Science fiction and fantasy devoured our hearts and minds in 2011. The year's hit movies, bestselling books and buzzed-about television shows were dominated by genre fare — and a handful of people played a key part in making it happen.
Welcome to the Power List, io9's collection of people who rocked science fiction and fantasy in 2011.
So here, in no particular order, are this year's movers and shakers of science fiction and fantasy:
David Levine, HBO
Levine is a VP in HBO's Drama Department, who joined the channel in 2009 after having helped develop Burn Notice starting from the pilot. And now that he's at HBO, by all accounts he's been helping to spur the channel's interest in genre properties like True Blood and Game of Thrones.
What's next: American Gods and Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman's untitled series about magicians fighting Hitler.
Jo Fletcher, Quercus Books
She spent 16 years working at Gollancz Books, one of the U.K.'s most powerful science fiction publishers. And in the past year, she's launched Jo Fletcher Books, her own imprint at Quercus featuring up-and-coming authors like Rod Rees and Mazarkis Williams.
What's next: Acclaimed fantasy author Lisa Tuttle is joining her list of authors.
Emma Watts, President of Production, 20th Century Fox
It doesn't seem like that long ago that Fox was coming off a nearly unbroken string of flops, including some beloved properties that were languishing in creative hell. And with Watts as the sole president of production, Fox has taken some chances this year, especially X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which wound up paying off.
What's next: Ridley Scott's Prometheus, plus more X-Men spinoffs.
It's hard to believe this quirky director was once fired from Disney for making the bizarre short movie Frankenweenie — and now he's creating a full-length version of that film, also for Disney. This is a project that wouldn't be happening if Burton didn't have insane levels of clout. See also: His movie version of Dark Shadows, a beloved (but somewhat obscure) cult horror series. Hits like Alice in Wonderland are making Burton more bankable than he's ever been. He even had his own float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What's next: Frankenweenie and Dark Shadows, plus he's producing Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.
Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
They're pretty much the only people to come out of Lost and launch another successful TV show, Once Upon a Time. And OUaT was a passion project, one they'd been pitching for years without success. Plus, they wrote the screenplay for Tron Legacy, which wound up making $400 million worldwide.
What's next: More Once Upon a Time, plus a Tron spinoff series, Tron: Uprising.
George R.R. Martin, Anne Groell and Jane Johnson
Martin's A Dance With Dragons was the fantasy book of 2011 — a long-awaited dose of action and wrongness that actually lived up to our high hopes. With Game of Thrones, Martin has now done for television what A Song of Ice and Fire did for books — show that murky characters and nastiness actually make a story more addictive than moralizing and spoon-feeding the reader. But we would never have gotten our latest dose of Martin's storytelling if it wasn't for his editors, Groell (U.S.) and Johnson (U.K.) — Groell, in particular, was instrumental in getting Dance With Dragons into your hands.
What's next: More Game of Thrones. Winds of Winter, the next book. Plus Syfy Films is making a big-screen version of Martin's Wild Cards superhero universe.
Christopher Schelling and Chris Lotts
When superstar agent Ralph Vicinanza died last year, Schelling and Lotts stepped up and took over most of Vicinanza's high-powered clients. Schelling's Selectric Artists now represents Kim Stanley Robinson, Nancy Kress, Cinda Williams Chima, and Ellen Kushner. Lotts, meanwhile, reps George R.R. Martin, Robert J. Sawyer, Stephen King and Connie Willis. And, working with co-broker Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary, Schelling was responsible for helping to make a new Borderlands anthology happen this past summer. (Thanks to Stacia Kane for the suggestion!)
What's next: They both seem to be selling more young-adult novels recently.
The Night at the Museum maestro had a pretty huge year. Real Steel was a surprise hit, making $277 million worldwide. And Levy was suddenly being mentioned as the go-to guy for a number of other directing projects. He's currently signed up to direct Fantastic Voyage, Frankenstein and a Pinocchio prequel, among other projects. He's also producing the Ben Stiller-vs-aliens comedy Neighborhood Watch and some other upcoming films. And he's the producer behind the TV versions of The Magicians, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Romancing the Stone and a teen spy show.
What's next: Family Album, a TV movie about a larger-than-life father trying to take his family on the perfect vacation.
Because he's in everything, and everybody loves him. This year, he became the definitive Carl Jung, and also managed to make us practically forget Sir Ian McKellen as the X-Men's nemesis Magneto. Plus there was all the naked romping in Shame, which wasn't science fiction but was still worthy of serious scientific study.
What's next: He's playing a key role in Ridley Scott's Prometheus.
Erik Feig, Gillian Bohrer and Jeyun Choi, Summit Entertainment
This year, Summit did something extraordinary: It took the Brinks trucks full of Twilight money, and poured it all into book adaptations. Including Laurie Frankel's Deadmail (a novel about sending email to dead people), Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, Daniel H. Wilson's Amp, Veronica Roth's Divergent, and several others. Oh, and a novel you might have heard of, called Ender's Game. Credit Feig, Bohrer and Choi with having the vision to make a gamble on adapting SF books.
What's next: Summit is in merger talks with Lionsgate, which could add Hunger Games to the mix.
The cast of Friday Night Lights
They're everywhere! Kyle Chandler won raves for his performance in Super 8. Connie Britton made us cringe on American Horror Story. Taylor Kitsch was Gambit in Wolverine, and he stars in Battleship and John Carter. Scott Porter was in Caprica and is voicing the anime version of the X-Men's Cyclops. Jesse Plemons was in Paul. And Adrianne Palicki... umm... well, she entertained us too.
