There’s still time to spend your holiday shopping bucks on books by: Jo Walton



Back in 2002, Jo Walton won the Campbell Award for best new writer, and it’s as if she hit the ground running. There seems to be no stopping her — not that we’d want to. Since then she’s added the Mythopoeic Award (for Lifelode, a favorite of mine); the World Fantasy Award (for Tooth and Claw — another favorite); and both the Hugo and the Nebula (for Among Others, another fav — okay, this is getting silly).

I suppose that it’s for Among Others that she is best known. It’s a book about what happens after the villian is defeated and life goes on — and also a book about loving books. If she had never written anything but that, I’d still love her forever for just that book…

But (like Daryl Gregory) one of the remarkable things about her is her range. She seems able to do it all. And put her own twist on it, too.

She’s written a novel of manners; but her novel of manners is a novel of manners in a society of dragons (Tooth and Claw). It sounds like it should be a joke –but damn if she doesn’t make it work, and work well.

And the Small Change series (Farthing, Ha’penny, and Half a Crown), either puts a spin on the traditional “cozy” murder mystery by making it happen in an alternate universe, or puts a spin on the alternate universe story by making it a murder mystery.

Her latest is My Real Children, which is as close as she’s gotten to mainstream fiction — and you know what? If you have someone on your holiday list who only reads mainstream, but who you want to seduce toward the SF/F side, My Real Children might be a nicely subversive move on your part. You should think about it.

She’s got something perfect for every other person on your list too, actually. For the voracious readers, it’s Among Others; for those who like time-twisty tales, it’s Lifelode (alas, not available as an ebook, so order fast!); if they love Jane Austen, it’s Tooth and Claw; and for the lovers of epic fantasy, there’s the Sulien series (The King’s Peace, The King’s Name, and The Prize in the Game).

But for my personal recommendation this time around, I’m going into left field a bit and suggest What Makes this Book So Great.

It’s a collection of short book reviews, and reading it is like having a fascinating conversation with a really intelligent person who knows a whole lot about the kind of books you love. She’ll give you some great insights on books that you’ve already read, while directing you toward lots of books that you might have missed when they first came out. She’s mostly talking about books she likes — so reading it is actually a very glad sort of experience. Enthusiasm and intelligence — all you need is a fireplace and a glass of wine, and it’s the perfect evening’s diversion.

(Please note:  there’s another writer named Jo Walton out there — namely, Jo L. Walton,  aka Jo Lindsay Walton.  Although I wish him well, this is not about him.)

Our Jo Walton’s website

Jo Walton’s books on Amazon


8 Responses to “There’s still time to spend your holiday shopping bucks on books by: Jo Walton”

  • Walter Underwood Says:

    I love Jo Walton’s series on, but I’m hot and cold on this book. Hot from discovering neat books like “The Interior Life”, but cold because…

    * No index. Seriously?

    * Way too much Bujold, and she didn’t even get to Chalion and The Sharing Knife.

    * Kind of a lot of Steven Brust. Let’s branch out.

    * I looked through the TOC three times and didn’t find Rosemary Kirstein. I learned about your books from Jo’s column. She wrote a glowing, enticing review and I have no idea why it is not in the book. It is hard to imagine a more positive review.

    You don’t have to comment on the last bit, though maybe I’ll throw a hissy fit and it will be in the trade paperback.

  • Rosemary Says:

    There was rather a lot of Bujold, wasn’t there? But I think that the really devoted Bujold fans probably have no problem with that!

    Alas, I’ve just never managed to get hooked by Bujold’s work. I have no idea why — unless it’s that most of it seems to be military SF, which for unknown reasons rarely interests me. Plenty of people I know, whose opinion I trust, like military SF, and the Vorkosigan series in particular.

    As for Jo’s review of my work not being included: I have no complaints! I’ve gotten a LOT of mileage from that review already.

    Who knows what drove the decisions of what to include and what to leave out of the book? There might be some really smart and compelling reasons for each of the inclusions, behind the scenes in the publishing world.

  • Jo Walton Says:

    Walter — I tried for months to make an index, but it was just beyond me. I didn’t want a crappy one, that’s less use than not having one, and a good one is just more work, and harder work, than I could do. In the end I just had to give up.

    (And professional indexers cost twice the advance for the book.)

    Very sorry about that.

    • Rosemary Says:

      For some reason, I just assumed that the index would have been created by the publisher, and not the author. Or some lower-level editorial assistant. On reflection, I have no idea why I assumed that.

    • Walter Underwood Says:

      A list of the authors pointing back to chapters would be a big help. Titles of books and stories would also be helpful, but secondary.

      Indexing is not easy, my day job for the past fifteen years has been writing search engines. Not done yet.

  • Jo Walton Says:

    Rosemary — I think for big budget non-fiction books, the publisher pays for the index, and it’s a major expense. With my little collection of blog posts…

  • Mike Cross Says:

    Walter – I agree with you that the lack of an Index to the book is unfortunate.

    There is, though, an online Index of all of Jo’s columns, listed by author and title, with links to the online versions of the columns. I’m the maintainer of these pages.

    The online versions of the columns have a significant over the printed ones in that have many insightful and interesting comments attached!

    There’s a link at the top of the web page, ‘W.T.B.S.G.’, to a list of all of the columns in the book, but currently no way to see the authors & titles that are mentioned in the book. I will try to think of a way to do that, hopefully over Christmas.