We made it to the end of this year’s Cage Match! Our winner has been crowned (and given lots of sausage and meaty treats), and the valiant combatants have slunk, slithered, flown, cantered and otherwise disappeared back to their various fictional worlds. With an all-creature bracket, this year was guaranteed to have some wild surprises, and it certainly lived up to that promise. Gods were tossed aside, dragons discarded, and only the most beloved critters managed to climb their way to the top. And the most beloved of all, as decided by you, the voters, is: snack-loving doggo Oberon!
The first round had us faced with some brutal choices. Let’s pour one out for these magnificent beasts who were gone before they’d barely begun:
- The Corinthian
- The Shrike
- Iorek Byrnison
- The Watcher in the Water
With so many lovable non-humans in the mix, it was tough to decide whose side to choose. These matches were some of the closest calls:
- Round 1 saw Neil Gaiman’s literal nightmare The Corinthian come up against Brian Jacques’ Lord Brocktree, and despite the harrowing match predicting victory for The Corinthian, the badger prevailed with just 50.39% of the vote.
- Round 2 was the end of our beloved Lying Cat, the lie-detecting Sidekick cat of Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga comics. Philip K. Dick’s single-minded replicant Roy Batty was a tad too quick for the feline, and made it through with 51.03% of the vote.
- Round 3‘s closest match pit religious allegories against one another, with Neil Gaiman’s horseman of the apocalypse War barely able to outmaneuver C.S. Lewis’s Jesus-like lion, Aslan. The apocalypse was not averted, as its bringer slid by with 50.95% of the vote.
- Round 4 was far more decisive overall, if not still a rough choice: Kevin Hearne’s Irish wolfhound Oberon wagged on to the final round with 64% of the vote, against George R.R. Martin’s formidable Drogon.
- The final battle was neck and neck throughout — Terry Pratchett’s The Librarian was always within a couple percentage points of Kevin Hearne’s Oberon, but in the end, the Irish wolfhound bounded to victory with 50.43% of the vote!
On the flip side, you all knew exactly who you wanted to win in these decisive battles:
- When it came down to ancient supercomputer Deep Thought vs AI-turned humanoid Sidra, voters swiftly sided with the supercomputer, giving it a whopping 83% of the vote; this is the computer with the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, after all.
- Jim Butcher’s fiercely loyal Temple Dog, Mouse, has faced down far more formidable opponents than the mythological harpies, and the voters agreed, giving the giant dog named Mouse 73% of the vote.
- Terry Pratchett’s arcane orangutan The Librarian threw the book at Neil Gaiman’s volatile War with 71% of the vote in this match leading up to the final battle.
- And our Cage Match champion Oberon foreshadowed his ultimate win, sweeping the floor with Robert A. Heinlein’s supercomputer Mike at 75% of the vote, and roughing up Philip K. Dick’s Roy Batty with a solid 71% of the vote.
We had a fantastic lineup of authors writing matches this year, including:
- Kim Wilkins
- Michael Poore
- Liana Brooks
- Kari Maaren
- C.A. Higgins
- Cass Morris
- Cassandra Khaw
- Laura Sebastian
- Tina Connolly
- Leanna Renee Hieber
- Seanan McGuire
- Mary Robinette Kowal
- Julie Leung
- Lara Elena Donnelly
- Rati Mehrotra
- Marina J. Lostetter
- Kevin Hearne*
(*Author wrote their own character)
And a couple of authors went way above and beyond their Cage Match call of duty:
- Cassandra Khaw and Leanna Renee Hieber wrote a combined SEVEN matches between the two of them. Khaw channeled her dreadfully Lovecraftian writing experience in her chilling write-up of Cthulhu vs. Deep Thought, while Hieber’s adorable match-up between Oberon and Drogon had us begging not to choose between the two.
So there you have it! Congratulations, Oberon — we hope you’re off somewhere enjoying a mound of sausages and writing your soon-to-be literary masterpiece, The Book of Five Meats. We’re certainly drooling to read it.
Were you scratching your head at any of this year’s combatants? You can read more about the characters and the books they’re from in our round-up of Books Behind the Battles!