[books] Among Others by Jo Walton

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?

3 thoughts on “[books] Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. MikeL says:

    I’ve been meaning to buy this one for my pile of want-to-read, but the only Jo Walton title I’ve read so far is Farthing. You talk about voice, and really that’s one of Farthing’s strongest assets. It was a wonderful read.
    Among Others is definitely going to be in the next batch of books I buy.

  2. radiantlisa says:

    Among Others is near the top of my favorite books read this year. I have only rarely felt the kind of kinship with a main character that I felt with Mori. I gave the book a great big hug when I was done. 🙂

  3. Rick York says:

    I loved Among Others. To those of us who grew up with science fiction, it is a miraculous evocation of the life of a sort-of outsider adolescent. Most of you probably grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Even then SF/F was pretty much outsider literature, though growing in popularity and recognition.

    However, growing up in the 50’s with SF/F as one’s first love was incredibly isolated. No one I went to school with or played with ever read our genre. I was blessed to have a mother who was a librarian and ferreted SF/F for me. Even though she was dubious about the genre.

    Walton’s book was incredibly rewarding for me. I just wish she’d been around when I was 17 and not 67.

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