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What Makes This Book So Great


What Makes This Book So Great Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

As any reader of Jo Walton's Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Now this volumes presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field's most ambitious series.

Among Walton's many subjects here are the Zones of Thought novels of Vernor Vinge; the question of what genre readers mean by "mainstream"; the underappreciated SF adventures of C. J. Cherryh; the field's many approaches to time travel; the masterful science fiction of Samuel R. Delany; Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children; the early Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin; and a Robert A. Heinlein novel you have most certainly never read.

Over 130 essays in all, What Makes This Book So Great is an immensely readable, engaging collection of provocative, opinionated thoughts about past and present-day fantasy and science fiction, from one of our best writers. 

About the Author

JO WALTON won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, and the World Fantasy Award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her several other novels include the acclaimed “Small Change” alternate-history trilogy, comprising Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown. Her novel Among Others won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012. A native of Wales, she lives in Montreal.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. Why I Re-read

3. A Deepness in the Sky, the Tragical History of Pham Nuwen

4. The Singularity Problem and Non-Problem

5. Random Acts of Senseless Violence: Why isnt it a classic of the field?

6. From Herring to Marmalade: the perfect plot of Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency

7. Thats just scenery: what do we mean by “mainstream”?

8. Re-reading long series

9. The Dystopic Earths of Heinleins Juveniles

10. Happiness, Meaning and Significance: Karl Schroeders Lady of Mazes

11. The Weirdest Book in the World

12. The Poetry of Deep Time: Arthur C. Clarkes Against the Fall of Night

13. Clarke reimagined in hot pink: Tanith Lees Biting the Sun

14. Something rich and strange: Candas Jane Dorseys Black Wine

15. To trace impunity: Greg Egans Permutation City

16. Black and white and read a million times: Jerry Pournelles Janissaries

17. College as magic garden: Why Pamela Deans Tam Lin is a book youll either love or hate

18. Making the future work: Maureen McHughs China Mountain Zhang

19. Anathem: what does it gain from not being our world?

20. A happy ending depends on when you stop: Heavy Time, Hellburner and C.J. Cherryhs Alliance-Union universe

21. Knights Who Say “Fuck”: Swearing in Genre Fiction

22. “Earth is one world”: C.J. Cherryhs Downbelow Station

23. “Space is wide and good friends are too few”: Cherryhs Merchanter novels

24. “A need to deal wounds”: Rape of men in Cherryhs Union-Alliance novels

25. How to talk to writers

26. “Give me back the Berlin Wall”: Ken MacLeods The Sky Road

27. What a pity she couldnt have single-handedly invented science fiction! George Eliots Middlemarch

28. The beauty of lists: Angelica Gorodischers Kalpa Imperial

29. Like pop rocks for the brain: Samuel R. Delanys Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

30. Between Two Worlds: S.P. Somtows Jasmine Nights

31. Lots of reasons to love these: Daniel Abrahams Long Price books

32. Maori Fantasy: Keri Hulmes The Bone People

33. Better to have loved and lost? Series that go downhill

34. More questions than answers: Robert A. Heinleins The Stone Pillow

35. Weeping for her enemies: Lois McMaster Bujolds Shards of Honor

36. Forward Momentum: Lois McMaster Bujolds The Warriors Apprentice

37. Quest for Ovaries: Lois McMaster Bujolds Ethan of Athos

38. Why he must not fail: Lois McMaster Bujolds The Borders of Infinity

39. What have you done with your baby brother? Lois McMaster Bujolds Brothers in Arms

40. Hard on his superiors: Lois McMaster Bujolds The Vor Game

41. One birth, one death, and all the acts of pain and will between: Lois McMaster Bujolds Barrayar

42. All true wealth is biological: Lois McMaster Bujolds Mirror Dance

43. Luck is something you make for yourself: Lois McMaster Bujolds Cetaganda

44. This is my old identity, actually: Lois McMaster Bujolds Memory

45. But Im Vor: Lois McMaster Bujolds Komarr

46. Shes getting away! Lois McMaster Bujolds A Civil Campaign

47. Just my job: Lois McMaster Bujolds Diplomatic Immunity

48. Every day is a gift: Lois McMaster Bujolds Winterfair Gifts

49. Choose again, and change: Lois McMaster Bujolds Vorkosigan saga

50. So, what sort of series do you like?

51. Time travel and slavery: Octavia Butlers Kindred

52. America the Beautiful: Terry Bissons Fire on the Mountain

53. Susan Palwicks Shelter

54. Scintillations of a sensory syrynx: Samuel Delanys Nova

55. You may not know it, but you want to read this: Francis Spuffords Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin

