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Best Read of the Year: 2006 Vote for SF Site's Readers' Choice Awards for 2006
You've waited patiently for a whole year, but at last your favourite season has rolled around again. Yes, that's right, it's time to finish reading those new books that have been stacking up on your bookshelves, your floor or bedside table, because very soon you'll need to determine which ones you feel are the best of the best. Or at least, you will if you want to have a say in the annual SF Site Readers' Choice Awards! This year will bring the SF Site's 9th annual Readers' Choice Best of the Year Awards. But only with your help. As many of our long-time readers already know, every year about this time we solicit our readers for their input on what were the best books they read in the past year. We'll tally the results and post them in February or early March so that you can see how well your favourites fare -- and, with any luck, find some great recommendations too. The deadline for voting is February 9, 2007. If you've forgotten what you chose in previous years, you can find them all linked at Best Read of the Year including Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman which was the top choice last year.

Icarus Icarus by Roger Levy
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
On a near-future Earth, humankind is reaping the harvest of its heedless exploitation of the natural world. Environmental disaster looms. One man, architect of a spiritual empire that has also endowed him with vast wealth and temporal power, believes he has the answer. Known to his flock as the Captain, this man is prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve his vision.

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume One: To Be Continued The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume One: To Be Continued by Robert Silverberg
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
There are several volumes already extant that purport to be part of the Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg. There were problems with those earlier efforts, such as the fact that they tended to start in mid-career and ignored such pedantic issues as chronology. But their biggest problem was that none of them ever came close to completion, so Silverberg is starting again at the beginning. This, we are led to believe, is the definitive "Collected Stories." Except, of course, it isn't.

The Fountain The Fountain
a movie review by David Newbert
Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain is either going to enchant you or frustrate you, and there's a good chance it will manage to do both. Its closest cinematic ancestor is 2001: A Space Odyssey, and despite Kubrick's masterpiece recently being named one of the best films of all time even that movie has left its own contingent of the disgruntled. Both films are about adventurers pushing past the limits of the known physical world and finding themselves having to draw on spiritual resources to complete the journeys -- the kind of thing that used to be indicated on maps with "Here there be tygers." Both movies use disjointed narratives and are heavy with symbolism. But whereas 2001 was enthralled with the approaching space age, Aronofsky's story is in touch with something more primitive.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Some of the New Arrivals here in the SF Site office include the latest from Gene Wolfe, M. John Harrison, Charles Stross, Laurell K. Hamilton, Dan Abnett, Brian Lumley, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., plus advance peeks at the latest from Glen Cook, Harry Turtledove, Hal Duncan, and much more besides.

Silver Bough Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Appleton is a charming seaside town in rural Scotland, slowly dying a painful death as so many isolated, rural towns often do. Appleton, however, can point to the exact cause of its malaise -- 50 years before, the Apple Queen abdicated her title and role in the annual Apple Festival, fleeing to America and leaving her would-be suitor high and dry, befouling an ancient ritual that supposedly kept Appleton prosperous. Now, that wayward Apple Queen's granddaughter, Ashley Kaldis has returned to Appleton hoping to learn about her family history at the same time a mysterious stranger arrives in town.

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #17 The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #17 edited by Stephen Jones
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Year after year the autumn brings in, besides falling leaves, a new volume of this reprint anthology, supposedly featuring the best horror stories published during the previous year. The value of "best of" anthologies -- where the selection of the material is entirely based on the editor's personal choice -- is moot. Let's just consider what the present volume can offer to the faithful horror fan as well as to the general reader who takes his dose of horror once or twice a year from the mass market.

Urban Fantastic Urban Fantastic by Allen Ashley
reviewed by David Hebblethwaite
The author's work inhabits territory that the fantasy genre could usefully exploit/explore in the years ahead. If the first stage in the development of modern fantasy was ambiguity (is the fantastic element in the story real or not?), and the second stage was stories in which the fantasy is acknowledged to be real; then the logical next step is to put the fantasy to work -- and this is what Ashley does in his stories.

I Was Probed By Aliens And Lived To Tell The Tale I Was Probed By Aliens And Lived To Tell The Tale by Barry J. House
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Depth, insight, clever characterization, fascinating answers to the alien abduction mythos, are all completely absent from this book. What is does have is an abundance of silly, light-hearted, typically British humour, detailing the abduction and subsequent adventures of Will Brown. Unlike the legions of unfortunate Americans whose abduction experience leads to all manner of unpleasantness, Will Brown finds himself an odd looking alien friend.

A Conversation With Scott Westerfeld A Conversation With Scott Westerfeld
An interview with Kevin Stone
On writing:
"I come from a big family in Texas, in which story telling was very valued. And I've always written, as far back as I can remember. But the career move came from being fired, in that 'here's some money, go away' way. I set myself the goal of living cheaply for a year, and getting published in that time frame. Of course, it wound up taking almost ten years."

Threshold Shift Threshold Shift by Eric Brown
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Eric Brown is an author who, for near enough two decades, has hovered around the top of the second division of British writers, without ever quite making the breakthrough into the first rank. He's a solid writer who has steadily earned good if not ecstatic reviews and who has attracted a sizeable body of adherents. Yet there has never been the groundswell of support, the word-of-mouth excitement, the great attention-grabbing work that would propel him to the next level. Reading this entertaining new collection one begins to understand why.

Déjà Vu Déjà Vu
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Déjà Vu is a smarter film than the previews would lead you to expect, with a strictly defined SF idea the consequences of which are played out according to the rules. A window in time is opened. It reaches four and a half days into the past. If a living thing tries to go through the window, its heart stops. An act of terrorism is committed in New Orleans. Detectives try to use the time window to solve the crime.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the recently aired miniseries The Lost Room and the episode titled "Genesis" from the TV series Heroes.

The Last Sentinel The Last Sentinel
a promotion
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Gallactica), Bokeem Woodbine (Ray), Keith David (Crash - 2005 Best Picture Oscar® winner) and Don Wilson (Batman Forever) star in this intense, brutal sci-fi action feature directed by Jesse Johnson (Pitfighter). In a future where war has become a way of life, those sworn to serve and protect are driving the population to extinction. Now humanity must unite to survive the final battle for mankind's very existence.

Second Looks

Viriconium Viriconium by M. John Harrison
reviewed by Sean Wright
Ashlyme feels compelled to rescue Audsley King from the plague zone, returning her back to the High City where he feels she belongs. Indeed, his admiration for the artist is so great that he's even willing to share his studio with her, although she doesn't know it. In fact, she doesn't know that he has planned to abduct her, an absurdist plot hatched by a struggling astronomer, Buffo. But the tension is notched up a level when The Grand Cairo, a powerful yet nasty dwarf with a history of violence, commissions Ashlyme to paint his portrait and invites himself to be part of the rescue team.

Time for the Stars Time for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
This is not the most famous of Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile novels, that honor goes to Starship Troopers or possibly Citizen of the Galaxy. But it is a good example of just how Heinlein took the artistry that made him the most influential writer of science fiction in the twentieth century and stripped it down to meet the needs of its intended audience -- teenage boys.

First Novels

The Hickory Staff The Hickory Staff by Robert Scott & Jay Gordon
reviewed by John Enzinas
This novel tells the story of three people from modern Colorado who fall through a mystic portal into another world. There they join forces with freedom fighters who are struggling to free their world from the grip of Evil. The present­day trio discover that both their modern skills and their newly discovered powers will be instrumental in freeing this other world. If this sounds familiar, it should. The juxtaposition of modern man and fantasy man has, of course, been done many times before.

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