

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Fit in a bit more quality TV time. I missed a lot of the big talking point shows like Squid Game this year. And do a bit more reading (having a young baby dented my time for both in 2021).


Kelly Vero

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

Film - Night in Paradise (horror/ultra-violence)

Event - Beyond Games (sci-fi/metaverse)

Game - Amazing Cultivation Simulator (fantasy)

TV - What We Do in the Shadows S3 (fantasy) and Hometown Cha Cha Cha (kdrama)

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

Kissing Without Lips, a rambling bizarre commentary on kdrama, cdrama, jdrama, tdrama.

Fun fact about you?

I was in Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Put actual faces to names. Watch more kdrama. Watch my book made into a Netflix series. Do more metaverse. Write another book.


Joe Abercrombie

Anything else you enjoyed this year that you want to shout about?

I always enjoy Gomorra, if enjoy is the right word...

Quick shout out for something you're working on...

The Wisdom Of Crowds.

Fun fact about you?

I was born on New Year's Eve.

What are you most hoping to do in 2022?

Get to Celsius Festival in Spain.


Thanks all, and happy New Year to our guests and our listeners! Here’s your reminder of the people we spoke to on the podcast in 2021 and the retro topics we discussed:


SEASON ONE

Episode 13: Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch with Jonathan Wright

Episode 14: Supernatural with Jayne Nelson

Episode 15: WALL-E with Jo-Anne Rowney

Episode 16: Spider-Man 2 with Joe McCabe

Episode 17: The Black Hole with John Singh

Episode 18: Futurama with Yael Tygiel

SEASON TWO

Episode 01: Highlander with Guy Haley

Episode 02: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy with Rhian Drinkwater

Episode 03: Interstellar with Andrew Glester

Episode 04: Terminator 2: Judgment Day with Matt Maytum

Episode 05: Minority Report with Kelly Vero

Episode 06: Excalibur with Joe Abercrombie


New episodes are coming soon, with guests including Sarah Ash, Lizbeth Myles, Will Salmon and Erika Ensign! Watch this space and please remember to like and subscribe to Robby The Robot's Waiting in the podcast app of your choice. While you wait for those to be ready, do check out where else you can hear us.