They’re finally here. Later than usual? Yeah, but you’ll all forgive me for that. I started reading some awesome stuff from 2011 in January and I didn’t want to post this before making a proper decision.
Lavie Tidhar messed with my head. Really. Osama is one of the few novels I have had the pleasure to read that left me reeling at the end. The book still haunts me, like a twisted ghost creature in literary form, banging on my walls, slamming my doors, and breaking my expensive Chinese teacups. Osama is one of the most beautiful works of SF/F literature I’ve had the pleasure to read since I became an SF/F fan. It’s on my list of Masterworks, that’s for sure.
Plus, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for The Skiffy and Fanty Show. Love it.
Runner-ups: Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht (Night Shade Books)(a stunning debut that hits all the right emotional buttons), and Low Town by Daniel Polansky (Doubleday)(a noir romp with a fantasy twist that is well worth reading).
Best Collection or Anthology
I called this collection “one of the best works of SF this decade” in my review. Simply put: the collection is gorgeous (read my review to find out why; there’s also an interview here).
Runner-ups: Kafkaesque edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelley (Tachyon Books)(a quirky collection of stories in celebration of one of the greats) and Gateways edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull (another celebratory collection, but with a markedly nostalgic feel — Brin and Haldeman have some brilliant work in here).
This year’s award goes to a publisher who treated me rather kindly in 2011. Ever since Jen and I put out the call to improve our coverage of women authors last year (on The Skiffy and Fanty Show, mind), Pyr has been pushing authors our way, which might explain why so many of our interviews were with Pyr writers! It also helps that the books we read were, overall, quite good. You can’t go wrong with Pyr!
Runner-ups: Small Beer Press (I need to read more of their books, but the one text I got to read, After the Apocalypse, was absolutely brilliant), Tor (2012 is their year, I think), Tachyon, and Angry Robot Books (a previous winner, and still one of the most innovative publishers out there).
I have decided to temporarily leave this category blank. Adam Callaway and I are planning to do some kind of Awards Season Mega-Reading Fest. I will update this section then.
I love natural detail in artwork. I think they take extraordinary skill to master, and Kekai Kotaki definitely has the skill. A stunning work indeed!
(For interested parties, I have an interview w/ Peter Orullian here.)
Runner-ups: Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht (Claudia Nobles does a brilliant job with her oil-style rendition of a detention camp in Ireland) and Low Town by Daniel Polansky (Ben Wiseman’s design for the U.S. cover is gritty and perfectly placed).
You might not recognize that red-haired monstrosity of a human being (with a clock on his head, mind you), but you’ll recognize his name: Adam Callaway. He and I have been friends for a while, so it goes without saying that I’m a little biased. But I’ve never given this award to a friend before (at the time of the award); it’s simply unavoidable this year.
I’ve known Adam for a while now, have read a lot of what he’s written (though not all, because I’m a terrible writing buddy who deserves to be stabbed with metaphorical pens filled with snake venom), and have watched him rise to the throne of greatness (getting ahead of myself, I know). The truth is this: Adam’s writing is fantastic. If you haven’t read anything by him, check out his bibliography page. Trust me, you will not be disappointed (and if you are, then you are reading the wrong blog).
Originally, I had chosen the last of the Harry Potter movies for this award, but then I saw Hugo and knew that no other film could top the utter mastery of Martin Scorsese. Hugo is beautiful and charming all at once. The sets. The characters. The actors. The plot. It’s all so perfect. True, it’s an adaptation, but adaptations usually suck. This one doesn’t. It’s pure cinematic genius.
Runner-ups: Cowboys & Aliens (good old satire), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (see above), and Super 8 (until the last 10 minutes, when Abrams becomes Abrams).
Non-2011 Runner-up: Never Let Me Go (by far the best film I happened to see last year)
Best Television Show
Nothing quite matches Game of Thrones in 2011. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for each new episode. True, some episodes weren’t as good as others, but I also couldn’t help being hypercritical because I desperately wanted Game of Thrones to be good. And you know what? It was. Damned good.
