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Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others (edition 2012)

by Jo Walton

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1,9711853,441 (3.97)2 / 414
Title:Among Others
Authors:Jo Walton
Info:Corsair (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Read 2013

Work details

Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. 70
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (norabelle414)
    norabelle414: A young, bookish kid in 1970s England gets tangled up in magical and scary events larger than they are.
  2. 30
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  3. 30
    The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford (anglemark)
    anglemark: Both books are about how reading shaped a child, although they are not both viewing it exactly the same way.
  4. 42
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Both are fantasy or fantasy-sih books about fantasy readers and how the stories you read hape you and affect your sense of the world.
  5. 10
    Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Both works have a hint of Faerie, without being clear whether it's real or not. Also bad parents and their struggling offspring.
  6. 10
    The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (Herenya)
    Herenya: Both stories have a heroine dealing with grief and the sometimes-loneliness of being 15.

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English (184)  French (1)  All (185)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
This book is a contradiction for me; on one hand it talks with reverence about libraries and books, and science fiction and authors and the discussion rings true and echoes feelings and emotions I had as a kid - and frankly still have.

The story itself though, wanders, particularly the first half, where it seems more of a diary used to purge the author of unpleasant childhood memories which, as a reader, were difficult to understand or relate to.

As I plugged along hoping for it to improve, the book came into its own over the last third, the wandering tightens and becomes a dreamlike séance into another world of magic and faeries, where danger exists and heroes and friends are found.

On the whole, recommended if only for the discussion of SF authors and novels. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
Morwenna and her twin sister saved the world from an evil created by their half-mad mother. Not before it crippled Mor and killed her sister.

This is how the story starts, but then it jumps ahead and becomes a diary/journal that Mor keeps, documenting her time at boarding school, her friends, her obsession with Science Fiction and the aftermath of her magical childhood. I felt that I was dropped into an interesting world that we are just seeing a tiny corner of. Its a world of fairies and magic and danger that Mor escapes for a while in both books and school. Tons of good book recommendations and reminders in here. Very interesting tale, well told.

"It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books"

"Bibliotropic," Hugh said. "Like sunflowers are heliotripic, they naturually turn towards the sun. We naturally turn towards the bookshop."


S: 2/1/17 - F:2/9/17 (9 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Mar 12, 2017 |
Advertencia a los lectores españoles: No leáis la contraportada, ni lo escrito en GR al principio. Es un gran spoiler de la mayoría de la novela, y pierde la gracia al leerlo y luego ponerte con la novela. En serio.

Lo he leído a velocidad de rayo, como hacía tiempo que no hacía. Merece una segunda relectura, seguro.
Y una lista de los libros contenidos y explicados por Mor, también. ( )
  Owdormer | Feb 26, 2017 |
I loved this book.

This may actually be my favourite book that I read this year. Huge thanks to NF for telling me to read it (again and again, until I listened.) I can see why some readers wouldn’t like it - this book was written for a cross-section of readers who A) have read a lot of the modern classics of science fiction and fantasy (i.e. Le Guin, Tiptree, Delaney, Heinlein, etc.) and B) love stories of faery sightings in the Welsh countryside. That is me. I am that reader.

The story follows a young Welsh girl named Morwenna (Mor), through a series of diary entries. Mor has grown up in rural Wales, with her twin sister. Together they saw faery creatures all over the countryside. They grew up playing games with them and learning a bit of magic.

Before our story starts, the girls’ mother, an evil witch, tried to take over the world. Mor and her sister stopped her, but in doing so Mor’s sister was killed and Mor was badly injured, resulting in her needing to use a cane. She ran away and has been relocated with her father, a man she has never met, a timid man who is much under the control of his overbearing sisters. They ship Mor off to an English boarding school, where she doesn’t fit in and suffers psychic attacks from her mother.

The way magic is described in this book is very beautiful and understated. It’s a hauntingly realistic approach to magic and witches and faeries that I absolutely adored. The main character even states you could always disprove it by chalking it up to coincidence.

