cover image Starlings


Jo Walton. Tachyon, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61696-056-8

This collection of fiction and poetry from Hugo- and Nebula-winner Walton (The Just City) showcases her trademark focus on genre and philosophical questions. Most of the fiction is very brief, and fans of the form will have plenty to appreciate. The strongest story is the relatively long “The Panda Coin,” which follows the path of a gold coin as it passes through the economy of a space station. Cleverest is “Sleeper,” the story of a future biographer interviewing a simulation of her 20th-century subject. The inclusion of “Tradition,” however, is unfortunate, as it’s an undisguised, nearly point-for-point rehashing of a very common joke, and the play “Three Shouts on a Hill” fails to rise above the tropes and clichés it attempts to interrogate. Of the poetry included at the end, “Machiavelli and Prospero” stands out as a rewarding and clever piece of character insight, and “Sleepless in New Orleans” is particularly striking for its voice. The collection will appeal most strongly to Walton’s dedicated fans and those with academic interest in her work. (Feb.)