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2010: A Year in Review [John’s Take]

Continuing my annual tradition from years past (see year-end summaries for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) here’s a summary of my personal sf, fantasy and horror experiences for 2010.


Here is the best of stuff I consumed in 2010. These are not necessarily things that first appeared in 2010, they are just the things that I read, watched or listened to this year.

The best novels I read in 2009 were:

The best short fiction titles (anthologies & collections) were:

The best short fiction titles (magazines, short novels/eBooks/audiobooks, comics) were:

The best films I watched were:

  • Brazil (1985)
  • Moon (2009)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010)
(Novels, Anthologies, Collections, Magazines, Audiobooks, eBooks)

I read noteably less this year than last year. Although I maintained one review post every week, I was only able to accomlish this by consuming shorter works (short novels and ebooks) and audiobooks that I could listen to when reading wasn’t an option. Even so, it was a very good reading year, entertainment-wise.

  1. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
  2. Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick
  3. Thunder From Fenris by Nick Kyme
  4. Other Earths edited by Nick Gevers and Jay Lake
  5. Voices From Punktown by Jeffrey Thomas
  6. Heretics by S. Andrew Swann
  7. The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes
  8. Interzone #226
  9. The Osiris Ritual by George Mann
  10. Raven’s Flight by Gav Thorpe
  11. The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer
  12. Voices of Vision by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
  13. Waiting Death by Steve Lyons
  14. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
  15. Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories edited by Charles N. Brown and Jonathan Strahan
  16. Zeus – King of the Gods (Olympians #1) by George O’Connor
  17. WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
  18. Deep Navigation by Alastair Reynolds
  19. The Complete Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale
  20. We, Robots edited by Allan Kaster
  21. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
  22. Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann
  23. Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
  24. Interzone #228
  25. “Dark King” by Graham McNeill and “Lightning Tower” by Dan Abnett
  26. Prime Baby by George Luen Yang
  27. Dog Blood by David Moody
  28. Hespira by Matthew Hughes
  29. A God Somewhere by John Arcudi, Peter Snejbjerg, & Bjarne Hansen
  30. Ark by Stephen Baxter
  31. Interzone #229
  32. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
  33. Time Bomb #1
  34. After Dark #1
  35. Driver for the Dead #1
  36. The Breach by Patrick Lee
  37. The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 2 Edited by Allan Kaster
  38. Trujillo by Lucius Shepard
  39. Throne of Lies by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  40. Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  41. The Living Dead 2 Edited by John Joseph Adams
  42. Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer
  43. Except the Music by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  44. Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
  45. Fireborn by Nick Kyme
  46. Benchwarmer by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn
  47. Is Anybody out There? edited by Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern
  48. The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton
  49. Black Swan by Bruce Sterling
  50. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
  51. Interzone #231

Gotta love NetFlix which is allowing me to catch up on some never-seen sf films of decades past, and several new ones as well:

