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Notes From Small Planets: Your Pocket Travel Guide to the Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Your ultimate travel guide to all th Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Your ultimate travel guide to all the must-see locations in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The perfect gift for self-professed geeks and fans of all things genre – from classic genre listeners to new young disciples of nerdery. From misty mountains to wizarding schools, from the homes of superheroes to lairs of infamous villains – visit your favourite worlds and discover new ones – all without ever missing a single landmark or traditional dish. What’s orc for ‘bon voyage’?


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Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Your ultimate travel guide to all th Journey from fantasy mountains to super-cities, through piratical seas and up into space without missing any must-see sights – or putting a foot wrong with the locals! Whether you’re Lord of the shoestring-budget or Luxe Skywalker – Notes from Small Planets is your pastiche passport through the best worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Your ultimate travel guide to all the must-see locations in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The perfect gift for self-professed geeks and fans of all things genre – from classic genre listeners to new young disciples of nerdery. From misty mountains to wizarding schools, from the homes of superheroes to lairs of infamous villains – visit your favourite worlds and discover new ones – all without ever missing a single landmark or traditional dish. What’s orc for ‘bon voyage’?

30 review for Notes From Small Planets: Your Pocket Travel Guide to the Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    A delightfully absurd and at times hilarious travelogue of fantasy and SF worlds. This was the perfect escape from 'serious fiction' for me. The style of the book is reminiscent of the works by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, but perhaps even weirder and yet surprisingly deep in places. This guidebook is abound with witty references to well-known TV, film and book series/universes, such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Marvel/DC, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who, Mad Max, Terminator, Plant o A delightfully absurd and at times hilarious travelogue of fantasy and SF worlds. This was the perfect escape from 'serious fiction' for me. The style of the book is reminiscent of the works by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, but perhaps even weirder and yet surprisingly deep in places. This guidebook is abound with witty references to well-known TV, film and book series/universes, such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Marvel/DC, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who, Mad Max, Terminator, Plant of The Apes, the Walking Dead, the Hunger Games, Maze Runner and even Fawlty Towers ('Don't Mention the War'). In the book, you can find practically anything you might want to know about your fictitious holiday destination, such as: - Why and When to Visit? (don’t miss ‘Talk Even More Like a Pirate Day’ on Spume – the pirate world) - Can’t Miss Experiences (like ‘Outwit an alien in SPACE’, which stands for Sector of Pseudofictional Astro-Cultural Environments) - Getting Round (on Whimsicalia, hearty travellers might try renting flying cauldrons or more esoteric enchanted vessels such as bathtubs and refuse skips) - Geography (such as 'The Not-So-Badlands', 'The Badlands' and 'The Worselands' in Wasteland) - A Brief History & Today - The Language (funny how Orcish sounds a lot like Klingon) - The Wildlife (like all the different kinds of sharks on Spume, from the faintly pathetic Custard Sharks [Selachimorphis Tragicus] to the sixty-foot Greater Whites [Carcharodon Gigalodon]) - The People (such as the Cockney-speaking terminators in Wasteland) - Eating & Drinking (you might want to try ‘Steel Neils Meals of Eels’ on Spume, or ‘The Flattened Toadstool' on Whimsicalia) - Where to Stay (why not stay with a family of dwarves for a while, or The Queen’s Arse hotel gets good reviews) - Local Fashion (like ‘how to dress to fluoresce’ in SPACE) - Currency (how many short-farthings make a whammo?) - Daily Sample Costs (e.g. a permit to shoot a man in the arm for no reason on Spume costs 42 doubloons) - Manners & Etiquette (like ‘How to shit in secret’ in SPACE) - Don’t Forget to Pack (e.g. ‘drugs’ when heading to Wasteland: Either to guzzle for your own entertainment, or to exchange in an ancient oil refinery full of nihilists for tinned meat and/or your life) - Suggested Itineraries (e.g. ‘Troll Your Kids’ – have friendly trolls kidnap your progeny, so you can save them later and they will never misbehave again) - Customer Testimonials (satisfaction definitely NOT guaranteed) I enjoyed this book so much that I bought the attractive pocket-sized hardback after finishing the audio version, so I could take a look at all the maps and illustrations of these weirdly wonderful places. If you're into this kind of satirical humour (in the vein of Pratchett and Adams), Notes from Small Planets is sure to tickle both your funny bone and your inner Geek. Despite some minor annoyance with the editor's not-so-funny PC comments in the footnotes, I'm giving this book a five for its sheer imaginativeness and fun factor. More please! Notes on audiobook The audiobook features three voice actors, each doing an excellent job. The main narrator, who voices Floyd Watt – the compiler of the guidebook, acts slightly aloof and adopts a serious, somewhat sarcastic tone that works well with this type of humour I think. (Some of the footnotes are a real scream.) Eliza Salt, the editor of the guidebook, is voiced in a Geordie accent, which offset the main narrator’s ‘posh’ voice nicely and should’ve lent their interaction a nice comedic touch. It’s a shame though that her politically correct comments often fell a bit flat for me and even became somewhat annoying after a while. The third narrator voices the male customer testimonials, but isn't on that much.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    This book makes me think that it needs its own genre – Sci-fi-fantasy-com (as in comedy). This book is formatted like a traditional travel guide. The hardback is smaller than your normal book and inside it’s all travel destination-orientated, what you need to know before you visit. For example, you get people, creatures, sights, entertainment, wildlife, outings, currency and more. Hilariously, space itself had its own chapter, with lots of imagination and fun. The illustrations, maps, pictures an This book makes me think that it needs its own genre – Sci-fi-fantasy-com (as in comedy). This book is formatted like a traditional travel guide. The hardback is smaller than your normal book and inside it’s all travel destination-orientated, what you need to know before you visit. For example, you get people, creatures, sights, entertainment, wildlife, outings, currency and more. Hilariously, space itself had its own chapter, with lots of imagination and fun. The illustrations, maps, pictures and formatting were well thought out and made the book have that travel-guide appeal. What’s enjoyable about this book is that you don’t have to devour front to back, you can go a chapter at a time, a destination at a time. If I wasn’t rushing to read for review, I would have taken it slower. I feel like you have to be at least a part-time geek to enjoy this book but many like me will fit into this defintion and find this book wildly entertaining. The travel guide narrator is humerous and there are editorial comments as footnotes which I was less keen on. This was fun concept, easy to read and a great addition to the shelf for any SFF fan. Thank you to Harper Voyager for the gifted copy. This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities Blog.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Dodd

