MIND MELD: SF/F Books, Movies and TV To Look Forward to in 2012
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Please let us know!]
As this year draws to a close, a new year in genre beckons! We asked this week’s panelists :
Here’s what they said…
2012 is the year of the speculative movie, apparently. I saw the trailer for John Carter of Mars tonight, and…wow. I really hope this isn’t an indicator for what we’re going to be seeing. That being said, I’m a sucker for the pretty action/comic-based movies, and there’s a slew of those coming up: The Avengers, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Batman 3, Dark Tower, Hellboy 3.
(How seriously can you take my taste in movies? My guilty pleasures are Ice Age 4…The Expendables 2. Yeah, seriously. I’m shameless.)
For books: Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon is something to look forward to, and John Fultz adds to the Sword and Sorcery list with The Seven Princes. A few others I’ve got on my wish list are The Drowning Girl by Caitlyn Kiernan; The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin and The Blinding Light by Brent Weeks.
Of course, I will be keeping my eyes out for The Avengers, The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises, as I follow series or trilogies with tenacity. Likewise, I am curious about fairy re-tellings like Snow White and the Huntsman. I hope to see more stronger female characters who are unafraid to speak their minds as well as stories that are not cut-and-paste.
I am also waiting for Leviathan: Monsters In The Sky, a steampunk airships/dreadnoughts tabletop RPG. The Leviathan universe is intriguing and I do want to see more Asian dreadnoughts, especially from Imperial China and Southeast Asia.
As for books, well, there are too many! Of course, I look forward to having my stories published. But what I am truly waiting for is the launch of The Apex Book of World SF II. My story is in it and it will be great to see it in print!
I’m thrilled to be anticipating Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, coming in the new year. I’m not one who revisits movies or books often, but The Lord of the Rings was, for me, an intense exception. I was addicted. I had to stop myself–cold turkey, finally–from running to the theater at every opportunity to see the movies again and again. The DVDs have been well used in my house! There was, for me, a magical synthesis of literary understanding, a fantastic script, compelling performances, and magnificent vision. I really can’t wait for the new film, and I expect to be lined up with the very first viewers in my area, even though it looks like that won’t happen until December.
I’m also looking forward to a new series by my great friend, the fine writer Sharon Shinn. The title is still being debated, by I think it’s going to be called The Shifting Circle, or something like that. I had the opportunity to read some of it in manuscript, and I think it’s going to be wonderful, a strong and fresh take on urban fantasy, with layered characters and a unique story line.
It’s going to be fun for me, also, to see how the changing arc of my own work will be received. I’ve just completed the third in what I laughingly call my Great Composers Trilogy (it’s not a trilogy at all, but each of the three books features a classical composer as a character.) I’ve gone from a vampire opera singer to a time travel novel, and now, in The Glass Butterfly, there are hints of reincarnation. It seems to me that these books add to the general blurring of genre boundaries, and I’m curious to see how they–and this trend–develop in 2012.
I admittedly have a tendency to lag behind the times. There are already so many highly recommended books gathering dust on my “to be read” bookcase that actively waiting for something unreleased seems silly. For films, I often try harder to see them early on, in order to avoid “last week” syndrome (in which all of your friends can’t stop raving about a film, yet don’t want to watch it with you because they “just watched it last week.”) Yet while I’m generally pretty happy to let others scout a path through the media minefield, there are some books and films on the horizon that even I can’t help but look forward to.
- The Twelve by Justin Cronin: If you didn’t read The Passage, I envy you, as it means you won’t have to wait as long between it’s end and the 2012 sequel. And you will be waiting–not only does The Passage end on a cliffhanger, but it may be the best post-apocalyptic, vampire, and zombie novels I’ve ever read, all rolled into one. Sure, it was from a “literary” author and got a lot of mainstream press, which I know can lead to resentment among us hard-liner genre folks. (See also: The Road.) But you know what? Mr. Cronin deserves every bit of his success. That book was 800+ pages of awesome, and I can’t wait to see if he can sustain it in the sequel.
- The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King: Speaking of series you have to wait forever for, Stephen King’s managed to string Dark Tower fans along for 30 years. I feel fortunate that I got into the series after the end was already in place–King seems to have no problem ending books practically mid-sentence–but I’m still salivating at the thought of this book, which will slot in between books 4 and 5 in the series.
