While I usually focus on sci-fi and fantasy fiction, today I am reviewing Notes from Small Planets, a comprehensive travel guide that will be published tomorrow! Having studied it at length, I can tell you with confidence to toss your golden compass, pawn your Pokédex and flush your babelfish, because, while a little unreliable, it’s the only pocket companion you’ll need this year.
“Until last year, it was thought that not a single piece of travel writing about the Worlds had survived. And then, in a filing cabinet acquired from the bankruptcy of a small London vanity press, we found Notes from Small Planets.”– Publisher’s note
Although the way to the Worlds has mysteriously disappeared, this guide makes for an entertaining read as it takes the reader on a journey around fantastical planets where magic is real and the mythical mundane. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the Worlds of science fiction and fantasy yourself, you’ll not only chuckle at the references and inside jokes, but find yourself re-examining your holiday from a new perspective.
If you’ve never visited, you’ll get plenty of enjoyment from this publication with unlikely origins. Whether or not it’s intentional, the quarrel between the author Floyd Watt and his editor Eliza Salt is laugh-out-loud funny. Their bickering within the footnotes adds an interesting narrative aspect to this travel book. One might even mistake Notes from Small Planets for a work of fiction that provides a cheeky yet critical commentary on suspiciously familiar SFF settings, using a brash travel writer and an exasperated editor as narrators. Now wouldn’t that be a fantastic book?
In terms of design, the cover illustration captures the eye, while the book is compact enough to be stowed in your saddlebag, knapsack or spaceship glove compartment. It features fully labelled maps, and like any helpful travel guide, key symbols for advice sections like ‘when to visit’, ‘eating and drinking’ and ‘manners and etiquette’.
As a traveller who spends their holidays checking out a few obligatory tourist attractions before finding a bar as soon as socially acceptable, I appreciate the sheer range of activities suggested by Mr Watt. However, given his unbridled enthusiasm, it’s very much up to the reader to decide which endeavours they can (ethically) participate in.
Outdoorsy types may enjoy pursuits such as disrupting the order of a dystopian society or getting spacesword lessons from a green swamp muppet.
Those who, like me, don’t mix exercise with pleasure can participate in many alternative activities, like watching televised human blood sport, or getting sorted into a Greeblewhoz wizarde House (I’m a Jaggleton because I’m a bit awkward and too smart to like myself).
Notes from Small Planets is a hilariously helpful guide that will have you referring back to it again and again. It will make a useful addition to your first aid travel kit, or a thoughtful gift for a geeky friend.
Thank you to Harper Voyager and Nate Crowley (whose name is on the front cover for some reason) for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! Check out the full blog tour schedule here.
Content warnings: Let’s just say: travel at your own risk and take out comprehensive insurance.