A Cup of Salt Tears August 27, 2014 A Cup of Salt Tears Isabel Yap They say women in grief are beautiful. Strongest Conjuration August 26, 2014 Strongest Conjuration Skyler White A story of the Incrementalists. Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land August 20, 2014 Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land Ruthanna Emrys Stories of Tikanu. Hero of the Five Points August 19, 2014 Hero of the Five Points Alan Gratz A League of Seven story.
From The Blog
August 30, 2014
Locked in a Room With His Greatest Enemy. Doctor Who: “Into the Dalek”
Chris Lough
August 25, 2014
Animorphs: Why the Series Rocked and Why You Should Still Care
Sam Riedel
August 20, 2014
The Welcome Return of the Impatient and Cantankerous Doctor Who
David Cranmer
August 19, 2014
The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: Introductory Post
Leigh Butler
August 19, 2014
Whatever Happened to the Boy Wonder? Bring Robin Back to the Big Screen
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: jo walton click to see jo walton's profile
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]

Fri
Mar 21 2014 9:00am

Magic and Dormrooms: Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s Spirits That Walk in Shadow

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

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]

Thu
Feb 13 2014 12:00pm

Rothfuss Reread: Speculative Summary 21: The Thing in the Lackless Box

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

So, What Sort of Series Do You Like?

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

Like Pop Rocks for the Brain: Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

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

Knights Who Say “Fuck”: Swearing in Genre Fiction

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

Waking the Dragon: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

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

A Great Castle Made of Sea: Why Hasn’t Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Been More Influential?

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

Rothfuss Reread: Making a Mask for Patrick Rothfuss

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]