”You can almost always find chains of coincidence to disprove magic. That’s because it doesn’t happen the way it does in books. It makes those chains of coincidence. That’s what it is. It’s like if you snapped your fingers and produced a rose but it was because someone on an aeroplane had dropped a rose at just the right time for it to land in your hand. There was a real person and a real aeroplane and a real rose, but that doesn’t mean the reason you have the rose in your hand isn’t because you did the magic.” (p.40)

The other highlight of this story is hearing about the books Mor reads throughout. Mor is a science fiction and fantasy fan. Since the book is set in the late 1970s we see her read several of the modern classics of science fiction. If you haven’t read these I guess you will be thinking “so what?” but I can’t tell you how much fun I had when I saw my favourite authors’ names popping up on the page! I was always thinking “Oh! She’s reading that, that’s a good one!” and “I wonder what she’s going to read next?” I just loved seeing names like Le Guin, Tiptree, Delaney, etc. and knowing that Mor loved them really helped me connect with her.

As said, I really loved this book. After finishing it I immediately ordered the author’s non-fiction collection of essays on science fiction/fantasy books, ”What Makes this Book So Great” and I can’t wait to delve into that. This is an author I will definitely be reading more from. ( )
  catfantastic | Dec 28, 2016 |
Totally sucked
  stolivar | Dec 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
As [Mori] tries to come to terms with her sister’s death through both books and fairy magic, the novel assumes true emotional resonance.
There are really two points where the success of the novel as what it is make it fail to connect with me. The first has to do with the books. It's written in the form of a diary, and the form and voice are spot-on. But part of getting the diary form right is that it doesn't provide much in the way of information about the many books that Mori reads in the course of the novel-- you wouldn't expect a teenager with a lot on her mind to do a detailed plot summary of everything she read, after all.

This is no big deal as long as you recognize the references to authors and titles. But if you don't-- and there are a lot of books mentioned that I know about but either haven't read or do not recall fondly-- a lot of significance is lost. The titles sort of flash by as blank spots in the narrative, a kind of "This Cultural Reference Intentionally Left Blank" effect that ends up being a little off-putting.
This isn't a traditional fantasy, by any means. But it's a smart, heartfelt novel, with a strong, likable narrator, and many touchstones in terms of other books that will resonate for us, depending on how we felt/feel about those books.

It has also jumped right into my short list of favorite books ever, and it's one that I plan to reread more than once.
But, just as the magic, it's a peculiar, unique book. I've read most of Walton's fiction. I like this best, but in some ways it's the least structurally certain of her works; I think the magic that's so subtle it's deniable at the start of the book fails to maintain that quirky quality at its end—and I understand why, but still found it jarring.

Regardless, there's a deep beauty to this book that feels so entirely real I'm grateful for its existence, for the fact that I could read it, and for the way it now graces my own internal library.
Among Others is many things – a fully realized boarding-school tale, a literary memoir, a touching yet unsentimental portrait of a troubled family – but there’s something particularly appealing about a fantasy which not only celebrates the joy of reading, but in which the heroine must face the forces of doom not in order to return yet another ring to some mountain, but to plan a trip to the 1980 Glasgow Eastercon. That’s the sort of book you can love.
added by Passer_Invenit | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen Hayden, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vojnar, KamilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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—Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at what younger age?

Any time between 10 and 25:

It's going to improve. Honest. There really are people out there that you will like and who will like you.

—Farah Mendelsohn, LiveJournal, 23rd May 2008
This is for all the libraries in the world, and all the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.
First words
The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around. We'd measured it on the mileometer.
It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.
[On Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd]: He makes things happen neatly, and sometimes they're horrible things, but they're always very pat. I hate that. He could have learned a lot from Silverberg and Delany.
She was looking at a record called 'Anarchy in the U.K.' by a group called the Sex Pistols. It was a very ugly cover, but I am quite interested in anarchism because of 'The Dispossessed'.
Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization.
Libraries really are wonderful. They're better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Startling, unusual, and irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and science fiction, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. When her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled — and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to a father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England — a place all but devoid of true magic. There, she is tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off...

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonatham Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is a stunning new novel by an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers such as Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

See http://papersky.livejournal.com/37282... for the moment of the book's genesis.
Haiku summary
The battle's over
Books keep you sane living in
Ruins with fairies.

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Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closests companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled -- and her twin sister dead.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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