When Green Man did its Best of 2006 listings, the editorial staff did not actually choose the best literary works of the year as they had not really discussed what was the very best at that point. (Only criteria were that it had to have published in 2006 and it be available for you, the reader, to purchase. The latter criteria excluded lots of limited edition items which Green Man receives in copious amounts but that really didn't exist in a manner that they could be purchased by you.) So here is what they picked as the result of a complex process requiring many long nights in the Green Man Pub listening to the Neverending Session and consuming lots of Guinness before they came to an agreement on their choices.
For the Best Adult Novel, their choice is clearly Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of The Sword which works well on its own as a satisfying read and as part of her Riverside series -- no lover of superb literature should forego the pleasure of this novel. Small Beer Press published a limited edition hardcover edition which has to be held to be truly appreciated for its superb craftsmanship.
They picked Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron, the first volume of her Promethean Age series, for Best Fantasy Work. The Green Man review said it was a superb example of 'fantasy's answer to cyberpunk. It has that kind of fluidity and, more often than not, that kind of hard-edged, dark vision.'
For Best Gothic Ghost Novel, they picked Cherie Priest's Wings to the Kingdom, sequel to her brilliant first novel, Four and Twenty Blackbirds. They wholeheartedly agreed with what the review said:, 'Cherie Priest has a voice full of joy and wisdom. Like all good writers (and her own heroine Eden), she sees the dead. And she can tell their stories.'
Best Science Fiction Work of was the Tor trade paper editions of George Alec Effinger's The Budayeen Trilogy (When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun, and The Exile Kiss). The editors noted that much of the really impressive science fiction they saw in the past year has been reissues of older works!
Best SF Novella of the year was Kage Baker's 'The Maid on the Shore' from her Dark Mondays collection. Superb. Kage also picks up an award for Best Ongoing Series which had a Novel Published in 2006 for The Machine's Child in which the story of The Company, the various immortal cyborgs, a pirate AI, and others get terribly complicated.
For Young Adult Novel, they chose Keiichi Sigsawa's Kino no Tabi which they note is is part of Tokyopop's new Pop Fiction imprint. They were utterly entranced by the premise, and by Kino herself... Weighty matters indeed, yet entertainingly presented. An excellent beginning to both a series and an imprint!
For Best Chapbook of the Year, they selected two chapbooks by Ray Bradbury, How I Wrote My Book, and The Wish , both from Hill House, but, as the Green Man reviewer said, ' these are mere appetizers for the main course of The Martian Chronicles, which will include material never before published before, including two Martian Chronicles film scripts written by Mr. Bradbury! For full details on this amazing edition, go here.' Both chapbooks are delights in and of themselves as well!
For Best Mystery, they selected, after some great debate as there were a number of worthy contenders for this award, Jason Goodwin's The Janissary Tree which the reviewer noted was 'Another murder mystery set in nineteenth-century Istanbul! Awesome!'
Best Alternative History Novel goes to Jo Walton's Farthing which also happens to be a rather brilliant mystery.
Catherynne M. Valente's The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden is neither a novel in the tradition sense of such a creature nor is it a collection of shorter fiction -- it's simply the Best Mythopoeic Work! Read it with an open mind on the matter of narrative forms and you'll be quite delighted with the story told here.
Best Genre-Buster Award goes to Alexander C. Irvine for The Narrows, an alternative telling of WWII complete with golems, and The Life of Riley, a novella that defies description in a few words! Indeed there's not much to be said about Irvine -- simply unique, that's all.
A reprint of the first issues of a ground breaking series was the suggestion of everyone for Best Graphic Novel. (They had a choice for Worst Graphic Novel as well, but the less said about that debacle, the better!) As was said in the GMR review, 'Without any doubt at all, the absolutely best graphic novel of 2006 is Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman Vol. 1! And it's one of the best literary efforts of the year as well.'
Feeling Very Strange is their clear choice for Outstanding Fiction Anthology. While there were a number of contenders, this one seems to have hit all the bases. Editors Kelly and Kessel put together an intelligent overview of the latest rebellion in a perennially rebellious field of literature, distinguished by the quality of the stories and their lack of interest in being categorized, with the added treat of discussions by the perpetrators about what it all means -- if it does.
Theodora Goss' 'The Rose in Twelve Petals,' from Feeling Very Strange was picked as the very Best Short Story which the Editorial staff said was 'a multi-layered retelling of Sleeping Beauty that occupies a territory between that fantasy world that fairy tales inhabit and the past and present of 'reality' as we know it.'
Their choice for Best Single Author Collection is Peter Beagle's The Line Between as every single eligible story in the book, and that does indeed mean every single one, wound up getting picked for one or another Best Fantasy Of The Year anthology -- some before appearing in The Line Between, some since, but nevertheless all. How many collections can claim that?
Best History/Autobiography is without a doubt Wonder's Child which is both the late Jack Williamson's autobiography and a history of science fiction from the inside.
There was no doubt 'tall in their minds as to what was the Best Reference Work published in 2006 -- Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, a four volume set edited by Jack Zipes which our Editor said of that 'Any library with a more than bare bones children's section needs this, as does anyone who is more than simply a fan of this literature. It is good enough that I expect to reference it a half dozen times a week. It's certainly worth its weight in silver doubloons, fairy gold, dragons teeth, and gossamer wings!'
Best Music Related Book was undoubtedly Michael Davidson's The Classical Piano Sonata from Haydn to Prokofiev -- a work marked by elegance, clarity, erudition, and some nice gossip.