    Ever wondered what would happen if you crossed a travel guide with a load of well-trodden sci-fi/fantasy tropes and the wild imagination of a born storyteller? Turns out you’d get Nate Crowley’s Notes From Small Planets! Spanning eight fictional worlds, from the high fantasy Mittelvelde to the hard sci-fi SPACE and so much more in between, it’s both a loving homage to and merciless satire of the highs and lows of genre fiction. While this might be a guide to fictional worlds, it’s very much a pro Ever wondered what would happen if you crossed a travel guide with a load of well-trodden sci-fi/fantasy tropes and the wild imagination of a born storyteller? Turns out you’d get Nate Crowley’s Notes From Small Planets! Spanning eight fictional worlds, from the high fantasy Mittelvelde to the hard sci-fi SPACE and so much more in between, it’s both a loving homage to and merciless satire of the highs and lows of genre fiction. While this might be a guide to fictional worlds, it’s very much a proper travel guide…albeit an eccentric one. Each chapter of the book includes helpful maps and region-by-region breakdowns, ‘Can’t Miss’ activities, detailed itineraries, eating and drinking recommendations and visitor testimonials, all compiled from ‘author’ Floyd Watt’s extensive experience of travelling the Worlds. Floyd has a compelling way with words and many a witty anecdote, however he may be just a little bit of a bigot…and open to the occasional bribe…and liable to blithely interfere with the balance of the Worlds he visits, much to the frustration of his long-suffering editor Eliza Salt. In the wrong hands this could have been just a straight-up pastiche, however with Crowley at the helm it’s so much more than that. For all that it mocks many of SFF’s overused tropes and troublesome tendencies, it’s also a celebration of the genre’s strengths – imagination, inspiration, mystery, and hopefulness, among others. It’s very silly indeed but at the same time an absolute delight. Read the full review at https://www.trackofwords.com/2020/09/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Gosh, a very tough review to write. If there’s one human quality that’s so very individual to each of us it’s our sense of humour. I like my sense of humour, even though it’s not broad, and it’s apparently based on ‘Dad Jokes’ (so I’m told). I liked this humorous book; it’s clever and witty. But I didn’t laugh, though I frequently smiled, and chuckled a few times. Not quite the funny book I was looking forward to when I felt I needed a lift, but it was satisfying. The book takes the guise of a tra Gosh, a very tough review to write. If there’s one human quality that’s so very individual to each of us it’s our sense of humour. I like my sense of humour, even though it’s not broad, and it’s apparently based on ‘Dad Jokes’ (so I’m told). I liked this humorous book; it’s clever and witty. But I didn’t laugh, though I frequently smiled, and chuckled a few times. Not quite the funny book I was looking forward to when I felt I needed a lift, but it was satisfying. The book takes the guise of a travel guide, a Rough Guide to common Fantasy and SciFi worlds. It uses the tropes of common classes of fantasy worlds and walks you through them in the manner of a tourist guide to Paris, Venice, the Grand Canyon, etc. Just assume that all these fantasy worlds are accessible as holiday destinations without asking how. Chapter by chapter we’re introduced to potential holiday destinations: a Sword and Sorcery world similar to that in Lord of the Rings; a Wasteland world with separate zones based on Planet of the Apes (Monkey World!), Terminator (Robot World), Hunger Games, etc. I especially enjoyed the satire on worlds based on Hogwarts (Wizards and Mundanes, and that stupid game they play), and Space Operas in general (Space World, with planets crowded together for easy access, and even some breathable air in space - in this Space they can hear you scream). I think you’ll appreciate the book if you’re a real nerd for the detailed world building behind these most common fantasies. It didn’t quite work for me, really because I guess my sense of humour didn’t properly mesh with the book’s. It has witty, clever, satirical comments, one following on quickly after another. That non-stop wise cracking style soon wore on me, as I think it’s hard to keep a high, fresh standard up, page after page. Some are good, others aren’t to my taste. I confess to skimming over some bits such as the sample itineraries that occurred towards the end of a chapter on each World. The book has a fair number of footnotes, both by the fictional author of the guide and his editor. They don’t see eye to eye, and their disagreements are partly played out in the footnotes. This repartee didn’t click for me. For me personally this was a mildly amusing book, 3*, though it is very clever, and a good satire on the tropes of fantasy and SciFi. It’ll work better for you if you laugh easily (I don’t!), and especially if you’re informed on the world building backgrounds of a range of fantasy worlds. So I’ll recognise my inadequacy here in not better appreciating this clever book by giving it a 4*. Highlight from the Wastelands World: Feel free to litter. I mean, you can’t make the situation any worse, can you? In fact, you’ll probably start a devotional sect if you drop something with a good enough logo on it. Wasteland is altogether no place for neat freaks,[29] and tourists should – if anything – make an effort to be more generally wasteful, boorish and untidy than they are at home. Highlight from a Sword and Sorcery World: Mythical creatures – once so common they would beg for food at campsites – are getting thin on the ground, and genuine Wizards are now outnumbered by bedraggled con men looking to string people along for drug money.

