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Jo Walton

Fiction and Excerpts [15]
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Fiction and Excerpts [15]

Jo Walton’s Reading List: August 2022

August was a great month, exhausting, but really great. This is the kind of month I want in my life! I began it by winning the Mythopoeic Award in Mythcon in Albuquerque for my novel Or What You Will, where I had a great time. Then I took the train to Chicago, where I’ve been staying with Ada, first preparing for and then running another simulation of the papal election of 1492 with friends in town before Worldcon. I read ten books, and some of them were really great.

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Mentioning Everything Twice: Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon

Tales of Nevèrÿon (1979) is a wonderful mosaic novel, Delany at his best.

It was published in 1979, but because of the vagaries of British publishing I didn’t see it until 1988, and I had to check the date twice because it feels to me to belong a decade later. It’s interesting to consider that this book was written (1979!) so early in the first boom of fantasy as a marketing genre—Judy-Lynn Del Rey, seeing the success of The Lord of the Rings had deliberately published Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara in 1977 to capitalize on the idea of fantasy trilogies, and suddenly fantasy out of nowhere was a big thing.

Before 1977 it’s fair to say that fantasy was a genre written by oddballs (up to and including Tolkien) or for children, but then between 1977 and 1980 fantasy for adults became huge, bigger than science fiction, selling in huge numbers to an eager public. And this fantasy explosion took a little longer in Britain which is probably why this book didn’t make it to teenage me until a decade after its original US publication. Because Delany too was writing fantasy—but of course, his wasn’t like the fantasy everyone else was writing.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: July 2022

July was spent at home reading and working on the new essay collection, and at the very end flying to Albuquerque for Mythcon, where very excitingly my novel Or What You Will won the Mythopoeic Award! (I never expect to win awards, I’m so thrilled to be nominated for them and on the ballot next to such great books, so it’s always an exciting surprise on the occasions when I do win.) I had a great time at Mythcon, seeing people, through masks, but seeing people, and having conversations. Before that, I read 21 books, and some of them were great and some of them were not. The good ones make up for all the others, and I’m glad I get to burble to you about the excellent ones and warn you off the terrible ones!

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: June 2022

June was a busy month, with many friends in town for Scintillation, the small convention in Montreal for which I do programme. It was great to see people again after having to cancel for the last two years! We discussed many great books, including John M. Ford’s Aspects (2022) which is out now, so wonderful to be able to recommend it at last. And I read fifteen books, and I have quite a lot to say about them.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: May 2022

…And then I caught Covid on May 1st, still in Chicago, still in the middle of the Papal Election of 1492, which we had to abruptly move online because Ada and Lauren caught it too. We’d caught it in class; it was the only place we’d been. We caught it despite masking, despite everyone being thoroughly vaccinated. We were sick for a couple of weeks and still positive for a week after that, having an isolation slumber party, but we are all fully recovered now. The weird effect of this is that the whole pandemic now has narrative closure for me. I came home by train late in May, straight into preparations for Scintillation, the small con in Montreal that I do programme for, which is happening in June. And I read twelve books, some great, some strange, and very, very different from each other.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: April 2022

It’s a short one this month because April was a great month, spent entirely in Chicago working on the Papal Election of 1492, except for Easter weekend when I went to Minicon in Minneapolis, which was wonderful. I’ve been very busy revising character sheets and writing letters to cardinals and kings in character, and I have only read eight books, and here they are.

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Revisiting Long Book Series

I’m re-reading C.J. Cherryh’s Atevi books—there are nine of them, and another three promised, which makes them one of the longer SF series around. [Editor’s note: this article was originally published in 2008; as of 2022, there are 21 Atevi novels and 2 short stories.] I was thinking, as I made my way through book 2, Invader, that there are some things about a long series, any long series, that are quite different from an individual novel, perhaps in the same way an individual novel is different from a short story.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: February 2022

February is a short month, only twenty-eight days, and I read twenty-eight books because I was at home the whole time and barely went out—not so much because of the pandemic, though it is not yet over here, but because of disability issues. I did see some local friends, and this last weekend some friends came to visit from Ottawa which was great. But on the whole February was a month with a lot of pain and a lot of days when reading was all I can do. But that’s OK, because there are some wonderful books in the world and I managed to find some of them, and now I can recommend the gems and warn you off the duds.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: January 2022

I was home all January, and locked down again, with a curfew, restaurants and gyms closed, and only allowed to see one person from outside the household. (Canada’s been a lot more worried about Omicron than the US.) Also it’s been really cold, though that is normal for Montreal in January. Anyway, I did get quite a bit of reading done, I read twenty-four typically assorted books this month.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: December 2021

December started off in Chicago with friends, then taking the train to DC for Worldcon, and then I came home just in time for Christmas, Omicron, and the new lockdown in Quebec. So I’m starting 2022 just as I started 2021, but vaccinated, boosted, and fortified by travel and seeing friends. December started off excellent and then went downhill fast, but the days are getting longer now, our curfew is 10 pm (not 8 pm the way it was this time last year), and I’m trying to be positive. I also read fourteen very varied books.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: October 2021

October was another month in Italy, so wonderful after being stuck at home for so long. I went to Assisi, Orvieto, Rimini, Florence and Rome on my own, then met up with my son and together we went to Naples, Ischia, Rome again, Venice, and back to Florence. I did a lot of great reading on slow trains, and in cafes where every time I looked up I saw beautiful things. I read seventeen books this month, and here they are.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: August 2021

August was a terrific month! It started with being with friends in Chicago, then I flew to Rome where I met up with a friend and spent a couple of weeks travelling around: Florence, Bologna, Padua, Venice, Rome, Siena, Pisa. I caught trains, and saw lots of great art, and even caught a Vivaldi concert in Venice. I read nine books, and I’m adding in one that I read earlier but couldn’t count at the time for an August total of just ten.

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