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by Jo Walton

Narrated by Rudy Sanda, C.S.E. Cooney

Unabridged — 7 hours, 8 minutes

Jo Walton


by Jo Walton

Narrated by Rudy Sanda, C.S.E. Cooney

Unabridged — 7 hours, 8 minutes

Jo Walton

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An ancient coin cyber-spies on lovers and thieves. The magic mirror sees all but can do nothing. A cloned savior solves a fanatically-inspired murder. Three Irish siblings thieve treasures with bad poetry and the aid of the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the every day into the universe itself.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Amal El-Mohtar

…what emerges from the collection is not Jo Walton, writer, but Jo Walton, conversationalist. The whole volume is an entertaining discussion with its author that equals, if not exceeds, the fiction and poetry and drama in the book. Walton follows each story with a brief afterword elaborating on some combination of its origins and publication history, often debating whether the work is, in fact, a story…Eventually I found myself reading the stories less to see what happened and more to see what she had to say about them.

Publishers Weekly

This collection of fiction and poetry from Hugo- and Nebula-winner Walton (The Just City) showcases her trademark focus on genre and philosophical questions. Most of the fiction is very brief, and fans of the form will have plenty to appreciate. The strongest story is the relatively long “The Panda Coin,” which follows the path of a gold coin as it passes through the economy of a space station. Cleverest is “Sleeper,” the story of a future biographer interviewing a simulation of her 20th-century subject. The inclusion of “Tradition,” however, is unfortunate, as it’s an undisguised, nearly point-for-point rehashing of a very common joke, and the play “Three Shouts on a Hill” fails to rise above the tropes and clichés it attempts to interrogate. Of the poetry included at the end, “Machiavelli and Prospero” stands out as a rewarding and clever piece of character insight, and “Sleepless in New Orleans” is particularly striking for its voice. The collection will appeal most strongly to Walton’s dedicated fans and those with academic interest in her work. (Feb.)

From the Publisher

Praise for Starlings

A Verge Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book You’ll Want to Read in January
A Chicago Tribune New Short Story Collection Worth Reading
A Barnes & Noble Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book of January 2018

An Unbound Worlds Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book of February 2018
A B&N Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2018
Locus Recommended Reading List

Starlings isn't really a short-story collection. It's something better: a written showreel, illustrating yet again that [Walton’s] imagination stretches to the stars (or the starlings), and that she's endlessly inventive in finding new methods to express it.”
NPR Books

“Starlings is a showcase of Jo Walton's diverse talents—a collection too varied to be summed up in a few words. From fairytale fantasy to hard science fiction, from laugh-aloud play script to finely crafted poetry, with a writing experiment or two thrown in, Starlings should delight Walton's existing fans and garner many new ones.”
—Juliet Marillier, author of Daughter of the Forest

“Stephen King once wrote that ‘a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger’—that is, sudden, pleasant, mysterious, dangerous and exiting—and the collected short fiction of Jo Walton is exemplary of the principle.”
—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother

“Displays Walton’s formidable erudition, and her fascination with the various forms stories can take . . . Starlings as a whole may be the most interesting anatomy of that imagination than we’ve yet seen in one volume.”

“Jo Walton's short writings have for decades been among the things that make the Internet worthwhile. She makes science fiction illuminate life. This collection lives up to its title: iridescent, dark, gregarious, talkative and ever ready to fly up.”
—Ken MacLeod, author of Newton’s Wake and the Corporation Wars series

“Walton's diverse collection of stories and poems sparkles with originality and fun. The joy of this book will linger with me for a while.”
—Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger

“Jo Walton’s delightful collection, Starlings, runs the gamut from homemade fairy tales to hard-boiled cloned-Jesus detectives (just wait for the shaggy dog); to a play with figures out of Irish myth, and a talking dragon; to a selection of her fantastic poems. It’s the kind of collection you can glide through, often while laughing out loud.”
—Gregory Frost, author of Shadowbridge

“One of the things I love about Walton’s work is her range of human possibility, from laughter to horror, but above all a reveling in profligate beauty. This collection celebrates the best in the human spirit.”
—Sherwood Smith, author of Rebel and Revenant Eve