  5. 4 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    I received an ARC and reviewed this for the Fantasy-Hive. Sci-fi and fantasy love to be epic. There’s nothing like an existential threat to the world or galaxy whose resolution inevitably comes down to a handful of plucky heroes rising up to the challenge of destiny. However, no genre should ever take itself too seriously (Knives Out for murder mysteries anyone?) Speculative fiction’s epically inflated majesty is certainly ripe for a bit of puncturing, but the marriage of high fantasy and comedy h I received an ARC and reviewed this for the Fantasy-Hive. Sci-fi and fantasy love to be epic. There’s nothing like an existential threat to the world or galaxy whose resolution inevitably comes down to a handful of plucky heroes rising up to the challenge of destiny. However, no genre should ever take itself too seriously (Knives Out for murder mysteries anyone?) Speculative fiction’s epically inflated majesty is certainly ripe for a bit of puncturing, but the marriage of high fantasy and comedy has not always been a happy one. With Notes from Small Planets, Crowley has brought a fresh and amusing take to the sub-sub-genre of parodic homage, finding new ways to illuminate the inherent absurdities within the tropes and triumphs of fantasy and sci-fi. This handy travel guide builds on the solid foundations of its predecessors, but differs in style and substance, as it pokes fun at spec-fic’s most sacred cows. However, like all good satire, Crowley finds humour is an effective way to speak truth to power. That people are at their most receptive to something new just after a good laugh. You find yourself laughing, but yeah – he’s got a point. (Or was that just my misguided strategy in work meetings, crack a joke just before making a request.) At the same time as Notes from Small Planets hits the bookshelves, the publishers of D&D have decided to revise the games’ depiction of inherently evil races to something more in tune with the modern reality that good and evil are made by individual choices not birthrights of DNA. And that is good, because society and literature mature hand in hand. Speculative fiction is not isolated from that perpetual shift, in fact it should be the driving force behind it. A fact that Crowley celebrates just as much as he satirises. you can read my full review here https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2020/09/no...