- Railsea by China Mieville: I’ve seen surprisingly little information about this book–rumored to be another young adult novel–but who cares? China’s stuff is always interesting, and if Embassytown is any indication, he’s just going to keep getting weirder and more cerebral.
- Prometheus: Ridley Scott? Doing another Alien movie? Except it’s not really about the Giger aliens (who’ve had a bit too much screen time at this point), but instead about that weird pilot race we glimpse briefly in the first movie? Excuse me–I need to go wipe the drool out of my beard.
- Looper: From the plot to the dialogue to the acting, everything about the modern noir flick Brick is stunning. Now that director is back and teamed up once again with Brick (and Inception) star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, doing a time travel film, and co-starring… get ready for this… Bruce Willis, in one of his classic “I’m too tired and disgruntled for this” action roles. While I know it’s dangerous to start making too many comparisons (“OMG, this could be Brick plus Inception plus 12 Monkeys plus Die Hard!”), I can’t help but have high hopes for this team.
- Iron Sky: Moon Nazis. Do I need to say more?
2012 is shaping up to be a tasty year for SF/F. Trying to wade through all the things coming out next year is sort of like trying to find a single voice in an excited crowd at a soccer game. So if the following is missing something major, you’ll have to forgive me:
In the literature department, I can’t wait to get my hands on Tobias S. Buckell’s Arctic Rising — a new original work from the genius behind the Xenowealth Saga — and China Mieville’s Railsea — because I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him. I’ve also got my eyes on The Voice From the Edge by Harlan Ellison — because he’s Ellison — and The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar — because Osama was bloody brilliant. The last eye-catcher is Empire State by Adam Christopher, which hopefully will bring something unique to the already unique lineup at Angry Robot.
The film department is a little trickier. There are so many genre films coming out next year that it’s impossible to keep track. But I’ll keep the list short by selecting five of the bazillion titles to come. First, there’s Men in Black 3, which I didn’t even know about until I saw the trailer (at random) the other day. I’ve loved the series since the first film, so it’s unlikely that I’ll miss this bad boy. Then there’s John Carter of Mars, which I pray will be worth the admission — because looking beautiful and amazing is rarely an indicator of quality. But I’ve got hope…
One of the more interesting films coming out is the adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. If it’s anything like the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, then it’ll be amazing. Adaptations are always a crapshoot — sometimes you’ll get a piece of cinematic genius, and sometimes you won’t.
The two biggest films, though, are The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus. I have reservations about Nolan’s new addition to the Batman franchise, but he did such an amazing job with The Dark Knight that I’ll give him some leeway. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus deserves similar reservations. Don’t get me wrong. Scott is a great filmmaker. But he’s fallen off the wagon lately. Prometheus may be one of the best science fiction films released in a decade, or it might be a rambling mess like Robin Hood. I’m hoping for the former.
So there you have it. What am I missing?
When writing this kind of thing I get a bit nervous as I know I’m forgetting great stuff. Also, any such list concentrates heavily on the beginning of the year; the end of the year remains foggy. So with those caveats I will begin with January.
First, I’m excited to read Daemon Prism by Carol Berg. This is the third in a series that began with The Spirit Lens. It’s a well-crafted magical mystery that keeps getting deeper. Next is Martha Wells’ Serpent Sea, the sequel to the Cloud Roads. I have difficulty describing this series, but let me say it captures the wonder and novelty that brought us all to fantasy in the first place. Finally, I’m hearing great things about Myke Cole’s Control Point. I expect to stay up late one night reading that one.
For January television I am waiting for Fringe to come back to Friday nights. This show is more fantasy than sci fi at times, but it’s the human stories that define it for me.
February brings Elspeth Cooper’s U.S. release of Songs of the Earth, another book I’m hearing fantastic things about, and Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed.
In March there are two movies coming out that I want to see. First, Hunger Games. I haven’t read the books, and don’t expect I will have the time to do so. Therefore I’m hoping the movie is amazing. Second, John Carter. This could be really great or really bad. I will probably go see it in any case.
In April, we will see Game of Thrones return to HBO. Nuff said.
