Starlings by Jo Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was delighted to find out that I could read and enjoy Jo Walton's first short story (and poetry) collection on Netgalley and saving it just in time for xmas. I do that with authors I really enjoy. The fact is, Ms. Walton has taste. Granted, I've only read three of her books before now, with this one making number four, but trust has been earned.
What else should I expect from someone who reads copiously and discerns with great verve?
But then there comes the introduction. She admits to experimenting and learning the short-fic craft and some of these aren't precisely over-practiced. To that, I say, nevermind. :) I'll read and judge based on my gut reactions anyway, and while a good number of them aren't overly fantastic in my opinion, a few stand out well.
It's on these that I'm resting the weight of my enjoyment.
The Panda Coin - The moon, androids, humans, and AIs... a full slice of lives lasting only as long as the coin remains in their possession. It's a great SF twist and I had a great time piecing out the world and feeling the commentary.
Remember the Allosaur - It may be a joke piece like a number of her other smaller works, but this one works best for me. I keep thinking of my favorite Raptor memes. :)
Sleeper - A pretty awesome future dystopia from the focus of a biographer and an AI-simulation of a real person during the early-mid 20th-century heretics (of mild socialism). I think I may have had the best time with this one just because it's so seditious. If only all biographical works could be the spearhead of a revolution, right?
A Burden Shared - I think I prefer this one for its basic SF-concept over the execution, but even that did a great job. Pain-sharing seems to be just the start. I keep thinking about the possible economic slant to it. Walton's take is purely interpersonal, but a whole society that has this is bound to abuse it. Fascinating, either way. :)
Three Shouts on a Hill - This one is an all-out Irish legend turned into a wild mish-mash mythology adventure and placed firmly into a stage production. It's pretty awesome, ranging from Cromwell, the Thunderbird, the Aztecs, Golden apples and underwater dragons, and even King Arthur. It's about tricksters and overwhelming odds and payback. I'd love to see this put on! :)
The poetry in this collection is very decent, too, but beyond that, I'll not say too much. There is an ever-growing field of SF poetry, after all. It's worth browsing. :)
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
View all my reviews