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January 18, 2011

Among Others
Posted by Patrick at 04:28 PM * 163 comments

As a senior editor at Tor Books and the manager of our science fiction and fantasy line, I rarely blog to promote specific projects I’m involved with, for reasons that probably don’t need a lot of explanation. But every so often a book compels me to break my own rule. And Among Others by Jo Walton, officially published today, is such a book.

Like many novels that are a little hard to describe, Among Others is a lot of different things, some of which wouldn’t seem to work together, and yet they do. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a classic outsider tale. It’s at least partly autobiographical—yes, an autobiographical fantasy novel. It’s about solving a fantasy problem through science-fictional modes of thought. Most of all, though, it’s an absolutely incandescent depiction, through its first-person protagonist Mori, of what it feels like to be young, smart, a bit odd, and immersed in the business of discovering great science fiction and fantasy—and rewiring one’s consciousness thereby.

I am not Welsh or female, I do not walk with a cane, and I do not have a dead sibling or a parent who wants me dead. I never attended a boarding school, my family is far-flung and American, and I have never (to the best of my knowledge) conversed with fairies. And yet to a startling extent Among Others feels like a book about the experience of being me when I was, like Mori, fifteen. This turns out to be a fairly common reaction to reading Walton’s novel, at least among the kind of people I tend to know. It is quite possibly the best thing I have ever read about the way people of our ilk, when young, use books and reading to—in the words of Robert Charles Wilson—“light the way out of a difficult childhood.”

Wrote Gary Wolfe in Locus:

I don’t believe I’ve seen, either in fiction or in memoir, as brilliant and tone-perfect an account of what discovering SF and fantasy can mean to its young readers—citing chapter and verse of actual titles—as in Jo Walton’s remarkable and somewhat autobiographical new novel Among Others. Late in the novel, when the spirited 15-year-old narrator Morwenna Phelps is assigned Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd in her English class at the English boarding school to which she’s been more or less exiled, she concludes her somewhat snarky response to it by commenting, “He could have learned a lot from Silverberg and Delany.” By this point we’ve already gotten accustomed to Mori’s precociously sharp running commentaries on the SF novels she reads voraciously and uses to construct a safe haven, a kind of culture in exile both from her problematical family and from the staid adult world—including Hardy—for which she feels the disdainful impatience of the bright adolescent. What is remarkable is not only how Walton evokes the capacity of fiction to preserve wonder and hope in a dispiriting world, but how she conveys this, as with the Hardy comment, in the opinionated but not quite fully-formed voice of a teenager discovering these works at the tail-end of the 1970s, which comes across as a kind of Golden Age of SF in Mori’s narrative, with Tolkien already established as canonical, Heinlein just entering his cranky late phase, and Le Guin, Zelazny, and Tiptree, along with the historical novels of Mary Renault, coming as astonishing revelations to a young British reader. […] Among Others is many things—a fully realized boarding-school tale, a literary memoir, a touching yet unsentimental portrait of a troubled family—but there’s something particularly appealing about a fantasy which not only celebrates the joy of reading, but in which the heroine must face the forces of doom not in order to return yet another ring to some mountain, but to plan a trip to the 1980 Glasgow Eastercon. That’s the sort of book you can love.
Among Others is available as of today, in hardcover and (alas, only for North Americans or those capable of electronically emulating North Americans) as an e-book on the various platforms. If any of the above sounds interesting to you, I ask you most humbly: Please buy this book and make it a success. The book deserves it. The world deserves it. But most of all because you will love this brilliant, perceptive, utterly transformational book.

(The above crossposted to, where you can also read an excerpt from the novel itself.)

Comments on Among Others:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 04:43 PM:

those capable of electronically emulating North Americans

In cyberspace, I look and sound like Gregory Peck.
That being said, I have now acquired the book for my Nook.

#2 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 04:46 PM:

I acquired a copy of this earlier today. Am leaving on a trip tomorrow and looking forward to reading it on the plane.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 04:52 PM:

I tend to be terrible with books and films that people thrust at me, telling me I must read them, or watch them, or whatever.

Patrick did that to me about this book this past autumn. Fortunately, I was at an inconvenient remove for him to see me stiffen up and go all weird. And I edited my reactions to him, because he was so keen, and so enthusiastic about it. I was afraid I would dislike it. Even though I know he can cope just fine with disagreement in matters literary, I felt as though it would be like kicking a puppy.

So one Saturday afternoon when I had nothing scheduled, I picked it up to read a page or two. There was laundry to do, and the usual business of the household to conduct, but reading a chapter or two wouldn't unduly delay things. And Martin was going to be cooking dinner, and the kids can bathe themselves, so just getting past this next plot point wasn't really that intrusive.

And then the book was done, and the house was quiet, and my only regret was that I wasn't ever going to read it for the first time again.

I think this is going to be one of Those Books in our community. And I think a lot of people who don't realize that they are part of our community are going to like it too.

Also, I'm delighted to see that Jo, whose work I have always enjoyed, has reached some place in her career and her head that she can write this sort of thing.

#4 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 04:58 PM:

I'm flying across the Atlantic end of this week. Been looking for something really good to read for the flight, both ways, and for any downtime I may have over there. This looks like just the thing. Hoping they'll have it in Waterstones here.

And for what it's worth, my vote is for more recommendations here. I can see how Patrick/Teresa may not want to throw their weight behind one particular book most of the time, but if the other bloggers want to recommend stuff, it's always very welcome. This blog has a 100% success rate of introducing me to awesome books.

#5 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 05:02 PM:

It seems that my tiny little town contains one copy, which will be MINE MINE ALL MINE just as soon as I can get my shoes on.

#6 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 05:52 PM:

I have ordered two copies (one for me, one for my sister) and I think they may be waiting at home for me right now. But I cheated a bit: I was lucky enough to read it already, so I *know* how much I liked the book, and that my sister will like it just as much!

#7 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 06:00 PM:

AAAAAUGH. The person I talked to was a new hire, who didn't yet know how to look things up. As it happens, there are NO copies in this godforsaken dump. I have just ordered one from Uncle Hugo's, which I should have done six months ago.

OTOH, I'll soon be able to give it to my dear friend who's read all the same books I have, and who needs a Really Good Book right now.

#8 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 06:03 PM:

If I were at Other Change, I'd be reading this right now.... As it stands, I've just ordered three copies.

#9 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 06:22 PM:

I read the excerpt over on Tor, and then ran (metaphorically, but a browser tab was sacrificed to the cause) to Amazon to buy myself a copy. Which is downloading as soon as I can get my Kindle's wireless to speak to the network--oo, there it goes. This is a book I want to read very much, and I think I'll be doing an awful lot more reading just based on books mentioned within.

And there it is, and now I can read it. Good.

#10 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 06:44 PM:

It sounds like Jo was reading over my teenaged shoulder, Mary Renault and all. Must Order Now.

#11 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 07:14 PM:

Do want!

There, I've ordered it. I can't wait.

Patrick, the last time I remember you breaking your no-plugging-own-projects rule, it was to recommend Spin -- a book which is in the top three candidates for my favorite novel of all time, and which I read thanks to your Making Light recommendation post. So I trust that when you break your own rule and do a Making Light post to recommend a book you worked on, it really is that good.

Also, I've adored everything I've read of Jo Walton's so far. So. Do want.

#12 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 07:15 PM:

After you read the book, you might be interested to read the LiveJournal post that spawned it and the comments thereto...and the next couple of entries as well. (I'd recommend waiting till after, though.) It's really quite interesting how several people immediately had the reaction "This is a book. Write it." and Jo was all, "But it's not a story!" and then the next day she figured out how to make it a story.

#13 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 07:19 PM:

Daniel: It's not going to be in your Waterstones, no British publishers are interested in it. You'll have to wait until you're on this side of the Atlantic and read it on your way home. Sorry about that.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 07:22 PM:

@12: Thanks, that was a great post. (And thanks to Jo for writing it . . .)

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 08:33 PM:


I wonder how long it'll take before I stop thinking of you without also thinking of the seagulls from "Finding Nemo".

#16 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 08:37 PM:

Serge, 15: That was in the back of my head, yeah. Argh newbies who get my hopes up! I'm not mad at him personally, but it's a day-ruiner for sure.

