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Among Others by Jo Walton
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Among Others

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,2162024,194 (3.96)2 / 437
  1. 80
    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. 40
    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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 43
    The Magicians: A Novel 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.
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English (201)  French (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
If the right book at the right time saved your life, you'll love this book. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
I love this book like whoah. I'm going to talk below about one element of what I love, but if you're a reader of fantasy or scifi, be prepared to keep a notebook with you as you read Among Others, if solely to write down the titles of books you need to add to your TBR pile.

That said, it's a quiet book, with a lot that goes unsaid, and that's not for everyone. I originally wrote this review as a response to Ferrett Steinmetz' question on his blog (http://www.theferrett.com/ferrettworks/2011/11/discuss-jo-waltons-among-others/), and that's worth reading too (spoiler & discussion alert).

I loved Mor's voice, and the very understated way that she's trying to keep her sister's name alive.

This is part of what drew me into the book – the events that precede the story aren't ever stated outright. Were given pieces now and then, through the filter of a diary. Because this is a private diary, there are things that go without saying, because they're obvious to the writer and she doesn't need to explain them to herself.

I think the unsaid is a palpable part of Among Others, actually. And even when Mor describes past events to a friend, it's couched in filter language – she's giving him as much information as she thinks he can take.

The diary structure really works for me, because the days become things that Mor passes through. The strangeness of her surroundings is couched in magic that she is starting to question the rules of, and the diary is part of how she figures it out, as well as being the story of her figuring it out.

All of it is so finely liminal.

And I mean that in the best sense. There are thresholds everywhere in the story, and choosing to pass through them is part of the tale. As is choosing to go home after being away, and the double alienation that creates – that sense of being stuck between two places.

This book practices subtlety as it plays with its structure – what Mor would write in a diary and what shed leave out. She's a very private character, and her diary carries that through. Walton isn't writing Mor's diary writing as if she (Mor) expects anyone else to read it. Thats an ambitious trick in itself.

( )
  sussura | Sep 29, 2018 |
I ordinarily am quite fond of Ms. Walton's works, but this one left me cold, for some reason. If it's your first foray into her oeuvre, I'd start with something else. One of her strengths is her books are all quite different! ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
This is a stunningly wonderful book.

I have never read anything that so perfectly captures the experience of being fifteen, a science fiction reader just discovering some of the greats of the field (not to mention fandom!), the new kid in school who doesn't quite fit in, the young woman just starting to reach for adulthood, and not sure where she fits in a family where no one except her imperfectly known father seems to share her interests and concerns.

Of course, Morwenna's problems are in a whole different league from my own at her age. Morwenna's twin sister was killed in a car accident that left Morwenna crippled. That accident was their witch mother's retaliation for their successful thwarting of her spell intended to make her a Dark Queen. Now Morwenna is dependent on the father she's never met.

On the one hand, Morwenna and her father Daniel bond over their love of science fiction. On the other hand, her aunts, his three sisters, decide that she belongs at Arlinghurst, the same boarding school they attended, so that's where she goes. It's a tough transition for her, a crippled girl among enthusiastic athletes, a Welsh girl amongst mostly upper middle class English girls, an enthusiastic reader amongst students who think reading is only for studying. But she's smart, and determined, and doesn't really see any better alternatives, so she finds ways to cope.

And as she struggles to find her own place, and her own friends, and her own path, she discovers that the threat from her mother is not over. Together with all the normal adolescent challenges, Morwenna also does battle with her mother's hostility and ambitions, the ethics of magic, and the desire and opportunity to be reunited with her sister.

This is a beautifully written book, lovingly and convincingly depicting both adolescent angst and the joys of discovering science fiction and the community of science fiction fandom.

Highly recommended.

I purchased this book and have received no compensation from the publisher or anyone else for reading and reviewing it. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Wow! I am not really a fan of fantasy or SF, but this book was just amazing. Real magic in a real modern world. ( )
  ioplibrarian | Aug 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen Hayden, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riffel, HannesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vojnar, KamilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Er'perrhene.

—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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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)

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