  6. 4 out of 5

    inciminci

    Wonderful book for anyone who wants to COVID-free travel through fictional universes! I laughed way too much with this book and my review turned out too be way too long: https://proteandepravity.blogspot.com... Wonderful book for anyone who wants to COVID-free travel through fictional universes! I laughed way too much with this book and my review turned out too be way too long: https://proteandepravity.blogspot.com...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Well put together , but I didn't take to the sense of humour which felt a bit hammy to me. Well put together , but I didn't take to the sense of humour which felt a bit hammy to me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It took my approximately 23 pages before I started recommending this book to people, and I'm pleased to say that by the end of the book I stand by my stance of 'recommend this to everyone with a passing interest in sc-fi/fantasy'. If I can't travel this year, why not travel through this travel guide? Crowley has crafted 9 worlds that are simultaneously unique and also rooted in the foundations of the areas that they cover - for exa I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It took my approximately 23 pages before I started recommending this book to people, and I'm pleased to say that by the end of the book I stand by my stance of 'recommend this to everyone with a passing interest in sc-fi/fantasy'. If I can't travel this year, why not travel through this travel guide? Crowley has crafted 9 worlds that are simultaneously unique and also rooted in the foundations of the areas that they cover - for example wasteland or SPACE. You'll find yourself fascinated with these places while also chuckling away to the Easter Eggs hidden within, and the cliches you never quite realised are there. Crowley has taken apart each of these settings and laid before you the workings of them, and the sheer ludicrousness of the conventions of them. Things you would never consider laid bare and you find yourself going 'oh yeah, that is pretty daft' or 'wait Orcs are ALWAYS the bad guys'. I'm sad we'll never get to see each of these worlds in their own novels. Because I'm fairly sure that whatever books were set in them would be a wild ride filled with things we know, while pointing out how most of the books set in these types of worlds do share these similarities and ideas. They're super rich worlds and ideas that I just wish we could keep exploring. There's a whole sub-plot going on between Eliza the editor and Floyd the writer. The footnotes contain a whole riot of story that will keep you laughing and add depth to these two characters who actually don't really appear in the travel guide itself. Eliza is clearly the long suffering editor who has to deal with the issues Floyd seems to constantly cause, and calls him out on a lot of problems. My particular favourite being that of the Goblins/Orc children. Plus theres a whole plot around antlered elves that I would like to very much explore more, thank you. This book also looks amazing. It has all the trappings of a travel guide, and the addition of the maps really made it for me. I love a good map and seeing them come to life as a kind of 'stereotypical' map of that type of world was just fun. It just looks so great. Plus the cover is stunning! This book should be pride of place on any Fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers shelves. Even the most casual of reader will find Easter Eggs and be left feeling smug that they got that reference. This book is a complete riot and I loved it. It's a must-read for all lovers of these genres!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris Brady

    A metaphor to discuss the great sci fi universes in the form of a travel guide. Floyd and Eliza make the perfect antagonists. I feel a little middle aged, white, and male. Perhaps I need to see it all from the orcs or the zombies perspective. They're just trying to eek out a life... 🤭 A metaphor to discuss the great sci fi universes in the form of a travel guide. Floyd and Eliza make the perfect antagonists. I feel a little middle aged, white, and male. Perhaps I need to see it all from the orcs or the zombies perspective. They're just trying to eek out a life... 🤭

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Richardson

    This is the book I wish I had thought to write. It is witty, well researched, and oozing with love for the genres it at times lampoons. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and urge anyone with even a passing interest in sci fi, fantasy or the like to get yourself a copy. But be warned, you will struggle to put it down, and it might well make decisions about where to go on holiday next seem a little more dull.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becky'sBookBlog