#17 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 08:40 PM:

I've been #2 in the holds queue at the library for this all week, but if people keep going on about it online, I may have to go buy a copy before they get it properly into their system.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 09:02 PM:

My copy is, I am assured, wending its way to me even now.

From the description Patrick provides, there is a certain commonality of experience (given that I was not in boarding school -- though I was a day boy, sort of, at one for sixth form) involving teenage bibliophilia and the comparison of the standard works of literature to sf/f.

There are certain moments of discovery that live very deeply in the memory:

I can recall starting to read Lord of Light which I had obtained from the Santa Cruz Public Library. Like many other books, I read it on the walk home from Malvern to my parents' house at Stanmore, a distance of 4.7 miles (according to the odometer on my father's car). I was able to master the art of reading while walking at a pace of about 3 miles an hour, since I had only about an hour of light by which to read. I really hated the fact that the sun went down because I was deprived of knowing how the story continued for almost a day.

I had a similar experience with Dune a novel I read in the same marvellous year I turned 15, and which I read in the same way, walking on the road with my bag on my shoulder.

There was The Hobbit to which I was introduced by my maths teacher, a New Zealander, Geoff Campbell (in exchange I introduced him to Dune of which he'd never heard and with which he was equally impressed).

When I finally read The Lord of the Rings I was only allowed to take out one volume a week from the Munro College library by Mrs Roper, and it was a horrible torture to have to wait a whole week to read the next volume because Mrs Roper believed that the library was primarily for scholarship rather than for entertainment.

#19 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 10:15 PM:

I was just wondering what I should read next. I'm finishing up a book that I'm mostly not enjoying, so I was casting about for a high-quality palate cleanser.* So I just went and bought this for my Kindle...thanks for pointing it out!

*usually Patrick O'Brian serves this function, but I just finished one of his, and I space my O'Brian reading out, in order to delay the arrival of the day when I have no new ones left to read.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 10:36 PM:

Mary, 19: But that just hastens the day when you get to start your rereads. *wanders idly toward The O'Brian Shelf*

#21 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 10:44 PM:

TexAnne @#20: Oh, I've already started my re-reads! I just have to be careful not to lap myself, or I'll be terribly confused.

#22 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 11:33 PM:

Abi, I am the same way about recommendations. I could probably point out the couple recommendations that stopped me reading Brust because clearly, I was doing it wrong. I'm wary of a book like this because it could be framed as a community-defining book... and I am not sure if my experiences would be in it. If I read this book and do not find myself Changed Forever, I am not part of this community.

I know this is entirely internal. I know no one means it like that. But it's come up with several different authors; I don't always engage as deeply as the people writing the recommendations, and since I respect them, there must be something wrong with me. Back-of-Brain is not helpful in this. Front-of-Brain is doing its best.

There's so much less pressure to perform when reading books people don't get passionate about.

#23 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2011, 11:39 PM:

I first read O'Brien out of order (the vagaries of library hold systems combined with multiple editions) and as soon as I'd run out, I started again, this time strictly in order. Must start again, it's been a few years.

And in another tab, I learn my usually-satisfactory local library has no copies of "Among Others" lists. Not even "On Order - Not Yet Catalogued". Time to make a purchase suggestion, and hope it reaches one of the librarians who knew me when I worked for the system. That gives it a fighting chance to make it through the arcane screwup I gather the purchasing system has become in recent years. (all the rest of Ms. Walton's books are in the collection, actually, so it might not need a boost. Still...)

#24 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:23 AM:

I'm seriously looking forward to getting hold of this book by my Obscure British Methods(TM).

Diatryma @ #22: I do also push back against pushy recommendations, but this read to me more like goodbooksignal squee.

As for 'community-defining'... I don't see how even the best such book in a reasonably diverse community could possibly aspire to embrace every member's experiences, at any level. I think more in terms of a sympathy likely to be evoked either as "Hey! That could almost be me!" or as "Hey! That could almost be $Somebody_I_Know". The latter recognition might furnish more of the Community-Thing than the former.

[Blinks] Which is not something that had occurred to me, previously to reading your comment. Thank you!

I know too well the orneriness of the old back-brain, which in my experience usually imitates not so much the lizard, as the cat.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:41 AM:

Diatryma @22:

On the one hand, there's no arguing a person out of that particular skittishness.

On the other, don't over-interpret me to the detriment of your enjoyment. I was not changed by Among Others, and unlike Patrick, I didn't really recognize my teenaged self in Mori. The reading list overlaps, but the way she deals with books is nothing like the way I dealt with them at that age.

She is, to me, an explanation, or an insight, into a bunch of people I'm fond of (and, in many cases, faintly intimidated by, including Jo herself). I liked Mori, and found it interesting to be in her head. But I never was Mori.

Also, I got interested in what was going to happen next.

But part of being a community is also having a set of people who don't like any given thing. There are almost certainly people in this community who will close the book with a meh, or simply not read it at all and get weary of the inevitable periodic discussions of it. That's fine, too. That's part of community, too.

#26 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:46 AM:

We kind of already have the community this book might define, yes? Here, and elsewhere (Worldcons and so on). It seems more likely a book this community will take to heart rather than a book which will define a new community.

I'm glad to see that Jo's original post made it into book form. It clearly meant to.

#27 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 01:21 AM:

wirelizard @ #23, My library not only doesn't know of this book, it knows nothing of Ms. Walton's Farthing, Ha'Penny and Half A Crown either.

I bought the first two in paperback, but it doesn't look like the third is ever going to make it into that format. I hope I'm wrong.

(Of course, since the publisher's editor co-writes this blog and the author's been known to comment here, maybe I can find out if it will be published in PB anytime soon if I just hang around this thread. Heh.)

#28 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 01:35 AM:

I work a few blocks from Powell's Books, and regularly grumble that they don't have the book that I want on the shelf, and I have to wait over a day for them to get it from the warehouse for me. This is one of those sad occasions.

#29 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:05 AM:

Linkmeister @27, Patrick actually wrote a little something about that very topic last April.

#30 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:08 AM:

Amazon informs me that my copy is on it's way; with luck it should be here tomorrow (Wednesday -- I'm writing late at night), or at least the next day.

#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:17 AM:

Avram @ #29, worse, I even responded to his comment!

As the owner of the first two in MMPB format, I'm not sure I want a boxed set of all three in trade format, though. I might as well spring for the hardcover rather than duplicate two books just to have a nice set.

#32 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:24 AM:

I've been telling pretty much everyone I know who reads that they should be reading Among Others the minute they can get their hands on it. As a matter of fact, I need to get a copy for Sarcasm Girl, who I suspect will fall for it hard.

#33 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 04:58 AM:

Daniel: It's not going to be in your Waterstones, no British publishers are interested in it. You'll have to wait until you're on this side of the Atlantic and read it on your way home. Sorry about that.

That's depressing.

I ordered mine via with a slight hitch. Previously (as recently as September) e-books would show up for me on the website whether they were available to me or not (the one-click button would be replaced with a note that the book was not available in my region). Yesterday, there was no reference to the e-book existing at all and I was redirected to the hardback until I shifted my details from "European" to "US" at which point it suddenly appeared.

The UK site (which I only use for print books) shows the hardback as Out of Stock. I ordered it from there on principle.

I have the e-book now and am looking forward to reading it, having devoured the excerpt in a single sitting.

#34 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 07:05 AM:

I just put on a hold on it at the NY Public Library. They have 13 copies in the system. I may be able to get in a day or two. It sounds wonderful.

#35 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 08:03 AM:

Due to a slight shortage of personal funds, I am waiting to read the copy I ordered for the library where I work. Unfortunately, the library's copy won't be here for at least another week. Excuse me while I go into a corner and sulk.

#36 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 09:27 AM:

I'm sorry, but comments like Diatryma's #22 make me want to never say another thing in public about a book.

#37 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 09:28 AM:

I mean, if expressing enthusiasm and pointing to other people who seem to be enthusiastic in the same terms is "pressure to perform" -- I'm sorry, words fail me.

#38 ::: g ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 10:28 AM:

Patrick, Diatrema isn't saying that *the recommendation* constitutes "pressure to perform", she's saying that (what she explicitly says is) a quirk of her brain, in the face of such a recommendation, generates pressure to perform.

"I know this is entirely internal. I know no one means it like that."

Going from that to "makes me want to never say another thing in public about a book" and "words fail me" ... well, it's a bit like going from "this is a really really good book" to "aargh fear pressure-to-perform mustn't read it". No?

#39 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 11:36 AM:

Diatryma: If it helps, I suspect that just about any well-known author or book you can think of will be disliked by (or leave cold) at least some members of the community here (even if the same book or author is loved by many others).

I haven't yet seen anyone here visibly excluded by others because of this. Sometimes it means that some of us sit out of some discussions, but that just means I follow others instead. I'm not reading the Babylon 5 threads, for instance, because I've never seen the show, and it's not high on my to-watch list. And I've never particularly been particularly interested in knitting and related arts, though I know folks who are.

We all have different interests and enthusiasms, and that's fine. If you're not particularly into what's being talked about in one thread, you're just as welcome on other threads. If The Book That Changed My Life left you thinking "meh,", that's okay-- and I'd still be happy to hear about the book that changed yours, if you want to share that.

I'm most likely not saying anything you don't know already. But sometimes I've found it useful for someone to say such things out loud anyway, when I'm feeling a bit insecure.

#40 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:05 PM:

Based on this post and other enthusiastic reports about this book, I tried to order a copy today. It turns out that my choices are:
- an ebook in a format that my reader can handle, which costs $45 and requires a fair amount of technical fiddling if not outright lying to convince the website that I'm in the US.
- a hardback, which costs £16 ($25) plus S&H, and which I'll never get round to reading because I can't carry a hardback around with me.
- a Kindle edition, where Amazon won't reveal the price, and I need rather a lot of technical fiddling to convince Amazon that I'm in the US, and break the @*!#$ DRM on the file so that I can in fact read the book on my own, non-Kindle e-reader.

Based on past experience with Tor's handling of Walton's books, there will never be a paperback edition or a non-proprietary ebook edition at a reasonable price, or any edition at all which is available in the UK through official channels. I know that Patrick has previously expounded what he believes is a reasonable business case why this sort of thing happens, so I'm not asking for justification here, just pointing out the situation.

No amount of zeal in promoting the book is going to make me buy it if it's not available to me in any reasonable format. Not even when the promotion has been convincing enough for me to be willing to spend the full cover price of a new book. I do wonder what the numbers look like for people like me, ready with their payment cards to spend $25 plus on a new book and contribute to Walton's (and of course Tor's) sales figures, but stymied by the awfulness of the distribution.

#41 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Diatryma @22: I find that most people--particularly fen--who heartily rec a book to me will not be particularly disappointed if I don't like it, just if I don't read it. I'm disliking my way through a Locus winner right now, in fact, and I expect friends to argue with me about it. But I think it's knowing books in common that brings people together, not necessarily liking books in common.

#42 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:20 PM:

Following on my #41: that isn't to say I read everything that's rec'd to me--far from it, since I only manage 2 books a month in a good year. But I try to read 3 or 4 a year that someone else picked for me, as a way of discovering new likes or dislikes.

#43 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:33 PM:

I cannot find the eBook on the Chapters website,, or on the Kobo website. When you said North Americans, did you mean "United States Americans", or am I doing something wrong?

Chapters and Amazon do have the Hardcover, which I don't buy.


#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:39 PM:

I for one welcome everybody's enthusiasm.

#45 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:40 PM:

individ-ewe-al @40:

The price for the Kindle version is $11.99; a price, the website hastens to tell me, set by the publisher.

I have no idea why you can't see the price.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 12:55 PM:

PNH #36/37:

I think I understand the point Dyatrima is making (though I wish she hadn't quite made it in that way because it sounds as if she's telling people to shut up, and I sincerely hope she isn't).

I find Great Books (capital letters intentional) scary. It comes from exposure to Eng. Lit. in class, and being told that these are the great and worthy books that are True Literature. It's taken me years to overcome this fear and just read novels (or, for that matter, treatises) for what they are.

#47 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 01:26 PM:

Hey, Patrick -- I've been a professional reviewer, and people's responses to my reviews have been all over the map. And what you're doing here is functioning as a reviewer (although an interested one). A reviewer is a form of writer, and can get the same kind of weird-ass response to hir writing that any writer gets: a response that is not related to what was written, but what was going on in the reader's head completely unrelated to what was written. Diatryma's response is a aprticularly clean example of "what's in the reader's head" because it's explicit about the reaction being just that -- and it's not weird-ass because the writer's self-conscious enough to make that explicit.

Personally, I'd like to see more of your reviews, and not just on books that you've published. I gain a lot of insight into SF by hearing your perspective. Too bad you've got this other gig that takes up so much of your time.

#48 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 01:53 PM:

Ordered my copy from which has it cheaper than

They/it don't/doesn't charge for postage which makes them cheaper for me than any other online seller. I ignore that twinge of guilt for not supporting local bookshops but honestly, local shops that stock the sorts of books I like to read for a reasonable price? They don't exist.

#49 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:05 PM:

Beth @45: thanks for that info. That's helpful, as I couldn't even get that far without jumping through the hoops to convince Amazon that I'm in the US. At that price it's probably worth the hassle and irritation of buying the e-book and then format-shifting (both of which are awkward if you're a non-US, non-Kindle user). And I sort of object to paying Amazon money for files they have deliberately set up to make it hard for me to use them, but on balance it may be worth it to support Jo's writing.

#50 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:05 PM:

Please buy this book and make it a success.

Went to the Barnes & Noble site, and bought the ebook version for my Nook (a device I picked up a few months ago inspired by discussion of it here).

Also picked up Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown (which I had not succeeded in finding physical copies of when I was shopping for them*)

And also Tooth & Claw, which I had read and gave my paperback copy to a niece who I thought might enjoy it.

I thought the shopping experience was peculiar; you can't put the nookbooks in the cart, you have to buy them one at a time. Then you also have to download them one at a time from your 'library'. However, I have checked my online account and it has not yet been debited for these purchases; hopefully it will be one bill and not a series of individual purchases.

* Buying physical books online is not convenient for me, because of my schedule and because even when I'm home UPS cannot reach me (the only doorbell to my apartment is on a side entry, and doesn't work anyway). If I really need to get something, I have it shipped to a friend's shop and pick it up later.

#51 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:16 PM:

For those who are unhappy with the price of things at, Living Social is running a "You pay $10 and you get a $20 Amazon gift card" coupon today.

I wouldn't ordinarily put shopping info here, but it seems apt.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:22 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 50... I got it for my Nook too, and splurged by also acquiring the Nook edition of Mark Twain's Autobiography (over 900 pages just for Volume One) and a Nook of his complete short stories (over 800 pages).

#53 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:34 PM:

Tangential, but probably relevant to the interests of the proprietors here: Borders ebook store seems to be confused about who wrote Farthing. ("Jo Walton" does show up if you click on "See more contributors", and the book does show up when you search for "Jo Walton," but still.)

#54 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Maybe this is the place someone can finally explain to my why the hell I can't buy an electronic copy of many books (including this one) outside the US? I heard about it this morning on Twitter and thought "oooh yes, must download tonight" and... I live in England.

I get that already-sold-books from Before Kindle will have been sold with bundles of rights that might mean complicated contract renegotiations would be needed before making an ebook version available. But this one was published TODAY! Written by someone groovy and net savvy! Published by someone even groovier and net savvier! So why the hell can't I have it???

#55 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 02:50 PM:

I shall have to work against my paired aversions to books which are thrust on me (I didn't start the O'Brian books for years),and (which is more difficult) books by people I know.

I am terrified I won't like them, and as abi says, that feels as if I am kicking a puppy.

#56 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 03:35 PM:

I've read it (thank you, Patrick) -- it's a fine, fine book. It didn't change my life, but that's all right, I don't expect that to happen much anymore.

For those who want to read it, but don't want to spend the money on a hardcover, I have a suggestion which some of you may find helpful. Go to your local library website. If it's on order and you can put it on hold, do so. If it isn't in the catalog, drop by your nearest library branch and tell the librarian (not the book check-out person) you really, really, really want to read this book. Be persuasive. Give her the title, author's name, publisher, date of publication, etc.

Most librarians want to order books that people want to read.

Good luck.

