Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.
I know Jo Walton from her fiction first, and her articles on tor.com second. I have read Among Others years ago, and loved it, both for her style of prose, as the deep love of SFF that shines through. When her collection Starlings came up on NetGalley I couldn’t wait to read it.
Walton says herself in the introduction: “So here in one place for your reading convenience are two short stories that I wrote after I knew what I was doing, two I wrote before I knew what I was doing, some exercises, some extended jokes, some first chapters of books I didn’t write, some poems with the line breaks taken out, a play, and some poems with the line breaks left in.” I’m glad she put that in, because some stories did feel a bit unfinished. Good ideas, but not quite done yet. They were still very enjoyable mind you, but also left me wanting more.
Some of my favorite stories were: The Panda Coin, where we follow a coin around a space station, Turnover, about art on a generation-ship, Three Twilight Tales, which is a real fairy tale and A Burden Shared about what if we could take someone else’s pain from them.
If you approach this collection with the knowledge that not all stories are finished and polished up, then this is a lovely collection. It has fairy tales, science fiction and everything in between. It has a lot of poems, a play and short stories (from short short to a bit longer, but no novellas or novelettes). I give it four out of five stars (mainly because I wanted more from some stories and am not one for poetry).