It takes many galaxies' worth of amazing people to make science fiction and fantasy rock our world... but every year, there are some people who stand out as especially influential. Here's this year's list of the genre's movers and shakers.
As with the previous two years' power lists, these aren't our favorite people, or the people we wish were powerful. They're people who can make things happen in the genre — or help the genre reach a wider audience of people who don't consider themselves fans. These are the people who've used their power in the industry to help make science fiction and fantasy stories a national obsession — as well as helping to fuel our personal obsessions. Because we do the power list every year, we tend to focus on people who've particularly stood out in the past year.
And as always, feel free to debate our choices in the comments, or suggest your own candidates for the power list. We had to whittle down a list of dozens of names to get to 20 people, so we're aware we've left out some great choices.
Anne Sweeney and Jeff Bader, ABC television
Straight-up science fiction, that wears its genre credentials on its sleeves, is becoming an endangered species on network television these days. So it's a minor miracle that ABC is continuing to stand behind overtly SF shows like V and No Ordinary Family. We have ABC President Sweeney and Scheduling Chief Bader to thank for that — and here's hoping their gamble pays off.
Up next: ABC has a number of SF or quasi-SF shows in the Fall 2011 pipeline, including Marvel shows AKA Jessica Jones and Incredible Hulk, plus Being Erica, Hallelujah, Once Upon A Time and Patient Zero.
He damn near stole Inception from its all-star cast. And now, the man we used to think of as Picard's shoulder-pad-hobbled clone has become 2010's new hotness.
Up next: He's got an unspecified role in The Dark Knight Rises, and he's starring in the delayed Mad Max: Fury Road.
John Lasseter, Pixar/Disney
As creative director of both Pixar and Disney, Lasseter deserves a great deal of the credit for some of 2010's most high-profile science fiction and fantasy films, including Toy Story 3, Tangled and Tron Legacy. Lasseter, who was inspired by the original Tron as a young animator, was part of a group of Pixar pioneers who viewed an early cut of Tron Legacy and suggested reshoots that, by all accounts, helped improve the story.
Up next: Fanciful Disney and Pixar movies in the pipeline include Cars 2, Mars Needs Moms and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
This was the year of the Moff. He took over as showrunner of that great British institution, Doctor Who, and propelled it to new heights of popularity overseas. And he co-created a new Sherlock Holmes series that reinvented the great detective for the modern era.
Up next: Another year of Doctor Who, plus Moffat helped with the scripting of the new Tintin movie.
He's been powerful forever, but lately he seems to be wielding his power for the benefit of science fiction. He's got three television shows in the pipeline, including Falling Skies and Terra Nova. He's signed on to direct Robopocalypse. And he's inspired pop culture's great remixer, J.J. Abrams, to create the Spielberg tribute Super-8.
Up next: Robopocalypse, plus the Tintin movie with Peter Jackson.
His adult novel The Windup Girl has won almost every major science ficiton award and "stomped the competition" (as Locus puts it) on the trade paperback bestseller list five months running. More than that, though, he's brought hard science fiction back, helping to prove that hard SF can still be relevant and popular. Meanwhile, his YA novel Ship Breaker was a National Book Award finalist and brought new smarts to the "dystopian YA" trend.
Up next: He keeps tweeting that he's hard at work at another project. Work faster!
We already had him on our 2008 power list, but the incredible success of Inception — almost $300 million in U.S. ticket sales — proves that his strength goes beyond merely recharging the superhero genre. The fact that a big-budget weird-fest like Inception even got made, much less that it became such a huge hit, is a minor miracle. People have been saying this means Hollywood will green-light more big films by quirky auteurs — but really it remains true that a few people, like Nolan, can make something like Inception happen.
Up next: The Dark Knight Rises.
Tim Holman, Orbit Books
Orbit launched its U.S. imprint in 2007, with Holman relocating to New York to head it up as publishing direcotr. Since then, its list has grown rapidly and Orbit has been scoring bestseller after bestseller. Looking at Orbit's 2010 titles, too, you're struck by their range, from hard science fiction icon Greg Bear to space opera master Iain M. Banks, and from postmodern epic fantasy author N.K. Jemisin to steampunk innovator Gail Carriger. Not to mention a lot of weird zombie books, from Mira Grant's Feed to Jesse Petersen's Flip This Zombie. Holman has been instrumental in making Orbit a force to be reckoned with in the United States.
Up next: Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes, and Walter Jon Williams' long-awaited sequel to This Is Not A Game, Deep State.
Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns, DC Entertainment
DC Comics and its parent company, Warner Bros., have lagged behind Marvel/Disney in putting their classic superheroes on screen lately, apart from Smallville and Nolan's Batman films. That's about to change — Nelson signaled a shift in the company's priorities when she moved all its multimedia operations to L.A. Nelson and Johns are the president and chief creative officer, respectively, of DC Entertainment, and their only mission is to make DC's universe into the next Harry Potter. A lot depends on how the Green Lantern movie, which was already in production when they stepped up, performs.
Up next: A Flash movie, a Wonder Woman TV series, and probably a number of other projects yet to be announced.
