Cover Image: Starlings


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was a treat. I'm not one for anthologies (or reading blurbs, obviously) but the pieces in this collection are beautifully written and, without exception,  thought-provoking. After this taster, I fully intend to read more work by this author.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first experience with Jo Walton and definitely won't be my last. I didn't originally know this was a short story collection (or... sort of), but I think it was a good way to first experience her writing. I was expecting more traditional fiction, but there are some author musings, some poetry and even a play in the mix. That wasn't quite what I expected and generally is not my favorite thing, which is why I think I didn't enjoy this more. However, I really liked whatever snippets I got of her writing, and want to continue exploring her next releases (and her backlist titles as well).
Was this review helpful?
A collection of short stories and poems  and covering a wide array of genres and topics. Not particularly memorable; I liked the narratives better than the poetry.
Was this review helpful?
Desde que hace unos años leí Entre extraños, de Jo Walton, he intentado recuperar la sensación de fascinación que me produjo ese libro en otros libros de Jo Walton. Por desgracia no ha sido el caso, y aunque tiene libros super interesantes, siempre me dejan una sensación fría. Aunque Jo Walton tiene una capacidad tremenda para generar escenarios y para imaginar distintas historias en todo tipo de géneros, eso sin duda. Starlings es una colección de relatos de lo más variada y quizá eso me ha ayudado a reconectar con la capacidad imaginativa de la autora. Pasamos de ciencia ficción política a cuentos de hadas. E incluso historias de fantasía con un fuerte componente moral y de fábula sobre el dinero y el intercambio.
Was this review helpful?
I was excited to pick this book up because I've heard a lot of good things about Jo Walton's books. Unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy this book. While I did enjoy one or two stories in this collection, overall, I found the stories to be way too vague in terms of plot and themes and I really couldn't connect with them. I also found the stories to be very slow to go through, despite the fact that they are short stories. Overall, this collection just wasn't for me. I would still be interested to try Jo Walton's full length novels though.
Was this review helpful?
Although I am new to the writing of Jo Walton, I enjoyed Starlings quite a bit. I went into the collection thinking it might be a good place to start - after all, it's many stories all in one place by one author, so I'd be able to get an idea of if I'd like to read more or not. I have my answer to that question, and it's a yes!

Not all of the stories were stand-outs for me, but many were. This collection is perhaps the most aptly described as a collection of ideas: and some of them are really fantastic. My favourites (and the ones I would recommend to others) are:
The Panda Coin
On the Wall
Relentlessly Mundane
A Burden Shared

Now, all of these stories can be found online in publications like, Lightspeed Magazine, and Strange Horizons, but those editions do not include the author's notes that Starlings does.

Overall, I liked this collection, and it has sparked an interest for me in other work by Walton.
Was this review helpful?
'Starlings' by Jo Walton is a collection of short stories, poems, and a play.

The collection starts with the poem that the book is named for, followed by a somewhat self-effacing and endearingly personal introduction by the author.  What follows is a collection of short fiction based on fairy tales, short anecdotes about starfish, fictional letters, and original ideas.  The play, for some reason, played in my mind as a puppet play (perhaps because it seemed so outlandishly funny), but I by no means mean that as a slant against it.

Collections like this offer hidden gems along with sometimes less "gem-full" entries.  The hidden gems are worth seeking out.  I enjoyed the collection overall.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Tachyon Publications and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely wonderful. It isn't a completely traditional collection of short stories, which she freely admits in the introduction. It's more satisfying than just a sampling of experimental fragments, though. I always love Walton's voice, and the way she argues so passionately for creativity and expression and compassion through her writing - that's how I feel it, anyway. I received an ecopy of this through NetGalley.

Goodreads review:

Amazon review submitted
Was this review helpful?
Starlings was overall an enjoyable read. Most of the stories are fairly short, almost all of them have really thoughtful prose, and many ruminate on humanity and identity. Not all of them worked for me, but the ones I enjoyed I expect will stay with me for a long time. 


