The New Millennium Edition of the first Young Wizards novel, So You Want to Be a Wizard, is now available in ebook format from the online Ebooks Direct store at DianeDuane.com.
This is not a rewrite of the book, but a polish and update intended to bring SYWTBAW into the new century by modernizing its setting and establishing it as the beginning of a new and much more consistent timeline, thus making it more accessible for its newest readers. It also contains exclusive new material that does not appear in the original 1983 edition. The beautiful new cover is by noted German graphic artist Niko Geyer.
For much more information about the update, read on. You can also access this new podcast interview with Ken Denmead at GeekDad, where the updating of the book is discussed in some detail toward the end of the podcast: and the “Wizards in a New Millennium” interview with Kelly Knox at GeekMom.
Some author notes:
So You Want to Be a Wizard has been in print pretty much constantly, on one or both sides of the Atlantic and in various non-English speaking countries here and there, for thirty years now. Over the last ten years or so — and particularly over the last five — I’ve become increasingly aware of how some aspects of the book have been dating…which is to say, not very well. And newer young readers have been telling me with increasing frequency that though they love the book, the early-1980’s feel of it put some of them off it to the point where it was a tossup whether they were ever going to read it at all.
To say that I felt their pain would be an understatement. While SYWTBAW suffers from this problem, other installments in the series suffer from it far more severely (High Wizardry probably the most). The difficulty isn’t just the difference between when they were written and now, but (in a way) the temporal distance or lack of it between the 80’s “then” of SYW and the now of 2012. If the difference were greater, or less, the books might be able to pass either as time capsules of a sort, or be able to slide in “under the wire” with the tech differences not being so glaring. But for the present key audience, the disconnect is really getting in the way. So updating the first four books in particular has been something I’ve been wanting to get handled for a while.
And now it’s getting handled.
I’ve taken a while about this (originally it was going to happen last year) because, especially as regarded the first book, I wanted to take care not to fix what wasn’t broken. These new editions are emphatically not rewrites. However, they do involve:
- The most important bit: adjustment of technology and background in the book(s) to reflect what’s routinely been part of young readers’ lives, starting in 2008
- Some minor editing of material that struck me while revising as clumsy or ineffective
- Some additional material (not vast amounts)
- Repair and reconstruction of what has for a long time been a very broken, inconsistent and frankly dysfunctional timeline
The third aspect is going to be most noticeable in So You Want to Be a Wizard. Some of you will have heard that the book has had several near-misses with film production over the last ten years. One of these resulted in a screenplay which, while not perfect, threw up some interesting additional scenes. A few of these were fun enough, or drove the plot in such a manner, that I decided to add them to the revision of the book. These are not massive passages or life-changing sequences: they’re just in there now along with the rest of the tidying and updating.
The fourth aspect, timeline repair and rationalization, will start becoming more obvious when Deep Wizardry and the books that follow come out later in the year. Because of the instability involved in the series starting at one publisher (Dell), being thrown overboard when the company was restructured, and then finding its way to a new home (Harcourt, now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the uncertainty involved with not being sure when or where the next book was coming out often resulted in editorial (not to mention auctiorial) uncertainty about how to handle character ages and the dating of events. The new editions, therefore, are starting with the events of SYW… being placed in 2008. The events in books that follow will be adjusted to fit as necessary, and new books in the series will follow the new timeline.
For clarity's sake, let me stress that the versions of the Young Wizards books presently in press at HMH will remain there for the foreseeable future. The publisher is at present not in a position to reissue the New Millennium editions as the definitive ones. Though that would be my preference, it won't be happening any time soon. Yet at the same time there's a persistent demand for something newer... so I'm putting it out there, for those who want it.
Now, as to formats: The New Millennium Edition of SYWTBAW will be available in ebook format only for the foreseeable future. We are still (ETA: as of 2015) investigating the issues surrounding print editions, as to avoid conflicting with the Harcourt editions these must be published outside of North America. We hope to have results on this during Q1 of 2016. The ebook editions of the books remain available only from the Ebooks Direct store while we sort out various logistical issues with new distributors. As always with our own ebook releases, these editions are DRM-free and available in all the major formats.
Thanks for your interest!