Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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Showing posts by: jo walton click to see jo walton's profile
Wed
Apr 9 2014 11:00am
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

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

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

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]

Fri
Mar 21 2014 9:00am

Spirits That Walk in Shadow Nina Kiriki Hoffman I’ve talked about Nina Kiriki Hoffman before, and how her strength is blending magic with very real things, so that both the real things and the magic resonate and make something simultaneously magical and homely and solid. In general I’m not a great fan of fantasy set in the real world because it always seems kind of fake and unbelievable—and also as if the writer thinks I’m stupid. The whole genre of urban fantasy tends to not work for me. Magic has to be really integrated into the world for me to believe it, and believe that I could have overlooked it if it was there. There are some writers who do it—Megan Lindholm, Terri Windling, Alan Garner, and most of all Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

Spirits That Walk in Shadow is a book about two different girls going to college and becoming roommates. It’s about all the every day practical details of sharing a room, registering for classes, hiding your household gods, and dealing with entities that feed on misery.

[Read more: no spoilers beyond the premise]

Thu
Mar 6 2014 1:00pm

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]

Thu
Feb 13 2014 12:00pm

Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles

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.

[Read more: spoilers, speculations, a glass book, a copper box]

Fri
Jan 24 2014 11:00am

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in April of 2009.

I love series because when I love something I want more of it. Sure I’ll buy an utterly new book by an author I like, but I also want to find out what happened to the characters I already know I care about. I never realised quite how much genre readers love series until I got published though. People are always asking me if I’m writing a sequel to Tooth and Claw (No!) and if I’ll write any more of the Small Change books. (No!) Some people really don’t want to let go. And of course I’m the same, when I heard Bujold was writing a new Miles book I bounced up and down for hours.

So, fine, everyone loves series. But what kind of series do you like?

[Which do you prefer? And why?]

Thu
Jan 23 2014 10:00am

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in February of 2009.

Samuel Delany is intimidatingly brilliant, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) is (arguably) his best book. Even though he’s been one of my favourite writers since I was a teenager, and I’ve read all his books multiple times, I try not to re-read him when I’m writing because he sets such a high standard I feel that I might as well give up now.

You know how life and real history are always more complex and fractal than fiction can manage? Delany manages it. He does the thing where his science fictional innovations have second- and third-order consequences, where they interlock and give you worldviews. Other people do it, but he does it all the way down. He’s astonishing. This book has the density of very sparkly neutronium.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jan 22 2014 11:00am

What Makes This Book So Great Jo Walton Knighs Who Say FuckJo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in December of 2008.

A little while ago the Mighty God King posted a marvellous collection of doctored book covers, with the titles he felt the books he’d loved as a teenager should have had. The genius of this was the way he used the exact right fonts every time, so that Mercedes Lackey’s My Little Pony Goes to War had just the font you were expecting to see on that cover. One of them that made me laugh out loud was his cover for George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. (I love those books.) His new title was Knights Who Say “Fuck,” which amused me not only because of the clever Python reference but also because it’s true, they do, and that’s one of the things that makes it different from traditional high fantasy. He’s not the only person whose knights are saying “fuck” these days—Sarah Monette’s charmingly foul-mouthed Mildmay leaps to mind—but it is something you never used to see. It didn’t fit the register of fantasy. The register has broadened. Interesting.

[Read more]

Tue
Jan 21 2014 12:00pm

What Makes This Book So Great Jo Walton Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in September of 2009.

Re-reading these books right now is a mistake. Before I picked up A Game of Thrones again, I had only a calm interest in Jon Snow’s true parentage, I’d forgotten who Jeyne Poole was, and best of all, I only mildly wanted A Dance With Dragons. I sagely nodded when I read that George R. R. Martin is not my bitch. I have every sympathy for this position. All the same, I know that by the time I get to the end of A Feast for Crows I’ll be desperate, desperate, desperate, so desperate for my fix that I’ll be barely able to control myself. I will be A Dance with Dragons–seeky, and is it out? Is it even finished? Like heck it is. And I know I’m not entitled to it but I waaaaaaaaaant it! If I were a sensible person, I’d have waited to re-read until it was ready and I could have had a new installment to go with the old. But now it’s too late.

So what is it about these books that makes me talk about them in terms of a two-year-old snatching at sweets in a supermarket?

[Read more, no spoilers]

Mon
Jan 20 2014 11:00am

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell What Makes This Book So Great

Jo Walton’s new book What Makes This Book So Great (U.S. / U.K.), is a collection of some of her best Tor.com posts honoring, analyzing, and reassessing science fiction and fantasy. The full collection, featuring over 130 essays, is out on January 21st and includes great opinion pieces like this, originally published in July of 2010.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was published in 2004. When I first read it in February 2005 I wrote a review on my Livejournal (full review here), which I shall quote from because it is still my substantive reaction:

It’s set at the beginning of the nineteenth century, in an England that is the same but distorted by the operation of magic on history, and it concerns the bringing back of practical English magic. What it’s about is the tension between the numinous and the known. The helical plot, which ascends slowly upwards, constantly circles a space in which the numinous and the known balance and shift and elements move between them. It’s a truly astonishing feat and I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’ve just read it again, and I could pretty much write that post again. In summary—this is terrific, it reads like something written in an alternate history in which Lud in the Mist was the significant book of twentieth-century fantasy, and it goes directly at the the movement between magical and the mundane.

