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Among Others

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,9572534,771 (3.96)2 / 502
Fiction. Science Fiction. It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.' Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks... She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.… (more)
  1. 100
    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. 50
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  3. 40
    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. 63
    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. 20
    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. 20
    Shadows by Robin McKinley (bibliovermis)
  7. 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.
  8. 21
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Recovering from tragedy, holding to a moral centre.
  9. 10
    Eggshells by Caitriona Lally (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both are realistic novels in which the worlds of magic and fairy may be real and/or function as coping mechanisms for the narrators. Beautiful PTSD novels.
  10. 10
    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Mo references several works in 'Among Us', but the terminology of 'Cat's Cradle' is especially important.
  11. 00
    The Owl Service by Alan Garner (beyondthefourthwall)
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» See also 502 mentions

English (249)  French (1)  All languages (250)
Showing 1-5 of 249 (next | show all)
I’m not entirely sure why this book won quite so many awards. Among Others is a YA fantasy by Welsh author Jo Walton. It is predominantly a cover-to-cover ramble about all of her favourite pre1980 sci-fi books. The main character Morwenna Phelps/ Markova is a Welsh teenager, who escapes her evil witch mother to stay with her estranged father and his three sisters in Shropshire and gets sent to boarding school. As a nerdy sci-fi reader with a cane and a limp she struggles to fit in and spends every spare moment reading and going to the library or a book club. Morwenna has magic of her own, but the subtle, plausible deniability kind. She sees fairies but they are poorly fleshed out and barely there. It almost seems as if the real story took place before the book, with her mother wanting to take over the world, and Morwenna and her twin sister Morganna fighting her with magic, ending up with Morwenna injured and her sister dead. None of this is ever explained. Maybe Mor is just an over imaginative teen dealing with her mother’s mental illness and abuse, and suffering the effects of her traumatic car accident. There is an icky moment with her father which is moved past and not dealt with. There is her boyfriend Wim, who seems to have treated his ex-girlfriends poorly, but that’s OK as they were all morons. It was an OK read but clearly designed for die-hard sci-fi buffs not really for fantasy readers. ( )
  mimbza | Jun 1, 2024 |
3.5 stars ( )
  Abcdarian | May 18, 2024 |
Neil Gaiman said in 2013 "Fiction...[is] a gateway drug to reading." This book is a gateway drug. All I can think about, now that I've finished it, is how much I want to read, or re-read, all the wonderful books referenced in this story.

Among Others is recounted in the first person by 15-year-old Mor. She's grown up in the industrial ruins of South Wales and has always been able to see fairies. Magic is as much a part of the world for her as trees, or mountains, or a derelict foundry. But Mor has had to come to England, escaping her insane mother, the woman responsible for Mor's crippled leg and worse, her twin sister's death. Now Mor has to negotiate the tricky social terrain at boarding school as well as figure out how to have a relationship with her father, a man she barely knows. She's alone and grieving for her lost sister as well as her lost childhood.

Mor's solace is books, specifically, SF and fantasy. She loves Tolkein, Lewis, Le Guin, Asimov, Heinlein, Silverberg... honestly there are so many books and authors it's probably best if you just go and have a look at the bibliography helpfully compiled here, or Mor's LibraryThing page. The book takes place in the autumn and winter of 1979-1980 so that limits the books Mor has access to. I desperately want to know what she would have thought of The Handmaid's Tale but it wasn't published until 1987. Anyway, I digress...

The book is really a story about the consolations of reading fiction, the enjoyment of new and challenging ideas and the importance of having access, not just to books, but to people who read some of the same books as we do. I mean, I wouldn't use this site unless I had a need to connect to other people who read and love to read fiction. I'd just use a spreadsheet or some other soulless tool to record what I've read and want to read. Or I wouldn't bother. But we're here because books connect us, stories connect us and shape us, whether we're 15 or 45 or 105.

So I'm going to post this review, then go and update my "To Read" list, then maybe start re-reading LOTR. ( )
  punkinmuffin | Apr 30, 2024 |
I picked this up because it was just awarded the 2012 Hugo award for best novel. It didn't really appeal to me, though I can tell it's well written.

But. If you're interested, do give it a look. The world Walton creates is complex, the characters are very human (and non-human), and it name-checks a host of classic SF and fantasy. I suppose it's just not my flavor right now. ( )
  daplz | Apr 7, 2024 |
3.5 stars ( )
  EllieBhurrut | Jan 24, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 249 (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.
 
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 Charon07 | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)
 
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.
 
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.
 

» 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.
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.
Tolkien understood about the things that happen after the end. Because this is after the end, this is all the Scouring of the Shire, this is figuring out how to live in the time that wasn’t supposed to happen after the glorious last stand. I saved the world, or I think I did, and look, the world is still here,  with sunsets and interlibrary loans. And it doesn’t care about me any more than the Shire cared about Frodo.
You can almost always find chains of coincidence to disprove magic. That's because it doesn't happen the way it happens 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Science Fiction. It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.' Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks... She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.

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Book description
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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