Book-wise in April, I am expecting to see Bradley Beaulieu’s Straits of Galahesh, the sequel to The Winds of Khalakovo. This is a unique fantasy series that addresses issues of class, imperialism, and personal ethics. Lynn Flewelling’s Casket of Souls, her second-to-last book about Alec and Seregil– lovers who spy, thieve, and generally sneak around for the sake of their empire–comes out in May. July brings King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Nuff said, again!
Let’s talk about summer movies! We have The Avengers, directed by the incomparable Joss Whedon, coming to the screen. There’s also a remake of Total Recall coming up, and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. There’s one more Batman on the way. For the kids we have Brave and ParaNorman (both are looking great).
I look forward to Doug Hulick’s Sworn in Steel in the fall. This is of course the sequel to Among Thieves, which is very popular and deservedly so. I will also be buying Endlords by J.V. Jones, book five of her Sword of Shadows series. I’m hoping for Courtney Schafer’s Tainted City, the sequel to The Whitefire Crossing, around the same time. TWC blended magic and mundane smarts to get a pair of not-quite-friends through a hairy situation and I’m hoping for more of the same. And my final book of the year is The City’s Son by Tom Pollock, coming out with our own Jo Fletcher Books.
In December, we get The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson! Nuff, nuff said!
Finally, there are a few unknowns. Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch’s long-awaited sequel to Red Seas under Red Skies, is supposed to come out in 2012. I truly hope it does. Teresa Frohock is working on a new book titled The Garden, and I’m crossing my fingers to see it next year. There is also an intriguing SF movie, Elysium, that may or may not be released before 2013. On TV we may see a Battlestar Galactica prequel featuring Adama in the first cylon war. And last but not least, Joss Whedon has promised a Dr. Horrible installment of some kind–maybe a movie, or maybe another web series–I’m keeping watch. Another supervillain musical tragicomedy–what’s not to love?
That’s my wish list for 2012. See you there.
2012 is looking set for a really exciting and interesting year for genre. There’s so many things I’m looking forward to reading. Top of my list at the moment is Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press) edited by Brit Mandelo. The title says it all really.
Glamour in Glass is Mary Robinette Kowal’s sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, which I’m currently reading and loving. I’ll be nabbing the sequel as soon as it’s out. Magic meets a Jane Austen novel. What’s not to love?
I’m anxiously awaiting Holly Black’s conclusion to her Curse Workers series – Black Heart. The first two books in this YA series have been gripping and I cannot wait to find out how it ends.
I can’t wait for the concluding book to Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court trilogy.
And not out in 2012, but I’ll be reading it in my summer holidays – Delia Sherman’s gorgeous looking The Freedom Maze from Small Beer Press. It’s been receiving rave reviews.
Next year I will be receiving lots of shiny packages in the mail as I seem to have fallen pretty hard for a lot of the Subterranean Press forthcoming titles. Specifically Connie Willis’ latest novella All About Emily (A Chorus Line meets Robots!), The Best of Kage Baker, and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart by Caitlin Kiernan. I’m also highly anticipating Kij Johnson’s collection coming out from Small Beer – At the Mouth of the River of Bees.
For anthologies, so far I’m looking out for Jonathan Strahan’s YA Under my Hat (hint: witches).
In TV, I’m looking forward to new seasons of Fringe and Haven. And Doctor Who. And I admit, as gruesome as I expect it to be, I’m curious to see the first of the Hunger Games movies.
As for shorts, this year I loved short fiction by Nnedi Okorafor and Kenneth Liu and so I am looking forward to seeing what new work comes from them.
I enjoyed 2011. It wasn’t a great year, but it was a good year. I read a lot of short fiction, a handful of novels, watched far fewer movies than I wanted to, more TV than I’d intended to, and for the first time in over a decade even read some comics I loved (Warren Ellis’s Planetary and Cosby & Stoke’s Mr Stuffins, if you’re interested).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my list of things I’m looking forward to in 2012 is either (to me) a clear outgrowth of my 2011 reading, obvious or vague. I’m looking forward to continuing my unstructured wander into comics, but I have no specific titles in mind. I also don’t pay as much attention to movies as I used to, but I am eager to see Aardman’s Pirates!: An Adventure with Scientists, Disney/Pixar’s Brave and John Carter (Warlord of Mars!), Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and Martin Scorcese’s Hugo. There are others I’ll likely see, but those come to mind. I am looking forward to more Fringe, my very favourite SFnal TV show, and more Doctor Who. Both have slightly shaking looking futures, but that seems the norm for great SF tv.
