Top 10 Sci-Fi Newcomers 2011

Who broke through into the sci-fi zeitgeist this year? Steve O’Brien announces the shortlist

What’s been new and exciting in the world of science fiction and fantasy in 2011? Not much on mainstream US TV, that’s for sure. There’s been a long list of new so-so telefantasy fodder from the major US channels; no real clunkers, just a lot of shows that either felt overly familiar or blandly safe in approach: Terra Nova , Once Upon A Time , Grimm , the American Being Human , No Ordinary Family .

On US cable and in the UK things were more promising with Game Of Thrones , American Horror Story and The Fades all impressing. Hell, even MTV’s Teen Wolf was better than it had any right to be and Alphas – after a plodding start – developed into a show with a distinctly different tone to its jokey Syfy stablemates. But let’s not get onto the subject of Outcasts again.

Older shows gave us some great new characters: Jinksy in Warehouse 13 , Rudy in Misfits , Agravaine in Merlin , Matt Anderson in Primeval (though, like Danny Quinn before him, he never quite escaped the shadow of Nick Cutter… not helped by the fact that everyone else seemed to mention Nick Cutter every other line).

On the book front, former SFX scribe Guy Haley made the move from Warhammer novelisations to his own original series, the Richards and Klein Investigation series, but we clearly can’t put him in our top 10 for fear of the accusations of nepotism. But, as revealed in the coming pages, a certain South African took the SF literary world by storm. And there’s an angry robotic connection between the two.

Big screen debuts that made a splash included Steven Moffat (scriptwriter on Tintin ), Asa Butterfield (going from playing Mordred in the BBC’s Merlin to being directed by Scorsese in Hugo ) and director Nick Murphy who graduated from Primeval of all things to giving us the incredibly stylish supernatural chiller The Awakening . None of whom make our Top 10, but when you see who does, we think you’ll see why.

We’ve got to admit, we had a big argument about whether we should include any comics newcomers, and in the end we haven’t, purely because there haven’t been that many major breakthroughs in the medium this year. Rob ( SFX ’s comics guru) put in a good argument that we should include the DC 52 version of Animal Man , but despite his careful reasoning, the rest of were just going, “But hasn’t he been around for years?”

Note: For the purposes of this list, a “newcomer” is a person or thing new to sci-fi and fantasy, or alternatively, has made the big breakthrough this past year (as definitions go, it’s as broad as they come).

So who or what, then, did make the final cut? Read on…


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