This mini-site serves as companion to Moonbound, the new novel by Robin Sloan, coming from MCD×FSG in June 2024.

Theory of the series

In it together

My vision isn’t just for a book, but a trilogy. The oppor­tu­nity to keep going will be contin­gent on the success of this initial offering, so I will need your support to probe the farthest reaches of scale. Moonbound begins in a village; the trilogy’s desti­na­tion is the cosmos, with mean­ingful stops at every zoom level in between.

But why write a series?

Because series are fun.

Okay. Why are series fun?

In my estimation, it has almost nothing to do with capacity. You don’t write a series merely to obtain access to more pages. You write a series to write a series.

What I mean is that the series is a genre unto itself, and its genre prop­er­ties are mainly temporal. The series is a work-in-time: THAT is what makes it fun.

Let’s back up, and begin with the case of a standalone novel. It is defi­n­i­tion­ally true that, by the time a reader encoun­ters a stand­alone novel, the writer has exited its world, and probably moved on to another project.

By contrast, the series, read in realtime, as it is being produced, puts writer and reader fully “in it together”.

I don’t think there’s anything else in publishing quite like the buzz of a multibook project underway, shared and anticipated. It’s wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to play in that sandbox?

There are other ways to do it, of course. Tolkien didn’t consider The Lord of the Rings a trilogy; for him, it was a single book, one that was substan­tially finished when The Fellow­ship of the Ring was published. The next two volumes appeared over the course of just one year: a stand­alone novel on an install­ment plan. (The Return of the King arrived a bit late because Tolkien was still finishing the appendix. See, that’s why I’m publishing my appendix — this mini-site — first.)

Likewise, Jeff VanderMeer’s path­breaking Area X trilogy arrived in the space of just eighteen months — more like a TV show than a series of books. A pace like that is nearly perfect, gener­ating antic­i­pa­tion without risking impatience. Area X remains one of the great publishing feats of the 21st century.

Yet I can also remember the pleasure of waiting for the Harry Potter books as they arrived, one every summer or so, over the course of ten years. What a way to spend a decade!

You might object that you can still read and enjoy a series many years after it’s been completed. That’s true, but remember: the series would not have succeeded — would not have circu­lated and found its way, eventually, to you — without that initial flux of realtime energy, which you might imagine as the pillar of flame beneath a booster rocket, lofting a literary payload into a stable cultural orbit.

Of course, we also have to consider the series that linger … and stretch … and slow … and stop. These are the great cautionary tales. Returning to my premise above, I think these series are so disappointing — so deflating — precisely because the writer has betrayed that electric sense of “in it together”. The writer is, in fact, hardly “in it” at all. What a bummer.

The novel titled Moonbound is finished, but the larger project is only beginning. This mini-site is my way of showing the degree to which this story and this world occupy all my thoughts.

I am in it, and I can’t wait for you to join me here.

First published: October 2023
Last updated:   April 2024