The Star Beast vs. Komarr
Wow, The Star Beast is not one of Heinlein's best. It's not terrible, but not as compulsively readable as some of his other books. I read Komarr all out of order with the rest of the series, and that put an unusual spin on the story I quite enjoyed. Having already met Ekaterina myself, it was interesting to see Miles meet her. Bujold is taking a lot of these book contests. I am not surprised.
The Company of the Dead vs. Reamde
Not an easy decision here. An ambitious first novel that sort of fails vs. a very good established author with a serious case of excessive details. The Company of the Dead is strangely paced, but has a good premise. Reamde is interesting, but about 300 pages too long. I don't really care about each muscle movement each character makes at each moment. But in the long run, I think Reamde as a whole was more entertaining.
An Astronaut's Guide To Life on Earth vs. The Sirens of Titan
Winner: Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
That's a weird match-up. A memoir/self-help book by an astronaut vs. science fiction by Kurt Vonnegut. Straightforward vs. surreal. Oh goodness. It's only because I don't think The Sirens of Titan is one of Vonnegut's best that Hadfield takes this one. Also, I am fascinated by space, so I'm sure this decision surprises no one.
In The Garden of Beasts vs. Broken Homes
Winner: Broken Homes
An easy decision. I liked but wasn't enthralled by either of the Eric Larson books I read this year. And this one is up against one of my favourite urban fantasy series, and better yet, a great return to form in the fourth book, after a third book that didn't quite live up to my expectations. Plus, it has a wrenching ending that makes me want to hyperventilate until I get my hands on the fifth book. That came out sounding weirder than I wanted. Still, Peter Grant, Peter Grant, Peter Grant.
The Inconvenient Indian vs. Downbelow Station
Winner: The Inconvenient Indian
I liked Downbelow Station, don't get me wrong. It's just that it felt a little distant from its material for my personal tastes. Even though sections of it, and the ideas permeating it, were both excellent. It's stacked up against a somewhat weary but very eloquent outlining of the history of the way Europeans have viewed Indians in North America, with an amazingly good digression into the divisions between Live Indians, Dead Indians, and Legal Indians.