Starlings: the Collection

Starlings is a collection of short stories, with some poems and a play, along with an introduction by me, all issued conveniently in one volume by Tachyon Press. It’s coming out in February 2018.

Their description:

“An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

An strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.”


“This collection of fiction and poetry from Hugo- and Nebula-winner Walton (The Just City) showcases her trademark focus on genre and philosophical questions . . . fans of the [short] form will have plenty to appreciate.”
Publishers Weekly

“Jo Walton’s short writings have for decades been among the things that make the Internet worthwhile. She makes science fiction illuminate life. This collection lives up to its title: iridescent, dark, gregarious, talkative and ever ready to fly up.”
―Ken MacLeod, author of Newton’s Wake and the Corporation Wars series

“Walton’s diverse collection of stories and poems sparkles with originality and fun. The joy of this book will linger with me for a while.”
―Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger

“Starlings is a showcase of Jo Walton’s diverse talents―a collection too varied to be summed up in a few words. From fairytale fantasy to hard science fiction, from laugh-aloud play script to finely crafted poetry, with a writing experiment or two thrown in, Starlings should delight Walton’s existing fans and garner many new ones.”
―Juliet Marillier, author of Daughter of the Forest

“Stephen King once wrote that ‘a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger’―that is, sudden, pleasant, mysterious, dangerous and exiting―and the collected short fiction of Jo Walton is exemplary of the principle.”
―Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother

“Jo Walton’s delightful collection, Starlings, runs the gamut from homemade fairy tales to hard-boiled cloned-Jesus detectives (just wait for the shaggy dog); to a play with figures out of Irish myth, and a talking dragon; to a selection of her fantastic poems. It’s the kind of collection you can glide through, often while laughing out loud.”
―Gregory Frost, author of Shadowbridge

“One of the things I love about Walton’s work is her range of human possibility, from laughter to horror, but above all a reveling in profligate beauty. This collection celebrates the best in the human spirit.”
―Sherwood Smith, author of Rebel and Revenant Eve

“Reading this collection felt like watching a wizard at the cauldron having fun with new spells . . . I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys fantasy, Jo Walton’s previous works, or wants to try shorter works before committing to longer ones.”
Infinite Text

“Multiple award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Jo Walton’s first short fiction collection is a captivating array of fairy tales, mythology, space fiction, machine sentience, alien encounters, heaven, and more.
Read Well Reviews

“The simple fact that one sequence is titled “The Godzilla Sonnets” – which I won’t describe further – should give a good sense of Walton’s wandering, curious, and unique imagi­nation, and Starlings as a whole may be the most interesting anatomy of that imagination than we’ve yet seen in one volume.”

— Gary Wolfe, Locus


Introduction by Jo Walton

At the Bottom of the Garden
Relentlessly Mundane
Unreliable Witness
On the Wall
What Would Sam Spade Do
What Joseph Felt
What  Piece of Work
Three Twilight Tales
Parable Lost
Remember the Allosaur
Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction
The Panda Coin
Joyful and Triumphant
The Need to Stay the Same
A Burden Shared
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Out of it

Dragon’s Song
Not in this Town
Hades and Persephone
The Death of Petrach
Advice to Loki
Ask to Embla
Three Bears Norse
Machiavelli and Prospero
Ten Years Ahead: Oracle Poem
Pax in Forma Columba
Translated from the Original
Sleepless in New Orleans
The Godzilla Sonnets
Not a Bio for Wiscon: Jo Walton

Three Shouts on a Hill (A Play)




“An intriguing peek inside a fertile mind”

Barnes & Noble

the collection offers an incredible sense of intimacy. It’s the closest we’ll come to understanding how Jo Walton’s dizzying writer’s mind ticks along, and and how her imagination flows. It’s a rare opportunity, to peek in on the inventor in her workshop. Starlings is revelatory not only as a collection of fiction, but as a sort of biography of the process of writing itself. Fascinating.


Walton’s right in saying that Starlings isn’t really a short-story collection. It’s something better: a written showreel, illustrating yet again that her imagination stretches to the stars (or the starlings), and that she’s endlessly inventive in finding new methods to express it.