“Reading this collection felt like watching a wizard at the cauldron having fun with new spells . . . I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys fantasy, Jo Walton’s previous works, or wants to try shorter works before committing to longer ones.”
Infinite Text

“This collection of fiction and poetry from Hugo- and Nebula-winner Walton (The Just City) showcases her trademark focus on genre and philosophical questions . . . fans of the [short] form will have plenty to appreciate.”
Publishers Weekly

“I recommend Starlings to lovers of science fiction and fantasy who want bite-sized pieces to enjoy and savor. It's an eclectic mix of themes and tones, some humorous and some dark, that will keep you guessing.”
Den of Geek

“As varied, as skilled, as intriguing as her novels, this is a stunning collection of stories, vignettes, poetry and more.”
Best Science Fiction Books

“Coupled with Walton’s frank self-assessments, the collection offers an incredible sense of intimacy. It’s the closest we’ll come to understanding how Jo Walton’s dizzying writer’s mind ticks along, and how her imagination flows. It’s a rare opportunity, to peek in on the inventor in her workshop. Starlings is revelatory not only as a collection of fiction, but as a sort of biography of the process of writing itself. Fascinating.”
Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog

“Sharp, focused, and fresh.”
Geek Dad

“5/5 stars. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about [Starlings]. It ticked all boxes for me.”
The Misadventures of a Reader

“A wild and wonderful imagination at work.”
Emerald City Book Review

“A master class in studying technique, form, and ending stories with zingers.”

“This prolific writer can indeed write great stories in a wide range of topics and tones.”

Library Journal

In the introduction to Walton's first story collection, the author claims to have spent most of her career not knowing how to write a short story. One of the few pieces she acknowledges as a "proper" story is the marvelous and sad "A Burden Shared," set in a future where an app allows users to share their pain with others. But there are also first chapters of books never penned, extended jokes, and writing exercises that allowed Walton to play with a theme or point of view that intrigued her. All are enjoyable, no matter how brief. One of the entertaining experiments is "The Panda Coin," which follows a single coin as it is passed from person to person on a space station. There is also a hilarious play, "Three Shouts on a Hill," which pokes fun at the heroic quest. The volume concludes with a lovely sampling of Walton's poetry. VERDICT This collection of 20 stories, 15 poems, and a single one-act play demonstrates Walton's versatility as an author whose novels have also bounced among genres with kinetic abandon, including the Nebula- and Hugo Award-winning Among Others.—KC

Kirkus Reviews

Award-winning sci-fi novelist and essayist Walton shares her poetry, a play, and assorted short fiction, accompanied by lengthy insights about writing each work and complaints about not getting paid.Walton has some interesting and frank insights about her writing process and what she felt she needed to learn in order to compose a short story that works. She argues that it's vital to match a story length with the appropriate ending "weight." This is true, up to a point; and the selections in the book illustrate Walton's skill at crafting appropriate endings to her intriguing beginnings. However, she might want to devote more attention to developing story middles, many of which come across as either incompletely established or rushed. It's also true that short stories, particularly in speculative fiction, are wonderful opportunities for experimentation, to say "What if?" and carry the idea forward for a bit and stop. Several of the included works are mainly overt experiments of this kind, almost one-joke sketches, such as a brief correspondence between Jane Austen and Cassandra of Troy. But Walton, as she's demonstrated in her novels (Necessity, 2016, etc.), is an expert experimenter, and even her weaker efforts are worth a reader's time. Selections of particular note include "Three Twilight Tales," three brief and gorgeously enigmatic scenes at an inn; "Sleeper," about employing Cold War-type subversion in a near-future era of repressive capitalism and constant surveillance; "A Burden Shared," in which an app allows you to take on a loved one's pain (Walton is correct about these two; they're both successful, fully formed short stories); and "Three Shouts on a Hill," a delightfully metafictional and anachronistic play that retells an Irish legend, which Walton accurately claims as the collection's best work. The book also includes several poems, whose shorter length is well-suited to Walton's idea-tinkering.An intriguing peek inside a fertile mind.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940170751785
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication date: 11/15/2019
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews