Friday, May 25, 2012
Among Others by Jo Walton
The next Hugo nominee. A diary of a 15-year old girl, Morwenna, who lives in a boarding school, believes in magic and loves science fiction. She has lost her sister in an accident which also broke her hip and leg, and has escaped her mother. She has moved in with his father, who straight away sent her to an old-fashionable boarding school with school uniforms and strict discipline. She survives by reading science fiction. A lot of it. The diary tells the story of how she eventually finds friends and reconciles herself. A strong undercurrent in the book is the magic. Morwenna believes in it, and she also believes that her mother is a crazy and evil witch, who purposefully caused the death of her sister. The reader never really learns if the magic in the book is “real” or if it is just a delusion of a slightly disturbed girl. I believe that the existence of magic is left too open; personally I believe that it would have been better if it all supernatural events in the book would have turned out to be just imagination. Now if anything, it was hinted that the opposite was true.
The book felt too long – there were too many mundane things from the life of a teenage girl. And far far too many self-serving references to most of science fiction written at that time period, so many that it felt at places like mental masturbation of science fiction fandom. The material might have sustained an extremely good novella – as a novel there were too much fluff and little actually happened. In spite of that, I find myself enjoying the book pretty much. It is probably going to be extremely hard to find the right order for the novel category in Hugo voting.