My original thoughts before reading:
Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette?
Holy shit sherlock thats an authorgasm. ungh.My Actual Review:
In Emma Bull's own words, Shadow Unit is fan fiction for a tv series that never existed. Bull thought up this fantastic urban fantasy type tv series, taking ideas from her old favourites such as x-files
and The Man from UNCLE
, and then brought on board some of her writer friends to collaberate and write for it.
To compare it to more recent tv shows, it has a lot in common with Alphas
one of my favs. The series revolves around a small branch of the FBI, the 'Anomalous Crimes Task Force' also commonly called 'the shadow unit', whose job it is to identify and track down Gammas. Who are humans infected with an unknown substance (simply called the 'anomaly'). No one knows what the anomaly is, whether parasite, virus, bacteria etc, but it's effect on humans is to give them supernatural abilities, and then to bend their mind subtly to it's own purpose. Most Gammas end up using their abilities to harm or kill, and thats when the shadow unit gets called in.
The format of the book is as a collection of short stories, called episodes, each written by a different author, but all set within the same universe and timeline. The first episode Breathe
makes a very good introduction to the series. As it brings in the character Daphne Worth who has just joined the Shadow Unit team, and is as new to all this as we - the readers - are. Worth was originaly an EMT (thats paramedic for us brits), who trained up to join the team after a nasty encounter with a Gamma that resulted in the death of her colleagues. After meeting the team, Daphne gets to go on her first case. Several victims have been found suffocated to death without any apparent external cause. The Gamma that did it is still out ther, and the team are racing against the clock to put all the evidence together and catch the Gamma before the Gamma takes its next victim.
If you can tell from my comment when I first noticed this series, I was a little excited about the authors involved. In my teens, I loved Emma Bull's lesser known cyberpunk novel Bone Dance. And in the last year or two I've turned into a huge
fan of Sarah Monette, I just think she's the bees knees when it comes to fantasy involving lgbt characters, and I'm reading everything of hers that I can get my hands on. I haven't actually read any of Elizabeth Bear's solo work, but her collab work with Sarah Monette is really good. Her work on Shadow Unit
has further convinced me that I need to explore some of her stuff soon.
The shadow unit series features a really interesting cast of characters that really draw you in, some great writing, and an inovative new twist to the urban fantasy/paranormal genre.
The episodes were all originally published on the Shadow Unit website
. They're still all there and available free of charge if you wish to go through them that way. Theres a helpful wiki built thats immensly helpful. The page for reading order
of the episodes is the best place to start if you want to go down that route.
Or.. Most of the episodes have been released collected together in ebook format. This being the first novel, a collection of the first four episodes and extra material. It's easier on the eyes than reading on the website, they're really cheaply priced (72 pence, you can't go wrong!), and of course you would be supporting the authors. Available on Amazon