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Paper Please

By Eli James, editor

Dec 19, 2008: Adam of Penfencer once commented that a vast majority of web fiction in our sphere is of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I thought about that, and I realized that it was probably due to two things.

For starters, most writers on the Internet today are early adopters – geeks, tech whizzes, people who grew up with a love for the laser gun and the starship.

Secondly, and probably most importantly, stories with a sci-fiction/fantasy setting are far easier to pull off in a digital format. The screen presents a set of challenges familiar to any web fiction reader: you need to be immediately drawn in, or you’ll lose interest and click on something else very fast. A sci-fi/fantasy premise provides an easy hook.

Runner’s Moon is not sci-fiction, nor is it fantasy. It is a realistic, traditional novel filled with real characters and dotted with ordinary events. There is no easy wow factor here, and so the story struggled to catch my attention on screen. It suffers for it.

As I read Runner’s Moon I kept wishing to get my hands on a paper version. This is in itself misleading: normally – and web fiction is a big part of my daily online diet – I would have dropped the whole web-novel after the first two paragraphs. But this time I was reviewing it, and so I had no choice but to plough through. As such a paper version was very much at the top of my wishlist.

The thing is this: Wes Boyd can write. His works are erratic in quality – my editor friends in WFG tell me he improves over time, and his novels get progressively better. I’ve reviewed one of his novels before (Snowplow Extra) and I said then that he’s better suited to paper than to the screen. This is something that I repeat now – the big cast of characters in Runner’s Moon you’re thrown into from the get go, the detailed prose, the dedication to obscure subject matter (dog training, for instance), these qualities are better suited to the patient page, rather than the distracted website.

You may like this, but only if you have patience. Otherwise, go check out some other work, or start with Boyd’s most recent one (Andromeda Chained). You’ll thank your eyeballs for it.

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