    Notes from small planets spans 8 fictional worlds from the Fantasy land of Middlevelde filled with Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and slightly smaller humans to Wasteland a post-apocalyptic world filled with advanced AI, zombies & apes. Any SFF fan will notice nods to worlds we all know and love from the likes of Tolkien, Martin, Star Wars & Star Trek as well as ‘dead pirates’ from Pirates of the Caribbean and even the ‘superhero’ style world of the Avengers. Each different world is created from a Notes from small planets spans 8 fictional worlds from the Fantasy land of Middlevelde filled with Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and slightly smaller humans to Wasteland a post-apocalyptic world filled with advanced AI, zombies & apes. Any SFF fan will notice nods to worlds we all know and love from the likes of Tolkien, Martin, Star Wars & Star Trek as well as ‘dead pirates’ from Pirates of the Caribbean and even the ‘superhero’ style world of the Avengers. Each different world is created from a well know trope, which is then promptly ripped to shreds in a witty and satirical way, whilst also dealing with a multitude of social issues: When exactly is an ‘Animal’ classed as highly intelligent, who really are the ‘good guys’ when it comes to super heroes, are Goblins really just baby Orcs? “Of course, many of Mittlevelde’s animal species are said to possess high intelligence, the ability to use tool, and advanced languages, leading to a growing movement to classify them as people – but this seems a little far-fetched.” “At least it does to the people who enjoy betting on fights in the Bison Kings Super Monster Arena, right Floyd? ES” Floyd Watt, the author of the travel guide is a slightly bigoted, extremely sarcastic, and somewhat dense person who has a penchant for getting himself into trouble. He gives us the best of a ‘lonely planet’ guide filled with maps, history, insights into the culture, Local cuisine, Currency and even suggested itineraries.Except instead of the usual historical site tours & Italian restaurants we get ‘Duel a Dragon’, ‘Stumble upon an ancient half-buried monument’ and ‘Mad Tazmins Hell for Fish’ – rickety shed in the Stormwracks, where creatures you’ve never heard of are dunked in rum by a woman with hands like bin lids, then hurled alive onto white hot coals for your delectation. “Please, though, forget the cheap Fysterosi ‘slayer ranches’: a chance to fight a dragon for the price of a mid-range meal may sound enticing, but when you’re handed a length of chain by a jaded knight smoking a roll-up and given two minutes to go mental on a heavily sedated alligator, you will feel nothing but shame. Believe me. “ One thing that really makes this ‘travel guide’ unique… apart from the whole fantasy world thing… is the footnotes. Both from Watt himself and his editor Eliza. Notes From Small Planets was published unfinished, due to the authors and editors untimely disappearances so the publishers decided to release it all… footnotes included. From Watt we get little additions he didn’t think Eliza would like him putting into the final edit, as well as some out there opinions on things and general sarcasm. Eliza on the other hand constantly calls Watt out on his shit, and his bigoted opinions: “Floyd, isn’t this both a) alarmingly colonial, and also b) entirely against the ground rules we agreed for your travels? Those flags are meant for sports games not fucking conquest. And don’t you dare tell me it ‘doesn’t count because they’re only plastic.’ ES” The reader is also left with the mystery of what exactly happened to Floyd and Eliza? Where did they disappear too? The author leaves this pretty open ended, but as the reader we know one thing for certain… it was probably Floyds fault! “Unfortunately I seem to be in a spot of bother here. And I promise you, I really do, that its not my fault this time.” Notes From Small Planets is a highly satirical look at the worlds of fiction, highlighting overused tropes and taking us readers to worlds easily recognisable yet impossible to truly visit. Perfect for any SFF lover who is up for a bit of a laugh, doesn’t take things too seriously & wont be annoyed when they find out we unfortunately can’t visit these wonderful worlds.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Notes from Small Planets is a delightful fictional travel guide to eight imaginatively different worlds, all penned by a travel writer who is more Blackadder than Bourdain. The fictional worlds themselves run the gamut from the most fantasy of fantasy worlds to the most science and fiction-y of sci fi worlds, with pirates of every kind thrown in because pirates. It's a book that rather lovingly plays around with the tropes, cliches, genre conventions and just general silliness of fantasy and sci Notes from Small Planets is a delightful fictional travel guide to eight imaginatively different worlds, all penned by a travel writer who is more Blackadder than Bourdain. The fictional worlds themselves run the gamut from the most fantasy of fantasy worlds to the most science and fiction-y of sci fi worlds, with pirates of every kind thrown in because pirates. It's a book that rather lovingly plays around with the tropes, cliches, genre conventions and just general silliness of fantasy and sci fi novels. Something that in less talented hands probably wouldn't have worked at all but it's such a smart and witty book that clearly comes from a place of adoration for the elements it parodies. The guide to these worlds is Floyd Watt. A somewhat bigoted individual blinkered by his own privilege and who happens to be extremely capable of causing trouble wherever he goes. Throughout the account there are numerous footnoted interjections from Floyd's editor Eliza. Someone unafraid to call Floyd out on his often prejudiced viewpoints and general wrong assumptions about quite a few matters. This is effective in providing balance and objectivity but also levity as Eliza is often rather forthright in setting things straight. It's a fun, humourous read and one I'll definitely be revisiting from time to time. Oh and the audiobook narration is superb.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Úna