And then there’s books. I really didn’t have to think too hard to come up with almost two dozen 2012 titles that I can’t wait to see. Several are continuations of series, but most are stand-alones or collections. It probably says something about my personal preferences that there are more SF titles here than fantasy ones, but I figure that’s ok.
Probably the single novel I’m looking forward to the most is Ian McDonald’s second young adult SF book, Everness. It apparently picks up where his wonderful Planesrunner left off, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I’m also very eager to read James S.A. Corey’s Caliban’s War. Abraham and Franck did a bang-up job with the first book in their ‘Collapse’ SF series, Leviathan’s Wake, which was precisely the sort of SF novel I love, and I’m eager to get back to their story. Both Paul J. McAuley and Alastair Reynolds’ have major SF novels due out early in the year, In the Mouth of the Whale and Blue Remembered Earth. The McAuley is the latest in his Quiet War sequence, while the Reynolds’ starts a major new series for him. I’ve looked at both, and will be diving into them as soon as my Christmas break starts. I read Garth Nix’s YA space opera A Confusion of Princes in manuscript. I’ve loved his work since I first read Sabriel, and think this is one of his very best books. I’ll definitely be re-reading it when the book hits the shelves. I’m also curious as heck about China Mieville’s Railsea. I think it’s a young adult novel in the vein of Perdido Street Station, and if it is, it should be enormous fun. Ted Kosmatka’s The Games comes out mid-year and is the debut novel from a really interesting short story writer. As always, I’m fascinated to see how he might make the shift from short to long stuff. The final SF novel I can’t wait for is the intriguingly odd The Long Earth, an SF story by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I’ve no idea what it’ll be like, but it should be interesting!
Although, I’m certainly missing something, there are five fantasy novels I’m looking forward to for 2012. The first is Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, a novel that encompasses her marvellous World Fantasy Award winning novella “Sea-hearts”, and her follow up to Tender Morsels. It sounds brilliant. Then there’s Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl. Kiernan is one of the best short story writers we have, and anything she does is simply essential. This one doesn’t sound easy reading, but it does sound like the kind of challenging book that I love. Daniel Abraham wrote my favourite epic fantasy of 2011, The Dragon’s Path, and he follows it up with The King’s Blood which should be a lot of fun. I’ve become a bit wary of Tim Powers’ novels, especially after Three Ways to Never. Powers’ novels are hit or miss for me, but when they do hit they are awesome. Advance reports suggest Hide Me Among the Graves is a hit, so I can’t wait to see it. The final fantasy I’m looking forward to in 2012 is Mary Gentle’s Black Opera. I loved Ash and if Black Opera is anywhere near as good it’ll be something special.
I know I’ll end up missing something special, but there is a small shelf of short story collections that look exciting in 2012. After more than a decade, Andy Duncan finally follows up his World Fantasy Award winning debut collection Beluthahatchie and Other Stories with The Pottawotamie Giant. I’ve read many of the stories in the book already, but this PS Publishing title is something I’ve been looking forward to for several years. Speaking of looking forward to something for years, Subterranean will be publishing Lucius Shepard’s The Dragon Griaule in May. It collects all of the existing ‘Dragon Griaule’ stories in one book, along with a long new one, and is probably as close to his long-promised The Grand Tour as we will ever see. Kij Johnson’s second collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, is due out later in the year from Small Beer. Johnson has really blossomed as a short story writer in the last five years, and given that this will collects the best of her recent work it’s almost certainly going to be the best single collection of 2012. I’m also very excited about Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, which will collect her recent work. This is the book that I expect to be vying with the Johnson for the title. I’m always pleased to see a new collection from Tanith Lee, so Space is Just a Starry Night is very welcome, as is any new book from the terribly underrated Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I’ll be grabbing Stirring the Bones the moment it comes out. Jeffrey Ford will have Crackpot Palace, an enormous new collection out in August. It should be something. And finally, Subterranean are publishing Jonathan Carroll’s The Woman Who Married a Cloud, which pretty much collects his entire body of short fiction. I fell for Carroll’s work when I read The Land of Laughs, and am eager to see this one at last.
