Raising Stony Mayhall vs. A Civil Campaign
Winner: A Civil Campaign
Oh, dear. This does not seem like a fair choice. An incredibly thoughtful look at the zombies and their implications, told over the "life"span of a zombie found as a baby and raised by a living family, somehow managing to grow up. Against my favourite Miles Vorkosigan book of a year that had a lot of thoroughly enjoyable Bujold books. Oh no. I do not want to make this choice. I really don't.
Aargh! It's breaking my heart! I pick...A Civil Campaign. But just by a hair. I liked Raising Stony Mayhall a lot, and expected it to make it into the top 10 just like Daryl Gregory's other book Pandemonium did last year. I can't pass up Miles in love, though. It's just too delicious.
The Clearing vs. Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
Winner: Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
I did not expect Stars in My Pocket to get this far into the competition. Despite its flaws, it has stuck around in my memory, and Delany's experiments with gender and foreignness linger. In contrast, The Clearing was good, and I remember enjoying it, but it hasn't loomed large in my memory. They were both books without a ton of action, but I found the ideas in the science fiction so much more challenging.
Long Walk To Freedom vs. Whispers Underground
Winner: Long Walk To Freedom
Not a very hard choice. On the one hand, we have a Peter Grant book that was probably my least favourite so far. On the other, Nelson Mandela's fascinating look at his own life and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Mandela's book is powerful, and it definitely delivers a knockout punch to Ben Aaronovitch here.
Range of Ghosts vs. How The Light Gets In
Winner: How The Light Gets In
Ow. It hurts to knock this Elizabeth Bear book out of the competition, because I really loved Range of Ghosts. However, it'd be a rare book that could knock the culmination of books and books worth of slow build-up in one completely satisfying outing, heartwarming and heartwrenching both. Books that make me cry have an easy advantage, and I was bawling by the end of this book. Everything paid off beautifully, and it all came from places of vulnerability and pain and love. You got me, Louise Penny. You always do.
Packing for Mars vs. Republic of Thieves
Winner: Republic of Thieves
A fairly easy choice to end the round. I like Mary Roach's books, but they don't stay with me. They're enjoyable to read, great to grab a few tidbits from to amuse and horrify your friends. But that's really it. On the other hand, Republic of Thieves might be my least favourite Scott Lynch so far, but that's not actually saying very much. I have loved all three Locke Lamora books. Locke steals this round, so smoothly I didn't even notice.