    Light and fluffy. Surface level commentary on misogyny, racism and imperialism in sci fi and fantasy. Enjoyed the audio book as easy listening while doing the chores. Probably wouldn't have finished it if I had to use my eyes tho. Light and fluffy. Surface level commentary on misogyny, racism and imperialism in sci fi and fantasy. Enjoyed the audio book as easy listening while doing the chores. Probably wouldn't have finished it if I had to use my eyes tho.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    You can't win 'em all. Nate Crowley has past form on mixing unlikely inspirations; he first came to prominence by taking the piss out of a mate through a feat of dystopian worldbuilding in Tweets. His subsequent books, all of them very good, include political dieselpunk maritime zombie fiction; the closest thing I've ever encountered to Wodehouse working in the grim, dark future of Warhammer 40,000; and a hilarious spoof of video game tropes which doubled as an almost-plausible alternate history You can't win 'em all. Nate Crowley has past form on mixing unlikely inspirations; he first came to prominence by taking the piss out of a mate through a feat of dystopian worldbuilding in Tweets. His subsequent books, all of them very good, include political dieselpunk maritime zombie fiction; the closest thing I've ever encountered to Wodehouse working in the grim, dark future of Warhammer 40,000; and a hilarious spoof of video game tropes which doubled as an almost-plausible alternate history of the medium. So a spoof travel book for genre fiction, with a couple of layers of unreliable narration thrown in, sounded like it should be another good'un. Alas, this time it doesn't quite click. Opening with the piss-take of fantasy cliches already lays you open to tough comparisons, when everything from Dianna Wynne-Jones' Tough Guide To Fantasyland through dozens of Terry Pratchett books has already had a poke; the main thing this adds is bolting not-Westeros on to the edge of its Middle-Earth analogue. And the narration mainly comes through in having the purported writer being a corrupt, gullible old sod who's happy to buy the official line about eg orcs being inherently dangerous and primitive, while his more right-on editor needles at his biases. Which, again...the orcs as maligned victims of propaganda isn't anything terribly new anymore, is it? Nor, once we move on to Eroica City, the idea that superheroes are stooges of the corporate establishment. Or Hogwarts as a training camp for child soldiers, or the hypocrisy of Star Trek's Federation*. These are not startling new reversals, they're well-worn mainstays of stoned student chats and online hot takes. Obviously, Crowley being Crowley, he can't fail to get the odd laugh nonetheless, or demonstrate his obsession with aquatic life – sometimes both at once, as witness the poor Crab Sherpa. Accordingly, the pirate world of Spume is a highlight, because here there's a more novel angle to be found prodding at the paradoxes implicit in buccaneering tropes, yet never quite anatomised like this. But overall this book is very much the runt of his litter. The acknowledgements explain that it's been through a number of different versions, and while obviously such afterwords always thank the editors and make Panglossian claims for the finished product, they tend to leave me wondering whether I might have preferred an earlier version. Certainly this one feels inconsistent, as if revisions haven't been consistently carried through; the two wannabe hard SF factions in the space chapter overlap awkwardly, and the map of the Harry Potter analogue Britain doesn't accord with the text. *To be fair, I did still enjoy the jokes at Star Trek's expense, but then I hate Star Trek so am very much an easy mark there.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Xerxes

    Thank you to Harper Voyager UK for allowing me to participate in this excellent blog tour. All thoughts are mine, and I was given an ARC in exchange for a review. This is clearly the ultimate travel book if the Doctor from Doctor Who decided to write down his memiors which practically stretch for thousands of years echoing across human history. This feels like an ancient manuscript that has been lost to the echoes of time. This is primarly Floyd’s work, and his commentary is delightful as well as Thank you to Harper Voyager UK for allowing me to participate in this excellent blog tour. All thoughts are mine, and I was given an ARC in exchange for a review. This is clearly the ultimate travel book if the Doctor from Doctor Who decided to write down his memiors which practically stretch for thousands of years echoing across human history. This feels like an ancient manuscript that has been lost to the echoes of time. This is primarly Floyd’s work, and his commentary is delightful as well as humorous. Though if it was one thing I didn’t see coming: The intensive maths. Since it’s treating you, the reader as a tourist, I slightly didn’t want to be reminded of the large economical cost that a holiday requires so I think it could have been better improved in this part. Don’t remind me of the Tudor currency that lies within this book! It’s so confusing! You’ll be experience worlds taken inspiration from LOTR, the Terminator, Pirates of the Carribbean, Mad Max, Planet of the Apes and so much more. You’ll be in a Conan inspired universe in the next and then sitting in a bar drinking horrible stuff with Robots since they have no sense of taste. The most favorite part of this world is the Pirates. They have a code for everything. Plus there’s talking skeleton pirates that touch treasure and become skeletons (some type of curse apparently). And then there’s the back and forth, between Floyd, our main writer, and Eliza, the editor of a glorious manuscript such as this who no doubt has to deal with Floyd’s biases. There is a huge amount of diverse cultures, and it would have taken a lot of time to chronicle each and every event you can do as a tourist. I would have wanted to see a bit less of the menu items (and there’s a lot!). Sometimes I was reading halfway through an interesting paragraph and then there’s the box showing more interesting information. That felt a little jarring. But then again, it reminds me of those old children’s books that made you want to experience new worlds. Another thing is while this book had some excellent drawings and illustrations illustrating what the world looked like, I would have preferred to seen more illustrations. More of this would have been very good. There isn’t much for me to say but this is a enjoyable book. Easy to read. No complexity needed. Funny and humorous. And its just the book we need in these challenging times. I’d love to see a Netflix adapation of this some time… 🙂

