Jo Walton

2019 Locus Finalist

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. 



by Jo Walton

ISBN: Print: 978-1-61696-056-8 Digital: 978-1-61696-057-5

Published: January 2018

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital Books


“Exquisitely written feats of imagination, each one leaving an impression long after it’s done.”
—Kelley Armstrong, author of Rituals and Led Astray

An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace, Necessity).

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.

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
B&N Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2018
Locus Recommended Reading List


“An intriguing peek inside a fertile mind.”

“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

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

“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

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 Living 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 exciting—and the collected short fiction of Jo Walton is exemplary of the principle.”
—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother

“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

“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

“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

“Multiple award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Jo Walton’s first short fiction collection is a captivating array of fairy tales, mythology, space fiction, machine sentience, alien encounters, heaven, and more.”
Read Well

“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.”

“Walton’s honesty and bold confidence gives this collection its edge; her voice and passion is clear throughout and many of the themes and ideas she weaves into her stories are thought-provoking and resonant. A strong collection from a giant of fiction.”
Novel Observations

“Walton’s writing is as good as ever. But what really shines through this collection is the calibre of Walton’s ideas.”
Strangely Charmless

“Lovely and artful, a definite must read for 2018.”
—A Bookish Beginning

“Recommended, and not just for Walton completists!”
Big Book Balloon

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.”

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

About the author

Jo Walton has published thirteen novels, most recently Necessity. A fourteenth, Lent is due out early in Fall 2018. She has also published three poetry collections and an essay collection. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award for Tooth and Claw in 2004, the Hugo and Nebula awards for Among Others in 2012,  and in 2014, both the Tiptree Award for My Real Children and the Locus Award for What Makes This Book So Great. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are much better.

Praise for Jo Walton

On Necessity

“Brilliant, compelling, and, frankly, unputdownable.”

“As before, Walton has done a superb job of world building and character development, giving readers a novel that both stimulates and satisfies.”
Booklist, starred review

“There’s more substance here than in many actual philosophy books.”
Romantic Times

On Among Others

“A wonder and a joy.”
The New York Times

“Never deigning to transcend the genre to which it is clearly a love letter, this outstanding (and entirely teen-appropriate) tale draws its strength from a solid foundation of sense-of-wonder and what-if.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“There are the books you want to give all your friends, and there are the books you wish you could go back and give your younger self. And then there’s the rare book, like Jo Walton’s Among Others, that’s both.”

On The King’s Peace

The King’s Peace is the novel that The Mists of Avalon should have been.”
―Debra Doyle, author of School of Wizardry

“Walton writes with an authenticity that never loses heart, a rare combination in a genre where we are so often offered one or the other.”
―Robin Hobb, author of Assassin’s Apprentice

“There is not an ill-written sentence . . . Never lacks immediacy or loses its historical quality.”

Visit the Jo Walton website.


Introduction by Jo Walton

Three Twilight Tales
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Unreliable Witness
On the Wall
The Panda Coin
Remember the Allosaur
Relentlessly Mundane
Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction
Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobius and the Aliens
At the Bottom of the Garden
Out of It
What a Piece of Work
Parable Lost
What Would Sam Spade Do?
What Joseph Felt
The Need to Stay the Same
A Burden Shared

Three Shouts on a Hill (A Play)

Dragon’s Song
Not in this Town
Hades and Persephone
The Death of Petrach
Advice to Loki
Ask to Embla
Three Bears Norse
Machiavelli and Prospero
Ten Years Ahead: Oracle Poem
Pax in Forma Columba
Translated from the Original
Sleepless in New Orleans
The Godzilla Sonnets
Not a Bio for Wiscon: Jo Walton