You can find my reviews episode-by-episode reviews starting here.
Runner-ups: Doctor Who (not as good as the year before, but clever)
Best Non-Genre Film
As I mentioned too many times to count, I’m relatively poor (it’s either the cinema every week, or a far-too-short vacation; you can figure out which one gets sacrificed). Add to this the fact that my girlfriend lives in another country, and my distinct lack of a local movie buddy, and it’s no small wonder why the selection for this category has gone to a movie that wasn’t released last year.
Munich gets this award for two reasons: first, it’s a chilling look at what violent revenge can do to a human being, and second, I remember it. When I thought back to all the movies I borrowed from the library or saw in theaters or rented with my sister, this film came up every single time. That’s what great films do, in my opinion. They leave a lasting impression. Something about Munich has imprinted itself upon me, just like Never Let Me Go. Both will certainly be on my “best of the last 20 years” list in the future.
Runner-ups: A History of Violence (Aragorn must continue being awesome, please)
Best Non-Genre Television Show
Maybe I picked Castle because of my love affair with Nathan Fillion. Or maybe I picked it because it remains a witty police comedy that never ceases to surprise me. The writers have owned up to the geeky side of Fillion and used that to fuel some pretty amazing crimes. I keep coming back for more, even if I know they are dragging out the impending romantic plotline for as long as possible…
Runner-ups: Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (still one of the most chilling police procedurals out there) and Big Bang Theory (which remains hilarious as always).
I’m sidelining this temporarily. I’ve got a lot of listening to catch up on…
The 2011 Kudos Award
Jason Sanford. And you know why? Because he’s an amazing supporter of aspiring writers, a delicious sport, and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. With his Million Writers Award, he’s provided a fantastic venue for literature published online. With his blog, he’s explored important topics in the SF/F field. With his voice, he’s amused us on The Skiffy and Fanty Show. And he’s a damned fine writer to boot. Whatever you’re doing to be so awesome, Jason, keep it up!
The 2011 Wappa Wappa Wa Award (i.e. the Worst Person Who Happens to be a Published Writer Award)
–“Hey! I thought your blog wasn’t going to be all political and whatever!”
–Sort of. I said my political stuff would primarily live on Duke and Zink Do America. Besides, politics is impossible to ignore, as everything is political in some way. But maybe you’d like to hear my explanation before getting upset?
–The Great Salamander isn’t on this list because he’s a politician. If that were so, I could hunt down any living politician who has written science fiction or fantasy and shove them on this list (I could even swing it to include Barack Obama, who is, at the very least, a character in a super hero comic). There are two reasons Newt is on this list.
–“Oh, this should be good…”
–First, he is the most arrogant man to exist on the public stage since Kanye West (so arrogant, in fact, that he believes it’s acceptable to talk about things he’d do in his second term before he’s even been nominated for his party for his first). I can’t stand that kind of arrogance. A little humility is necessary in life, after all.
–“Alright, we get it. What about the second?”
–The second: despite saying relatively moderate things about immigrants (he’s not in favor of shipping off your Mexican grandma just because she’s illegal, though he’s perfectly happy to make Little Timmy a work slave), he’s also said loads of total B.S. about Barack Obama.
–“You stupid liberal…”
–Now now. Just hear me out. I’m not saying this because I’m going to vote for Barack Obama (I am). I’m saying it for two reasons: creating mythical versions of opponents out of lies is unethical and plain bastardly, and I think there are so many legitimate reasons to criticize Barack Obama that it seems silly to have to make them up just to win votes.
–“That’s rather reasonable…”
–Yes. Which is why Newt Gingrich gets the 2011 Wappa Wappa Wa award.
–“But, wait, since when has he written science fiction?”
–“That’s alternate history.”
So there you have it. My selections for 2011.
Now for the big question: What would you include in the above categories?