I am very late to this party, but yesterday I read Among Others by Jo Walton [ Powell’s | Barnes and Noble ], in one sitting. My god, the voice in this book. If I am ever called upon to teach voice in a writing workshop, I am simply going to point here and say, “Go forth and read.”
Far brighter minds than mine have commented on Among Others, and I’m not sure I have a lot to add. I know it struck me so powerfully in part because the narrator’s age, as both a reader of SF and in terms of the chronology of the book, is coincidentally within a year of my own. At the sensawunda level, I was reading my own story. That’s an artefact of me being born in 1964 and having come of age in the later 1970s and onward, and like the protagonist, having been sent off to boarding school. I suppose if I were ten years older or younger, or with a different background, the resonances would have been different.
But whatever age you are, or were when you discovered the miracles of fantasy and science fiction, Among Others is in part a love letter to that discovery, to those books and authors and their culture in which we now find ourselves immersed in years later. It’s also a coming of age story in the more usual critical sense of that term, and does a damned fine job of telling that story with the journey through genre serving as counterpoint. Wrenching, exhilarating, tragic — apparently I can only speak in cliched adjectives of this book.
If this book isn’t at the top of the Hugo ballot next year, I’ll be astonished.
Just go read it, ok?