2021 is almost at an end, and it’s the third anniversary of At Boundary’s Edge, which can mean only one thing. That’s right, it’s time for the third annual Boundy Awards, in which I select the year’s best science fiction. Attentive readers will note that the awards for best interactive media and best non-fiction have been removed from the Boundy Awards, and that a Best Podcast award has been added. We are still in the formative years of the Boundy Awards, after all, and as my journey through science fiction continues, so too does the content I feel comfortable giving awards to. As always, there are no physical awards, but if you close your eyes and imagine *really* hard, I’m sure you can come up with something.
Boundy Awards for Literature
BEST STANDALONE: The Apollo Murders, by Chris Hadfield
The debut adult novel from retired astronaut Hadfield is a truly stunning piece of alternative history. Seamlessly blending real history with fictional events, this crime/espionage thriller absolutely blew me away, and hopefully marks the start of a brave new career for Hadfield as a novelist.
BEST SERIES OPENER: The Lost Fleet: Outlands #1: Boundless, by Jack Campbell
Jack Campbell is one of the most reliable names in military SF, so it’s no surprise that the start of his new Lost Fleet series has his trademark mix of tactical space combat and firm grip on military matters, this time with the addition of all-too-real politics and xenophobia. If you are not reading Campbell, you are missing out.
BEST CONTINUATION: Minka Lesk #2: Traitor Rock, by Justin D Hill
Proof (if any were needed) that tie-in fiction can stand head and shoulders alongside original works, Traitor Rock secures itself not only as the best middle volume of the year, but as one of the strongest Warhammer 40,000 books to date. Bloody, brutal, and brilliant, this is action that makes you think.
BEST CONCLUSION: The Expanse #9: Leviathan Falls, by James S. A. Corey
There weren’t many finales in 2021, but the ones we got were truly monumental, and grandest among these is the much-awaited climax of The Expanse. Leviathan Falls had a tough gig, but pulled off the impossible. As a novel, it’s great, but as the finale to a saga ten years in the making, it’s almost perfect.
BEST ANTHOLOGY/COLLECTION: The Lesser Devil & Other Stories, by Christopher Ruocchio
Ruocchio’s first short story collection was also the debut publication for Anderida Books, and proves that both author and publisher have opened at the top of their game. A fascinating insight into the deeper world of Ruocchio’s Sun Eater series, this is perfect as both an introduction, and a refresher course for veteran readers.
Boundy Awards for Visual Media
BEST INDIVIDUAL EPISODE/FILM: Dune: Part One
More than worth the year-long delay, Dune captures all the best elements of Frank Herbert’s famous novel, while trimming it down to size for the silver screen. Delicately balancing smart science fiction with the needs of a blockbuster release, Villeneuve’s adaptation more than fulfils its promises.
BEST SERIES: Lower Decks Season 2
Lower Decks brought fun back to Star Trek, and Season 2 honed that humour to a fine art. A show more than comfortable in it’s own skin, Lower Decks continues to offer action, comedy, increasingly likeable characters, and some of the most obscure Easter eggs you’re likely to come across.
Boundy Awards for Audio Media
BEST INDIVIDUAL AUDIO: The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, by Una McCormack
In a memoir independent of Litverse canon, McCormack takes us on a trip through Janeway’s life, from her childhood to her triumphant return to Earth. Together with Kate Mulgrew’s narration, Janeway’s voyage has never been more insightful, nor as comforting.
BEST AUDIO SERIES: The War Master: Killing Time, by James Goss & Lou Morgan
Derek Jacobi continues his Big Finish reign of villainy, this time tormenting familiar faces from Doctor Who’s past. Worth the listen for Jacobi’s performance alone, this series showcases the Master at his most despicable. because sometimes the danger is closer to home than we’d like to imagine.
BEST MUSIC: Viribus Unitis, by Dragony
What do you get when you cross power metal, the Habsburgs, and magic? You get an album of fist-pumping, singalong anthems that manage to put a smile on your face even as they tell of the horrors of war and death. Viribus Unitis cements Dragony’s place at the forefront of musical storytelling.
BEST PODCAST: The Pod Directive
The official Star Trek podcast pulls in guests from all walks of life, unified only by a relationship with Star Trek. This year’s season featured Trek show-runner Alex Kurtzman, scientist Dr. Erin Macdonald, actress Michelle Yeoh, and many more. Celebrating Star trek whilst acknowledging its faults, this is a must-listen for any Trekkie.
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