I keep coming to this tab in my browser, looking at this first decision, and quickly moving away. I don't want to make this choice! Both of these books were deeply moving and human, whether it's about what connects us as the world falls away, or what we leave behind in a life lived quietly and in service. I don't think I can choose, and it's a totally unfair way to pick, but I know there are another two Robinson books left in the Dust Cover Dust-Up this year, so I'm going to give it to Station Eleven.
Winner: Station Eleven
Another hard choice, and one that's going to be decided along much the same lines. I like Whiskey and Water a lot, but there are three or four more Bear books still in this competition, and this isn't the strongest of the bunch. Also, I just can't let go of Wise Children quite yet. The grand Shakespearean romp through British theatre and vaudeville is just too much fun.
Winner: Wise Children
Oh Miles, dear Miles, I'm afraid you're not going to make it out of the Third Round. I love you as a character, you know I do, and Cryoburn is a worthy entry in your saga, if not an earthshattering one. However, you've come up against Ruth Ozeki. A Tale for the Time Being is utterly charming and affecting, and it definitely wins. This trans-Pacific tale of time and grief and isolation and metafiction was enthralling.
Winner: A Tale for the Time Being
I feel like I'm doing a lot of apologizing to authors and characters in this round. It's not really about to end - I love Peter Grant and this whole series a lot, and these are books I return to again and again when I need a pick-me-up. However, up against Vandermeer's incredibly creepy opener to the Area X trilogy, it's not going to take the laurels. Instead, those laurels may end up being unsettling abominations indeed.
Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear vs. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Am I really knocking out two Elizabeth Bear books in one edition of the Dust Cover Dust-Up? Lamentably, it seems to be true, even though she's one of my favourite authors. Yet again, she's falling victim to the part where I know there are two more of her books left, and I really loved the newness of City of Stairs. Espionage and murder of mortals and Gods alike? Yes please!
Winner: City of Stairs