He's the publisher at Tor Books, which he founded and still runs, and he also owns 1/3 of Baen Books. His influence can be felt in every area of science fiction and fantasy, as much today as 30 years ago. And this has been a banner year for Tor — out of Kirkus Reviews' top 15 SF/fantasy books of the year, nine of them came from Tor, including books by Kage Baker and Mary Robinette Kowal. The publisher also had a record 20 books on the New York Times bestseller list this year. Meanwhile, Tor's magazine, Tor.com, has continued to set the conversation among science fiction and fantasy readers and writers.
Up next: John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation, Hannu Rajaniemi's acclaimed The Quantum Thief, and George R.R. Martin's Fort Freak.
Richard Pleper and Michael Lombardo, HBO
HBO's True Blood was already a pop-culture phenomenon, and becoming more overtly fantasy-oriented with the inclusion of fairies 'n' stuff, when Pleper and Lombardo decided to take a chance on a second fantasy series: Game of Thrones, based on the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin.
Up next: Winter is coming! Game of Thrones launches next year.
The Archandroid is appearing on lists of the year's best albums all over the place, and she's influencing a whole generation of futuristic pop and R&B artists, with her cyborg visuals and her ultra-eclectic sounds. Plus she's witty, clever and she claims Octavia Butler as her great inspiration.
Up next: She's touring Europe after doing a show in New York with Prince.
In 1999, Aronofsky saw The Matrix, and it inspired him to think about new ways to reinvent science fiction. The result was The Fountain, a movie that seems to divide people about evenly into evangelists and iconoclasts. But Aronofsky's never stopped thinking about how to tell other-worldly stories in a new way, and the proof is Black Swan, the ballerina movie about horror and art that's getting Oscar buzz.
Up next: The Wolverine — and let's hope Aronofsky's got enough power to keep the suits from messing this Wolverine film up. Plus Machine Man, based on the cyborg novel by Max Barry.
Some people are on this list for work they did in 2010, but others are mostly on here for work that was announced in 2010 — and Bullock is definitely in the latter camp. She's one of the most powerful actresses in Hollywood, but this was the year she chose to use that power for good — she's starring in Gravity, the new space movie by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), and that film would not be getting made if Bullock wasn't in it. (Already, some are comparing Bullock's move to Halle Berry making Catwoman right after winning an Oscar.) We can't think of a movie project we're more excited about than Gravity, and Bullock has rescued it from development hell.
Up next: She's also filming Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the 9/11 movie based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel. Gravity is supposed to start filming in the Spring.
Iron Man 2 was one of the year's most successful movies, and one of the biggest comic book adaptations of all time. And now Favreau is setting out to reinvent the Western and the alien-invasion movie in one movie with a silly title: Cowboys and Aliens. It's a testament to his clout that he was able to get Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig on board this wagon.
Up next: After Cowboys and Aliens, he's taking on an even more daunting task: making Disneyland cool, with The Magic Kingdom.
We loved The Hunger Games, but with the third and final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, Collins showed that she's got the potential to join J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer in the ranks of authors whose books people camp out for. We still hear people debating that ending — no spoilers here — wherever we go. And now it's going to be a movie, from Gary "Pleasantville" Ross.
Up next: Whatever Collins writes next, we'll be first in line to read it.
He has a successful TV series — that he made without any studio input — on the air, with two more series (a live-action Star Wars show, and Seth Green's Star Wars comedy) in the pipeline. Plus, he still controls the multi-squillion-dollar Star Wars brand including hit games, books and comics, and his Industrial Light & Magic effects shop is the essential ingredient in countless science fiction blockbusters.
Up next: Clone Wars returns next week, and we're still hopeful the live-action Star Wars series gets off the ground despite some delays. (A "movie of the week" plus 50 other episodes are already scripted, they just have to wait for technology to advance enough to make it cheap enough to film, says Lucas.) Plus the original films are coming to Blu-Ray and being converted to 3D. He'll just take your wallet now, for safe-keeping.
He's writing two of Marvel's biggest titles (Iron Man and Thor) to critical acclaim and commercial success — and he's in charge of Marvel's grand crossover for next year ("Fear Itself"). And he consulted on set during Iron Man 2. He's established himself at Marvel, in a position that at one point was Brian Michael Bendis' purview.
Up next: Fear Itself, plus hopefully more Casanova, now being published by Marvel's Icon imprint.
Jennifer Brehl and Diana Gill, Harper Collins
Between the two of them, these editors are publishing some of the most exciting science fiction and fantasy authors out there — including Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Richard Kadrey, Terry Pratchett and Ray Bradbury. But also, in 2010, they worked with Harper's editors in Australia and the U.K. to create a global science fiction imprint — Harper Voyager, with Gill serving as the Executive Editor in the U.S. This means that any title published by Harper can have support in all of the biggest English-speaking markets simultaneously.
Up next: Harper Voyager has already signed two authors for their worldwide debut, Karen Anziger and David Wellington (writing as David Chandler).
Gale Ann Hurd
The legendary producer of The Terminator was instrumental in getting The Walking Dead on our television screens this year, and it became one of the biggest new shows of the Fall season, proving that zombies — and relatable survivors — could carry an ongoing television series.
Up next: She blew up the internet the other day by suggesting she'd like to take the Terminator series back under her wing. Make it happen, Pacificor!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Power List: 20 people who rocked science fiction and fantasy in 2010