What's next: Palicki is in G.I. Joe 2 and Red Dawn. Kitsch is in the aforementioned Carter and Battleship, the latter of which also features Jesse Plemons.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
You can't really have a love for science fiction without a love for science, and a desire to look upwards at the stars and dream. And Tyson was everywhere this year, speaking out against NASA cutbacks and inspiring all of us to remember why we loved space exploration. When Tyson speaks, everybody stops and listens. He's a frequent guest on many TV shows, but he still makes time to answer questions on Reddit.
What's next: Tyson is making and hosting a sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Coming off of Glee, these two guys could have done pretty much anything they wanted to on television. And they chose to give us American Horror Story, which might well be the weirdest TV show of the past decade. Other TV shows would have balked at cry-masturbation and raw brain-eating, but for AHS those were just grace notes. This show is the purest manifestation of dealmaking power you could possibly imagine.
What's next: We're getting a feeling that American Horror Story season two will be twice as demented. We're already scared.
He's been the world's only motion-capture star for years now, but this year he became a star, period. His astonishing performance as Caesar carried Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And then there was his hilarious turn as Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. People have become more and more aware that Serkis isn't just voicing a series of computer-animated characters (which he did do in Arthur Christmas) but actually giving a virtuoso, award-worthy performance.
What's next: He's back as Gollum in The Hobbit — in the theater I was in, his appearance in the trailer got the biggest applause. And he's also working as a second unit director on the film. Meanwhile, he's also in a horror film, The Spider, and Death of a Superhero.
Jim Killen, Barnes & Noble
This was the year that Barnes & Noble became the country's only major bookstore chain. And Killen, the science fiction, fantasy and graphic novel book buyer, is a big part of keeping genre titles a prominent part of the chain's offerings. Killen has been known for his savvy eye for new authors for a long time, but now he's actually partnering with Tor.com to create a series of Barnes & Noble Bookseller's Picks.
What's next: Possibly more web-based partnerships with publishers?
The former producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was responsible for putting Alphas on the air this year, along with her partner Lloyd Berman — one of the few science fiction shows to get picked up for a second season lately. (She also gave us The Cape, but nobody's perfect.) She's always been willing to take a chance on weird, risky projects — she was a producer on the doomed Virtuality a couple years ago.
What's next: She's producing the big-screen version of Rentaghost, a British TV show about a company that hires out spirits for various jobs.
He's been one of our most indispensible authors for years, but lately he's become more and more of an internet tastemaker, alerting an army of Twitter followers to the latest weird and fascinating thing online. And now his classic novel Neuromancer is actually going to be a movie (we hope!) from Splice's Vincenzo Natali.
What's next: A collection of journalism and essays, Distrust That Particular Flavor, comes out early in January.
Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, DC Comics
Remember when DC was the struggling second-place comics publisher? DiDio and Lee changed all that, with a huge roll of the dice, the New 52. Now, DC's sales are reinvigorated and DC Comics heroes are the ones that everybody's talking about — even if some of the press isn't as flattering, like the Starfire and Catwoman controversies. Even though Marvel has caught up to DC recently, DC is still back in a big way.
What's next: Trades of all the New 52 comics in May. Plus some "digital first" comics like Batman Beyond Unlimited.
He's been a hugely bestselling and award-winning author for years, with movie projects including MirrorMask, Coraline and Stardust. But this year, Gaiman was more of a influencer and deal-maker than ever. His novel American Gods got a TV development deal plus a nice 10th anniversary edition. He wrote probably the year's most acclaimed episode of Doctor Who. And he's launching his own audiobook imprint, promoting authors like M. John Harrison and Robert Sheckley.
What's next: A sequel to American Gods is reportedly in the pipeline.
Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller
The writers, formerly known for Andromeda, Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, scored big this year with Thor and X-Men: First Class. And just like that, they were suddenly ubiquitous. They've sold a young adult novel, Colin Fischer. They're developing The Fall Guy and The Magicians for television. And they're writing the Starship Troopers remake. And they have a big development deal. (Full disclosure: Stentz was on our panel at Comic Con last summer.)
What's next: Hopefully all this newfound clout means we'll finally get to see the Feynman Chronicles, their swashbuckling Richard Feynman movie.
She deserves inclusion, just for the fact that the Hunger Games trilogy is generating a frenzy akin to Harry Potter and Twilight — and it's actual science fiction, with a lot of darkness and a moral compass that's murky at best. And of course, the Hunger Games movie is among next year's most hotly awaited.
What's next: We can't wait to see what her next book project is. Whatever it it is, it'll be major.
He didn't have a new movie out this year — and in fact, his new found footage horror film Area 51 is in limbo — but he still wielded a huge influence over movies, with Apollo 18 and Paranormal Activity 3 both doing well by following his playbook. He's invented a whole paradigm of horror, which shows no signs of slowing down.
What's next: The River, his crazy found footage TV show. We loved the pilot, and just the fact that this show exists is a testament to Peli's mojo.
Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony is taking a huge gamble on revitalizing some of its old, beloved properties in 2012, and it's largely thanks to Pascal. She pushed to reboot Spider-Man — and to give the project to indy auteur Marc Webb instead of a big action movie director.
What's next: Also coming in 2012 are Men in Black III and a Total Recall remake.
Thanks to Annalee, Meredith, Cyriaque and Robbie for the input. Thanks also to Jonathan Strahan, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Lou Anders, Diana Gill and Ginger Clark for the suggestions!