Posted tagged ‘Jo Walton’

Review: Farthing

March 13, 2009

Jo Walton’s Farthing is a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while, and I finally picked it up after seeing Walton at this year’s Boskone.  I’m truly sorry I waited this long, it’s an amazing book.

The best description of it probably comes from Walton’s introduction in the Boskone program guide, it’s a dark cozy.  At first glance the novel reads as a very typical British, upper class, mystery.  A member of the house of lords is killed on his family’s estate following a dinner party and the scene is staged to implicate one of the house guests.  

The twist is the setting.  The book is an alternate history (which I don’t normally enjoy this much) in which Brittain signs a peace treaty with Nazi Germany, which then succeeds in overrunning Europe up to the Russian border.  The murdered man is one of those who helped bring about the treaty, and the man implicated in the crime is the jewish husband of the black sheep in the family.

The mystery might be at the fore of the novel, but it’s not the driving force of the story.  Instead Walton has written a tour de force showing how easily an entire nation can abandon its freedoms and its morals.  The book is devastating and relevant, while still maintaining its appeal to a more casual mystery reader.  Well done.

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Con Report: Boskone 46

February 16, 2009

I’m recovering from a long fun weekend at the moment, the cornerstone of which was a day at Boskone 46.  I only went for Saturday this year due to some other commitments, but had a great time while I was there.  

The con seemed a little smaller this year than in the past, probably as a side effect of the economy like everything else, but the guest list sure didn’t show it.  I had the chance to indulge my inner autograph hound and accost Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross and guests of honor Greg Bear and Jo Walton (whose novel Farthing I picked up at the con and started reading on the T to great satisfaction).

The art show was great as always, particularly the special exhibit that Tor’s legendary art director, Irene Gallo put together.  There were also some very nice works from Stephan Martiniere, Donato Giancola, and Bob Eggleton on display.

The panels weren’t on the greatest assortment of topics this time around, but with the right people on a panel anything can become fascinating.  I went to some great physics panels based around Geoffrey Landis, and the one on writing about despair (on Valentine’s Day no less) with Jo Walton, James Morrow, Suzy Charnas and Therese Nielsen Hayden pretty much made the entire con worthwhile for me.