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First Flight

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  323 ratings  ·  44 reviews
The past is another country, in Mary Robinette Kowal’s tale of time travel and aviation history. "First Flight" is a finalist for the 2010 Locus Award.

The winner of the 2008 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of short fiction published in Strange Horizons, Cosmos, and Asimov's. Her first novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, will be
ebook, 32 pages
Published August 2009 by Tor
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The Clay Lion by Amalie JahnThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsWhen Earthlings Weep by Michael  BarnettDoomsday Book by Connie WillisThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Time Travel Novels
38th out of 114 books — 107 voters
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Best Intro to Sci-Fi for Young Readers
487th out of 584 books — 649 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 737)
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Althea Ann
Sentimental, but effective. An elderly woman travels back in time to document the first flight of the Wright Brothers. (The premise here is that one can't actually travel further back than the time of your birth; so a centenarian is much in demand...) This particular old lady isn't quite who these researchers might have picked, had they had their druthers. She's got a mind of her own, and her own way of doing things. Will her honesty really be the best policy?
A sweet tale, not without humor - an
I don't usually like time travel novels because I keep asking questions that make my mind hurt, but I liked this one. I liked the fact that it was an old woman who wasn't sweet.
Tom Hansen

(Said with the movie intro voice)

“In a world where people time travel, there is a woman.”

(Sounds of gunfire going off in the background, propellors starting up)

“One-hundred years in the making.”

(People screaming, slo-mo camera action of a guy in early 1900’s knickers running toward the camera).

“There is only one way to get it.”

(Orchestral tense music)

“There is only one way to get her there.”

(Building Up music)

“There is only one way she can survive.”

(Orchestral music reaches a crescendo and violi
John Rea-Hedrick
I've always loved well-crafted, consistent time travel stories when the author successfully establishes a clear vision of how time travel works in their story and then tells a compelling tale which doesn't betray it. First Flight is an enjoyable read both because it's well-written, and because it quite pleasantly sidesteps the stereotypical “little old lady” archetype by featuring a strong and capable elderly woman as its main character – a depiction we would all be enriched by seeing more of fr ...more
Mary Robinette Kowal's short story "First Flight" is a story about an elderly woman who time travels to witness the Wright Brothers' first flight. What made this short story stand out to me was not only the particular voice that Louise Jackson has with the characters around her, but also the keen observations she has regarding the future and her role within it. Louise isn't your typical little sweet old lady, but rather savvy and apt to say what's on her mind (and she does quite often in the cou ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan Burgoine
This was a fantastic short fiction piece that handled time travel with a deft touch. When the limits of time travel include someone's lifetime as the far reaches, this means to visit 1905, and record the first flight of the Wright Brothers, falls to Mrs. Jackson, a woman past one hundred years of age. Her character is beautifully written, and the fallout of things not going as planned is a wonderful tale to read. Grab this. Completely worth it.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This fabulous and inventive take on time travel charmed me from the first moment. When has sci-fi featured a mature heroine? (Mature in age, not in rating.) I couldn't imagine what was ahead of me when I started this too-brief story; again, I'm unsurprised this was an award-nominated piece.
Nice little time-travel short story with a plucky main character. I'm a sucker for anything involving the Wright Brothers.
Sean the Bookonaut
I'd really like to give it four and a half stars. Excellent storytelling and an interesting twist on the Time travel trope.
John Price
Although I see this as a short story I thouroughly enjoyed it. I liked the story line and found it well written.
Thoroughly charming, enjoyable, and with an impeccably satisfying ending. If this story is any indication of Mary Robinette Kowal's style and imagination, then I need to read more of her work post-haste.
Debra Slonek
A delightful short story about time travel. It features a sharp, elderly woman that I would love to meet. She travelled back in time to observe and record an early day in the history of flight. Well done and an enjoyable read.
Short and sweet. I read it on Tor's website:

So far I've really enjoyed everything I've read of hers.
Patrick Mcgee
Loved this one too. If I were a betting man, I would guess this was a Milieu, Event, Character story. Quite good. Highly recommended.
A short and fun time travel story. Nice characterizations.

More than that would spoil it.

Read on
3.5 stars
An enjoyable time travel short story.
This was a lovely little bite of time travel - set in a world where time travel is possible but only within the years a person has already lived. A team of researchers send an old lady back to the year of her birth to do some poking around. I don't want to give too much away but I was charmed by the perspective of our time traveller, who had, after all, already seen a lot in her 100+ years.
Nice short story of a spunky great-grandmother sent back in time to get hi-def video footage of the Wright Brothers very first flight. Along the way she meets a twelve year-old boy, and then Wilbur Wright himself, and she's honest about who she is and what she's doing, against the wishes of the scientists in her own time.
I love this short story. It's about a woman who time travels to view the Wright Brothers' first flight. That said, the flight isn't the point of the story, instead it's about the people involved. I don't want to say more for fear of spoiling the story.

If you can, I'd highly recommend reading this.
A wonderful short story! You can find it free on through the link here on GR.
Well put together with a great protagonist - a hundred plus year old woman, still full of strength and wit. A lovely ending, I wouldn't mind seeing more of these adventures.
First Flight is offered for free on A few comments on this story can be found on my blog.
This short story tells of a centegenarian who travels back in time to the year of her birth (the earliest the machine can send a person), when the Wright Brothers made their first flight.
Lighthearted time travel story about going back in time to video the Wright Brothers' first airplane flight, and what happens when things go somewhat awry with the time travel equipment.
Judi Little
really a short story. Interesting concept about how time travel would work. Felt like it could have been a novel.... A free kindle for a quick read.
This is a solid short story with a well-conceived model for time travel, and an old lady as a protagonist. Not exciting or brilliant, but a good quick read.
A rather short story (novella? Novelette?) about an old woman time traveling back to the time of the Wright brothers. Well written and interesting.
I loved the protagonist - how often do you run across 100 year old female leads in SF?- and the premise but the resolution felt a little trite.
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Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the 2011 Hugo. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year's Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (Tor 2012).

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CB
More about Mary Robinette Kowal...
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1) Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories, #2) Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3) Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories, #4) The Lady Astronaut of Mars

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