Best of 2006
complied by Greg L. Johnson
While there may not have been one or two books that obviously stood out from the rest this year, it turned out to be no problem
making up a list of ten books that made more memorable reading, worthy of being highly recommended to others. The one problem
that did present itself was the nagging realisation that, if this list wasn't expressly limited to print, an intruder from the
realm of televised media could have made it onto the list.
In Memoriam: 2006
a memorial by Steven H Silver
Science fiction fans have always had a respect and understanding for the history of the genre.
Unfortunately, science fiction has achieved such an age that each year sees our ranks
diminished. The science-fictional year 2006 could have been much worse for the science fiction
community in sheer numbers. While there were a few tragic surprises, the mortality
rate for 2006 was no higher than would normally be expected.
In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
This book is the first in a two part collection of stories, narrated Arabian Nights style by a semi-wild
13 year-old girl who lives a lonely existence in sprawling gardens surrounding a sultan's palace. The other children are frightened
of her, due to the marks that make her different to them. This, not unattractive disfigurement, was also what led to her being
banished from the palace itself. In truth, the strange markings are the result of someone magically tattooing her eyelids and
the flesh around her eyes when she was an infant.
Hydrogen Steel by K.A. Bedford
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Retired police Inspector Suzette McGee guards a terrible secret: she's not a real human being, but a disposable. Disposables are androids
produced by cheap nanofacture to handle all the jobs that are too dirty, degrading, or brutal for human beings to deal with. Zette
has no idea why she's different, or why whoever made her went to the trouble of implanting an entire lifetime's worth of false
memories. She's tormented by the question of whether there might be others like her. Or is she unique?
Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Politics, intrigue, spy games, genetic engineering, love affairs, betrayals... lions and tigers and Bears, oh my.
This is something different from her yet again and one has to
stop and admire the sheer scope of creativity evidenced here. This is a novel of social science fiction,
something built on a potentially hard SF basis which segues into something that Ursula K. Le Guin might have tried if she
were writing this sort of thing.
Tesseracts Ten edited by Robert Charles Wilson and Edo van Belkom
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
This anthology presents a broad range of fantastic short fiction, from classic interplanetary science fiction to a
mainstream story that has only slightly fantastic overtones. If the fact that this book was co-edited
by Robert Charles Wilson leads you to expect lots of Hard SF content, you may be disappointed.
The Space Opera Renaissance edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
Peter is working his way through the David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer The Space Opera Renaissance anthology, and
finding it well-done and to his taste -- it may be one of the editors best BIG review-anthology yet. Truly a doorstop at
940+ pages, with a surprisingly large number of new-to-Peter stories.
Sex in the System by Cecilia Tan
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Science fiction arose from a prudish tradition and, though sex scenes are now common, that sex often seems contemporary and far
less considered than other aspects of science fictional worldbuilding. Meanwhile, the mainstream of erotic
literature is sadly deficient in imagination and technological savvy.
This is a sophisticated collection of erotic stories that explore the strange intersections
between sex, culture and technology, both straight and gay.
Overlooked or Over-hyped?
In Other Words by John Crowley
a column by Neil Walsh
Neil has decided to target the classics of science fiction and fantasy that he has been avoiding.
He has two stacks on his "waiting to be read" shelf for this particular
project: a dozen classics of science fiction and fantasy, and a dozen more obscure titles that he has also been
avoiding and have several times rescued from the annual household garage sale. It's time for him to check out these
overlooked or (possibly) over-hyped books and test their mettle.
The New British Catastrophe an interview with Ken MacLeod
conducted by Paul Raven
On the gestation for The Execution Channel:
"My initial pitch for the book, to myself, was: we've done New Space Opera. Now let's try New British
Catastrophe. That got me thinking about the catastrophe novels of John Wyndham and J.G. Ballard and others, and how
their catastrophes were always things that weren't likely to happen -- walking plants, a wind from nowhere,
giant wasps, volcanoes in Wales -- instead of the catastrophe that everyone really feared. It was as if they were
deliberately averting their gaze from nuclear war. That got me to the first point: to focus on what we really fear --
nuclear attack, terrorism, torture."
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Rick was disappointed by Pan's Labyrinth, the most favorably reviewed film of 2006. Leaving the theater, he overheard
enough comments to know he was not alone in that disappointment, especially from people who had brought children. This
is not a film for children.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
The Animation Show is a collection of short animated films, many of them award winning, some of them
science fiction, most of them disappointing. The problem is that they develop one idea at length, without any surprises.
reviewed by Matthew Cheney
If John Crowley wrote the text on the label of a soup can, it would be worth reading. this book is much
more than a label on a can: it is a collection of essays and reviews, a glimpse of a master's workshop, a box of wonders
and a museum of joys. This is not to say that his non-fiction will displace his fiction in readers' affections. His fiction is singular; his
non-fiction is thoughtful, erudite, and skilled, and it does what most other things of its type do -- it conveys information,
ideas, and opinions.
Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction by Jonathan R. Eller and William F. Touponce
reviewed by David Soyka
While the title implies a biography, this is rather an exhaustive -- both in terms of detail as well as
reader endurance -- scholarly examination of the Bradbury opus that seems to have collected every possible minutia that even
die-hard fans might find themselves not caring too much about. In other words, this is a work intended for an academic
audience, the type of people who actually read footnotes and care to know about such things as
the line edits between an author's first drafts and subsequent revisions.