Fall of Giants vs. Camera Obscura
Winner: Camera Obscura
This was an easy one. Camera Obscura wasn't my favourite book of the year, but it was fun, and solid, and I liked it a lot more than Fall of Giants, which wasn't terrible, but annoyed me in some very important ways.So we'll go with this very literary Victorian world, complete with lizard rulers of England, over a First World War where the most unbelievable thing is that all those particular things could have happened to just five young men.
Cyteen vs. The Imposter Bride
Winner: The Imposter Bride
Two books. One felt a bit distant from its characters, but I often feel that way about Cherryh's writing. The other was quiet, but not distant. The emotion was just contained, by people who thought about their world and things that had happened and didn't leap to easy or histrionic conclusions. In this case, the book that isn't science fiction wins. That's not a frequent occurrence in my life, but I was very struck by The Imposter Bride and it continues to resonate.
The Robber Bride vs. Myths of Origin
Winner: The Robber Bride
I enjoyed Myths of Origin, but as much for the seeds I saw there of Catherynne Valente's later writing as for the works themselves. They were enchanting, but perhaps not always compelling. Whereas The Robber Bride wasn't always enchanting - the male characters were particularly weak - but it was always compelling. The prose, the female characters, the richness of this book - it swept me away and reminded me why I like Margaret Atwood.
Mirror Dance vs. Maus
Winner: Mirror Dance
This is a battle where its between picking the worthy book versus the enjoyable one. It's a close battle - Maus is a classic for a reason, and it's a very impressive work. Impressive, but not the kind that makes you fond. Bujold makes me fond, and I really enjoyed Mark trying to figure out how he fits in a family he never expected to be welcomed in to. I'm picking the fun this time.
The Cuckoo's Calling vs. Black Swan Green
Winner: Black Swan Green
I really enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling. It's a solid mystery, and was entertaining. However, in this battle, it can't stand up to Black Swan Green. I'd be hard put to put it into words, but David Mitchell captures something ephemeral about growing up and elegantly puts it into this book. The year, the incidents on the wheel of the year, big and small, the refusal of simple answers in favour of messy growing up. I liked it a lot.