Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Shadow Unit

Here’s a post by Ruthanna Emrys at tor.com: The Best of Both Forms: Hypertextuality and Serial Storytelling in Shadow Unit.

As it happens, I spent a good deal of March and April re-reading bits and pieces of the Shadow Unit series as a lead up to finally reading the fifteenth and final book, which was recently released.

I have never explored the online hyperlinked version because it is inconvenient to get to compared to the books. But it does sound like the online version must be the most fun way to explore the series.

Shadow Unit is a now-complete online hypertext serial, written by some of the best authors in the business. Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Amanda Downum, and Sarah Monette are at the top of the credits, and brought in several impressive guest writers along the way. There are four seasons of 8 to 13 episodes, each episode a novella broken down into a teaser and three acts. There are Easter eggs—click on the right word and you’ll find a bonus scene with fun bits of character development and occasional foreshadowing of massive plot points. The characters had blogs on a separate platform (LiveJournals, if anyone remembers those). The blogs came out in real time, while episodes were usually released a few weeks after they were set, so posts might drop oblique references to events you’d only learn about later. After one major reveal, several months’ worth of private posts suddenly became visible, shedding new light on the events leading up to it.

Here is a link to the online version. At Amazon, the individual books are $2.99, except the first one is 99c.

It would be fine with me if Emma Bull and Sarah Monette and the rest now went back to writing individual novels since they’re done with Shadow Unit. But the Shadow Unit series is really good and I’m glad they all got together for this project over the past few years. If you’ve never looked at it, you may want to, especially now that it’s finished. The ending, btw, is dark, but it fits the series. Also, I don’t see how the authors could have tied up the whole series so appropriately without writing a pretty dark conclusion.

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2 Comments Shadow Unit

  1. Pete Mack

    Shadow unit surely belongs in any list of unique works. I’d put Death of the Necromancer in that list too, since it’s my idea of a ‘perfect novel.’

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