Though they were first published in monthly installments in periodicals, for more than a century, the works of Charles Dickens have been presented as a collection of weighty novels, beloved by readers (and dreaded by high school freshman) across the nation. It’s amusing to consider that, in their day, the latest chapter of one of Dickens books was greeted with as much excitement as the season premiere of Game of Thrones, but it’s certainly true that was intended as a story to be consumed in installments works just as well as a single volume.
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same: Saga Press announced today that it has acquired rights to print physical editions of first three serialized SF/F works from Serial Box, until now only available in digital and audiobook formats.
If you haven’t been keeping tabs on one of the most innovative publishing stories of 2015, Serial Box is a startup dedicated to bringing the prestige TV model to print books. Each “season” of one of their serials is produced not by a single author, but by an all-star team of writers splitting up “episodes” in manner akin to a television writer’s room. The stories are designed to be enjoyed in isolation from week to week, but come together to form a cohesive narrative arc. Serials are released once a week as ebooks and audiobooks.
Two serials are complete, with a third underway, and thus far, there has been no shortage of marquee talent lining up to participate; the roster includes familiar names like Max Gladstone, Ian Tregillis, Ellen Kushner, Cassandra Rose Clark, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Mur Lafferty, and Michael Swanwick.
If following a serial in weekly installments is like keeping up with your favorite TV show, then the collected print editions are the equivalent of a Netflix binge. The Saga Press versions will be edited by Navah Wolfe. “We’re very excited to be working with Serial Box,” she said. “Their serialized novels are fantastic reads, and the writers’ rooms include some of the very best writers from across the spectrum of the science fiction and fantasy genres.”
The publishing schedule for the print editions stretches into 2017, but if you can’t wait, they will remain available in their ebook editions.
The Saga edition of Bookburners, created by Max Gladstone and written by Gladstone, Brian Francis Slattery, Mur Lafferty, and Margaret Dunlap, will be published this fall. The urban fantasy series follows the exploits of the Vatican’s covert anti-magic squad.
Following in Spring 2017 is Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine, a refined fantasy set in the same world as Kushner’s beloved Riverside series (Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings). Kushner conceived the project, and the writing team also includes Joel Derfner, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Racheline Maltese, and Patty Bryant.
Finally, in next summer will see the release of The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a magic-infused cold war thriller set following a far deadlier (and much older) conflict that the one between the capitalism and communism. Created by Gladstone and Lindsay Smith, the series is also written by Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick.
There was a time when ebooks were expected to take over the world, but recent sales trends indicate print is here to stay, and then some. This deal between Saga and Serial Box represents a marriage of the traditional model with something altogether new. We’re excited to see where it leads.
Are you a serial fan or a “binge” reader?