A Review of Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others by Jo WaltonThis very readable book (which won the Nebula Award for Best Novel this year) is part coming of age, part fantasy and part uber-geek love-letter to the classics of science fiction.

Much of the drama has already happened before the novel starts. We learn that Morwenna and her twin sister Morganna spent their childhoods playing with fairies in the overgrown, industrial ruins around their Welsh town. Although the fairies are distinctly non-human in appearance, behavior and modes of communication, the twins were able to understand their intentions – when the fairies could be bothered to make the effort.

Such an occasion happened when the fairies provided the means to stop a magical power grab by their sociopath mother. “She wants everyone to love her and despair.” Though the twins were successful, Morganna was killed and Morwenna crippled. Still fearful of her mother, Morwenna ran away. As the novel opens, she is being placed in the custody of her father, an Englishman she’s never known. Read more »

A Review of Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children by Salman RushdieAn epic magical realist saga of family and country, connecting far-flung dots into a revealing portrait of the first thirty years of India’s independence from Britain.

The narrator is Saleem Sinai, the first of 1000 “Midnight’s Children,” born the first hour of August 15, 1947, when India officially became independent of Britain. Saleem is the official poster child for the new India, heralded by the people, the press, and the prime minister. However this role turns out to be more than just public relations.

As Saleem grows, he finds his life is inextricably entwined with his country’s history, in ways that are political, metaphysical and mythological. His telepathic powers enable him to communicate with all of the other Midnight’s Children, each of whom possesses a different supernatural ability. Saleem is the only one who can connect them, using his powers to create a sort of psychic conference call.

Salman Rushdie is a grandaddy of the literary fantastic, and reading this book showed my why. He is an impressive stylist and an inventive storyteller, with an intellect capable of treating decades of personal, political, religious, and cultural transformation. Read more »

A Review of Little, Big, by John Crowley

Little, Big by John Crowley Little, Big is a modern classic of fantastic literature, a book that is praised far and wide, and with good reason. It’s a beautifully written, deep meditation on complex and arcane philosophies of magic and metaphysics (from Plato to Rosicrucian and Theosophist) and the challenges of living an ethical life in light of such considerations.

Yet, because is also a well-told tale, the big ideas that are the lifeblood of the story never take over or feel forced. Rather, they flow naturally and gracefully out of the characters and action. It is the success of this balancing act that makes this novel a tour de force. Read more »