Friday, 8 December 2006

Award Season!

A few websites are now holding their annual Best Of polls. SFX Magazine is going to be one of the biggest, with its 3,000-odd forum members and 30,000-odd readers voting on the Best SF of 2006, but Wotmania Other Fantasy is also having theirs as well.

In summary, 2006 was a reasonable year for SF&F. Less big name releases than 2005 (when Jordan, PF Hamilton, Gaiman and Martin all hit us with new books), although we still got new volumes from Bakker, Erikson, Reynolds, Keyes, Elliott, Brooks, Stross, Feist and Pratchett. 2006 will probably be better known for its avalanche of fresh new voices entering the genre: Scott Lynch made the biggest impact of any new author for several years with The Lies of Locke Lamora, although Joe Abercrombie, Naomi Novik and Alan Campbell weren't too far behind; Tom Lloyd and Brian Ruckley were less unanimously well-greeted, but nevertheless picked up some fans as well. Robert Charles Wilson has been around for a while, but languished in relative obscurity until his Hugo Award win for Spin brought him some more attention.

The film scene was less impressive: The Prestige aside, the year struggled to provide much of interest. I missed Superman Returns and Pirates of the Carribbean 2 (but in both cases, apparently I didn't miss much) but Clerks II raised a chuckle.

On television things were stronger. Heroes was the major success of the new season, but Battlestar Galactica reached new heights even as Lost began to show the first signs of a terminal decline. The less said about the embarrassing Torchwood and Hyperdrive, the better. Doctor Who abandoned any pretence it had of being anything other than a cheesy kid's show, despite a heroic effort by The Satan Pit two-parter to remedy that.

On the computer front there was a decided absence of big-name SF&F games. Medieval 2 and Company of Heroes are both strong strategy games, but not in the genre. Neverwinter Nights 2, I have not played yet. Half-Life 2: Episode One was excellent, but short. Thus the best game of 2006 must go to Oblivion, a beautiful game riddled with minor flaws (such as the repetitively tedious Oblivion Gates) but nevertheless a compelling and impressive gaming experience.

My summary of the year:

Best Novel: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Best TV Series: Battlestar Galactica
Best TV Episode: Exodus, Part 2 (BSG Season 3, Episode 4)
Best Movie: The Prestige
Best Computer Game: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

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