Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Science fiction year in review.


I read a few more books last year than in the 2009, including my first ebook on a Kindle. I try and mix my reading up by rotating genres: science fiction, fantasy or horror and than something non-genre. Usually I am reading a speculative fiction anthology or magazine too. I also read the odd non-fiction book and book on writing. I tend to try and read Australian authors, 75% of the books I read last year were written by Australians.

Of the books I read, I enjoyed reading The Gypsy Morph, the third and final volume in Terry Brooks’ environmentally themed fantasy/science fiction Genesis of Shannara series.

Greg Egan’s Incandescence brimmed with ideas and imagination, but unfortunately was a very difficult read because of hard to understand descriptions of physics concepts.

After reading China Mieville’s The Scar the previous year, I was disappointed with his Peridido Street Station. Although very strong in imagination, the story took way too long to begin.

I enjoyed the action thriller Timesplash, by Graham Storrs, the first ebook I have read, even though my Kindle malfunctioned near the end.

The standout book for me this year was Red Queen by HM Brown. It won the previous years Aurealis award for best horror, but could just as easily been placed in the science fiction category as it is set in an Australia devastated by a virus. It was tension filled from first page to last, with an easy writing style that didn’t get in the way of the story.


What a pathetic year for science fiction films, Inception, was a very welcome standout, a fantastically complex and suspenseful movie, which should easily win the next best movie Hugo. Predators was okay. I missed Skyline after reading the awful reviews for it. What else was there? Certainly nothing memorable. Compare this to Moon, District 9 and Star Trek from 2009.


Television science fiction made me a very unhappy person this year with so many series that had a good story line, suspense, quality acting and special effects being canned.

First to go was The Chronicles of Sarah Connor, leaving Sarah and her gang forever trapped in a future ruled by terminators.

Then The Dollhouse disappeared. Admittedly, it did take a bit of getting into, a unique concept, too smart for the average viewer.

Torchwood was put out, it was a more adult version of Doctor Who. Torchwood had the suspense and horror that was sadly missing from the 5th series of the new Doctor Who.

They then got rid of Caprica, a prequel to Battlestar Galactica. It had a slowly evolving mutli-layered story.

Finally, they decided that Stargate Universe was far too intelligent for the Stargate franchise and cancelled it.

My viewing of Flash Forward was destroyed as I missed many episodes because of channel seven’s moving it about the schedule.

All that was left was Fringe, which has a great ongoing story that flips between two alternative universes. My guilty pleasure was Chuck, which brings out the 15 year old in me.


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