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SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2006 SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2006
compiled by Neil Walsh
This is our 10th annual Top 10 Best Books list. As usual, we have a few surprises in store. The biggest surprise for Neil was our number one best read of 2006 -- but we'll get to that in due time. As many of our long-time readers already know, we can never quite manage to narrow down our Top 10 list to a mere 10 books. Every year the editors, reviewers, interviewers and other contributors to the SF Site are solicited for their top picks, and the results are compiled and amalgamated into this annual list. Because of the way we decided to weigh and calculate the results 10 years ago, we almost inevitably end up with a few ties on the list.

End of the World Blues 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.

Jack Williamson --In Memoriam: 2006 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 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 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 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 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 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 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? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
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 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."

Pan's Labyrinth Pan's Labyrinth
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.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
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.


In Other Words In Other Words by John Crowley
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 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.

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