SYNOPSIS: A teenaged girl in 1979 deals with her witch of a mother, faeries, a difficult boarding school life, and the joys of discovering science fiction and fantasy.
PROS: Very personal first person past tense epistolary narrative puts the reader in Mor’s mindset.
CONS: Readers not in the target age group will have difficulty engaging the book.
VERDICT: A milestone in Jo Walton’s oeuvre.
There are books that defy easy categorization and analysis. They are audacious, complex and stunning pieces. Trying to summarize such books for others is difficult. These books dazzle, and your words feel inadequate. That is the central problem in engaging with Among Others, the latest novel from Jo Walton.
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By Paul Weimer
| Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 12:29 am
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
One of the hallmarks of genre is the way we distinguish books by means of awards. So we asked this week’s panelists…
Q: What is the value of awards to the science fiction and fantasy community? How important are they to you?
Here’s what they said…
is a Welsh-Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw
in 2004. Her novel Ha’penny
was a co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award. Her novel Lifelode
won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award. Her newest novel is Among Others
, currently nominated for a 2011 Nebula Award. She also writes many things for Tor.com
I think awards are valuable in two different ways. In the present tense, they can draw attention to books and writers that deserve more attention — as when China Mountain Zhang was nominated for the Hugo. The Philip K. Dick award manages to find something I like and hadn’t noticed pretty much every year. This is good for readers who pay attention to them, and it can be good for a writer’s career — if they get award notice a publisher might decide to stick with them even though they don’t have great sales.
Secondly, they’re valuable as part of the historical memory of the genre — the awards of a year give a kind of snapshot of what people at the time thought was good. They judgements of awards are not always the judgements of posterity — I certainly saw that when I did my Tor.com “Revisiting the Hugos” series and looked at every year from 1953 until 2000. But they remain interesting. And what’s interesting to me isn’t ever the winner, it’s the shortlist. One book is one datapoint, a shortlist is a spread. The question I asked was not “did the best book win” so much as “do those five books give a good picture of where the genre was in that year”.
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On Seattle’s An Evening with show…Nancy Pearl interviews Welsh-Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet Jo Walton.
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