Phew! A relatively easy one to start off the round. I liked The Long Earth fine, but it mostly made it this far by being more enjoyable than the books it was up against. It's entertaining alternate-world stuff that I haven't seen before, but it's up against the conclusion to Lev Grossman's trilogy. The Magician's Land comes full circle to growing up definitively, leaving behind and/or deciding to stay. It's hard to say too much without spoiling it, so I'll just say that the bacon is a low trick and it works.
Winner: The Magician's Land
Hmm, yet again a fairly easy choice. Now we're into one where both books are really good and challenged my brain, but there's one that I responded to more emotionally as well. Sorry, Billy Lynn, you may be a strong voice on war, but The Killing Moon gave me more complexity and depth than most books I read this year.
Winner: The Killing Moon
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny vs. The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin
Unless, of course, you're talking about the sequel to The Killing Moon, The Shadowed Sun. I almost never remember the title of the book correctly (I keep telling people The Shattered Sun for some reason), but I'll never forget what's inside. Which is unfortunate for Louise Penny, whose books almost always make it to the top ten of this competition. The Nature of the Beast is a worthy entry into her Inspector Gamache series, a great return to form, but the sheer power of Jemisin's words can't be denied.
Winner: The Shadowed Sun
Oof, now this is a difficult choice. Like Louise Penny, David Mitchell often makes it into the final top ten of the year, and I really enjoyed this little book of ghost stories with great references to his wider universe. However. However. I can't knock out Uprooted. I love fairy tale stories, and this was one of the best I've read in a long time. I was charmed by every part of it.
The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear vs. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente
Now this is a mean choice for me to have to make, between two of my favourite authors in the world presently writing. And both books I really enjoyed! Plus, Six-Gun Snow White hits that fairy tale button again, and yet, this time, it's not going to win. I know I keep saying it, but it's what Bear does to explore pain and what it might make a person do that makes The Sea Thy Mistress indelible.
Winner: The Sea Thy Mistress