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Marilee J. Layman

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09:45 pm: Among Others by Jo Walton

I have to show you the cover:



The big stars are shiny and when you take the book cover off, the spine has the author, title, and Tor icon all in bright orange!

I've known Jo for many years, starting on usenet and now on LJ. I've met her in person a few times, too. I think fans in general were closer on usenet, but usenet changed too much and we had to leave.

I like Jo a lot and because I know some of the things in this book are real, it hit my heart strongly. The protagonist, Mori, is 15 and we are reading her memoir/journal over nine months. The journal starts partway through what happened and we get information about the older things, the things that bother her so much. Mori likes SF but never heard of fandom or clubs or Ansible and these things all help her in her life. There are so many books mentioned that I not only thought about each book, I also looked at my bookcases for most of them (even though I can't see the bottom shelves from the bed). Mori's life swirls through SF, dangerous magic, new people, and an awful boarding school.

I liked the book so much that I put post-its in a lot of places to mark parts. I'll tell you about most rather than copy them.

The Dedication says:

This is for all the libraries in the world, and the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people. There are nice librarians in the book, too.

I was pleased to find that I know almost all the people in the Thanks and Notes page and at the end of that, Jo talks about how people tell you to write what you should know and she thinks that's a horrible idea! Therefore there's no such place as a Welsh valley... no year 1979... and no such planet as Earth. The fairies are real, though. I laughed like crazy here.

After Mori has thought about Triton, she thinks One of the things I've always liked about science fiction is the way it makes you think about things, and look at things from angles you'd never have thought about before. This is one of the things we want from SF (except the Mundaners), something that makes us take what we've read and parse it with other ideas.

Again on libraries: Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization. Our library has had to start charging for them -- civilization is getting poorer -- but I still make them.

Mori comments on a book she sees: The back cover [of Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson] attributes the quote to the Washington Post, a newspaper whose quotations will always damn a book for me from now on. I've sure heard that a lot and since I read The Post, I agree on many reviews & books.

About her classmates: ...I don't feel as if I'm part of their species. I think all of us have those moments, even when we're with people more like us than Mori's schoolmates were like her.

Mori's had an accident and her hip and femur were crushed. Even at 15 she was using a cane. She keeps having people tell her she doesn't need the cane -- even when she's only walking because she has it -- as well as people who are too solicitious. I've had that happen, where people tell me I don't need a handicapped parking spot because I can walk. But I can't walk very far, which is why I have the tag.

At one point, she's thinking about Jurassic fairies and wonders if fairies are a sentient manifestation of the magical interconnectedness of the world. It made me think that maybe we should rename one of the quantum items "fairies."

The school makes her go to church so at the point where she was supposed to pray for two special things, she gave thanks for [friend] and interlibrary loans.

These are some of the things that really caught my eye, but I think it would be impossible to read it without having your eye caught for things you really like. It's a very personal book, but at the same time, speaks to just about everybody.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:icecreamempress
Date:March 5th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
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What a lovely response; so much of what you wrote really resonates with my own experience of the book. I wish I could send it back through time to my own younger self!
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:March 5th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
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Thanks. :) I think this book pierced me more than any other in years (I can't think of one, but can't guarantee there wasn't one) and I was able to write a better post about it than my regular novel posts.
[User Picture]
From:beamjockey
Date:March 5th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC)
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I'm glad you got to read the book. I found a jolt of recognition on page after page, and I see that the same thing happened to you and icecreamempress.

My teenage self was very different from Mori, but I have read the majority of books she's read-- and I had read most of them by 1979, too. So if I had joined her book club, we would have had lots to talk about. I imagine the same would be true for you...
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:March 5th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I'd read a lot of the books already and I had things like feeling I wasn't the same species, but it was at church since I taught myself at home. Some of it I recognized for me, and some from what Jo had posted in Usenet.
[User Picture]
From:janetmk
Date:March 5th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC)
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Lovely post about the book, Marilee.

It's indeed a wonderful, resonate book.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:March 5th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, yes it definitely is.
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From:mjlayman
Date:March 6th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
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bibliotechie has made a bibliography for the book.
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