A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki vs. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Sorry, Jonathan Franzen. I did enjoy The Corrections, but this is also the year when you really got on my nerves with Purity. And you're up against a truly sublime tale told by a time being herself, a metafictional meditation on connection and simultaneity, across oceans and between minds and hearts.
Winner: A Tale for the Time Being
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch vs. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
I enjoyed both of these books, and although I own both of them (picked one up at a library book sale, sought out the other), there's definitely one of these I would grab and reread before the other. (In fact, I just did, having just picked up Foxglove Summer as a book to enjoy during the moments of downtime and when I don't want a new book right away.) Peter Grant is a character I adore, and when he ventures out into the countryside, it's just as much fun.
Winner: Foxglove Summer
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer vs. Lock In by John Scalzi
Oof. Now this is genuinely a difficult pick. I enjoyed the hell out of both of these books. We have a verging-on-horror story about a zone that screws with people's minds and bodies, up against a really fun law enforcement procedural set in a world where many people have been "locked-in" to their bodies by a disease, and use robotic alternates to interact with the world. Which to pick? It's a hard choice, but I'm giving this to Vandermeer by a hair.
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers vs. Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
Less difficult is this choice, although again, it's not that I didn't enjoy both books. It's just that I enjoyed Elizabeth Bear's world so much more, with its complexity, characters and attention to small moments that change lives. Powers' book was an enjoyable romp, don't get me wrong. But its journey through the Dust Cover Dust-Up ends here.
Winner: Shattered Pillars
The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton vs. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Phew, another easy one! I didn't hate The Dreaming Void, but there were certainly parts of it that I found frustrating, plus it went on and on for so bloody long. City of Stairs felt much more focused, and had such an interesting political situation underlying a murder, a world newly without gods, and thoughts on colonization and tit for tat that held me enthralled.
Winner: City of Stairs