Shadow Unit s a serial Web fiction by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette and Will Shetterly. In addition to the episodes available on the main website (now in its third season), many of the series’ characters have Livejournal blogs, allowing fans to interact with the characters. The series crosses Criminal Minds with The X-Files, adding a dash of several other paranormal TV series.
The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit hunts humanity's nightmares. But there are nightmares humanity doesn't dream are real.
The Behavioral Analysis Unit sends those cases down the hall.
Welcome to Shadow Unit
Though many Web fictions are serialized, the insistence on likeness to television drama is interesting. Breaking the narrative into episodes and seasons seemed limiting. At the end of each season, however, writers release “bonus content,” analogous to DVD extras, including “deleted scenes.” What an excellent idea! This way, writers can go back and fill plot holes, expand on certain characters without interrupting the pace of the overall narrative, explore counterfactual plots, and answer some of the cries of fans.
The idea of including interactive character profiles is narratively engaging. I have not read through all of the seasons, but my curiosity was immediately piqued when a link to one of the character’s profiles had a note next to it that read “No longer updated.”
This series is a step toward the maturation of Web fiction, and its appropriation of television tactics is a welcome move toward more engaging living Web narrative. The latest episode is available in RSS, ePub, PRC (Kindle), and PDF format. Seasons one and two are available in ePub.