“How different might my attitude toward dragons have been if I’d met Uggi before Smaug?”

Fri 18 Nov 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Travel LightGetting Travel Light ready for a quick pre-holiday (I hope!) reprint and thinking about this line from Amal El-Mohtar’s “You Must Read This” on NPR —which, when it was published was such a moment of joy that this tiny beautiful book would find such a reader for it — and realized there is a 50/50 chance that our kid will encounter Uggi before Smaug. She is her own reader, so who knows which book she will pick up first.

More from Amal:

Who might I have been if I had met Halla Bearsbairn before Bilbo Baggins? How different might my attitude toward dragons have been if I’d met Uggi before Smaug? How different would the spiritual landscapes of fantasy and science fiction be if they had accepted as antecedents works that showed a corrupt Byzantine Christianity and sympathy toward Islam?

But, most crucially for me, I wonder: Where might I have gone if, instead of a middle-aged Hobbit enamored of his pantry, I had embraced a girl who lost three homes before choosing the open road?

I don’t regret, at all, having The Hobbit at the core of me, and will defend its songs and riddles and elves and spiders to the end of my days. But reading Travel Light unseamed something in me, made me feel that my certainties needed revisiting, and assured me that somewhere within me was, still, a 7-year-old girl waiting to be beckoned onto a path of luggage-less travel, of dragons and Valkyries, languages and air — and that with Travel Light, she’d taken the first step in their direction.

The book will be off to the printer and then, la! will be available again soon.



Travel Light — and free

Sat 4 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Travel Light cover - click to view full sizeTor.com is running a giveaway sweepstakes for five copies of Naomi Mitchison’s Travel LightLeave a comment to enter — and/or get the ebook on sale this week for only $2.99  on Weightless.

The giveaway was inspired by Amal El-Mohtar’s incredible You Must Read This which was published by NPR this week which includes these lovely lines about the book:

Travel Light is the story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?

Amal wove many personal and literary threads together in an enthralling and thought-provoking way. Her love for the book shines through so fully it has sent hundreds, thousands of readers to find the book for themselves. And Travel Light is such a short, beautiful book that many readers have already read it and recommended it to others. It’s amazing to see. Annalee’s io9 headline about Amal’s essay, The book we all wish we could have read as children, hits the nail on the head for many of us reading it for the first time. I’d have loved to read Travel Light when I was a kid deep in John Christopher’s Beyond the Burning Lands and Tripods series, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, Richard Cowper’s White Bird of Kinship books, Joan Aiken, Alan Garnar’s The Weird Stone of Brisingamin, Megan Lindholm’s Wizard of the Pigeons, John Wyndham’s Chrysalids, etc., etc.

I’ve loved Travel Light for years. I had the Virago UK edition with the green cover and kept giving copies of it away. At some point I got a hardcover—Kelly used to give me Mitchison books for my birthday, now I have to catch up!—and when we were doing Peapod Classic reprints it was a natural fit. Kevin Huizenga’s  cover illustration is still a treat: there are so many things going on in that cover.

To see a book I love as much as this suddenly rocket up and off in the world is so exciting I’ve occasionally had to step away from it all and take a deep breath. (Which has been made very easy by our 4-year-old daughter—often bearish, sometimes dragonish—who has been wearing a princess dress under her new jaguar costume and has been running around terrorizing everyone and everything in the house.)

I’ve spent years at book fairs chatting to people about the book and some of those people were caught by in the same way. One reader I know, Karen Meisner, was caught because Amal writes that Karen gave it her  for her birthday. If we are lucky, if the work is done and everything is in place, this is the way the world works: a good book is written (be it now or in “Marseilles — Peshawar, 1951”), a reader finds it, loves it, and passes that love on. And on and on and on . . . .

. . . and should you be tempted like me to look for more MitchisonThe Corn King and the Spring Queen is a huge immersive historical novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman is a sometimes slow, sometimes hilarious taboo-crushing novel about “communication,” but the books I really recommend are her autobiographies (Small Talk: Memories of an Edwardian ChildhoodAll Change Here: Girlhood and Marriage, and You May Well Ask: A Memoir) and her World War II diaries, Among You Taking Notes: The Wartime Diary of Naomi Mitchison, 1939-1945.

Many of her books are available here.



Some goings on, reviews, &c.

Fri 6 Sep 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

LCRW 29 is out. Must write a prop’r post about that soon. Phew. It is a goody.

Things on the to-be-read pile: Duplex by Kathryn Davis. Alice Kim gave it a thumbs up which is good enough for me. Also, picked it up at Odyssey Books the other night after Holly Black’s reading.

Just came across this great review of Travel Light by Paul Kincaid from 2007 on SF Site.

“The enchantments of Travel Light contain more truth, more straight talking, a grittier, harder-edged view of the world than any of the mundane descriptions of daily life you will find in … science fiction stories.”

