the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Jo Walton’ Category


Award winning books must be the best books that were written that year, right?


as anyone who has ever taken part in a “Read the Hugo’s” challenge,  this is not always true.


If you’re reading Hugo winners or nominees for Vintage month,  or ever,  I highly recommend tracking down a copy of An Informal History of The Hugos, by Jo Walton.   It’s a chunkster of a book, and not one that’s meant to be read cover to cover in one (or ten sittings),  the volume contains Walton’s “Revisiting the Hugos” series of articles she wrote for,  along with a selection of comments and additional commentary for each year’s nominees and winners.   For a taste of what to expect, check out any of her original articles at


Like the Vandermeer edited Big Book of Science Fiction,  I’ve been flipping through Informal History,  stopping a pages that have book titles I recognize, to see what Walton thought of them.  What did she think of Dune? What did she think of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,  or Way Station, or Lord of Light, or Philip K Dick or Andre Norton?     It was super interesting for me to see where we completely disagreed on our opinions, books that I loved and she thought were just ok at best.


Her commentary isn’t formal reviews,  she’s talking about mostly if she liked the book when she was a teenager reading it for the first time, if it has re-readability, if it is print and/or available at the library, if it’s a title people are still interested in talking about.   Where applicable she gives a brief mention to the location of that year’s WorldCon,  who was nominated for different awards,  other notable works that were published that year,  and an invitation for people to suggest works that should have been nominated, but weren’t.   She starts at 1953, and goes all the way to the year 2000.   Yes, ok, this non-fiction commentary doesn’t totally qualify for Vintage Month, but I swear, while I was writing this blog post,  I only paid attention to the chapters that cover 1953 – 1979!

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The recently announced Locus Awards are awarded every year by a readers poll done by Locus Magazine. These have been going since 1971, and are often an influencial precursor to the Hugo awards, which will be awarded later this summer.

It’s only these last couple years that I’ve been blogging that I’ve paid much attention to awards. Honestly, for the most part, a list of award nominees more often than not elicits a mostly “eh” response from me. Maybe I’ve heard of the authors, maybe I haven’t, and there’s a decent chance I haven’t even read any of the books or short stories that are up for an award.

Good thing I have a scifi/fantasy blog, and have pretty much been reading nothing but scifi and fantasy for the last little while! For the first time, ever, I’ve actually read a small chunk of these. Ok, maybe not a respectable amount, but way more than in previous years. For the first time, ever, my mind is responding with a “sweet! I’ve read that!” or at least a “I’ve heard of that, and I really want to read it!” instead of “meh”.

Here are this years Locus Award winners (bolded) and nominees. If I reviewed the piece, I’ve linked to it. A few questions for you to contemplate as you peruse the list: how many of these author, works, editors, authors and publishers have you heard of? How many of them have you read, or are interested in reading?

The 2012 Locus Awards, as announced in Seattle Washington, June 15-17th 2012:

Science Fiction Novel

Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
11/22/63, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton as 11.22.63)
Rule 34, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Fantasy Novel

A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)
Snuff, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss (DAW; Gollancz)
Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente (Tor)
Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)

First Novel

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday)
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (Crown; Century)
God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade)
Soft Apocalypse, Will McIntosh (Night Shade)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime)

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Among Others, by Jo Walton

published in 2011

Where I got it: the library









Morwenna (who goes by Mori) and her twin sister Morganna can do magic and speak with fairies.  But they have to be careful because their mother is a horrible witch who wants to take over the world. One day, something goes horribly wrong, resulting in Morganna’s death and Morwenna’s leg being shattered.   In a panic, Mori runs away from her mother, ends up in an orphanage, and eventually is sent to live with the father (and his three creepy sisters) she never met. In a new town, in a new school, and dependent on relatives she doesn’t know, Among Others is a diary style memoir of Mori’s life after the death of her twin sister.

It’s not that Mori is an odd child, it’s that she doesn’t care what other people think of her. She doesn’t care if people think that she’s weird, or if people make fun of her limp. It’s nice that she’s so confident and comfortable in her own skin, but it makes it tough for her to make friends at her new school, especially when she goes around looking for fairies to speak to. The fairies in England must be different from the fairies in her native Wales, because she has a tough time talking with them.

Mori escapes into  the books that she loves – science fiction.  Overjoyed to see her favorite authors on her father’s bookshelves, they immediately bond over their shared love for sci fi.  She searches out every bookstore, reads every science fiction novel in the school library and is eventually invited to join the science fiction book club at the town library. Finally, she can speak with people who are passionate about the same things she is, finally she has found a group that won’t think she’s weird! Even better, some of the members of the book group are around her age as well.  If only she could share all this joy with her sister, and if only the fairies would help her destroy her evil witch of a mother.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.