I have in the past tremendously enjoyed Jo Walton’s fiction, but I’m not online all that much and had never paid much heed to her Tor.com essays on books. This oversight has been corrected thanks to Tor having assembled them into one book: What Makes This Book So Great.
These are not reviews, they really are Walton’s smart contemplation of, mainly, books she has read before and finds herself returning to. And in a number of cases they are books that got short shrift when first released, books that deserve the attention of anyone who wants to write in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Some are books that bend or defy the rules. Others are series that work, have substance, have a span worthy of a series. There are so many writers now self-publishing (particularly fantasy) series before they have so much as written a single stand-alone novel, much less a short story or two, the things Jo Walton has to say about why series by authors like C.J. Cherryh, Steven Brust, and Lois McMaster Bujold work are things to which such self-shaped writers should pay attention. The amount of wisdom per page in these essays cannot be overstated.