Shadow Unit – a quarter million words of free fiction

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.

Shadow Unit logo

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?

2 thoughts on “Shadow Unit – a quarter million words of free fiction”

  1. I’ve been reading Shadow Unit and I’m a self-confessed addict (Can you tell? I’m staying up late right now waiting for the next installment to come out). I haven’t come across any other serialized fiction on the net that really hooked me, more’s the pity. A medium that really interested me was the concept of telling a story, in real time, as a blog written by a fictional character. I looked for some good ones; didn’t find any that weren’t dead. Even thought about writing one, but didn’t have the time. Maybe this summer…

    I think it would be a really good idea for Futurismic to have regular fiction columns to supplement the news and the short stories. Either straight serializations or fiction blogs – or both – would do very well, in my opinion. Assuming, of course, that you can find good and reliable authors to write them.

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