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2011: 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, 2009 and 2010) here’s a summary of my personal sf, fantasy and horror experiences for 2011.


Here is the best of stuff I consumed in 2011. These are not necessarily things that first appeared in 2011, they are just the things that I read, watched or listened to this year.

The best novels I read in 2011 were:

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

The best films I watched were:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2001)
  • Planet of the Apes (2001)
(Novels, Anthologies, Collections, Magazines, Audiobooks, eBooks)

In terms of quantity, I had a terrible reading year. In last year’s recap, there were 51 titles listed. This year, a measly 24…and several of those were quickly-consumed short stories (packaged as paper books, ebooks or audio cds) or graphic novels. That said, the titles I did find time for were generally enjoyed, with one notable exception that was widely lauded by just about everyone else in the known universe. And so it goes…

  1. Ghost Country by Patrick Lee
  2. Starship Vectors edited by Allan Kaster
  3. The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick
  4. Garro – Oath of Moment by James Swallow
  5. Act One by Nancy Kress
  6. Amortals by Matt Forbeck
  7. Messiah by S. Andrew Swann
  8. The Year’s Best Science Fiction #27 edited by Gardner Dozois
  9. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
  10. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  11. The Astral Disruptor by Rhys Hughes
  12. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
  13. Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
  14. Helion Rain by George Mann
  15. Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
  16. Up Against It by M.J. Locke
  17. Flashback by Dan Simmons
  18. Godlike Machines Edited by Jonathan Strahan
  19. A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson
  20. City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  21. Timecaster by Joe Kimball
  22. Alien Vault by Ian Nathan
  23. The Immorality Engine by George Mann
  24. Them or Us by David Moody

While I relied on Netflix for most of my movie watching again…it was considerably less than last year. The films I enjoyed the most were surprising, at least to me.

  1. Predators (2010) – A surprisingly good reboot of the original with some intense action…despite Adrian Brody’s unbelievable action hero.
  2. The Last Airbender (2010) – Such a rich backstory that was tripped up by sloppy storytelling.
  3. The Thing (1982) – A terrific film that nicely captures the paranoia of John W. Campbell’s awesome story.
  4. Fallen (1998) – Standard thriller upped a notch by the inclusion of a spirit killer who can transfer to other bodies. Good use of that ability to create some dramatic tension.
  5. Equilibrium (2001) – While it may have been a bit by-the-numbers and a little heavy-handed on the emotionless enforcer who finds his heart (I mean, seriously, a puppy? Come on!), this near-future Dystopian film was nonetheless entertaining for being an action flick with some meaty themes to back it up.
  6. Megamind (2010) – Excellent animation, a good story and a few laughs. What’s not to like? Oh, a little slow at times.
  7. Family Guy: Blue Harvest (2007) – A toon that makes fun of Star Wars? This should have been better, or at least something more than standard Family Guy fare.
  8. Family Guy: Something… Dark Side (2009) – Mildly better than the previous one.
  9. The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – I love the idea and the themes of this film, but somehow it didn’t quite gel for me.
  10. Planet of the Apes (2011) – Despite James Franco’s lackluster performance, I was thoroughly entertained by this surprisingly good reboot of the series.
  11. Source Code (YYYY) – Another good film by Duncan Jones, though not nearly as impressive as Moon.
  12. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – I was pleasantly surprised that was more than your average superhero flick, which seem to wearing thin these days.
  13. Saw (2004) – Watched this on a friend’s recommendation after avoiding what I thought was exploitation. Actually, it was a cleverly crafted thriller…with gore.
  14. Saw 2 (2005) – Surprisingly…a film that surpasses the original in all the right ways.

I think I ended up watching more television this year than last year, which partly accounts for some of the time taken away from reading. (I tend to rely on tv watching when I’m too tired to read. I can turn my brain off for tv. For reading, not so much.) My favorite genre shows continue to be Fringe and Doctor Who. I also enjoy the breezy tones of Eureka and Warehouse 13. I tolerated the 6-episode run of The Walking Dead, which seemed to move at a glacial pace, though the payoff was good, if not worth it. On the other hand, I look forward to the return of Falling Skies. I started, then gave up on, Grimm and Terra Nova; neither show grabbed me enough that I could commit even more time to the tube.


2011 currently feels like a year of “not enough time”. Same old story, I guess…real world demands and events grabbed more of my attention. Part of that is the weekly column I’m writing at Kirkus Reviews, which is loads of fun. Also, more time was also required for blog maintenance, which took time away from contributing to blog content…which is why I’m thankful we have such a stellar group of contributors.

Anyway…that’s my year!

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.

3 Comments on 2011: A Year in Review [John’s Take]

  1. Nice one, John: one typo, though, in that you seem to have read your 2011 novels in 2009. Quite impressed by that!

    Happy New Year.

  2. Paul Weimer // January 1, 2012 at 7:30 am //

    What do you expect from a time traveler? 🙂

    And we know why you didn’t do well with the Quantum Thief…

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