Best Story: Gemini Rue
The futuristic neo-noir tale told by Joshua Nuernberger's Gemini Rue is deceptive in its initial simplicity. It introduces the characters of Azriel Odin, a rogue police officer with a dark past who searches the dreary, rain-drenched streets of Pittsburg for a close friend who has disappeared; and Delta-Six, an amnesiac resident of the mysterious Center 7 rehabilitation facility on a far distant planet. The two stories have no connection at first blush, but they gradually wind into each other, only ever hinting and teasing at a history that somehow relates them. Eventually they collide in dramatic fashion in the game's brilliant third act, setting the stage for an incredible climax that is both surprising and extremely uplifting.
This is anything but a feel-good story, however, as Gemini Rue is a relentlessly bleak and sinister tale of two tortured souls in desperate circumstances. A renowned assassin in a run-down city crippled by drug addiction and mafia control, Azriel has little moral compass beyond his singular goal, while Delta 6 has had his mind deliberately wiped and must now attempt to discover his own identity and the truth behind his incarceration. There is no good vs. evil here, no right and wrong; only murky gray areas in between as both characters are forced to fight, deceive, and at times uncomfortably trust others as a means to an end. The dual storylines proceed without bloated dialogue or unnecessary subplots, and together they represent the best type of science fiction, blending in a genuinely sincere human element. For making us feel truly invested invested in the fates of its troubled protagonists, this impressive independent adventure earns the distinction as the Best Story of 2011.
Runners-Up: To the Moon, L.A. Noire, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, A New Beginning
Readers’ Choice: Gray Matter
So Jane Jensen can write pretty good stories. Huh! Who knew? Okay, maybe we had an inkling, but could she replicate her success after more than a decade away from the genre? Not only did we discover she can, but you readers declared that she did, as her latest literary offering won the popular vote in a tight race over Joshua Nuernberger's gritty sci-fi thriller.
Runners-Up: Gemini Rue, The Book of Unwritten Tales, Black Mirror III, L.A. Noire
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Next up: Best Writing – Comedy... the envelope, please!