  1. Avatar (2009) – Excellent visuals but it has a lackluster story. It’s on par with the Star Wars prequels; great eye candy, but not much more beyond that.
  2. Brazil (1985) – I absolutely loved the atmosphere and look of Terry Gilliam’s weird and wonderful 1985 retro-futuristic Dystopia, which brilliantly spun bureaucracy into satirical social commentary.
  3. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) – Like Resident Evil, there’s nothing new and it does serve its aim of (in this case) zombie story set in a city, but I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of “more of same”.
  4. Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) – Dumb, but nonetheless fun. Hank Azaria stole the show.
  5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Some corny dialogue and predictability mar this otherwise intriguing extension of the X-Men franchise.
  6. Mirrormask (2005) – Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean team up for this inventive fantasy about a young girl’s quest to find a mask to save a fantastically-imagined world (and perhaps her relationship with her mother). The visuals are fantastic (it looks like a McKean drawing come to life) but the pacing was a bit slow for my tastes.
  7. Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008) – This SciFi rock opera was seriously off-putting at first (almost forgettable, in fact) for its all-music format, but the story eventually won me over, and lingers long after viewing. The opera signifies two things: the music-only dialogue and the soap-opera-ishness of the plot. Overall, this was surprisingly intriguing, especially considering it boasts a cast that includes Paul Sorvino and Paris Hilton, the latter probably too oblivious to realize the social commentary made by her casting. (Note to self: yes, the setting for Eric Garcia’s book Repossession Mambo is similar, but the plot has quite a different emphasis.)
  8. Moon (2009) – An excellent film that marks a return to intelligent, thought-provoking SciFi. And an excellent performance by Sam Rockwell, so important as this is a character study piece.
  9. Planet 51 (2009) – An enjoyable animated family film with a nicely done 1950’s SciFi feel.
  10. Astroboy (2009) – A fun family film with excellent animation and a storyline that skirts – but doesn’t quite explore – some meatier issues like segregation.
  11. The Princess Bride (1987) – Destined to be a classic, if not one already. Although I saw this years ago, this is still a magicical film that perfectly combines adventure, humor and charm.
  12. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) and…
  13. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) – I knew I was in for trouble re-watching these movies that I remember fondly from my childhood. Atrocious overacting, illogical plot progressions and awkward pacing were not enough to overcome Ray Harryhausen’s dated (but somehow still charming) stop-motion animation. Oh, and is that Tom Baker as the bad guy in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad? Yikes!
  14. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) – How do you mess up a zombie movie? I can’t remember the last time I was this uninterested watching a movie that sounded good enough to watch in the first place.
  15. 9 (2009) – I loved the animation and the post-apocalyptic setting, but Shane Ackerman’s story needed more fleshing out to make it more cohesive. And interesting.
  16. Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Quentin Tarantino’s alternate history Nazi story is so characteristically Tarantino that you can’t help but like it, even if the pacing of each vignette was a bit repetitious.
  17. Where The Wild Things Are (2009) – Watching this felt like indulging a bratty kid having a tantrum. And how do you make an unlikable child? Plus, he has a poor imagination; his imaginary friends are as surly and unlikable as he is.
  18. Zombieland (2009) – A decent zombie comedy, even if it’s aimed at teenagers. Best part was a laugh-out-loud surprise cameo that was hilarious in its self-deprecation.
  19. Ponyo (2009) – This may not be the best Hayao Miyazaki film, but this charming story of a magical goldfish who wants to be human is still worth watching for it’s excellent animation.
  20. Hancock (2008) – The story of a drunken, down-and-out superhero trying to change his image with the help of a public relations man comes close to having elements of wonderful comic book cheesiness, but that’s sadly overshadowed by blatant disregard for logic after an otherwise promising mid-film plot twist.
  21. Knowing (2009) – Directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage as a burdened professor of astrophysics and widower, Knowing morphs from spooky supernatural numerology thriller to apocalyptic film – a transition inaccessible to the masses and probably only appreciable to genre fans. And darned if it didn’t have me engrossed the whole way through despite the sometimes heavy-handed religious symbolism and the few unanswered, hand-wavy plot points.
  22. Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending look at shared dreams, although suffering a bit from pacing issues, offers a brilliantly constructed plot — perhaps meant more for moviemakers than moviegoers — that jumps around your brain long after you leave the theater.
  23. Daybreakers (2009) – Daybreakers is what you get when you mix the sf-nal “what if?” scenario with vampires. But its interesting premise is hastily implemented and unfortunately paced, ultimately yielding a near-future without a whole lot of bite. (See what I did there?)
  24. The Book of Eli (2010) – A formulaic post-apocalyptic snooze-fest until the final confrontation between Denzel Washington (whose Eli almost comes off like an invincible action-hero touched by the hand of God) and Gary Oldman — then there is finally some decent world building. And, ugh!…the sepia filter!
  25. Forbidden Planet (1956) – It’s Shakespeare’s The Tempest…in spaaace! It’s hard to get past the 50’s-era filmmaking quirks, but once you do, there’s a fairly decent (though longwinded) episode of ST:TOS lurking underneath.
  26. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief (2010) – Standard Hero’s Journey fare augmented with decent special effects and updated mythology. Bonus points for (hopefully) getting the young one interested in mythology and/or reading the book.
  27. 2012 (2009) – One unbelievable narrow escape after another not only tests suspension of disbelief, it shoots it out of the sky with scientifically inaccurate surface-to-air missiles.
  28. Repo Men (2010) – A poor adaptation of Eric Garcia’s wonderful book, The Repossession Mambo; inadequate world building and a bit slow paced, though I must admit to liking the ending.
  29. The Road (2009) – Having read the book, I knew this would be a slow moving, post-apocalyptic vehicle. But like the book, there was little to impress the sf fan who has seen this type of thing before.
  30. Iron Man 2 (2010) – Even when you don’t consider how enjoyable Iron Man was, this was just terrible. A story that never seemed to get above a crawl, action sequences that favored aesthetics over logic, and — worst of all – it’s jut not fun.
  31. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – Great animation, good story, and characters you root for mark this family-friendly movie.
  32. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) – Initially amusing (in an awkward I-remember-the-80’s way) but an idea that’s stretched way too thin.
  33. Toy Story 3 (2010) – Superb animation, riveting storytelling and an awesomely clever escape sequence occupying about the last third of the film — I’m not sure how this could be any better.
  34. Pandorum (2009) – Cliché? Yeah. But still a tasty blend of science fiction and horror, spliced together with some interesting plot twists.
  35. Tangled (2010) – Athough the animation was excellent, the film as a whole was pedestrian thanks to a run-of-the-mill story and flat characters. Except for the horse.
  36. War of the Worlds (2005) – I liked the overall dark tone and the great special effects, but the family drama was a little thick.
  37. Superman: Doomsday (2007) – Superman finally meets his match. Good action and an interesting plot twist or two helps one to overlook the other oddities like Lois Lane’s miniskirt and Luthor’s unhealthy co-dependency on Superman.
  38. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – What is it about Hayao Miyazaki films that are so different and magical? This one is no exception; it’s got great animation, unique storytelling and is brimming with imagination.
  39. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) – Too campy to taken seriously and not campy enough to be any good.
  40. Starship Troopers (1997) – While only superficially true to Heinlein’s classic military sf novel, this flick has a certain charm all its own, courtesy of director Paul Verhoeven’s gonzo approach to sf tropes.

