Greetings, 2013! Your predecessor, 2012, was a disappointment, mostly due to reasons having nothing to do with this blog. Granted, the Mayans did provide amusement. Fortunately, from the perspective of pop culture and All Things Geek, 2012 was humongous! Remember that stuff that got you ostracized or mocked 20 or 30 years ago? Well, they’re money-making machines now. (Whether or not that’s a good thing is a different story....)
Here are my picks for the top 10 tidbits:
10. The Hobbit and 48 frames per second. On its own, Peter Jackson’s cinematic return to Middle-Earth would be newsworthy. But the director caused an Internet freakout when, at a summer convention, he secretly unveiled the first Hobbit footage – which he had shot at the newly developed 48-frames-per-second rate (double the century-long standard of 24 fps). The reaction was not good, with many commenters saying the crisp realism of the new rate made the film resemble cheap video, almost like ‘70s Brit TV. The controversy dogged the film for months prior to its December release.
9. The SOPA blackout. You likely forgot about the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA). You should remember, though, that the Internet fight against it actually impacted national policy. Here’s a memory jog if you need it
8. SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station. For the first time, a privately held company delivered cargo to astronauts onboard the ISS – a long-awaited step in space exploration. That the name of the spacecraft was the Dragon? Deliciously nerdy icing on the cake.
7. The Firefly reunion at San Diego Comic-Con. Ten years after the series’ debut and cancellation, Josh Whedon, Nathan Fillon, and crew took the stage to celebrate the show, its enduring legacy, and – above all - the fans. Watch the video and have tissues on standby. I’m getting verklempt all along again....
6. The Mars Curiosity Rover. et another big science story, and really, who didn’t pay attention to this when it arrived on Mars? Mind-blowing science moment of the year: an astonishing, high-definition video of Curiosity’s high-speed descent – taken by Curiosity itself. Smile-inducing science moment of the year: the congratulatory giddiness in the Control Room skip to the last 2 minutes) among straight-laced dudes, nerds, old hippies, an Alec Baldwin stand-in, and THIS guy.
5. D&D Next announcement. Last January, in a well-orchestrated display that got mainstream attention, Wizards of the Coast announced it was developing a new version of Dungeons & Dragons. Since then, hoping to win back many gamers who disliked 4E, WotC has been conducting a smart, open, ongoing, and well-received public playtest – nearly the opposite of how it rolled our 4E. In terms of its arrival in a hungry marketplace, the timing as perfect, for reasons I described here. The final version of the game is likely still a year and a half away, which gives the developers and the fans plenty of time to tweak the rules – and gives WotC time to figure out how to salvage the online DDI, which has been losing subscribers and revenue ever since 4E presumably became Dead System Walking.
4. Kickstarter and big, BIG bucks. The crowdfunding site Kickstarter has been around for a couple of years (hey, it helped us to fund Foreshadows!), but it made big news in 2012 with multiple projects that raised more than $1 million in support, including the Reaper Miniatures project in August that raised over $3.4 million. Wow.
3. Marvel's The Avengers and the triumph of geek media. You know the story with Joss Whedon’s film. Enormously successful, enormously entertaining (my quickie review here). But it was not alone! From The Amazing Spider-Man to a reanimated Walking Dead to the success of CW’s Arrow series to Entertainment Weekly’s cover story (!) on Doctor Who a first for ANY British TV show), 2012 will go down in history as a banner year for geek properties in mainstream media. Unfortunately, 2012 is noteworthy for another reason….
2. The Dark Knight Rises shooting. There have been gun-related massacres before and – horrifically – even worse gun-related massacres to come later in the year. What made the insanity and death in Aurora, Colorado uniquely disturbing for us was that in happened in a movie theater, the place that has long served as our mental refuge from often-grim reality.
1. Disney revives Star Wars. Winner, hands down – perhaps the biggest story of the past 10 years. When Disney bought Lucasfilms and immediately announced that new Star Wars films were already in the Mouse Pipeline, fans rejoiced. After a couple of decades of reissues, digital retweaking (Han shot first, damn it!), and Jar-Jar Binks, we’re all excited to see fresh minds and talents bring balance to the Force. And, yes Leia is a Disney princess.
Honorable mention: The publication of Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero. I can't let 2012 go without mentioning a personal highlight. Not only was I thrilled to have my first work of speculative fiction published, I was also honored and delighted to share Foreshadows' table of credits with a ton of fabulously talented people, including Jeff LaSala, Ari Marmell, Rosemary Jones, Ed Greenwood, and Brian Matthews, whose first novel, Forever Man, is out next month!