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emmie Rose

    I haven't read a book this year that has made me laugh out loud as much as this one. Notes from Small Planets: Your Pocket Travel Guide to the Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy is absolutely brilliant and after the first chapter I was already recommending this book and have already passed it on to my sister to enjoy. Told in a travel guide format, the level of detail in this book is insane with places to visit, currency, itineraries and even letting you know what you should pack if you were I haven't read a book this year that has made me laugh out loud as much as this one. Notes from Small Planets: Your Pocket Travel Guide to the Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy is absolutely brilliant and after the first chapter I was already recommending this book and have already passed it on to my sister to enjoy. Told in a travel guide format, the level of detail in this book is insane with places to visit, currency, itineraries and even letting you know what you should pack if you were to visit one of these mystical worlds. I loved the subtle (and non-subtle) references to popular tropes and types of Sci-Fi fiction that you can't help but feel smug for recognising! My all time favourite thing in this book was the banter between Floyd (the writer) and Eliza (the editor). The footnotes will have you in hysterics and there written discussions add so much more depth to this already fantastic travel guide. I loved reading the ways Floyd manages to get himself into trouble with Eliza calling him out on it all. Oh and when you do pick this up (do you see how I said when) you need to read the publishers note, introduction and editorial note as they are key to fully immersing yourself into Floyd and Eliza's journey. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to visit some of the magical worlds that you read about in some of your favourite tales then this is the book for you. Full of humour, in depth information and maps, this book is a must read! Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review and allowing me to take part in the blog tour!

  17. 5 out of 5

    AA_Logan

    Nate Crowley is a witty engaging writer, and he’s on cracking form in this book. The premise is simple- gently poking fun at tropes and archetypes of science fiction and fantasy, whilst not so gently poking fun at the inequalities of our actual world, it’s way more fun than I’m making it sound. As a non- Potter fan I felt the send-up of Hogwarts and that went on a bit, but that likely just my own prejudices; every other ‘world’ detailed is affectionately but honestly critiqued and evidently come f Nate Crowley is a witty engaging writer, and he’s on cracking form in this book. The premise is simple- gently poking fun at tropes and archetypes of science fiction and fantasy, whilst not so gently poking fun at the inequalities of our actual world, it’s way more fun than I’m making it sound. As a non- Potter fan I felt the send-up of Hogwarts and that went on a bit, but that likely just my own prejudices; every other ‘world’ detailed is affectionately but honestly critiqued and evidently come from a place of fandom. There is a loose narrative, but I feel it may be better enjoyed if the reader spreads the chapters apart, dipping in and out of the book rather than going for it in two long sessions as I did- it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I just feel I’d have appreciated more has I allowed it to ‘breathe’.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Taaya

    Sometimes funny and imaginative, this travel guide also becomes repetitive in time. And most of the humour to be found in the commentary, is on the same level as Barry Trotter and other teen-ish parodies. So while the worldbuilding itself is interesting, the commentary (except for the editor's footnotes) isn't. One should have used the editor as author. The short takes on misogyny, racism, 'history is created by the victorious party', human tendencies to devalue anything they don't understand,... Sometimes funny and imaginative, this travel guide also becomes repetitive in time. And most of the humour to be found in the commentary, is on the same level as Barry Trotter and other teen-ish parodies. So while the worldbuilding itself is interesting, the commentary (except for the editor's footnotes) isn't. One should have used the editor as author. The short takes on misogyny, racism, 'history is created by the victorious party', human tendencies to devalue anything they don't understand,... are really something and should have been expanded. Though I guess, with the author (the one inside the book, not Mr. Crowley) being a fully grown jerk, and biased as hell, this book follows the tradition of most major works of SF/F (and might at the same time be a commentary on a number of fans). So while it was annoying to me, this might have been a well-considered way to make a point, too.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pieter

    On the surface, Notes from Small Planets is a affectionate parody of a number of sci-fi and fantasy genres, from Star Trek/Wars and superhero movies to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, presented as a travel guide. But beyond that the book forms its own universes, with clever takes on all kinds of fantastical (dis)functioning societies. In the footnotes, the discussion between the writer of these travel guides and his editor also reveal a greater narrative playing in the background and which s On the surface, Notes from Small Planets is a affectionate parody of a number of sci-fi and fantasy genres, from Star Trek/Wars and superhero movies to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, presented as a travel guide. But beyond that the book forms its own universes, with clever takes on all kinds of fantastical (dis)functioning societies. In the footnotes, the discussion between the writer of these travel guides and his editor also reveal a greater narrative playing in the background and which subtly comes into view as the chapters progress. On top of that, Notes from Small Planets is incredibly funny and a hugely entertaining read for anyone enjoying fictional worlds.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Neo