[Read more: questions, no answers]

Thu
Jan 16 2014 11:00am

Pat Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles 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.

[Read more: Making a mask for Pat]

Wed
Jan 1 2014 12:00pm

The Mindwarpers Eric Frank RussellI was in Chicago for Chicon 7, the World Science Fiction Convention in 2012. It’s a huge gathering of fans, it’s full of my friends, everyone is talking about books, it’s wonderful. There’s this sense of coming home to fandom you only get when you’re absolutely surrounded by people who are about the same things you do—a three hundred person convention is in a city, Worldcon is a city, and sometimes it feels like the shining city on the hill with spaceships taking off just over the horizon. Chicago is great too. You should be here, that’s all that’s lacking.

So, Worldcon has a dealers room, and the dealers room has people selling all kinds of things from dragons to spaceships, and also books. I was looking along one of the many stalls of second hand books, the same kind where last year I picked up a Poul Anderson I hadn’t read since I was fifteen. There were some volumes of Eric Frank Russell, and I was looking at them and I thought “Why are you even looking, Jo? It’s not like there’s going to be any new Eric Frank Russell. He’s been dead since before you knew he was alive.” And there was a new Eric Frank Russell. I’m not joking. It’s called The Mindwarpers, and I bought it but I haven’t read it yet. I am delighted to have it. But I had no idea I wanted it because I had no idea it existed.

[You can only search for things you know exist]

Sun
Dec 29 2013 12:00pm

In July of 2012, I was on a Readercon panel titled “Have We Lost the Future?” The description of the panel was:

Where science fiction once looked to the future as the setting for speculation, nowadays the focus seems to be on alternate pasts, fantasy worlds, or consciously “retro” futures. We’re no longer showing the way to what things might be like. We discuss whether this is connected to the general fear of decline and decay in the English-language world—or has science fiction simply run out of ideas?

Jim Cambias, the moderator and proposer, had stats from recent Hugo nominee lists compared to older ones that did show a decline in actual future-based SF. I think this combines with futures we can’t get to from here—steampunk, John Barnes’s The Sky So Big and Black, Ken MacLeod’s The Execution Channel, Stirling’s Lords of Creation series, etc.—to reflect an actual problem in current SF.

But of course, it’s more interesting than that.

[I have a question for your twelve-year-old self]

Fri
Dec 27 2013 10:00am

Is There a Right Age to Read a Book?

Claire of The Captive Reader, one of my favourite book blogs, has a post about reading books before you are ready for them. She quotes Sheila Kaye-Smith on not reading books when you are too young for them and goes on to explain how she read much Great Literature as a teenager without it doing her a lick of harm. It never did me any harm either, and I’ve talked before about starting to read something and realising it’s too old for me and leaving it for later...and how I’m still doing this with E.R. Eddison at the age of forty-eight. It’s a good habit, because it blames myself and not the book when I can’t get into something. It’s quite distinct from thinking “this is awful,” which I think often enough, it’s “this is beyond me right now.”

But is there a right age to read a book?

[Read more]

Mon
Sep 2 2013 5:37pm

Frederik Pohl The Way the Future WasI was just sitting in the bar of one of this year’s Worldcon hotels, enjoying the end of LoneStarCon 3, the 73rd Worldcon, when bad news came through on Twitter. Frederik Pohl’s granddaughter announced that he had died. As soon as this was read aloud the whole group fell silent. This was a group of writers, editors and fans, and all of us were immediately struck with a sense of shock and a sense of loss. We didn’t want it to be true, and as it became clear that it was true we didn’t want to come to terms with it. Frederik Pohl was almost the last of his generation, one of the last people to remember the birth of science fiction as a genre with an identity and a community. We felt colder and closer to the grave, the way you do when you lose a grandparent or a parent.

It’s impossible to over-estimate the importance of Frederik Pohl to the science fiction genre.

[Read more]

Fri
Jun 28 2013 11:00am

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]

Thu
Jun 20 2013 9:00am

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]

Fri
Jun 7 2013 11:00am

Mending the Moon Susan PalwickSusan Palwick’s Mending the Moon is a very hard book to describe. It’s about life and death—but isn’t everything, when you come down to it? I’ve raved about Palwick before, her amazing SF novel Shelter, her fascinating fantasy The Necessary Beggar, and her disturbing collection The Fate of Mice. Mending the Moon is like and unlike these. It’s like them in being terrifically well-written, but it’s not like them in that it is, I suppose, a mainstream novel. It’s about people in the real world. It doesn’t have fantastical elements, except in the superhero comic book that many of the characters read, “Comrade Cosmos.” It’s really wonderful and I recommend it highly, but I find it remarkably hard to describe.

[Read more: no spoilers]