I have been reading a ton of novellas and serials lately. I love that there are wider distribution channels for novellas and experimentation with delivering serial content. So of course I have some recommendations.
I am thoroughly enjoying Seanan McGuire’s Indexing Kindle serials. The first one is out and complete now (and available as a paperback in addition to digitally) and the second one if currently running. It’s about the ATI Management Bureau, a group of folks who combat fairy tales to keep them from activating. No one really wants to see a Sleeping Beauty activate and send the kingdom to sleep. A few of the characters are parts of averted fairy tales–the main protagonist is a Snow White in abeyance–and a few are baseline human. Together they fight crime and keep the Narrative from inducing disaster. The episodes each end with some sort of resolution, but also often some sort of cliffhanger toward the overarching plot. I really enjoy the voice (and in the second series, we get a few other POVs, which I love.)
Serial Box is a company that’s doing “seasons” of episodic narrative. When I heard Max Gladstone was creating Bookburners for them, I got very excited, because I have adored his Craft sequence novels. Then I heard Mur Lafferty was also involved, and that pretty much got me to subscribe. The Bookburners are a team out of the Vatican that hunts down demonic booiks and tried to contain their horrible effects. Sal is the newbie on the team, a cop whose brother was zapped by a book, and she’s our entry character. It’s a fun series, and I have really enjoyed delving into the pasts of all the team members.
Serial Box is also presenting a season of Tremontaine. If the name sounds familiar, you’ve probably read Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint and other novels of Riverside. Tremontaine’s first episode focuses on Diane, the Duchess of Tremontaine (yes, that Duchess. Eeee!) and introduces new characters (Who I loved! Can’t wait to find out more about Ixkaab, a Trader of the Kinwiinik dealing in chocolate and luxuries, and Micah, a very literal and mathematically gifted farmer.) Upcoming episodes will be written by Malinda Lo and Alaya Dawn Johnson, among others. I adored the first episode and can’t wait for the rest.
While I’m mentioning episodic fiction, I would be remiss not to mention Shadow Unit, by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, and many others. The show is now complete, spanning four seasons, and available in its entirely on the website or as ebooks. I haven’t read this recently, but it’s so so good, and if you’ve missed it, it’s wonderful–an FBI team investigates anomalous activity. The truth is out there, and it’s kind of horrible.
I have also been making my way through some of Tor.com’s recent novella publications. I love what they’re doing with these novella releases, both in terms of the covers and the diversity of the kinds of novellas–UF, high fantasy, forthcoming SF; there’s a lot to look forward to.
I loved Matt Wallace’s Envy of Angels. Just loved it. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant at all, you will recognize a lot here, and if you haven’t I suspect you’ll still enjoy it. It’s urban fantasy featuring a catering company that works for the government feeding demons (in this installment anyway) or whoever else they are asked to serve, with supernatural ingredients. They have a team of hard asses who retrieve the more esoteric ingredients, sometimes necessitating the regrowth of limbs. This is gonzo restaurant fiction, and it’s funny. The second one comes out in January, and I believe Wallace has one planned for each of the deadly sins.
Paul Cornell’s The Witches of Lychford features a vicar coming to terms with the loss of her husband and her new position as head of the church in her home town. Which is, unfortunately, about to get hit with some evil. Her former best friend just might know how to stop it. This is so atmospheric and seemed to convey small town English life so well. (Not speaking from a place of expertise on that subject.) I’m looking forward to reading more of Tor.com’s novellas (There’s a Mary Robinette Kowal one forthcoming in January that has a stunningly lovely cover.)
I’d love to hear any serial fiction or novella recommendations!