Not the new series this time. Instead, I bring you:

Aethernet, the return of serialised science fiction and fantasy.

Serialised genre fiction has been pretty much confined to the fossil record for a while, but what with all the changes going on in publishing — and especially e-publishing — it's something that's been talked about as a possible Next Big Thing. The rise of e-books has all sorts of intriguing possibilities for short stories, and especially for episodic stories where — like the physical magazines of old — the reader buys the next issue because theywant to know what happens next.

The name to conjure with for the Aethernet magazine is Tony Ballantyne, whose  unique and superbly written Penrose novels are some of my favourite SF. Aethernet is currently planned to run for 12 episodes and you can get a year's subscription for £20 from the link above. Even if I weren't in it, I'd be exhorting you to go take a look (1). However, Tony has lined up a remarkable stable of writers for the first year, including:

- Juliet E. McKenna, most recently published with the Hadrumal Crisis series, and a past master at epic and political fantasy.

- Chris Beckett, whose Dark Eden I have rhapsodised about, and who is gifting Aethernet with a sequel to that work.

- Ian Whates, a man with a foot in both fantasy (City of 100 Rows) and science fiction (Noise series)

- Eric Brown, author of a truly astonishing number of books including Satan's Reach and The Serene Invasion

- Philip Palmer, novellist and writer for radio, author of Artemis and more.

Together with yours truly and Tony himself.

As for what I'm contributing, I shall be debuting an all-new novella/short novel by the title of Spiderlight. This is a completely new epic fantasy, humorous in places, deadly serious in others, that serves as something of a deconstruction of the traditional prophecy-journey-dark lord narrative. A band of five heroes who should be immediately recognisable to any habitual RPGer or fantasy reader are on a quest, following the lead of ancient divination. Except that the words of the prophet back them into a corner where their only way to their goal is to take on an unwelcome sixth companion, a Mirkwood-style giant spider. I'm having great fun writing it, and hopefully the same, or more, can be had from reading it.

So, think of this as a bonus novel, slipped into the usual release schedule and brought out in instalments. I shall be in 10 of the 12 issues of Aethernet this year, and if it's a hit I hope to be involved in later years as well. Please do hop over to the Aethernet site and take a look, and if your purse can stretch, please do subscribe. You could be at the very forefront of the genre literature of tomorrow.

(1) Maybe not quite so enthusiastically, but…

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