The Habitation of the Blessed vs. The King's Speech
Winner: The Habitation of the Blessed
Not a difficult choice. The King's Speech was bland, while The Habitation of the Blessed was perhaps not my very favourite Catherynne Valente book, but it was still a marvellous medieval folktale. She took the myths of Prester John and made something all her own, with things to say about conviction and the desire for universality. So good.
Kushiel's Chosen vs. Diplomatic Immunity
Winner: Diplomatic Immunity
I liked Kushiel's Chosen, but it meandered, compared to the first book. So many Bujold books are getting through, however, that I feel a little bad advancing Diplomatic Immunity to the next round as well. But for sheer enjoyment, there's no question that it was Miles over Phedre. Both were good, but Diplomatic Immunity was better.
The Malice of Fortune vs. The Forever War
Winner: The Forever War
The Malice of Fortune was an entertaining historical mystery, but it can't really even aspire to knock off Haldeman's seminal science fiction anti-war book, in which the battles go on for centuries, and the soldiers are more and more isolated from the societies that sent them there. Not to mention the sketchy rationales for war in the first place. There's a reason it's a sci-fi classic.
The Broken Kingdoms vs. Hammered
Winner: The Broken Kingdoms
This is a very tough choice! One fantasy, one science fiction, both books and authors I like a lot. Both books have amazingly good main characters. Jenny Casey and Oree are both, interesting, main characters with significant physical disabilities, and yet, that's not what most of the story is about. It's difficult to choose, but the pacing of Hammered was just a bit slow enough that this time, I'm going to go with N.K. Jemisin.
Dawn vs. Alif the Unseen
I'm having some good match-ups, and read some very good books, in the last month of the year. Still, this isn't that difficult. I liked Alif the Unseen, but I perhaps didn't love it. And Octavia Butler's writing takes my breath away. She's tackling difficult issues here, and doing it with grace and a mean punch to the gut when needed. It's quite spectacular.