Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Dust Cover Dust-Up: Part Four!

On to the last few rounds! I should be able to do a round in each post now, so only a few days left!

The Magicians by Lev Grossman vs. Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler

These are both very powerful books, chock full of interesting ideas and characters. It's not as hard a choice as you might think, though. I liked Adulthood Rites a whole hell of a lot, but I just purely loved The Magicians. It's one of those books that I've been evangelical about this year, and will be again - go read it if you haven't already.

Winner: The Magicians

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie vs. The Magician King by Lev Grossman

This, though, is a harder choice. Can I really pick two books in the same series in a row? The Magician King was that rare second book in a series that equals or surpasses the first. It's quite an accomplishment. However, I love both these books, and can I really cut out the amazing whimsy of Salman Rushdie in favour of Lev Grossman? Twice? No, I really can't. But it's not because The Magician King is in any way a lesser book. Haroun just made me joyful almost every moment I read it.

Winner: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell vs. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Oh dear. This is a tough one. Two books I really liked, and I don't have a strong feeling for which one to pick right now. I liked The Bone Clocks quite a bit when I first read it, and then later reading other Mitchell books, it came to loom even larger in my mind. (It doesn't hurt that there are certain resonances with a roleplaying game about reincarnation game we just started.) A Portrait of the Artist needed no such incubation time. I was fully into it the whole way through, and maybe that's why it wins.

Winner: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Farthing by Jo Walton vs. A Fire in the Sun by George Effinger

This battle, on the other hand, is easy. Sorry, George Effinger. I really did enjoy your Middle Eastern cyberpunk. It's just that Farthing  is hands-down one of the best books I read this year. With two others, it's a strong contender to take this whole Dust Cover Dust-Up. I can't recommend it highly enough. Chilling, indelible, scary as hell. 

Winner: Farthing

Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway vs. Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear

And we're straight into another difficult decisions, after that brief respite. Do I pick a beautifully written and difficult story of brothers surviving residential school and the wider world? Or a great collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors? I think that because they're short stories, and that's not my favourite thing, that Bear's book gets knocked out. Disappointing, but it's hard to escape Tomson Highway's prose.

Winner: Kiss of the Fur Queen

Rule 34 by Charles Stross vs. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

It is strange to me how these battles fall out. Books I like a lot get knocked out earlier than I want because they come up against an even stronger book, where other ones coast along in weak battles. This isn't to say that Charles Stross doesn't belong here, just that in the greater scheme of things, Elizabeth Bear should be, and isn't. I read a lot of damned good books around the same time I was reading hers, is all I can say. In this case, I did like The Ghost Map. But Rule 34 was more entertaining.

Winner: Rule 34

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson vs. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

Proving the point in the above battle, here we see Guy Gavriel Kay fall, not because I didn't love River of Stars (I did!), but because it's against another of those three books that will be there at the end. I am still telling people about Written on the Body, and thinking about it still almost takes my breath away. Books this good are few and far between and just...wow.

Winner: Written on the Body

The Scar by China Mieville

This is totally a cheat. I should put this up against the last two books in a three way battle. Thing is, if I just give it a by because it's at the end, I have eight books to start the next round, and that works very neatly for crowning an eventual winner. So, China Mieville, The Scar  gets through unopposed.

Winner: The Scar

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