The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu vs. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Now this is an interesting match-up. Chinese science fiction in a heartless universe, up against toxic masculinity in a...heartless universe? Neither of these books is anywhere near the sunny side. In fact, both may be in denial that a sun even exists. Uncaring abounds, so which did I enjoy reading more? I think the science fiction elements give The Three-Body Problem the edge.
Winner: The Three Body Problem
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie vs. Wise Children by Angela Carter
This is another terrible first-round choice to make. I have to choose which of two "children" to give up here, and I liked both these books a hell of a lot. We have Salman Rushdie's classic of magical realism about Indian history as told through the children born at the stroke of independence, up against a delightfully Shakespearean romp through the respectable and less respectable worlds of the British theatre. Chance births in both lead to rather extraordinary lives, and I honestly don't know which to choose! This was my first Angela Carter, and I think because of that, and because as much as I liked Midnight's Children, I didn't fall as head over heels as I did for The Satanic Verses, I'm going to go with the utterly new to me.
Winner: Wise Children
Alrighty, then. First science fiction on science fiction battle of the year. (I think.) In one corner, we have Robinson's slightly depressing future world of political intrigue and big corporations, taking place mostly not on Earth, in the other, we have Gibson with...big corporations. Intrigue. But on Earth! Of the two, Gibson's still feels the more stylish, despite its age. Because of that, and because Robinson decided to rely too heavily on an erratic unlikeable woman as a main character AGAIN, I'm giving this to Gibson. I may not be a huge Neuromancer fan, but I've enjoyed the books after it quite a lot.
Winner: Mona Lisa Overdrive
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton vs. Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks
This is an interesting match-up. A children's book I didn't love against an Iain M. Banks novel that does not stand out in my memory at all. I read so many Culture books last year...which was this again? I think it's the one about agents with deep cover missions planted in their heads who work for Special Circumstances. Which wasn't bad, but as I wrote about in the review of this very book, I doubted it would linger in my memory, and indeed, it hasn't. Still, there were some interesting ideas, and so in a fairly weak battle, he wins.
Winner: Look to Windward
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
vs. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
A graphic novel about dealing with aging parents, particularly when they don't age into charming, harmless senior citizens, up against a Miles book about rooting out corruption in a world where the political system means your vote doesn't disappear just because you're a corpsicle. Also, charmingly, some children as sidekicks for him to contend with on this particular adventure. I really liked Chast's book, and it's certainly worth a read. But Miles always steals my heart.