We’ve been linking to Shadow Unit from our Friday Free Fiction round-ups since we became aware of the project, but as it enters the season finale of Season 1 (Shadow Unit is modelled after the television series format) I felt it deserved a special mention of its own.
How come? Because of scope and ambition. Shadow Unit is, if not unique, a new and rare form of fiction. It wasn’t commissioned; there was no advance paid for it. Unlike the television shows it models itself on, there is no support from advertising, though the project accepts donations.
And yet in less than half a year Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette and Amanda Downum have written and illustrated seven novellas, a full-length novel (Refining Fire, the season finale being released bit by bit over the course of this week) and sundry snippets and extras (including in-character LiveJournal diaries), all under a Creative Commons attribution/non-commercial license.
Whether Shadow Unit is to your taste or not, you can’t deny that’s a pretty staggering artistic achievement by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know about the other aspiring writers in the audience, but it has me feeling pretty ashamed of my meagre output … but at the same time, I’m pleased to see writers going out and finding new ways to release their work without waiting for the publishers.
Serialised fiction used to be the standard model in the days of Dickens and Conan Doyle. Perhaps it will return again – the episodic format seems suited to the web, and we have multimedia capabilities that Dickens couldn’t even have dreamed of.
What do you think? Have you been reading Shadow Unit, or any other serialised fiction on the web? Would you be interested in reading it here at Futurismic?