Writing about these books has made me even more aware of all of the books I end up loving each year that I didn’t know were coming out, or that surprised me. So while I’d add the new Diana Wynne Jones book, Reflections on the Magic of Writing, and the untitled Twelfth Planet Press collection from Margo Lanagan, both of which are essential, I’d also want to leave a couple spots on this list for the books none of us are looking forward to but which will surprise and delight us, and which will make 2012 worth talking about when the year is done and we’re wondering about 2013.
One of the advantages of reviewing is getting advance peeks at some of next year’s books, so I can already report that a few early 2012 novels –Alastair Reynolds Blue Remembered Earth and Paul McAuley’s In the Mouth of the Whale in SF, Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts and Tim Powers’s Hide Me Among the Graves in fantasy–are pretty likely to satisfy fans of these authors, and maybe create some new fans. Next on my pile is Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, which marks a return to grand-scale hard SF and promises to be a major addition to the recent trend of solar-system based SF, which is beginning to look like a sort of compromise between far-future galactic tales and the more reined-in aesthetic of mundane SF.
Later in the year, according to Locus’s Forthcoming Books list, there are plenty of titles announced by familiar names that I hope to catch: a new story colection by Kathleen Ann Goonan, who never seems to quite generate the buzz she deserves, and a second YA novel Railsea from China Mieville, who seems to always deserve the buzz he gets. Similarly high-profile in the YA arena is Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities, his followup to the excellent Ship Breaker, though it’s still unclear whether his second adult novel will show up by the end of the year. I’m also looking forward to Ian McDonald’s Everness, the second volume in the series that begun with Planesrunner. Also on the YA ledger is Elizabeth Hand’s Radiant Days, which combines the 1970s art scene with Arthur Rimbaud, both topics well-suited to her talents. Her other forthcoming novel, Available Dark, isn’t really in our genre, but if it’s as spooky as the first Cass Neary adventure Generation Loss it should be terrific. I understand there’s also to be a new Jeffrey Ford collection, which is always a must-have.
Back on the hard SF side, I’m also looking forward to The Eternal Flame, the second novel in Greg Egan’s Orthogonal series. A lot of readers found A Clockwork Rocket pretty challenging to get into, with its invented physics and coming-of-age science-education plot, but he left openings for the second one to be much more accessible. I’m also curious to see if Hanni Rajaniemi’s second effort is as impressive as The Quantum Thief was. And, like everyone else, I’m expecting to have fun with Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross’s The Rapture of the Nerds, a title which everyone should have in their library no matter what the book turns out like. I’m quite curious to see what John Varley’s Slow Apocalypse will look like, though I confess I haven’t kept up with his Thunder and Lightning series.
I’m not generally one who stands in line on the opening day of a blockbuster movie, and more often than not wait until I can get it streaming or on DVD. But I made an exception a couple of weeks ago for Hugo, and feel quite rewarded for my efforts. I’ll likely see The Hobbit first run (if various production and contractual tangles don’t delay it further), and probably for Cloud Atlas and John Carter as well, maybe even The Hunger Games (perhaps at an afternoon showing when the kids are still in school). I have some hopes for The Dark Knight Rises and Raven (partly because I think John Cusack would make a good Edgar Allan Poe), but I’ve already seen previews for Battleship and Men in Black 3, and suspect they’re the sort of previews that give you all the money shots for free, so that you only have to see the movie for the lame banter. The only reason I can think of for seeing the remake of Total Recall is to dispel the taste of the first one, but that could backfire badly. One of these days, someone might actually read the Philip K. Dick story before turning it into a movie, rather than basing the whole budget on some screenwriter’s pitch.
I’m even less reliable as a TV viewer, though I’m looking forward to the continuation of both the BBC Sherlock Holmes and, of course, Game of Thrones. The unknown factor late in the year will be the adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, which, at least on the surface, seems to be the kind of King narrative that leads to pretty good movies as opposed to the kind of King narrative that leads to embarrassing disasters. Fringe remains about the only weekly SF series that I have any faith in, and it’s consistently gotten better since its first season, and it actually has characters in it.
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