#57 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 03:43 PM:

Terry Karney @#55: Being an active & popular SFF fan pretty much dooms you to reading books by people you know on a regular basis, doesn't it? If I really don't like something by someone I know, I sort of just don't mention that I read it, or I say "it wasn't really my thing" and then wave my hands around inarticulately, or say "what are you writing now?" or "look! A bat just flew in the window!"

I don't take Patrick's "please buy this book if it sounds interesting to you" as any kind of demand, for what it's worth. When people say "OMG you have to read this! You will love it! This book is perfect for you!" etc., it does make me less inclined to read something, rather than more, but I don't interpret Patrick's recommendation that way.

#58 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 04:33 PM:

I do not think that I have ever been bitten in the butt by a book recommendation on Making Light.

#59 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 05:05 PM:

Lizzy L @56: yes, ordering from the library is a good plan. But if it's prohibitively expensive, and difficult, and not entirely legal, for me to buy the book, it's going to be a pretty hard sell to persuade the library to do so!

#60 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 05:08 PM:

#46, Fragano Legister:

"I find Great Books (capital letters intentional) scary. It comes from exposure to Eng. Lit. in class, and being told that these are the great and worthy books that are True Literature."

So what the heck do THEY know? What's True Literature (or Art or Music) is (in large part) merely fashion, that can shift drastically from era to era. If you were to start reading other books from the same period as the Currently Anointed Classics, you would probably find books to like.

Of course, that was hard to do before ebooks. You were limited to what you could find in print, or in large libraries that still held old books and let them circulate.

I spent a few years on a mailing list for Victorian literature that was mostly frequented by English professors. It gradually became clear that what they assigned was shaped by the books in print -- and the books stayed in print because they were assigning them. Many of the professors scorned these new-fangled ebooks and wouldn't have considered assigning a non-canonical text in e.

At one point we did manage a good discussion of Wuthering Heights. A surprising number of professors were willing to admit that they disliked the book. Some enterprising scholar then investigated the book's reception during the 19th century. It wasn't popular. It remained visible because Emily Bronte was sister to Charlotte and Anne. The book was then adopted by 20th-century modernists, who liked it because it was so odd, so dour, so much in line with their mission of telling hard, ugly truths (or what they saw as such). Modernism is itself passe, but teenagers are still being forced to read Wuthering Heights ... because it's fairly short and because it's in print.

#61 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 05:31 PM:

David @ 12: I thought that post must have been its genesis.

#62 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 06:19 PM:

Terry: You might want to look at my "how to talk to writers" post on

To summarise: most writers will not assume you have read their books, so if you don't mention having read them, the writer will assume you, along with 99% of everyone they ever meet, haven't. As long as you never mention it, there isn't a social problem. The problem only arises once you start saying "I have to say...[I haven't read your book] [I hated your last book]". You don't have to say it, and we can all talk about the Winged Victory of Samothrace, just like normal people.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 07:19 PM:

Zora #60:

Eventually, I became one of THEM, to my surprise, and assigned difficult and abstruse texts on the grounds that they were good for my students (I'm doing a revision next year because I've found a new basic reader in political theory that I like, so somebody will be annoyed, possibly even me). What I have found is that writers who've frightened me simply because of their names have turned out to be much friendlier to read than I expected (the rule here is that this does not apply to the Germans).

#64 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 08:00 PM:

Just finished "Among Others". Jo, start clearing your mantle: you'll need room for a Nebula, at least, and quite possibly the full set.

By halfway through, my heart felt like the book's cover, with the swirl of sparkles.

I have missed PNH's explanation of why the Sam Hill there's no UK publisher for this. Something is seriously broken either at Tor or in UK publishing, because the book should work even better for Brit readers than for North Americans.

#65 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 08:10 PM:

I trust Patrick enough (and like Jo enough) that I've already bought and started reading the Kindle edition.

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 08:43 PM:

I really want to read this book. I'm not buying a Kindle though...right now I couldn't justify the expense anyway.

I do have a couple of B&N gift cards, though. It's on my list.

#67 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 09:00 PM:

Diatryma @ 22: "There's so much less pressure to perform when reading books people don't get passionate about. "

I know people like this--ironically, some of the most evangelical when it comes to their own likes. (Is it just books, or anything that's been strongly recommended?) I've developed a particular strategy for introducing them to things I like. "Hmm, this? Oh yeah, it's pretty good I guess. It's a bit of a [insert genre/quality liked by recommendation-phobic friend]. You can borrow it if you want." The best so far was "A Game of Thrones? It's got knights and all, but it's basically a murder mystery. Oh right, you like those don't you?"

#68 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 09:16 PM:

Xopher #66: I do have a couple of B&N gift cards, though. It's on my list.

I don't have a Nook (yet), but I use the free Nook for PC software as my default ebook reading platform now.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 09:58 PM:

Fragano @ 63... I became one of THEM

You mean, you're now one of the giant ants that went after James Arness and James Whitmore?

#70 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 10:13 PM:

Xopher @ 66: Amazon's been very aggressive about making sure there are Kindle readers available for all sorts of platforms. I started buying Kindle books months before I ever owned one, and can currently read mine on about four different devices (five if you count the spouse's phone, where apparently it's mostly used for Temeraire books). Most smart phones, Mac & Windows OSes, the iPad and the Kindle itself...

...none of which is useful if you don't like reading on a backlit screen, alas. But I do note that just in case you'd rather read it as an ebook, because a heck of a lot of devices beside the Kindle itself will handle it.

#71 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 12:10 AM:

I just read it on the kindle for the iPad. Felt kinda strange in the last couple pages, being a book but not a book.

#72 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 12:19 AM:

Patrick, I'm sorry that I've put you off recommendations even a little. I'll be more careful in my words next time.

Heresiarch, it's mostly books, but I don't get a lot of other recommendations. Most recommendations are okay, since they usually include a tacit promise to talk about the book a lot afterward. It's the Great Books, the Lifechangers, that carry the weight. Give me a flaw or the promise of postbook snark and I am perfectly fine.

No, really. There's one author a college roommate adored, and she kept giving me her favorites, all of which left me cold and cranky because I failed at book. It wasn't until I read a book I knew just about nothing about beyond, "It's a great book, but even the writer says ze should have done X," that I was able to unbend and really enjoy it. It was okay to see flaws in this work of Great Literature. It did not mean I was missing the point.

And, of course, few people write less-than-glowing recommendations of books that changed them.

I know this is a quirk of me. I had meant to mention it as part of a discussion of how people react to recommendations, not as a condemnation of recs in general or this one in specific.

#73 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:32 AM:

I surreptitiously read this post on a blackberry during a boring patch in a workshop yesterday. Checked amazon UK. Had it for £12 or so. Fine, I thought - book sounds great.

By the time I got home, amaz had bumped the price up over £14 (and upped New Ancient Strings from under £5 to over £8, to add insult to Ian Dury). So now I have the previous price points stuck in my head, and if I end up paying more than £12 I shall always unfairly resent Jo and Patrick and this whole community. Gah.

May I also add my voice to those saying that there being no UK publisher for this is insane? I may? Thank you.

#74 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 08:53 AM:

It's totally not Patrick's fault it doesn't have a UK publisher.

British publishers aren't interested in publishing non-bestsellers that already have a US publisher. My British agent thought British publishers would like this, but as it turns out she's had no more luck than she's had with the Small Change books.

Having different publishers in different countries is a good thing -- I think there are books published in Britain that couldn't be published in the US. Pratchett, for instance, didn't do at all well in the US for a long time, and even now he isn't the megabestselling superstar there that he is in Britain.

But with the internet and Amazon, importing books is a lot easier... and because books are imported it makes it less attractive to a British publisher to do their own edition, and this spirals.

It seems weird that even though it's just as technically illegal for them to import a physical copy to a region where they have no license to sell it, they don't care about that, but they are enforcing it strongly for eBooks. No idea why.

The people who have my sympathy in this are not so much the people complaining about it. If you are online and you have a credit card, once you know a book exists, it's just a case of how much you really want it. If you don't want it except in your ideal format, OK, that's your choice.

The people who are stuck with no choice are the people who are actually at this moment are just like the protagonist of Among Others -- teenagers largely dependent on libraries (British libraries will not ILL fiction from the US) and on what they happen to find on the shelves of local bookshops. And the more limited British publishers are, the smaller the selection of things there are for them.

