Monday 18 March 2013

Giving the Game Away | We Are Among Others

Hello again, everyone. I'm back!

Only briefly, I'm afraid. Predictably, I've returned home to deadlines aplenty, and as ever, the day job awaits, so I only have a few moments to devote to The Speculative Scotsman this afternoon. Luckily, that' should just long enough for me to blog about one of the very best books I've read in recent years: a multiple award-winner that (for once) deserves all the acclaim that's been heaped upon it. Namely Among Others by Jo Walton.

It's an extraordinary novel, with the most memorable narrator I've encountered in ages: Morwenna Phelps (or Mori to her friends... not that she has terribly many) is always charming and often disarming, but here's what really struck me about this marvellous character: she is undeniably one of us—which is to say an individual as inextricable from the fantastical literature she reads and reflects on throughout Among Others as any die-hard genre fiction fan—and wonderfully, one senses Jo Walton is as well.

If you've gone this long without reading Among Others already, you must know by now that you're missing something magnificent. But perhaps you aren't aware of what this novel is, and equally, what it isn't. Well:
"Think of this as a memoir. Think of it as one of those memoirs that's later discredited to everyone's horror because the writer lied and is revealed to be a different colour, gender, class and creed from the way they'd made everybody think. I have the opposite problem. I have to keep fighting to stop making myself sound more normal. Fiction's nice. Fiction lets you select and simplify. This isn't a nice story, and this isn't an easy story. But it is a story about fairies, so feel free to think of it as a fairy story. It's not like you'd believe it anyway."
The thing of it is... I did. Among Others came alive for me in a way truly few books do when I finally read it this past winter. Sadly, the review I wrote way back when—the review I had been sitting on ever since, waiting for this very day, I dare say—appears to have been eaten by Blogger, so you'll just have to take my word for it: Among Others is bittersweet, beautifully put... quite simply brilliant.

But wait! What am I talking about? You don't have to take my word for it at all, because even if you exclude the innumerable glowing reviews of the book my bloggery colleagues have written already—and why would you?—this post begins a whole week of awesome Among Others coverage.

Tomorrow, Civilian Reader will be chipping in; Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews welcomes Jo Walton on Wednesday; on Thursday, tune in to 2606 Books; then The Book Smugglers are due to do their inimitable thing on Friday. Over the weekend, Jan Edwards and Fantasy Faction will have the book's back, and a week from today, the blog tour concludes courtesy of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm.

Needless to say, it'll be a brilliant week, and all in honour of a good cause. Among Others really does merit such celebration. And to start us off properly, it's with immense pleasure—and many thanks to the fine folks at Constable & Robinson who are publishing the paperback this Thursday—that I say I have three copies of the beautiful new British edition of this book to give away to interested parties based in the UK.

All you need do to stand a chance of winning Among Others is to email me at thespeculativescotsman [at] gmail [dot] com with your name and address. Mark your subject headers 'We Are Among Others' and I'll announce the lucky ones next week, when I'm properly on top of the blog again.

It really is as easy as that.

Seriously, what are you waiting for? :)

We'll talk again shortly, all. In the interim, do stay tuned for a few more Short Story Reviews, including one of the piece I think should win the BSFA's award for the Best Short Story of 2012.


  1. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Among Others is definitely one of my favorite reads from the past few years.

    I'm part of a live and in person book club and that was our book of the month last month. Sad to say that it wasn't as well received by the other members...mostly for the ending which we all agreed felt a bit rushed.

    I'll be looking forward to the Among Others blog tour.

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