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Jo Walton

Fiction and Excerpts [15]

Fiction and Excerpts [15]

Jo Walton’s Reading List: November 2019

November began with a trip to Utopiales, a huge French SF festival in Nantes, followed by a lightning trip to the UK to see King John at Stratford and Henry VI at the Globe in London, then back to Paris for some bookstore events and the Louvre. Then I came home to find winter had set in: 20cm of snow and -10C on the day I got back. I had the proofs of Or What You Will to do, but otherwise plenty of time to read and little desire to go out of the house. I read 22 books in November, and here they are.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: June 2019

June started off with a book promotion trip for Lent to Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, which was pretty reading intensive: long train rides, early nights in hotel rooms. Then I was home mostly revising for the rest of the month. There were also a lot of pain days where I did nothing but read. So I read 33 books in June, some of them not very long—there are a number of children’s books and magazines in here. July’s going to have a lot of travel and August even more so, so I’ll probably read less.

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How Tea, History, and a Simulated Papal Election Inspired Lent

Ever since I visited Florence in 2011, Florence has made it into whatever I’ve been writing, even when it’s set on a generation starship, or in Heaven, or in Plato’s Republic. Modern Florence got into My Real Children. But Lent is my Renaissance Florence book, and I went to Florence and stayed there for a couple of months when I was writing it. I went to the places where the book is set—the very rooms, as often as I could, which was a wonderful experience. Most of the places in most of my books are real, but sometimes they’re places where I haven’t been for a long time, and being able to actually pace out scenes and look out of real windows to see what the characters would be able to see was remarkably helpful, as well as fun.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: April 2019

It’s true that I read a lot, but the amount I read at any given time varies depending on what else I’m doing. This month I was in Chicago for three weeks helping Ada Palmer run the papal election of 1492 as part of a Renaissance History immersion course. This is a ton of fun but very time intensive. I also went to Minicon. So I only read twelve books. And here they are.

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Read the First Chapter of Jo Walton’s Lent

Young Girolamo’s life is a series of miracles.

It’s a miracle that he can see demons, plain as day, and that he can cast them out with the force of his will. It’s a miracle that he’s friends with Pico della Mirandola, the Count of Concordia. It’s a miracle that when Girolamo visits the deathbed of Lorenzo “the Magnificent,” the dying Medici is wreathed in celestial light, a surprise to everyone, Lorenzo included. It’s a miracle that when Charles VIII of France invades northern Italy, Girolamo meets him in the field, and convinces him to not only spare Florence but also protect it. It’s a miracle than whenever Girolamo preaches, crowds swoon. It’s a miracle that, despite the Pope’s determination to bring young Girolamo to heel, he’s still on the loose…and, now, running Florence in all but name.

That’s only the beginning. Because Girolamo Savanarola is not who—or what—he thinks he is. He will discover the truth about himself at the most startling possible time. And this will be only the beginning of his many lives.

Available May 28th from Tor Books, Jo Walton’s Lent is a magical re-imagining of the man who remade fifteenth-century Florence—in all its astonishing strangeness.

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Jo Walton’s Reading List: March 2019

Hi, and welcome to a new regular monthly feature on all the books I’ve read in the last month. I read a whole bunch of things, and a whole bunch of kinds of things, fiction and non-fiction, genre and non-genre, letters, poetry, a mix.

March was a long end-of-winter month here, enlivened with an exciting trip to Hong Kong for Melon Con. I finished 27 books in March, and here they are.

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An Informal History of the Hugos

The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been given out since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious awards in science fiction.

Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award’s inception up to the year 2000. Her contention was that each year’s full set of finalists generally tells a meaningful story about the state of science fiction at that time.

Walton’s cheerfully opinionated and vastly well-informed posts provoked valuable conversation among the field’s historians. Now these posts, lightly revised, have been gathered into An Informal History of the Hugos, along with a small selection of the comments posted by SF luminaries such as Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, and the late David G. Hartwell. We’re pleased to share Walton’s introduction to the collection below. Available August 7th from Tor Books.

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Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning Is A Future Worth Having

I read Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning four times before it was even published.

It’s quite a common experience when you’re a teenager to read a book that blows you away, that causes the top of your head to come off and your brain to rearrange itself and be a better more interesting brain thereafter. I’ve talked about this a lot, both in posts here and also fictionally in Among Others, it’s one of the fundamental experiences of the SF reading kid. It’s a much less common experience when you’re grown up. I read books now and I think “Oh I like this! This is a really great example of that thing”. I may get immersed in a book and hyperventilate but I won’t finish a book and think “Wait, who am I? Why is the world like this? Do I even have a head?” This did that to me, it gave me that experience of reading SF when SF was new to me, the feeling that I am a different and better person because I read this, and not only that but a better and more ambitious writer.

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Read Jo Walton’s “Sleeper”

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

We’re pleased to reprint “Sleeper,” a dystopian science fiction short story from Jo Walton. Acquired and edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden and originally published on in August 2014, “Sleeper” is available in Starlings, a collection of Walton’s fiction and poetry forthcoming from Tachyon Publications on February 13th.

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