    Ah, this was a joyful book. Audiobook highly recommended for snarky British goodness. A s/f travel guide, part memoir, part meta fiction, Notes from small planets had me grinning so much. As a s/f lover, I get most of the quite common references and plays on tropes. I can laugh with the book, and at the main character - an asshole, really. I love how the book builds the text further from just being a travel guide to SF worlds. It's also a political commentary, a note on colonialism and, necessari Ah, this was a joyful book. Audiobook highly recommended for snarky British goodness. A s/f travel guide, part memoir, part meta fiction, Notes from small planets had me grinning so much. As a s/f lover, I get most of the quite common references and plays on tropes. I can laugh with the book, and at the main character - an asshole, really. I love how the book builds the text further from just being a travel guide to SF worlds. It's also a political commentary, a note on colonialism and, necessarily, a shout-out for capable editors that keep those worst ones in check. P.S. Elves are terrifying, and as someone who hates them, I love it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    There's nothing more satisfying that finding the perfect travel guide - Notes From Small Planets manages to blend notes of comedy and tragedy together in a varied and satirical look at some of our favourite fantasy settings, complete with footnotes from an editor who quite rightly has just had enough. A must read for fans of sci-fi and fantasy! There's nothing more satisfying that finding the perfect travel guide - Notes From Small Planets manages to blend notes of comedy and tragedy together in a varied and satirical look at some of our favourite fantasy settings, complete with footnotes from an editor who quite rightly has just had enough. A must read for fans of sci-fi and fantasy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonny Keen

    I was given an advance copy of the book ahead of an interview with the author. Please check it out here! It was a lot of fun. https://youtu.be/0X8GVrraGR8 This was one of the funniest, most engaging books I've ever read. Hilarious throughout with my favourite bit being Eroica, world of superheroes. There's a villain called Gravy Jones who can turn his blood to gravy. Fantastic stuff. It's also layered with social commentary through blithely ignorant narrator Floyd and his somewhat more socially co I was given an advance copy of the book ahead of an interview with the author. Please check it out here! It was a lot of fun. https://youtu.be/0X8GVrraGR8 This was one of the funniest, most engaging books I've ever read. Hilarious throughout with my favourite bit being Eroica, world of superheroes. There's a villain called Gravy Jones who can turn his blood to gravy. Fantastic stuff. It's also layered with social commentary through blithely ignorant narrator Floyd and his somewhat more socially conscious editor Eliza. As if that wasn't enough, there's a hidden twist that won't be immediately apparent. I can't describe it at all without spoilers. Another fantastic work from Crowley. His iridescent writing style and determination to push narrative form to its limits mark him as one of the most exciting writers active today.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Moon

    I enjoyed this "travel guide" that is a mix of satire on fantasy and scifi tropes with a travel guide and some interesting "characters" loads. It was easy to read, kept me pondering on what books it might be poking at and just was pretty chill and good reading material. I enjoyed this "travel guide" that is a mix of satire on fantasy and scifi tropes with a travel guide and some interesting "characters" loads. It was easy to read, kept me pondering on what books it might be poking at and just was pretty chill and good reading material.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Halstead

    This was such a fun book to read! The humor was fantastic, the imagery was inventive and unusual, and I was hooked from the very beginning! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rine

    Was such a great read. Really unique and a good experience. Really enjoyed the afterword and some of the discussions points raised. If you want something different from a traditional novel then this should definitely be considered

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex Leary

    Light hearted sci-fi fun with a LOT of references to popular book/movie series. I would recommend reading this slowly to pick up on as many Easter eggs as you can, the author pretty much adds one for each sentence. The epilogue is also great!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Oliver

    Huge amounts of fun as well as a fistful of loving jibes at genre, its excesses and assumptions. Laugh out loud funny and a joy to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Rollicking good fun. I'm not a gamer, so no doubt I missed some of the jokes. Rollicking good fun. I'm not a gamer, so no doubt I missed some of the jokes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Mullen

    A one-joke idea that's been stretched to several chapters of school-child level pastiche of several fictional genres, with the kind of research you A one-joke idea that's been stretched to several chapters of school-child level pastiche of several fictional genres, with the kind of research you

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tempestusultra

    Enjoyable book!

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