It doesn't even really matter for them if they can't get this. It's one book. But looking at 2010's Hugo nominees, Julian Comstock doesn't have a UK edition, Palimpsest doesn't, WWW: Wake doesn't, and The Windup Girl only just came out there. How are we a community of readers when this is the case?

Yes, you can buy them all easily enough online, but let's not throw the young people and the poor people overboard and say they don't matter.

#75 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 10:19 AM:

All right, Jo. I'd been assuming that it would be helpful for lots of us to order greymarket copies from am/uk, as that would make it clear there was a market here. But are you saying that this is actively unhelpful? Then what's a would-be-supportive reader to do? (Toumani and Ballake can look after themselves.)

#76 ::: David, again ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 10:23 AM:

I'm not meaning to $0.05-and-$0.1 you over a couple of measly quid. But I feel no compunction about wanting to nickel-and-dime amazon.

#77 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 11:10 AM:

I live on book recommendations; it's my main way of finding new authors (sometimes books; but mostly I read authors whole).

I'm very familiar with the experience of book recommendations, or at least book discussions, that make me actively avoid the books, though. My experience is that excited fans of Dorothy Dunnett, for example, make me back away quietly (these fans include my wife and various long-time friends, you understand). What really gets them excited about the books is an aspect I'm pretty confident I would hate (what reads to me, hearing their discussions, as about an order of magnitude too much angst and emotionalism).

The book on the table, I really really loved. The books Mor was reading overlapped heavily with what I was reading at a slightly older age, so it was in that way a nostalgic revisiting of a lot of great books. I didn't always agree with her thoughts and reactions to the books -- but I always found them "sensible"; never once had the need to suppress the reaction "only an idiot could think that!" (and that's one of the reactions that I do need to suppress). And interesting. Sometimes enlightening. So there's one aspect, something of a love letter to a part of the SF field (chronologically) that I know pretty well.

Her way of learning about the world from books is familiar. Books are fake experience (if taken seriously); they can be dangerous, in that they can teach you "from experience" things that aren't true about the real world. On the other hand, they can provide you a huge amount of experience in a very concentrated form, which can be especially important when you're young. And if you read enough of them, a certain amount of the inaccuracies will cancel out. And if you're thoughtful and careful, you can recognize some of the bits that are wrong for yourself. So that aspect of the character is familiar, comfortable-feeling, for me; despite not being female, Welsh, going to boarding schools, having an evil mother, or having any contact with magic and fairies.

I certainly found mainstream literature generally lacking compared to SF and fantasy.

Various comments earlier have made it seem unfriendly or dangerous to try to go much beyond my personal reaction to the book. I certainly don't want to make anybody feel pressured or threatened about this book or their belonging in any particular community. I can imagine people who love SF and live, love, and breathe books not liking this particular one, because no book is for everybody (I don't have detailed understandings of other people, much; but as a result I have fairly wide soft-edged blobs around them for "what I can imagine" about them).

Still, for anybody who might care about my recommendation, I recommend this book very highly.

#78 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Jo @74, you're absolutely right that I'm not the person suffering in this situation. Though a few years ago that I was young and poor myself, and I've lived in a non-anglophone country (let alone outside the US), and I have friends and relatives who can only read books in "ideal" (that is, adapted for their physical needs) formats.

Among Others is THE book that I most want this year. Even if it's 5 to 10 times what I normally spend on books, even if it has to be an inconvenient hardback (I don't think I'm all that picky about formats, all I ask is that I can put the book in my handbag because I do nearly all my reading on public transport.) Oh, and a big part of the reason that I'm against giving all my money to Amazon is precisely because of what has been posted here at Making Light.

The point is that there are only ever going to be a few books that I want passionately enough to prefer them over lots of other books that are conveniently available to me. Presumably you and Patrick and Tor want to sell copies of your book to a broader audience than just the select few people who want your book more than any other, (or, I suppose, who have unlimited book-buying budgets) though! A non-US edition would help with that, a paperback edition would really, really help with that.

#79 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 11:52 AM:

Jo @74:

The UK situation is particularly, appallingly ironic in that Among Others is a love letter to librarians. That you cannot get it through a library in the UK is beyond absurd. At the very least, you'd think that librarians should be able to cut a deal with Amazon, the way we civilians did when HP #3 came out (IIRC I ordered it through Amazon US, but got it through Amazon UK).

I wonder if this half-assed approach to publishing is somehow a factor in the paucity of female SF writers in the UK. The Western Hemisphere doesn't seem to be having a problem -- my husband's most recent SF acquisitions were by Lois Bujold and Connie Willis, for instance. And I'd call "Among Others" as much SF as fantasy, as well.

#80 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 01:17 PM:

Jo: shame about not having a British publisher. Like you said, they're not interested in publishing non-bestselling books that already have an American publisher, so the solution seems simple enough.

The way the lady in the Waterstones here phrased it was "it doesn't have a British publishing date yet". I'll just buy it when I'm in LA next week and read it on the flight home. They do have book stores in LA, don't they? ;)

And Patrick, as far as recommendations go, I can only urge you not to let a single weird reaction (no offense meant; it was weird quite literally in that it seemed to raise a lot of eyebrows and make a lot of people go "what?") stop you from further recommendations. Personally, if someone here would recommend something I ended up not liking I'd shrug and move on. I'd imagine most people would react similarly. My main problem in selecting reading material is not that I don't have enough recommendations, it's that the internet is abuzz with simply too many recommendations, and having a trusted source for recommendations is a good thing. The community that meets here is as close to a trusted source as I have. I would imagine it's the same for many others.

#81 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 01:21 PM:

individ-ewe-al@78: Those are not aspects that Patrick or Jo have much influence on (let alone control over), though. Jo could refuse to sell a book to a UK publisher; but she can't make a UK publisher buy it. If no UK publisher is willing to make an offer, Jo can't force them to! (And, in general and considering all authors, not just Jo, that's probably a good thing.)

We're in the run-up to a major transition in how entertainment is retailed (including books, but not by any means limited to them).

In publishing, the old system divided the world into fairly standardized regions, and you could sell rights to your book to a publisher in each region (if one wanted to buy). The local publishers had better local distribution, and in theory better knowledge of what would sell there. Publishers that wanted to play throughout, say, the English language market set up subsidiaries in each region, and then might make an offer for world English-language rights to the author.

That made rather a lot of sense in 1950 (it wasn't in any way perfect, but the kind of drastic changes we'd like to see today didn't make very much sense in 1950). Today, however, with credit cards for payment and the Internet for access to the catalog and ordering, to us as consumers it's looking awfully primitive, and as if it's intended to prevent sales.

Let's just hope that whatever new scheme is eventually come up with isn't appalling and stupid! It's going to be driven largely by movie and music marketing, books are a really small part of the money stream.

#82 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 01:38 PM:

I see that Among Others has no Amazon reviews yet. Would anyone like to join me in changing that? (I may not finish writing mine til tonight or so, but I'm definitely going to write one now that I've noticed that.)

#83 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 01:44 PM:

There's a lot I liked about the book, but the thing which is part of my mind echoed back to me is the serene certainty that sf is of value.

I don't know if it would be as big a deal for a reader who was decades younger-- sf has gotten a lot more respectable.

#84 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 01:53 PM:

They import American books to Britain. I have no idea whether their prices are remotely reasonable.

Any other sources? I realize this doesn't solve the general problem, but it might be better than fighting things out with Amazon.

#85 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:12 PM:

David: How kind of you to ask. I get slightly more money if you get it from (or Powells or Barnes and Noble, who have a fine online division) than if you get it from

And when I lived in Britain I got US books all the time, so I am also part of the problem.

Doctor Science: If I were to donate a copy to my aunt's library when I am next in Britain, and if they were to decide to keep it and put it on the shelf, then people could ILL it. I might do that just out of appropriateness, though libraries often just give away donated books because they don't want the trouble it is to decide whether they want it and then cataloguing it and so on.

#86 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:15 PM:

Jo -- perhaps coordinating getting people to request it with donating it to the library when you're there might increase the chances of them keeping it....

