eBook experiments: Strangeways by James Patrick Kelly
I immensely enjoyed “Plus or Minus.” It’s got gritty hard SF and an equally gritty cast of characters. The ending is tragic and heartwarming and quite satisfying. I read it in The Best SF and Fantasy of the Year: vol 5. I then noticed that it was available in this eBook.
The Strangeways series of eBooks is organized like a magazine. There are 2 fiction pieces, a non-fiction piece and 2 interviews. What makes it interesting is that it’s all by and/or about James Patrick Kelly. This initially through me for a bit of a loop. But it was 99 cents, so I grabbed a copy. I’d already read the first story, so I skipped straight to the non-fiction piece on the difficulties of interstellar flight based on our current understanding of science. I then started in on the 2nd fiction piece. There’s an amusing recurring typo where mentions of the speed of light get concatenated with surrounding words thatcis, atc, etc. (see what I did there?) but it doesn’t detract from the story.
Jim mentions Pablo Defendini as the designer of this eBook. Pablo makes great use of the format you’d expect from Asimov’s or many other SFF short fiction markets. There’s great cover art (by John Picacio), a complete table of contents (eBooks lacking this are quite annoying) and a great mix of content. Another design tidbit that’s worth pointing out. Pablo makes use of a second text color to great effect. It adds a depth to the text that stands out from the average eBook and the color chosen works equally well on all 3 kindle android backgrounds. I like to read with white text on a black background and I’ve had some bad experiences with font colors that blatantly don’t work in that context. kudos.
After spending a short time with this eBook my main reaction is that I’d love to see the same treatment for other writers I love. Paul di Filippo comes immediately to mind since he has such a large catalog of great short fiction and non-fiction articles. A number of other writers that are already embracing eBooks for their short fiction might consider similar bundles. Possibly others have, and I’d love to be pointed in that direction. This could also be a way for a small group of authors to cross promote each others’ works. In any case, I’m looking forward to checking out the second issue of Strangeways and will be keeping my eye out for other Pablo Defendini designed eBooks.