Here are my choices, in exactly the order you see them. I went with five for the same reasons I made my choices more restricted than steampunk.com. If you open things up too wide, you render the words "best" or "of the year" meaningless.
- Dreadnought by Cherie Priest - This became my go-to gift book of the year. Better than the first in the series, in my opinion. Trains + Texas Rangers + zombies + great characters, great writing.
- Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld - In most cases, saying "more of the same" is a bad thing. Given how kick-ass Leviathan was, it's a compliment here.
- The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman - Guns with demons in them! Locomotive Engines with demons in them! People with personal demons! Demons, demons, everywhere! And gunplay to boot. Loved the whole thing, and am looking forward to impending sequels.
- Changeless by Gail Carriger - Many people have told me Blameless is better, but I can't say - my wife became a fan this year, and we read the series together. And by read, I mean I read, she listens, and drifts into sleep. At which point I have to put the book down, and read something else, or suffer her wrath for skipping ahead. I'm loving this series, and think it deserves all the praise and hype it's getting.
- Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding - Yes, it's Firefly even more steampunked. How is that a bad thing? This is well-written, fast-paced, high-adventure. Abney Park sparked the idea of sky pirates, but no one has written them so well as Wooding.