Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum. The Thyme Fiend March 11, 2015 The Thyme Fiend Jeffrey Ford It's not all in his head. The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself?
From The Blog
March 31, 2015
Things Man Was Not Meant to Buy: Lovecraftiana
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
March 24, 2015
Protecting What You Love: On the Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Vilification
Emily Asher-Perrin
March 23, 2015
Language as Power in Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Katharine Duckett
March 16, 2015
What Changes To Expect in Game of Thrones Season Five
Bridget McGovern
March 13, 2015
Five Books with Fantastic Horses
Patricia Briggs
Showing posts by: jo walton click to see jo walton's profile
Thu
Mar 19 2015 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: The Slow Regard of Silent Things Part 1: A Seemly Place

Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles The Slow Regard of Silent Things My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a novella published in book form. It is about Auri, Rothfuss himself says that this is not the place to start with his work, and it absolutely is not. This novella is strictly for the fans. That would be us then.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear andThe Name of the Wind and for The Slow Regard of Silent Things—these discussions assume you’ve read all of the books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[Read more: OCD magic, and I’m not kidding about spoilers]

Thu
Mar 12 2015 1:05pm

Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015, a Reminiscence

Terry Pratchett

I met Terry Pratchett at the second convention I ever went to, Albacon in Glasgow in 1988. He wasn’t Sir Terry then, indeed he’d only written a few books at the time, and I had only read The Colour of Magic. I hadn’t written anything. I was a twenty-three year old nobody. The friends I was with knew him, and we all had a drink together in the bar. He was friendly and warm and welcoming, and we had a wide ranging discussion—I remember he was talking about the Bromeliad books which he was planning at the time, and some of the things that we brainstormed in that conversation later showed up on the page. He was incredibly interesting and fun to talk to, and immediately ready to take me and my ideas seriously. While we were chatting, he kept being interrupted by people coming up to have books signed, or to tell him shyly how much his work meant to them. Even though they were interrupting the conversation, he dealt very kindly with them, doing his best to gently put them at their ease.

I’ve often thought about that conversation in the years since. I’ve thought about it as I was published myself and was in that same position with being interrupted by fans, and dealing with it as much as I can in the same way. I’ve thought of it as I’ve been in other great brainstorming conversations in fandom, whether Terry was there or not. It was one of my first great fannish conversations, and one of my first experiences of how writers and fans interact. It was literally exemplary, and I’m sure Terry never knew how much it meant to me, then and now.

[Read More]

Mon
Jan 19 2015 4:00pm

Eight Books From the Last Decade that Made Me Excited About Fantasy

Eight Books From the Last Decade that Made Me Excited About Fantasy by Jo Walton

It was easier to think of the science fiction list, because science fiction gets me more excited than fantasy does. I’m not sure why this is. It may be because I write fantasy, so there’s a certain element of “If I can do that, anyone can do it.” Nevertheless, once I started thinking about it, it was quite easy to think of things. Oddly though, much more than with the SF list, these are series. Fantasy lends itself to series, I suppose?

Again, these are not intended as a “best” or a “favourite” list, they’re simply books that got me excited about the possibilities of the genre.

[Read more: eight books, no spoilers]

Mon
Jan 19 2015 1:00pm

Eight Books From the Last Decade that Made Me Excited About SF

Eight Books From the Last Decade That Made Me Excited About SF

A friend who used to read a lot of SF but who hasn’t read any for a while asked me for recommendations for recent science fiction books that I was excited about. These aren’t meant as anybody’s “best,” least of all mine, they’re just science fiction books written in the last ten years that have made me excited about the possibilities of SF all over again. The “sense of wonder” is easy to get when you’re twelve, because everything is new, but books that can give it to me now are valuable.

I thought I’d share my thoughts.

[Ten books, no spoilers]

Mon
Dec 29 2014 9:00am

A Library In Your Pocket: How Having an E-reader Has Changed My Reading Habits

I bought an e-reader almost two years ago. My son had one first, but he’s a technophilic early adopter. I on the other hand am a panda who likes to stick to my one comfortable grove of bamboo. But when my son came with me my signing tour in January 2011, he took his Kindle and I took eleven books. Then I bought more on the way and had to post some home from San Francisco. Even I could see the advantages of an e-reader for travel. There never was a more reluctant purchaser though.

