Indexing is a new serial by Seanan McGuire, available from Amazon.com through the Kindle store. I discovered it because I made the mistake of reading one of those periodic e-mails Amazon sends out, you know the ones where they recommend things for you. They’re dangerous, dangerous things and my wallet doesn’t like them very much. In fact, they’re one of the prime reasons that I don’t let Amazon show me pictures in their e-mails.
But the name caught my eye. I’ve already mentioned one of McGuire’s works in this spot before, the very high quality October Daye novels. Indexing plays around in very different headspace, running with themes of self-generating narrative similar to Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series. This is weird, very metanarrative stuff. As far as I know the idea first started with Terry Pratchett but has become more popular over time (or maybe just speaks to the breadth of Pratchett’s influence on modern fantasy). It may only appeal to the literary minded.
The basic idea of a self-generating narrative (or SGN from here on out) is that there are stories out there, and some unknown force causes them to play out over and over again, frequently bending or breaking the laws of nature to create the necessary circumstances. There’s problems with the concept of SGNs and the implications that most authors give to them that the more logically minded might question. But the whole point is not to think too logically and just enjoy the ride.
In short, SGNs offer a chance for fractured fairytales on a grand scale, giving the author license to mix, match, avert and otherwise put their own spin on classic tales. Indexing looks to be no exception. It focuses on members of a special government task force who’s job is to deal with SGNs before they get out of hand. However, since Ive only read the first few installments of the series, gauging it’s exact tone and the level of the story behind the stories, so to speak, is a pretty iffy game. Still, if you like the idea of story on top of stories, McGuire looks to be bringing a pretty good one to the table.
What’s really cool about this, at least to my mind, is the fact that Indexing is really taking advantage of changing technologies to bring readers a good experience. The serial will update every two weeks with a new installment, but you only have to pay for the book once. After that, each installment is synced to your Kindle (or iPad/desktop app) as soon as it comes out and you can pick up reading right where you left off. Neat! Plus, it looks like while it’s running as a serial you get a considerable discount on the final price. It’s worth talking a look at.
Totally unrelated to the above: Indexed is a sort of webcomic, published on Tumblr by Jessica Hagy. It uses simple line graphs and Venn diagrams, and occasionally something a little more complicated, drawn on the back of index cards, to make humorous and sometimes insightful points. It updates most every weekday and is a lot of fun to read. Check it out!