Three Twilight Tales - super sweet fairy tale-ish story. If you enjoy the tales within the text of The Name of the Wind, this is a great story for you.
Jane Austen to Cassandra - mixed up correspondence between Jane and the seer Cassandra. Induced a wry smile. 
Unreliable Witness - poignant story about dementia, or aliens.
On the Wall - a rather bleak retelling of Snow White, from the mirror's POV (I'd be into more stories from the perspective of inanimate objects, because this was compelling)
The Panda Coin - the path of a single piece of currency, how it impacts the lives of the people (all working poor on a space station), and what it knows.
Remember the Allosaur
Sleeper - a rather creepy tale that's a mix of time travel weirdness and the worst of social media
Relentlessly Mundane - when portal world travellers return to our world, and have to try to live on Earth again. People's reactions vary, as one might expect. 
Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction - alt history told through newspaper and periodical headlines. I don't like this timeline.
Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobius and the Aliens
Turnover - a generation ship means change, but what if some folks prefer the ship to the end goal? The consensus-building in this was really a treat. 
At the Bottom of the Garden - children who pull wings from fairies are awful. The moral may be that children are awful?
Out of It - when you make a deal with the devil, do you keep the deal even if you're offered an out? 
What a Piece of Work - AI has a crisis of identity. I don't like this possibility either. 
Parable Lost
What Would Sam Spade Do? - twist on gumshoe tropes, with a cloning lens. 
What Joseph Felt - biblical tale from Joseph's (rather modern) point of view
The Need to Stay the Same - a book review written by an alien about a human book. A bit odd. 
A Burden Shared - I really hope the future of medicine is not the opportunity to share pain among loved ones, rather than better healing. 

Three Shouts on a Hill (A Play) - bizarre little piece that had rude characters, a very tongue in cheek referencial feeling, all leading up to ridiculous wordplay. 

Dragon’s Song
Not in this Town
Hades and Persephone - I find I like retellings of this story where there's shared love and respect between the two gods. 
The Death of Petrach
Advice to Loki - kinda clever advice for the trickster god, about revenge. 
Ask to Embla
Three Bears Norse - verse retelling of Goldilocks with an abrupt ending
Machiavelli and Prospero
Ten Years Ahead: Oracle Poem 
Pax in Forma Columba
Translated from the Original
Sleepless in New Orleans
The Godzilla Sonnets - silly mashup
Not a Bio for Wiscon: Jo Walton - I like this format for speaker/presenter bios, would request similar if/when I run a con
Was this review helpful?
Short pieces of writing that draw from both mythology and an imagined future - this collection gives insight to the writing process of Walton and her Thessaly series.
Was this review helpful?
Jo Walton never ceases to amaze me with her gentle and comforting writing. I've read her back list and was so looking forward to a collection of short stories. I was in now way disappointed. My favorite underrated (woefully so) author does it again with this poignant collection of stories from who I consider to be one of the greatest story tellers of our time. 5/5
Was this review helpful?
DNF'd at 17%

Honestly, it really just isn't my thing. I usually like short stories but these just don't feel genuine.
Was this review helpful?
Jo Walton is an auto buy author for me.  A wonderful writer whose love of reading and genre fiction keeps every single piece of her work different and delightful.  A fantastic author for our students to study and enjoy.
Was this review helpful?
Really wonderful. Each story has a whole mini world created, and the characters are fantastic. I loved so many of the stories in this collection, and the poetry too. Walton’s humour had me smiling quite a bit whilst reading. I think this collection has cemented her as one of my favourite authors.
Was this review helpful?
Jo Walton does it again in this beautiful compilation. Even her story fragments are beautiful and startling. These poems and tales are little glimpses into one of the richest and most powerful imaginations at work in fantasy today.
Was this review helpful?
These stories prove what a versatile and original writer Jo Walton is. I could easily see myself using some of these stories in a creative writing class to demonstrate narrative voice, or perhaps using one as part of my introduction to literature class.
Was this review helpful?
At times I struggle with short story collections, as usual, there are some I loved, and some I skipped through. Overall I enjoyed this collection
Was this review helpful?
This collection was hit or miss for me. I really enjoyed the longer stories, but the shorter ones didn't quite work for me.  My favorites were probably Three Twilight Tales, Escape to other worlds with science fiction, and Turnover. I also really liked the play and would love to see it performed, I feel like it would work so well on stage. The poetry wasn't really for me, as I like more modern free-form poetry, rather than rhyming poetry. But I definitely want to check out Jo Walton's other works, this being the first book of hers I've read.
Was this review helpful?
Jo Walton is a beautiful writer, and this book is no exception. A stunning work that I will no doubt return to in the future.
Was this review helpful?
First of all, thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I first came across Jo Walton when her book Among Others came out, and I absolutely adored it. Like that novel, this collection reads like an homage to SFF. I loved that she admitted from the very start that most of the selections in this collection were "failed" starts at longer works. With a lot of the stories that was made extra apparent by their abrupt and inconclusive endings. I thought I'd be annoyed by this; that it would feel like I was reading an authors private notes. But really, I never lost the sense of needing to know what happens next! As for the two stories that were fully fledged and finished "stories," I loved them. She seems to think that she has no skill for short fiction, but I disagree.

As with all short story collections, most of the stories were a perfect 5 stars to me, there were several 4s, and a few that just didn't quite hit the mark. 

<a href="">View all my reviews</a>
Was this review helpful?