[Read more: But now I love it]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 1:00pm
Excerpt

The Just City (Excerpt)

Jo Walton The Just City excerpt Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge,  ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her. Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only Jo Walton could tell. The Just City is available January 13th from Tor Books—check out an excerpt below!

[Read an excerpt]

Fri
Sep 26 2014 11:00am

Awesome Aliens: Jim Cambias’s A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea James L CambiasWhat’s better than a first novel with awesome aliens that includes really well done alien points of view? A first novel with two lots of different awesome aliens that includes two different alien points of view!

I’ve been enjoying James Cambias’s short work for years, and I was excited to hear about A Darkling Sea. When I was asked to read it to see if I wanted to blurb it I agreed—and at that point I didn’t know anything about it but the title and author. Then I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it even more reading it again now. I’d have loved this book when I was twelve, and I still love it. This is an old-fashioned science fiction novel with today’s science—biology and physics and astronomy.

[Read more: no spoilers]

Thu
Sep 25 2014 9:00am

After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

I am not the intended audience for William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. Likely you’re not either, as you’re reading this on Tor.com. We read fantasy. We love books about heroes and villains and giants and princesses. We are not so cynical that we have to be coaxed into a story about true love and a wicked prince and a masked pirate. Goldman isn’t a fantasy writer. He’s a literary writer, and his imagined readers are literary readers, and he wrote The Princess Bride with no expectation that it would fit on my shelves between Parke Godwin and Lisa Goldstein. It’s possible he’d be slightly embarrassed if he knew he was rubbing shoulders with them, and he’d be happier to see his work set between William Golding and Nadine Gorimer. He wrote The Princess Bride in 1973, after Tolkien, but before genre fantasy was a publishing phenomenon. And it’s not genre fantasy—though it (or anyway the movie) is part of what has shaped genre fantasy as it is today. Goldman’s novel is a swashbuckling fairytale. I think Goldman wanted to write something like a children’s book with the thrills of a children’s book, but for adults. Many writers have an imaginary reader, and I think Goldman’s imaginary reader for The Princess Bride was a cynic who normally reads John Updike, and a lot of what Goldman is doing in the way he wrote the book is trying to woo that reader. So, with that reader in mind, he wrote it with a very interesting frame. And when he came to make it into a movie, he wrote it with a different and also interesting frame.

[Read more: You’re in the Pit of Despond]

Thu
Sep 18 2014 11:00am

Love as Contest in the Work of Mary Renault

Mary Renault

Mary Renault (1905-1983) wrote six contemporary novels between 1938 and 1955 and then The Last of the Wine (1956) and the other Greek novels that are what she is best known for. Like most Renault readers I’m aware of, I came to her Greek novels first, and read her contemporary novels later. For most of my life her Greek novels have been in print and easy to find, while her contemporary novels have been almost impossible to get hold of. Now they are all available as e-books, and this makes me really happy as it means it is possible to recommend them in good conscience.

The Greek novels are historical novels set in Ancient Greece, and I love them. It’s possible to argue that they’re fantasy because the characters believe in the gods and see their hands at work in the world, but that’s a fairly feeble argument. They do however appeal to readers of fantasy and SF because they provide a completely immersive world that feels real and different and solid, and characters who completely belong in that world. I recommend them wholeheartedly to anyone who likes fantasy not because they are fantasy but because they scratch the same kind of itch. I’ve written about The Mask of Apollo and The King Must Die here on Tor.com before.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 9:00am
Original Story

Sleeper

History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions.

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “Sleeper” by Jo Walton.]

Thu
Jun 5 2014 10:00am

A Day in the Life of Bast: Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Lightning Tree”

Rogues review Patrick Rothfuss “The Lightning Tree” appears in the anthology Rogues; it’s a novella, 58 pages long, and it’s about Bast. The idea of an anthology of stories about rogues is fascinating—rogues themselves are such an interestingly ambiguous kind of character. A rogue isn’t a villain—or isn’t necessarily a villain, but is inherently up to something. What we have here seems to be a story about a delightful charming person who is doing some things for mysterious reasons.

It’s interesting to consider how “The Lightning Tree” would appear to somebody who hadn’t read The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear, and who was discovering Rothfuss for the first time with this story. It would be such a different reading experience that it would be hard to say whether somebody doing that would even have read the same story I did. For them, it would be the story of a young man who works in an inn and who is powerfully attractive to and attracted to women. He also helps out children in a complicated system of exchanges, all of them fascinating and some of them obviously magical.