My television viewing was again sporadic this year, though I seemed to be watching more of it than usual. My favorite genre show continues to be Fringe, but I’ve also enjoyed Stargate Universe
(sadly canceled), Flashforward (also canceled — I am the kiss of TV death!), Doctor Who, Eureka, Warehouse 13, and The Walking Dead.


2010 was another fine year for consuming entertaining books, films and tv shows. Even so, there were so many titles — particularly book titles — I didn’t get to that piqued my interest. I want to say I’ll catch up in 2011, but it looks like another year of highly-anticipated books is on the horizon.

Anyway, that’s my year!

(See also: Andrew’s take)

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on 2010: A Year in Review [John’s Take]

  1. You are crazy, dude.


    However…I appear to be crazier in some respects.

  2. Very pleased to see you have Patrick Lee’s “The Breach” on your list. That was a very, very fun read. If the genre had more novels like this one, it’d be unstoppable.

  3. @Fred: Agreed.  You are crazier.  😉

    @David K.  – I have a review of the sequel, Ghost Country, coming up…and it was every bit as good.


    I liked Heretics too, even more than the 1st book in the series.  Right away you have all those colorful characters, including the human tiger (and he’s a stud!).

    Www:Watch was fun.  The nice thing about having a young girl character, is she won’t do the endless soul searching that characters in Sawyer’s other books would do.  I expected a little moralizing and science lessons, as usual.

    Diving into the Wreck, I enjoyed the mystery of the first novella, but I was ‘meh’ by the end.  ‘Stealth tech’ is too vague for me.  It reminded me of ‘red matter’ from the Star Trek movie.

    Voices of Vision doesn’t sound like a novel.


  5. Yeah, that should probably say books, not novels.

  6. More and more I get the impression that Ship Breaker needs to be one of the next novels I read.  I’m seeing it everywhere.

    Diving into the Wreck was on my list too.  Excited about the sequel coming out this year.






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