Or, perhaps I should say, Rooksbridge!
Um, so, a little backstory. First, let’s talk about me.
I am not an early adopter. It’s true. I am the person who reads reviews, contemplates options, weighs variables, and finally makes an informed decision. Also, for most of my life, I’ve not really had lots of money to spend on experimental purchases. So I’m fairly conservative when it comes to investing money or time into something new.
Now, a little about Josh Roby. I first really interacted with Josh when he was working on his game Sons of Liberty, which I playtested at GenCon 2007 and proceeded to blab about a lot.
Since then, I had the opportunity to meet Josh and Meghann at GenCon 2008. My only regret about that meeting is that they live in Los Angeles. I wish they lived closer. Say, in Peoria. Then we’d have more opportunities to get together and hang out. Josh and I would argue religion and politics loudly over a beer while Meghann and Crystal hovered in the other room, making sure we didn’t kill each other. And, of course, Prudence and Hope would be playing in the other room, watched by my other children. It would be good times.
(Consider that an invitation, guys! Moving to Peoria is a great idea!)
So, last July, Josh announces a new project: Rooksbridge. This isn’t a game project; instead, it’s a serial fiction project. I look at it and even downloaded the free installment (“Dirty Work”). But, I never quite had the time to read it, and it slipped off my radar. Occasionally I’d see Josh talking about Rooksbridge on Twitter, but (not being an early adopter), I didn’t want to spend the money on something that I didn’t know about.
Then something wonderful happened.
Josh emailed me (among other folks) and offered me a copy of all five of the Rooksbridge stores that he has written so far. He said that he was needing to spread the word about Rooksbridge and that he was sending out these free copies to people he knew that might like Rooksbridge and would then be effective in talking about it. He was very clear that he wasn’t trying to buy good press or anything. He was just hoping that we’d like what he wrote and then talk about it.
Well, an appeal like that, coupled with free stuff, is hard to resist. So I figured I’d finally give Rooksbridge a chance. The price was right, and I was having a hard time focusing on longer works. And, as I say, I like Josh, and this was a chance to help him out.
So I read “Dirty Work”, the first chapbook of Rooksbridge.
I loved it.
Rooksbridge fits into the darker, grittier style of fantasy that has become popular over the last few years, such as A Song of Ice and Fire or The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. Rooksbridge has a significant advantage over these works: it’s much shorter. Josh says, “Each chapbook tells its own story, but together, the chapbooks tell a much bigger story set in a place called Rooksbridge. It’s not unlike a television series that you can read.” Actually, a better comparison is to an issue of a comic book, such as Fell. And it’s true. Each story does stand alone, but I can’t imagine reading just one. “Dirty Work” is probably the best as a stand-alone, but that’s simply because there’s no prior story to refer to.
I’m also impressed by Josh’s choice of format for releasing these stories. In short, he’s chosen all of them. Want to read these stories on your smartphone or computer? He has a PDF format for that. Want an actual hardcopy? He can do that for you. More into audiobooks? Yep, he has that, too.
And they’re cheap! The electronic copies are just $2.
Now, personally, I’d love to see Josh release periodic collections of these stories in print. Say, one per year or something like that. After all, I prefer reading my comics in trade paperback collections, not month by month. But, you know what? I finished the latest chapbook “Where There Is Smoke” a couple nights ago. And now I want more. Now!
Because of my bad experience with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, I made myself a rule that I never start a series that isn’t already finished. Whenever I’ve violated this rule, I’ve regretted it.
For Rooksbridge, though, I think I’m going to break my rule.