56. Faster Than Light at any speed

57. Gender and glaciers: Ursula Le Guins The Left Hand of Darkness

58. Licensed to sell weasels and jade earrings: The short stories of Lord Dunsany

59. The Net of a Million Lies: Vernor Vinges A Fire Upon the Deep

60. The worst book I love: Robert Heinleins Friday

61. Indias superheroes: Salman Rushdies Midnights Children

62. A funny book with a lot of death in it: Iain Bankss The Crow Road

63. More dimensions than youd expect: Samuel Delanys Babel 17

64. Bad, but good: David Feintuchs Midshipmans Hope

65. Subtly twisted history: John M. Fords The Dragon Waiting

66. A very long poem: Alan Garners Red Shift

67. Beautiful, poetic, and experimental: Roger Zelaznys Doorways in the Sand

68. Waking the Dragon: George R.R. Martins A Song of Ice and Fire

69. Who reads cosy catastrophes?

70. Stalinism vs champagne at the opera: Constantine Fitzgibbons When the Kissing Had To Stop

71. The future of the Commonwealth: Nevil Shutes In the Wet

72. Twists of the Godgame: John Fowless The Magus

73. Playing the angles on a world: Steven Brusts Dragaera

74. Jhereg feeds on others kills: Steven Brusts Jhereg

75. Yendi coils and strikes unseen: Steven Brusts Yendi

76. A coachmans tale: Steven Brusts Brokedown Palace

77. Frightened teckla hides in grass: Steven Brusts Teckla

78. How can you tell?: Steven Brusts Taltos

79. Phoenix rise from ashes grey: Steven Brusts Phoenix

80. I have been asking for nothing else for an hour: Steven Brusts The Phoenix Guards

81. Athyra rules minds interplay: Steven Brusts Athyra

82. What, is there more?: Steven Brusts Five Hundred Years After

83. Orca circles, hard and lean: Steven Brusts Orca

84. Haughty dragon yearns to slay: Steven Brusts Dragon

85. Issola strikes from courtly bow: Steven Brusts Issola

86. Dear Lords of Publication, Glorious Mountain Press of Adrilankha, (or any appropriate representative on our world)

87. The time about which I have the honor to write?: Steven Brusts The Viscount of Adrilankha

88. Dzur stalks and blends with night: Steven Brusts Dzur

89. Jhegaala shifts as moments pass: Steven Brusts Jhegaala

90. Quiet iorich wont forget: Steven Brusts Iorich

91. Quakers in Space: Molly Glosss The Dazzle of Day

92. Locked in our separate skulls: Raphael Carters The Fortunate Fall

93. Saving both worlds: Katherine Blake (Dorothy Heydt)s The Interior Life

94. Yearning for the unattainable: James Tiptree Jr.s short stories

95. SF reading protocols

96. Incredibly readable: Robert Heinleins The Door Into Summer

97. Nasty, but brilliant: John Barness Kaleidoscope Century

98. Growing up in a space dystopia: John Barness Orbital Resonance

99. The joy of an unfinished series

100. Fantasy and the need to remake our origin stories

101. The mind, the heart, sex, class, feminism, true love, intrigue, not your everyday ho hum detective story: Dorothy Sayerss Gaudy Night

102. Three short Hainish novels: Ursula Le Guins Rocannons World, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions

103. On reflection, not very dangerous: Harlan Ellisons The Last Dangerous Visions

104. Why do I re-read things I dont like?

105. Yakking about whos civilized and whos not: H. Beam Pipers Space Viking

106. Feast or famine?

107. Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, Jay Schreibs play of Samuel Delanys Dhalgren

108. Not much changes on the street, only the faces: George Alec Effingers When Gravity Fails

109. History inside-out: Howard Waldrops Them Bones

110. Id love this book if I didnt loathe the protagonist: Harry Turtledove and Judith Tarrs Household Gods

111. Screwball comedy time travel: John Kessels Corrupting Dr. Nice

112. Academic Time Travel: Connie Williss To Say Nothing of the Dog

113. The Society of Time: John Brunners Times Without Number

114. Five Short Stories with Useless Time Travel

115. Time Control: Isaac Asimovs The End of Eternity

116. Texan Ghost Fantasy: Sean Stewarts Perfect Circle

117. The language of stones: Terri Windlings The Wood Wife

118. A great castle made of sea: Why hasnt Susanna Clarkes Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell been more influential?

119. Gulp or sip: How do you read?

120. Quincentenniel: Arthur C. Clarkes Imperial Earth

121. Do you skim?

122. A merrier world: J.R.R. Tolkiens The Hobbit

123. Monuments from the future: Robert Charles Wilsons The Chronoliths

124. The Suck Fairy

125. Trains on the moon: John M. Fords Growing Up Weightless

126. Overloading the senses: Samuel Delanys Nova

127. Aliens and Jesuits: James Blishs A Case of Conscience

128. Swiftly goes the swordplay: Poul Andersons The Broken Sword

129. The work of disenchantment never ends: Kim Stanley Robinsons Icehenge

130. Literary criticism vs talking about books


Product Details

Walton, Jo
Tor Books
Science Fiction and Fantasy-A to Z
Science / General
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Science fiction
Literary Criticism : General
Publication Date:
9.25 x 6.125 in 1 lb

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