Jo Walton’s fascinating STARLINGS is best savored over multiple sittings

With the recent publication of Jo Walton’s STARLINGS, reviews have come rolling in.

For B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG, Nicole Hill praises the collection.

Walton’s diversity as a writer has been well-documented by many (including us!), and it’s on full display here. “Three Shouts on a Hill,” the aforementioned play, is inventive and buoyant, retelling Irish folklore in the same way Walton’s Sulien series reinterpreted Arthurian legend. “Sleeper,” meanwhile, puts a clever sci-fi premise to good use: Cold War themes frame the story of a near-future biographer interviewing a simulation of her subject. And then you have a story like “What Would Sam Spade Do?”—a noirish detective tale set in a world in which we’ve cloned Jesus—which simply defied any further attempt at categorization.


It’s the closest we’ll come to understanding how Jo Walton’s dizzying writer’s mind ticks along, and 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.

BARDA BOOK TALK enjoys the book.

Her clever, modern fairy tales, with hues of Angela Carter, charmed the curl of my mouth into a conspiratorial smile. I fell under the spell of a man made of moonlight in “Three Twilight Tales”and the enchanted mirror who sees a whirl of trees through the seasons in “On the Wall”. I took my time and paid attention to the startling, tiny details that lurk in the shadows of plot and characterization.


I would recommend this collections to lovers of short stories instead of fans of Walton’s novels. With such varied settings and modes, it’s a book best savored story by story instead of in one or two sittings.

READ ALL ABOUT IT lauds the volume.

Personally, my favourites were Jane Austen to Cassandra, Turnover, Tradition, and A Burden Shared. It shows great talent that these four are such different stories; I never felt like this collection got dull or repetitive. If you’re looking for some entertaining light reading, pick up Starlings.

Art by Wesley Allsbrook

TOR.COM reprints “Sleeper” which also appears in STARLINGS.

History is a thing we make—in more senses than one. And from more directions.

We’re pleased to reprint “Sleeper,” a dystopian science fiction short story from Jo Walton. Acquired and edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden and originally published on in August 2014, “Sleeper” is available in STARLINGS, a collection of Walton’s fiction and poetry forthcoming from Tachyon Publications on February 13th.

Matthew Corley regained consciousness reading the newspaper.

None of those facts are unproblematic. It wasn’t exactly a newspaper, nor was the process by which he received the information really reading. The question of his consciousness is a matter of controversy, and the process by which he regained it certainly illegal. The issue of whether he could be considered in any way to have a claim to assert the identity of Matthew Corley is even more vexed. It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong. He dismissed the article because he understands enough to know that simulating consciousness in DOS or Windows 3.1 is inherently impossible. He is right about that much, at least.

Perhaps we should pull back further, from Matthew to Essie. Essie is Matthew’s biographer, and she knows everything about him, all of his secrets, only some of which she put into her book. She put all of them into the simulation, for reasons which are secrets of her own. They are both good at secrets. Essie thinks of this as something they have in common. Matthew doesn’t, because he hasn’t met Essie yet, though he will soon.

For more info on STARLINGS, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover design by Elizabeth Story