Sounds about right to me. We reprinted this book because I found myself buying more and more copies to give to people and now I am very glad we did as now readers have told me they pick up multiple copies to press on friends. Thus a good book is read!

Nerds of a Feather reviewed Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth“You’ve probably guessed that I really liked this volume of short stories . . . ” (There’s an earlier review of Outer Space, Inner Lands here.) Nerds of a Feather is a great name.

If you subscribe to F&SF, you may already know this: Angélica Gorodischer’s “By the Light of the Chaste Electronic Moon” appeared in the May/June edition of F&SF.

A while ago Kelly did a podcast interview and reading with Hold That Thought with Rebecca King. Kelly in turn interviewed Readercon guest of honor Maureen F. McHugh and Scott Edelman posted it in two parts. And! Game reviewer VocTer posted a reading of “Magic for Beginners” on YouTube. This is part 1 and is an hour long!



Old LCRWs getting lighter and cheaper

Tue 8 Jun 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

We’ve just added LCRW 16, LCRW 17 and LCRW 18 to Weightless and dropped the price of LCRW ebooks to $2.99! Woot! Cough! Exclamation!

Also of LCRW interest: a review of LCRW 24 from Ray Garraty in Russia (and in Russian).

More ebookery: we just added Part 2 of Astrid Amara’s The Archer’s Heart on Weightless. What are we talking about? Here, go get Part 1: serialized fiction, it’s Weightlessed!

Travel Light is now available as an ebook for the very first time. It is an awesome book that you should have read when you’re 10. In fact, if you are 10, read it now. If you are not 10, read it anyway. And, isn’t that the best title ever of a book to read as an ebook? Oh sure, our paperback has the gorgeous Kevin Huizenga cover but you know, travel light. Of course if you’re hauling around some huge ebook reader maybe that isn’t travelling so light.

At some point we will probably offload all our ebooks to Weightless—which is growing along nicely. (And we’re very happy that those 2 million iPad readers will be able to read PDFs on it now. We make pretty pages and want you to enjoy them as well as the stories on them.) Anyway, so tell us if you think the offloading of ebooks to the other site is s a good or bad idea.



Andi Watson

Tue 31 Jul 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Turns out Andi Watson (of Geisha, Love Fights, etc) has been working on a book (“Glister”) which will go out as “all ages”. This comes into his great review of Travel Light which he posted recently on Newsarama:

I recognise Halla’s feeling of time passing so quickly that it’s like it’s playing tricks on her. I’m looking down the wrong end of my 30s and the right end sure zipped by quickly. Halla’s disgusted by the corruption of the world, yet navigates it the best she can. By not wanting to be a hero she becomes the hero, living life the best way she sees fit. So, it’s a wise book, but not a worthy book, it travels light over the serious aspects and still has plenty of fun along the way. I loved it and when my daughter’s a little bit older I think she’ll enjoy it too. That’s the joy of an all-ages book. It’s one we can share.

We have most of Andi’s books—do yourself a favor and order Skeleton Key, one book won’t be enough—so it was quite a shock to get an order from him a couple of months ago. The kind of shock that leads to emails that read, “Thanks … uh, yeah, thanks.” And not much more. But Andi saved us from ouselves and was incredibly graceful in reply. Phew!



Thu 11 Jan 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Great SF Site review of Travel Light by Paul Kincaid:

Travel LightAlthough simply and clearly told, this story is far from simple or pleasant, it is crowded with cruelty, betrayal, duplicity, slaughter, and the more exalted or heroic a character is the more vile their behaviour.

Harriet Klausner liked it too(!):

Fans of Potter will enjoy this excellent reprint of a 1950s young adult fantasy starring a wonderful heroine and a terrific support cast who makes shapeshifters and dragons seem real. The story line is more a coming of age series of vignettes in the life of Halla with her fifteen adventures fun to follow especially soaring with dragons. Fans will appreciate this fine tale of a heroic child and the “heroes” who adopt her.

Most unexpected link for Travel Light: feral children.



Thu 11 Jan 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Great SF Site review of Travel Light by Paul Kincaid:

Travel LightAlthough simply and clearly told, this story is far from simple or pleasant, it is crowded with cruelty, betrayal, duplicity, slaughter, and the more exalted or heroic a character is the more vile their behaviour.

Harriet Klausner liked it too(!):

Fans of Potter will enjoy this excellent reprint of a 1950s young adult fantasy starring a wonderful heroine and a terrific support cast who makes shapeshifters and dragons seem real. The story line is more a coming of age series of vignettes in the life of Halla with her fifteen adventures fun to follow especially soaring with dragons. Fans will appreciate this fine tale of a heroic child and the “heroes” who adopt her.

Most unexpected link for Travel Light: feral children.



Travel Light reviews

Wed 10 May 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New review of Travel Light on a Scottish web site. Poke around on the site for a bit, there’s lots of good stuff.

Another great review.