#87 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:17 PM:

I must admit that I may (as I am not an author, publisher, lawyer, or Unusually Clever Person), need a "Permission To Be Confused" certificate here...

But re. Jo's comment @74 It seems weird that even though it's just as technically illegal for them to import a physical copy to a region where they have no license to sell it, they don't care about that, but they are enforcing it strongly for eBooks. No idea why.

This is what confuses me. The Book Depository dot co dot uk, for example, has Among Others for £14.17 (which equates to, what, about $22.50 or so?) despatched (free) within 48 hours. Now, if I go for that, does it mean Tor and/or Jo don't get their share? Should I, instead, try to find a kindly US citizen I can send dollars to who will then buy it at B & N and post it to me?

I don't want to sound negative here -- as rightly pointed out above, I am online and have a credit card, so the only thing, ultimately, deciding what I read is a] how much I want it, and b] can I afford it? As I read rather less than I used to (children, the internet, etc. etc. ad infinitum), and, to boot, I'm a colossally slow reader anyway, my current "I really want it and I won't debate it with myself any longer!" bar is roughly about $30 or so1, so my main concern is that I don't want to do Tor or Jo out of anything through illegal or "illegal" methods of reading something2...

1 As long as I correspondingly regulate that year's whiskey intake!

Also (personally, YMMW, of course), I much prefer hardbacks to the various e-readers, even when on public transport. The only thing that drives me mad re. hardcovers is dust-jackets -- surely I'm not the only person, after treating themselves to a hardback, whose first action on leaving the bookshop is to throw these useless bits of paper in the nearest bin????? :-)

#88 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:21 PM:

I seem to have missed out a 2 somewhere, and Jo has answered some of it @85 during the eons I was typing stuff anyway...

I shall now repair to try and work out the newspaper...

#89 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:53 PM:

I rarely blog to promote specific projects I’m involved with, for reasons that probably don’t need a lot of explanation. But every so often a book compels me to break my own rule.

Like Caroline #11, the last time I remember Patrick breaking this rule, it was for Spin... which I loved, and which led me to RCW's other books, many of which I liked just as much (contrary to PNH's claim that Spin was an unprecedented step forward for RCW, I found it perhaps his best book but not by all that much: I've liked a lot of them).

Which is to say: given the track record, I'm going to go buy this book.

And Patrick, while I *do* see why you don't do this often, I, for one, wouldn't mind you doing it a bit more.

#90 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 03:53 PM:

Jo #85:

Do they make a big fuss about local authors* in the UK for purposes of promotion? If so, you could try the donating/ILL scheme in your former haunts, to get the ball rolling?

* Or is the whole place just so small that "local" is all of 2 acres?

#91 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 04:33 PM:

I understand the whole discomfort about books that one's friends seem to be promoting as somehow being "community-defining". I have the combined problem of a knee-jerk reaction against being told "you'll like this" and a taste that runs at random angles through the taste-space of many of my friends. As I result, I've found that book (or movie) recommendations even by close friends are often a no-better-than-random predictor of whether I'll enjoy a book/movie. Toss in the knee-jerk reaction and an enthusiastic recommendation often makes me less likely to try something than no recommendation at all.

For example, I'd been listening to oodles of friends rave about Bujold's books for years before I sighed and said, "Well, ok, I'll give her a try." And I enjoyed them very much (despite over-analyzing some very problematic aspects of why I found them entertaining), but I've had quite the opposite experience on capitulating to recommendations as well.

In general, I settle for a response along the lines of noting how many shelf-feet of to-be-read I currently have and suggesting that a book that doesn't reach out and grab me on its own isn't likely to work its way up to the top of the stack even if I buy it. Knowing that a book exists -- that's useful. Knowing that other people enjoyed it -- not a useful predictor of whether I'll consider it worth the time to have read.

(Part of the issue in prioritizing reading is that these days when I want to disappear into a novel, the one I want to disapper into is the one I'm writing. Which I hope is a good thing. Other people's worlds, however engaging, simply suck off the energy I'd rather be putting into creating my own.)

#92 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 04:39 PM:

PNH doesn't seem to do too well at hitting my interests with book recommendations. I found Spin annoyingly mystical, and contaminated with horror cooties. Specifically for me, he's suggested Baxter, who I find mediocre (have read 4 or so books I think), and Banks, who I hate with a red-hot passion (finished the one book only because I damned well wasn't going to let people blow off my opinion because I hadn't read the whole book).

But I very strongly agree with him about Among Others. (And there are lots and lots of books I believe we both like.)

#93 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 05:01 PM:

Heather Rose Jones #91: Part of the issue in prioritizing reading is that these days when I want to disappear into a novel, the one I want to disapper into is the one I'm writing. Which I hope is a good thing. Other people's worlds, however engaging, simply suck off the energy I'd rather be putting into creating my own.

Is *that* why I've been re-reading such a godawful amount of fluff, some of it for the Nth time?

#94 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 05:42 PM:

ddb, what do you think of Egan? Sometimes I like horror, but I think that sometimes he can't think of a plot for the Cool Thing, so he writes a horror story. Or maybe, to be fair, he likes horror better than I do.

#95 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 05:44 PM:

Jo @74
Is there a reason I can't find the eBook in Canada? As I said above, I've checked,, and, and they don't have it. Since Patrick specified "North America" in his original post, I figured I would be able to purchase it. Was that incorrect?

#96 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 07:25 PM:

Acting on the behalf of my fellow readers¹ in Hawai'i I trotted down to my local library branch and filled out the "Request Acquisition"² form for both "Among Others" and "Half A Crown"³ since neither of them are owned/in cataloging.

¹Altruistic, ain't I?

²The small piece of card stock is not actually named that. It's actually a "Request Reserve" form that's been repurposed.

³I already own "Farthing" and "Ha'Penny." I was in a hurry or I'd also have filled out the forms for those two. Next time.

#97 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@94: Very fond of Egan generally, and I don't recall anything of his that I hate. Well, except the totally cheap trick ending of Incandescence, of course.

I haven't found him to carry horror cooties, for me.

#98 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 08:07 PM:

Mark Wales #87:

The Book Depository dot com, OTOH, has Among Others for £12.88

What's an avid reader to do?

#99 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 08:22 PM:

Mark Wales #87:

My understanding is that so long as copies of the books haven't been stolen by the seller, then the publisher (and therefore the writer) get paid. It's more a case of trying to keep the separate markets (US/UK/ROW) separate, which as mentioned upthread is part of the publishing industry that is in transition.*

It's worse if I buy a secondhand book, because the writer/publisher only gets money for the first sale; all those books bought in a second-hand bookstore? None of that money gets back to the publisher, but then, that's no different to buying a second-hand car.

So buying a grey-market copy, still means the publisher & writer get financially compensated. For me, the exceptions are e.g. SFBC books which I cannot get unless I buy a secondhand copy - you have to be in the US to buy those.

*Going away.

#100 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2011, 11:37 PM:

In re: recommendations, I try very hard to tailor them to the recipient. As in, "What do you like?" (with "Why do you like it?" if I can get it) followed by, "Then you'll probably like [x]."

I spent several years as a bookstore clerk (bet a lot of you have too, the ones who aren't librarians). It's a handy skill to develop.

#101 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 01:01 AM:

Another good question if you're a bookstore clerk: "What book, if you hadn't already read it, would you really like to read next?" Jan Murphy, at Other Change of Hobbit, came up with that one (and many of us stole it from her).

#102 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 01:16 AM:

ddb @#92: I liked Spin an awful lot. So much so that I immediately gave my copy away to a friend I was convinced had to read it. He loved it too. I guess my number one complaint with Spin was that the blurp on the back (is that the word I'm looking for? That's probably not the word I'm looking for. I'm going to plead a combination of non-native speaker and "It's 6am" and lazily use blurp anyway) pretty much gave away 95% of the plot. This happens, and then this happens, and then this happens, and I guess if you want to know what happens in the last 10 pages you're just going to have to read the book!

But that aside, even though I knew exactly what would happen (having foolishly read the back-blurp before the book; won't do that again), I was thoroughly entertained, in a simple, comfortable, sit back and enjoy an awesome story kind of way.

Things that I have discovered over the years thanks to Making Light:

* That Mr John M Ford had written more than "How Much For Just The Planet", and that the rest of his bibliography was, impossibly, better than that amazingly funny book.

