Elizabeth Bear, author of awesome scifi novel Carnival along with many others, writes in to tell us about an interesting new online project she's involved with. It's called Shadow Unit, and it's basically an effort to turn the tradition of group-written fanfiction into something more literary than gushing over Harry Potter's pink cheeks. With fanfiction fast becoming an accepted way to break into the book biz, and somebody like Bear on board, we're definitely paying attention. Shadow Unit was created by Emma Bull, who has taught at prestigious scifi writers workshop Clarion West, with help from Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, and Amanda Downum. Here's what Bear had to say about it.

Essentially, what Shadow Unit is, is a virtual serial drama‚ÄĒsort of a TV show without the actors or directors or Hollywood, for that matter. If you're familiar with the fanfiction concept of a virtual season, it won't seem that unfamiliar.

In addition to the site content (we plan to do eight novella-or-novel-length episodes a season, and Season 1 just started), there are also "DVD extras" (vignettes, goodies, artwork, cut scenes, clever bits of meta (a few pages from a crumpled shooting script that might have been used by one of the actors for this show that doesn't exist, for example)‚ÄĒand several of the characters have a web presence. Which is to say, in-character blogs that don't break the fourth wall.

It's all quite experimental.

OK, here's some good lunchtime reading for tomorrow!

Shadow Unit [official site]