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Best of 2006
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. The two-hour season three premiere episode of Battlestar Galactica, the one hour segments were individually titled "Occupation" and "Precipice," was a terrific example of how this series, in terms of character, story-telling, and world-building, has become the equal in quality of a good modern science fiction novel.

But we are here to talk books, and so, with no further qualifications, here are the Best SF of 2006.

Editor's Note: Links lead to SF Site reviews of the books.

Spin Control Spin Control by Chris Moriarty
Post-human social engineering meets the down and dirty reality of Middle-Eastern intrigue. Spin Control is a thoughtful political thriller that explores the emotional consequences of near-future real-politik.

Numbers Don't Lie Numbers Don't Lie by Terry Bisson
Three highly mathematical stories taken together demonstrate that the art of the tall-tale is not dead, but lives on in the hands of talented science fiction writers.

Mathematicians in Love Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker
Renegade, love-sick mathematicians and rock'n'roll alter reality and save the world from tyranny and oppression in the most enjoyable novel Rudy Rucker has written yet.

Feeling Very Strange Feeling Very Strange, The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and Jon Kessel
Paradoxical in that its most successful inclusions are sometimes those stories which most embody the very genre conventions of which the writers so strongly wish to break free, Feeling Very Strange still argues persuasively that there is much worth to be found in stories that intentionally attempt to erase the boundaries between all the branches, streams, genres and sub-genres that make up this thing called fiction.

Living Next Door to the God of Love Living Next Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson
Justina Robson mixes myth, legend, and multi-dimensional physics with characters whose loves and lusts are ignited by a mysterious figure who just may be the god of love.

Blindsight Blindsight by Peter Watts
Four modified humans and a genetically reconstituted vampire are sent to meet the first alien vessel entering the solar system. Peter Watts's dark, suspenseful, nightmarish vision of intelligent life in a hostile universe is remorseless in its outlook and unflinching in its conclusions.

Glasshouse Glasshouse by Charles Stross
Charles Stross takes a look at life on the other side of the singularity, where culture and connections have little to do with location and memory is a weapon. An experiment, nominally set-up to explore pre-singularity society, brings the characters face-to-face with truths involving power and the control of history that unfortunately are all too real in both human and post-human worlds.

Shriek: An Afterword Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
This story of the life of popular historian Duncan Shriek takes us into the history of Ambergris, and beneath that city to the darkness below, inhabited by the mysterious, mushroom-like grey caps. Jeff VanderMeer's portrayal of life and love in Ambergris is, at turns, comic, satirical, whimsical, disturbing, compelling, and always inventive.

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips
Julie Philips sets a new standard with this biography of Alice Sheldon, showing how the circumstances and events of a society girl's family life and a professional woman's career and love life became the substance for the remarkable writing of James Tiptree, Jr.

End of the World Blues End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
The life of Kit Nouveau becomes entwined with a young, old, girl from a future near the end of humanity. End of the World Blues mixes modern day London and Tokyo with a vision of the far-future that captivates with its lyricism and style. Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a writer who never offers an explanation when a mere hint will do, and that approach works perfectly in this story of two complex characters linked by an accident of time.

Copyright © 2007 Greg L. Johnson

Greg L. Johnson reads and lives to write about it in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to the SF Site, his reviews appear regularly in the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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