* That there is such a thing as Catholic science fiction, and that James Macdonald does it well (The Apocalypse Door)

* Charlie Stross. Oh my god, it's full of Stross. Have now read everything he's written minus the Merchant Princes (as I have annoyingly misplaced my copy of #2 in that series and have not yet admitted to myself that I've lost it for good. Will eventually get around to ordering another copy)

* Aforementioned Spin.

* Ian McDonald's Dervish House (so I may have read about that on BoingBoing, but incredible as though this may be, even though I *am* a geek, I only found out about BoingBoing through Making Light and thus consider Cory, especially when he's in author mode, an appendage of Making Light)

* John Scalzi's Old Man's War. My sister, who Does Not Read Genre Fiction, accidentally read the book and accidentally fell in love with it. Which reminds me. Must get the rest of the series.

Not all of these may have been literal recommendations (as in, "You! You want to read this! Trust me!"), but I've discovered all of them here, and loved all of them.

If I had not stumbled over a mention of the Nielsen Haydens on Neil Gaiman's blog approximately 5 billion years ago, I would never have known Ford (outside of How Much...). I can't even wrap my mind around parallel-dimension-me. What kind of person would he be? How would the audience tell us apart, given my already copious facial hair? Would he be clean-shaven?! The horror.

So yes, even though I'm not part of this community, I stick around and am richly rewarded. And in the highly unlikely case that Among Others will turn out to be crap, I will shrug and wait for the next thing I should have heard about years ago to be mentioned here.

#103 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 02:10 AM:

Adding this to the list for when it does have an MMPB edition available. (Waiting on Half A Crown's MMPB edition also.) Thanks!

--Dave, alas, the list gets longer faster than it gets shorter, and some things never ever come out in MMPB at all for no easily-discernible reason

#104 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 02:49 AM:

David Delaney @ #103, see Patrick's comment here advising of the current unlikelihood of "Half A Crown" being published in MMPB format anytime soon, along with the reason for such a decision.

#105 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 03:19 AM:

Tom @101

Mind you, Tom tends to go straight for telepathy to make book recommendations. Unless I'm mis-remembering who I was who responded to my query, "There's a book someone thought I'd like but I'm utterly blanking on the title and author" with the exact book in question.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 03:25 AM:

Daniel Klein @120:

Close. Blurb.

Mind you, I think there's a use for "blurp" as a term; I think really bad blurbs should be called blurps. Anything with "Comparable to Tolkien at his best," for instance.

#107 ::: Gareth Rees ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 10:43 AM:

"He [Hardy] could have learned a lot from Silverberg and Delany"

This is a nice piece of observation that rings true—I can remember being similarly arrogant when I was a 15-year-old reader of science fiction.

Hardy's a tough read for 15-year-olds. His rural 18th/19th century Wessex is a world that's as alien to the 20th/21st century reader as many science fictional worlds, and Hardy doesn't give you the infodumping and incluing that an sf writer would consider obligatory. Also, the permissible bounds of narrative and the conventions for getting around these bounds have changed greatly. (Consider, for example, the sword lesson in Far from the Madding Crowd.)

#108 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 10:47 AM:

Daniel Klein@102: Our tastes seem to overlap a good bit; except for Spin. I haven't read any Ian McDonald yet.

Mike Ford is the one who put me onto Patrick O'Brian and Anthony Price; so in addition to his own work, I owe him for them, too.

#109 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 01:25 PM:

Daniel Klein @#102: So yes, even though I'm not part of this community, I stick around and am richly rewarded.

I'm pretty sure the second half of that statement negates the first half of that statement. :)

#110 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @105 -- That wasn't telepathy, merely Holmesian deduction (relatively recent paperback, Welsh folkloric theme, IIRC).

Now, sometimes I do indulge in telepathy, but not very often (and not reliably).

#111 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 03:11 PM:

Mary Dell@109: That's a nice way to put that. I was trying to think of something not too thuddy or condescending, and couldn't, so I kept my fingers shut. But since you've found such an elegant way to put it, I'd like to associate myself with your remark.

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 03:46 PM:

It's here! Oh my word, I can't bear to give it to my friend who needs a lovely book; I've already emailed her to tell her she needs to run-not-walk to the nearest bookstore. I was only able to put it down because I needed another pot of tea.

And now my kettle's boiling. See you in a bit!

#113 ::: Mark_Wales ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 04:14 PM:

Soon Lee @98 and 99:

Thanks! I'm think I'm clear enough now to deploy my credit card...


#114 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 04:50 PM:

I'm thirteenth on my local library's waiting list. Due to Obama's wage freeze, I'm now taking home less money than I did this time last year.

The only place I can cut is discretionary spending such as it was...the book budget for this year is very thin.


If it turns out that this will be one of those books I re-read once a year, I will find a way to buy it.

#115 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 05:06 PM:

I'm shocked. There's only three people in the waiting list for the five copies Durham County Library has ordered (the one in North Carolina). On the other hand, it's still listed as On Order, which means it won't be available for awhile. Mope.

#116 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 05:20 PM:

Hennepin County Library: 4 copies on order, 37 requests pending.

#117 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 06:23 PM:

Abi, thanks! I knew I was close ;)

(Actually I still may have the wrong word--a blurb is something someone else writes about the book/the author to praise them, right? I meant the short synopsis of the plot that tries to make you buy the book, and which I suspect is written by someone working for the publisher?)

ddb, adding those two names to my list of writers to check out. Thanks!

#118 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 06:37 PM:

At the Seattle Public Library, there are currently FIFTY holds. Well, there were fifty-one, because I had to put it on hold in order to check how many holds there were, but I took it off again as I've already bought the book in two formats.

#119 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 07:29 PM:

Daniel Klein@117: Oh, I should warn you, those are both out-of-genre compared to the speculative fiction we've been discussing. Price is cold-war espionage novels (always with a historical component too), O'Brian is historical novels during the Napoleonic wars, set in the British Navy.

#120 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 08:29 PM:

Convenient Hawai'i book sources FAIL. The library system doesn't have it anywhere, not even in cataloging. Borders doesn't have it except at

B&N has it at Ala Moana, 8.5 miles away downtown, and at Kahala Mall, 13.5 miles away east of downtown.

Grumble, snarl.

#121 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Daniel Klein @ 117: Synopsis.

#122 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 09:03 PM:

heresiarch (121): But it's not always a synopsis, exactly. I think 'blurb' works. Or there's always 'back cover copy'.

#123 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 09:08 PM:

Well, in this case I suppose it was more of a Spin gnosis.

#124 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 09:11 PM:

Eh, you sold me; picked up a copy this evening.

#125 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 10:19 PM:

Just finished; I had to stop a few times so it would last longer. I can't wait to be a teacher again so I can have it on my lend-to-students bookshelf.

#126 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 10:22 PM:

Trivium: "Blurb" as a word was created by Gelett Burgess, author of "The Purple Cow", in a volume called "Burgess's Unabridged". A word from that volume that didn't make it into common usage was one of my mother's favorites: "tashivate", to give the impression of listening to someone while not actually doing so.

#127 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 11:07 PM:

I'm reading Among Others now. (Well, not right this second; I'm composing a blog comment right this second.) I just got to the point that makes me want to punch Robert Heinlein in the face.

#128 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 11:15 PM:

Avram, what page is that on? It must have rolled right off me.

#129 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2011, 11:16 PM:

ddb @#111: Thanks! And I appreciate your association!

#130 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 12:50 AM:

TexAnne @128, page 80, the entry for 28 Oct 1979.

#131 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 01:08 AM:

*Recognition dawns* Jo! This is the book that was in progress during WorldCon Montreal, and you described bits of it at the kaffeeklatch and made everyone present eager to read it Now! Why Isn't It Finished And Out NOW?! You described a relationship with books we could very much identify with, and it feels so good to recognize yourself in an author's works. For me there's a distinct feeling of "They get me! So I'm not such a freak after all!"

Oh squee. Oh date with bookstore tomorrow.

