Update: 2011 in review, best books, movies, etc

Here are my favorite films and science fiction novels I’ve reviewed this year (and some other interesting categories) with links to my reviews….

Watch them! Read them! Gaze at them!  (the array below….)

Best Science Fiction Novel (tie: The World Inside, The Unsleeping Eye, Hawksbill Station)

The World Inside (1971), Robert Silverberg (REVIEW) 5/5 (Masterpiece)

Silverberg’s The World Inside is a fascinating take on the theme of overpopulation — what if society was organized towards a single goal, propagation?  What would society look like?  What position in society would women occupy?  Men? What would cities look like? Hallways? Rooms? Institutions?  What happens to those who don’t fit in?  Or, can’t have children?

The Unsleeping Eye (variant title: The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe) (1974), D. G. Compton (REVIEW) 5/5 (Masterpiece)

D. G. Compton’s The Unsleeping Eye is a dark and literary take on a future society where people have increased life expectancies.  A man is employed by a reality television channel and implanted with a camera in his eye to spy on a middle aged romance novel writer with a terminal illness.  In my top ten favorite science fiction novels.  

Hawksbill Station (1968), Robert Silverberg (REVIEW) 5/5 (Masterpiece)

Although told in a somewhat simplistic manner, Silverberg’s Hawksbill Station is a intriguing take on time travel (one-way time-travel) — time-travel which allows prisoners to be sent back to Earth’s Cambrian era.  This prison, in a geographically bleak early Earth with few forms of life, is home to a variety of political dissidents who struggle to survive and remain sane.

Best Film (Drama) (Dogtooth)

Dogtooth (2009), dir. Giorgos Lanthimos (REVIEW) 8/10 (Very Good)

I admit, the pool was rather small considering I didn’t write very many film reviews this year (for rather nebulous unexplained reasons).  Dogtooth was a fascinating experiment — and perhaps the strangest (darkest?) film ever nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar.  Be warned, the film is a depressing and violent rumination — three children raised under the most unusual of circumstances by sadistic parents — an invented language, a wall, illicit films…

Forgotten Science Fiction Author of the Year (tie: D. G. Compton, Katherine MacLean)

D. G. Compton

I’ve read five of D. G. Compton’s novels this year — The Unsleeping Eye (1974) (REVIEW), Synthajoy (1968) (REVIEW), The Quality of Mercy (1965) (REVIEW), and The Steel Crocodile (1970) (REVIEW) have ranged from solid to brilliant.  The Missionaries (1972) (REVIEW) was a complete and utter dud.  Compton constructs strong female characters with whom our sympathies lie.  He’s fascinated with the interplay between science vs. religion, government vs. individual rights, and themes such as spying, voyeurism, the male gaze (literally)…

He deserves to be read.  The Unsleeping Eye deserves to be on best sci-fi novel lists…

    

Katherine MacLean

Katherine MacLean’s Missing Man (1975) (REVIEW) is a seldom read gem of immaculate world-building and multi-faceted characters — an earlier incarnation of the novel (in novella format) won the 1971 Nebula.  MacLean is more famous for her short stories but Missing Man deserves to have a larger audience — pick up a copy!

Most Compelling Science Fiction Cover (Walter Popp’s cover for the August issue of Fantastic Adventures, 1952)

Female scientists!

Mysterious spheres!

Dynamism!

Adventure!

Excitement!

Mechanical Contraptions!

For the complete post see, Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spherical Spaceships, Spherical Aliens, Unidentified Spheres

Worst Science Fiction Novel

Master of Life and Death (1957), Robert Silverberg (REVIEW) .25/5 (terrible)

Run away from this piece of drivel — thank goodness not all early Silverberg is this bad.  It receives a .25/5 for the sole fact that it is comprised of sentences.

Worst Science Fiction Cover

Uncredited cover for A. M. Lightner’s The Space Olympics (1967)

In the future the olympics will have the same sports.  A constipated athlete.  Docile collie — you gotta have a collie.  Little boy doing the chainsaw….  And a rocket is a must, or, it wouldn’t be the future.

For the rest of the post see, Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Best of Alex Schomburg’s 50s Novel Covers

10 Replies to “Update: 2011 in review, best books, movies, etc”

  1. Silverberg’s The World Inside is a fantastic book, but really, does he write anything that isn’t fantastic?

    lol, the space olympics, hilariously awful cover art! good find!

  2. Glad to see the continued Dogtooth love, sir. I’ve tried to shine some friends on to watching it, but so far, no takers. Shame. I need to give it a rewatch and see how it holds up the second time around.

    1. Thanks! Definitely one of my favorites of his… and I usually hate time-travel novels.

      I have a whole pile to Silverberg to read over the new year.

      A slightly early, Happy New Year to you!

      1. ‘It receives a .25/5 for the sole fact that it is comprised of sentences.’ – Heh.

        I’ve a load of Silverberg queued up for the new year. Looking forward to it! 🙂

      2. Me too! I might start with Man in the Maze or, A Time of Changes… We’ll just have to see.

        But yes, I still cringe when I recollect the horror that was Master of Life and Death….

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