Boneshaker vs. All Quiet on the Western Front
Winner: All Quiet on the Western Front
We have here a classic case of whether I pick the one I thoroughly enjoyed, or the one I very much respect. If I'd loved Boneshaker just a little bit more, that would probably sway the case in that direction. But while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it. And so, for this round, a German look at war and the common humanity of soldiers survives.
Accelerando vs. The Sword-Edged Blonde
Winner: The Sword-Edged Blonde
This was another Charles Stross book that I struggled with wanting to like more than I actually liked it. And so, it's an easy win for The Sword-Edged Blonde. It might not be deep or profound, but noir stylings and prose in a fantasy setting? Dude, I am in. Yes, the king is called Phil by the main character. Use that as a gauge to whether or not you would like it. I did.
Hounded vs. Snowcrash
Oof. This is a hard one. Neither one is one of my dearly beloved books of the year, but both I very much enjoyed. So, snark or cyberpunk? Druids or neurolinguistics? Does the fact that Hounded has an endearing dog help it win out? Or will one of the seminal works of hacker cool? Oh, I don't know. I really did like both.Snowcrash may be the logical choice. But I think that on pure enjoyment value, it's going to have to go to Hounded.
Gypsies vs. Pandemonium
Finally, an easy one! Gypsies is a not-great book by an author I quite like. Pandemonium, on the other hand, was an utterly delightful discovery of a brand-new author I intend to follow. It was entirely unlike the other fantasies I'd been reading, and the demon-haunted world Gregory gives us fascinating.
Joyland vs. The Affinity Bridge
The Affinity Bridge was fun, but didn't quite feel fully-realized. When I only get interested in a character in the last few pages, that's a problem. But one of my first forays into Stephen-King-land went very well indeed. I don't read horror, so this was only the second King I'd read, and I enjoyed both the mystery and the much more important meditation on growing up.