I can sympathize a lot with those expressing ambivalent reactions toward impassioned recommendations. I have a tendency to get uneasy or even defensive in conversations about canon favorites that for one reason or another I don't like so much or care much about. Jacque got bit by that once. I'm all, "Meh, I don't really care for Heinlein." She's all, "What books of his have you read?" And I'm all "Doesn't matter! I have the right not to like him! Do not even think of starting with the whole 'Oh you just haven't read the right Heinlein' stuff--I am wise to your ways!" And poor Jacque's all, "Bzuh? Wasn't even thinking of going there. Are you OK?"

And I'm all, "Er. Yes. Sorry."

As Diatryma said, it's a glitch. It's a glitch founded on actual uncomfortable experiences with actual proselytizing fans in my actual past, but to the extent it may unthinkingly get taken out on others, it's a glitch. It's a glitch I'm working on patching. Since I know it's there, I sometimes warn friends about it, but most the time it's clear that said friends shouldn't take said warning as a reason not to make recommendations. That's how I encounter new authors, after all.

#132 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 01:22 AM:

Avram, 130: Oh yes, the reason I reread only the juvies.

#133 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 02:18 AM:

I just picked up my copy at the bookstore tonight. Out of curiosity, I checked the Multnomah County Library, and found that they have 8 copies on order, and 39 holds.

#134 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 05:00 AM:

I've started a spoiler discussion thread to make conversations like Avram's and TexAnne's easier.

#135 ::: Carl V. ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 02:24 PM:

I just finished the book last night, non-spoiler review here and am so very, very impressed by it.

I echo your hopes, Mr. Hayden, that people go out and buy this book as it is a special story that deserves to be a big seller and I want to thank you and Tor Books for publishing it.

#136 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 05:32 PM:

Yay! I just found one at the B & N and snatched it up. Still two more on the shelf for other lucky souls. Now I get to treat myself!

#137 ::: Anarra ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2011, 05:49 PM:

It's on order at the local library and I've got it on hold when it comes in.

I'll probably buy it, based on the teaser posted at

Is there any chance it will ever be available in mass market paperback? My book shelves don't handle hard back well. Not sure where I'm going to put the copy of Lifelode the wife bought me for Xmas.

#138 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 02:47 AM:

I see on Amazon that Harriet Klausner likes it, so it must be good.

#139 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 03:59 AM:

janetl @138: snerk. out of curiousity, has harriet klausner ever left a negative review?

#140 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 01:17 PM:

Linkmeister #96, I'll assist by donating at least one of the books you requested to the HSL main branch. I know one of the librarians there and donate books to her department (which isn't fiction, but she will be able to get it into the right hands). It is understood that a donation may not wind up on their shelf and may instead go to the Friend of the Library book sale, but having requests in for the book could increase the chances of getting it on the shelf. I remember the Friends having a donation system through which you could donate money for a specific title and have a bookplate "in honor of" in it but I can't seem to find info on that right now.

#141 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 01:40 PM:

m.k. @ #140, that will be an interesting scientific experiment. "Does this end up in collections or at FoL?"

At least the library is in no danger of disappearing, unlike Borders.

#142 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Bought an ebook version (using my PC's nice big monitor, though) and started reading it.

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 08:02 PM:

Bought it. Along with All Clear and Cryoburn, which will have to wait until I finish Among Others, so I can participate in the spoiler thread!

I wouldn't be buying hardbacks right now, but I had gift cards.

#144 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 08:06 PM:

Borders claims it is not available yet. ("None of our sister stores have it either.") The Barnes and Noble at the center of the universe* sent me to another location in the far suburbs. But driving from store to store means I have it now instead of waiting a couple of days for a copy to arrive by mail. So no more comments from me for a while; busy reading.

* In the Omaha frame of reference.

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 08:26 PM:

Borders claims it's available for pre-order. B&N says they have it at the local store, but if so it's hiding, because I was there looking for it.

#146 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 10:05 PM:

I'll be buying one to read on the plane when I visit the US next week. I'm still glad to see that the Auckland City Libraries have ordered eight copies.

#147 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2011, 10:10 PM:

Ordered mine from Barnes and Noble, along with H.M.S. Surprise. (I've read all the Aubrey & Maturin books except the unfinished one, but I'm acquiring them piecemeal.)

#148 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2011, 11:04 AM:

The Library Goddess must have smiled -- the book was waiting for me at the library this Saturday morning!!!

Non-spoiler review -- this, I will buy, I will carve the money out of my income tax refund check.

(Even though I need to hold on to most of that money in case the stupid Republicans shut the government down in March.)

#149 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2011, 01:10 PM:

I read it. I liked it quite a bit. For those who wonder if this is for them, I think my reading profited from my familiarity with many of the works mentioned, but I haven't by any means read them all. My connection came from recognizing the longing to find "my kind of people," and the ability to use insights from books to help define myself; I don't think either of those requires an active interest in SF fandom.

I see that our rather large library system neither has it on hand nor on order, so I put in a purchase request. Their funds for purchases are very short. I wish they'd put up a "wish list" that people could buy and have put into circulation.

#150 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2011, 05:05 PM:

I appreciate I have the privilege of an Internet connection and a credit card so I'm not permanently deprived of the book but I still don't understand the ebook country limitations. Jo owns the rights, Patrick has bought (some of) those rights and published it, no British publisher is involved in wanting it, so who or what is preventing the ebook from being sold outside the US? Anyone? Bueller?

#151 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2011, 07:38 PM:

Two copies at the local library . . . and eight holds.

I figure that's at least a month of waiting involved.

I'm glad there's a seperate spoiler thread.

#152 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2011, 07:55 PM:

I'd like to make it clear that I welcome book and author recommendations. I may not always like what's recommended, but if I hadn't paid attention to other people's suggestions I might never have discovered Mike Ford (thanks, Patrick), P. C. Hodgell (thanks, Charlie), Steven Brust (thanks to whomever; I'm blanking on who deserves it) and probably a lot of others I'm not thinking of just at the moment.

#153 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2011, 10:26 PM:

Wendy @150, Tor assembled the existing ebook, so they get to decide how and where it gets sold. (Or at least I think that's how it works.)

#154 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2011, 08:51 AM:

Wendy: Tor don't own the right to sell ebooks in Britain. I do, but I'm not an ebook seller -- I'd have to license that right to somebody else, and nobody is interested in paying me for it.

However, you may be interested in the instructions here for buying US books for UK Kindles. A LJ friend found this and posted the link on my journal. It worked for her, and it may work for you.

#155 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2011, 03:14 PM:

Wendy Bradley@150: You make an argument that there's no legal bar for this particular book. That's not quite true, since Jo still owns the rights for the UK, not Tor; but skipping past that...

...the rest of the story is that the whole distribution system is set up around working within the standard territories. No thought was ever given to having different rules for each book. So, all the systems are carefully set up to prevent what you want to happen; sorry.

#156 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2011, 05:38 PM:

And my copy (copies, actually) just arrived today, so I'm going off to read for a while before I look at the spoilers thread.

#157 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Reviewed by io9.

#158 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2011, 09:49 AM:

My spies report that Ingram, one of the big book distributors in the US, has sold out of copies. Now, we need to see what happens with returns....

#159 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2011, 04:44 PM:

Tom Whitmore@158: And this is an example of how a book differs from a birthday!

(For one, you say "Many happy returns!" For the other, you don't.)

#160 ::: Martin ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2011, 05:02 PM:

Lovely. Thank you for making the exception to your policy of recommendations.

#161 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Linkmeister @141, Among Others has been delivered into the hands of an HSPL librarian. As it turns out, the book is on her personal to-read list (thanks to the review by Cory Doctorow), so she's going to read it herself and then pass it along to the appropriate department.

Although, as you noted, the public library is less in danger of disappearing than Borders is, the conversation I had with the HSPL librarian included a discussion of how the budget for book-buying keeps getting cut. The donations I bring in to her are primarily trendy and/or small niche titles that may be in demand and that she cannot justify buying instead of more classic, general titles (as an example, Making Light knitters might like to know that a librarian would like to buy a book on Estonian lace knitting but is worried that it might be too niche, especially when there is a high demand for The Best of Interweave Knits). I felt a chill when she told me that - even though it was really warm in there, because the air conditioning was off.

#162 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2011, 09:40 AM:

Until a few minutes ago, Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue had one copy left.

I'll see you all over on the spoiler thread.

#163 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 05:49 PM:


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