[Read More]

Sat
May 17 2014 12:30pm

Mary Stewart, 1916-2014: An Appreciation

I was sorry to hear that Mary Stewart is dead, at the age of 97.

She was a writer of romantic and Arthurian novels who was never afraid of crossing the border into the fantastic. She had a wonderfully sure voice and a way of using tiny descriptive details to make even the most implausible things believable. 

[Read more]

Thu
May 15 2014 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 3)

Patrick Rothfuss The Name of the Wind playing cards My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

We’re still considering the Albino Dragon playing cards, produced with the close cooperation of Pat Rothfuss.

[Read more: spoilers, speculations, hearts and clubs]

Wed
May 14 2014 9:00am

“The Litany of Earth” and a New Generation Doing Wonderful Things

Ruthanna Emrys’s “The Litany of Earth” uses the Cthulhu mythos to talk about a subject dear to Lovecraft’s heart—racial hatred. It uses a mythology created by a racist in the 1920s to tell a story that directly addresses racism, in a context of Elder races and people who worship Cthulhu and have been persecuted for it. It’s the kind of story that uses the familiar and the strange together to make you think and make you care. It’s an excellent story. It’s also a milestone.

Some writers, like Samuel Delany, E. Lily Yu, and Brit Mandelo, emerge from their adolescence burning with talent and ready to take the world by storm.

Most of us take longer. Talent alone isn’t enough for most people, and craft skills take a little time to develop. It’s hard to say for sure what age most writers emerge, but if you look at the age of Campbell nominees for instance you see a median age of 33. (There’s a lot of variation of course. I was 37! And one of this year’s nominees, the wonderful Sofia Samatar, whose first novel A Stranger in Olondria is nominated for the Nebula, is 43.) But in general, you tend to see clusters of people coming into the field in their thirties with something to say and the skills to say it.

[Read more: a new generation doing wonderful things]

Thu
May 8 2014 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 2)

The Name of the Wind playing cards box My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[Spoilers, speculations, spades and hearts]

Thu
May 1 2014 11:00am

Rothfuss Reread: What Can We Learn From The Name of the Wind Playing Cards? (Part 1)

Name of the Wind trading card box Patrick Rothfuss My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

This time, we’re going to start talking about the Name of the Wind playing cards.

[Spoilers, speculations, and playing cards]

Wed
Apr 9 2014 11:00am
Excerpt

My Real Children (Excerpt)

Jo Walton My Real Children

Check out Jo Walton’s My Real Children, available May 20th from Tor Books! Read an excerpt below, and learn more about the cover design here.

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children.

But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

[Read an Excerpt]

Sun
Apr 6 2014 10:00am
Poetry

Hades and Persephone

Jo Walton photo by John W. MacDonaldPresenting “Hades and Persephone,” an original poem by Jo Walton in celebration of National Poetry Month, acquired for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions featured on the site throughout the month. Check out the Poetry Month index for more poems!

[Read “Hades and Persephone” by Jo Walton]

Thu
Apr 3 2014 2:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: Making a Mask for Patrick Rothfuss, Part 2

My obsessively detailed reread of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles is over, but we want to keep on talking about the books. I’m going to post the occasional continuation post when the last one gets too long or if there’s something to say.

Spoilers for all of The Wise Man’s Fear and The Name of the Wind—these discussions assume you’ve read all of both books, and frankly they won’t make the slightest bit of sense if you haven’t. But we welcome new people who have read the books and want to geek out about them. This post is full of spoilers, please don’t venture beyond the cut unless you want them.

[A mask of that... tree I can’t spell]

Tue
Apr 1 2014 7:00am

There’s Not Been Enough of Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. DelanySamuel Delany was born in New York on April 1st 1942, which makes today his seventy-second birthday. Happy birthday, Chip!

I could write a considered post about Delany’s significance to the field, but I’m just too enthusiastic about his work to do it in a properly calm way. Delany’s just one of the best writers out there, and he always has been, from his emergence with The Jewels of Aptor (1962) and The Fall of the Towers. (1963-5) to last year’s Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His major work—Babel 17 (1966) (post), The Einstein Intersection (1967), Nova (1968) (post), Dhalgren (1974) (post), Tales of Neveryon (1975), Triton (1976) and Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) (post)—is right at the top of what science fiction has ever achieved.

[Read more]