Fantasy. Mystery. Science Fiction. Romance. We know these genres from TV and comics and more, but in Genrenauts, each genre is also a world unto itself, inhabited by archetypal characters and filled with the tropes we all know and love.
When stories on these worlds go off-track, you send in the Genrenauts. This team of narrative specialists travels across dimensions to find, analyze, and fix broken stories. If they don't, the ripples manifest as violence and upheaval in our own world (when Science Fiction World goes off-track, scientific innovation stagnates and exploration halts; when Fantasy World goes off-track, xenophobia rises and cultural rifts widen, etc.).
Stand-up comedian Leah Tang is recruited to join the Genrenauts as stories are breaking at a record pace. Will she adapt to the bizarre and dangerous life of a Genrenaut, or will she end up as just another broken story?
Hi! I'm Michael R. Underwood, an author, podcaster, and publishing professional. I've written seven books across the science fiction & fantasy genres, including the Ree Reyes geeky urban fantasy series (Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Hexomancy), weird fantasy superhero novel Shield and Crocus, and supernatural thriller The Younger Gods. You might also know me from Hugo-finalist The Skiffy & Fanty Show, Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans, or as the Sales & Marketing Manager at Angry Robot Books. I'm coming to Kickstarter for Genrenauts, a series of science fiction adventure novellas.
In November 2015, I launched The Shootout Solution, the first episode in Genrenauts, a science fiction series in novellas. Episode two - The Absconded Ambassador - followed in February of 2016. And in April, Tor.com published "There Will Always Be a Max," a Genrenauts short story.
For more on the series, here's a video introduction:
The first two episodes were released with Tor.com Publishing, and they did a great job launching the series and helping get the word out.
But honestly, I’m champing at the bit to get these stories out to readers. Genrenauts was designed to feel like a weekly TV show or a radio serial, and I want to increase the speed of release to fit that feel. In discussions with Lee Harris, my editor at Tor.com, I realized that they weren’t in a position to publish four more Genrenauts novellas in 2016 in order to get the whole season out this year, so we agreed that I’d go ahead and publish the rest of the season myself. They have been and remain very supportive of the series.
Now I’m coming to you, the Wonderful People of the Internet, to ask for your help in continuing the series. All six episodes of Season One are written. Episode 3 is ready to publish, and Episode 4 is in final edits.
The cost of publishing these novellas on my own, to the same standard as Tor.com Publishing has set, will be high.
Therefore, I’ve decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Complete Genrenauts Season One Collection, including Episodes 1-6 and special extras (approximately 170,000 words in total).
If we succeed, I will be able to publish ebook and paperback editions of the complete first season. And with stretch goals, possibly even audiobooks for Episodes 3-6. The very flexible contract terms with Tor.com Publishing explicitly allow me to publish this collected edition, and I’m really excited to bring it to life.
In Genrenauts, each book is an 'episode,' organized into 'seasons' of six episodes each. Each episode tells its own story, while building a season arc and the overall arc of the series. The series is planned to run five seasons in total.
Here's a run-down of season one:
Episode 1 -The Shootout Solution – Struggling stand-up comic Leah Tang is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the Genreauts as they head to the Western world to stop a bandit posse on the rampage.
But the Western’s hero isn’t interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance… (Read a free excerpt)
Episode 2 -The Absconded Ambassador– When a breach is discovered in Science Fiction World, Leah gets her first taste of space flight. A peace treaty is about to be signed on space station Ahura-3, guaranteeing the end of hostilities between some of the galaxy’s most ferocious races, but when the head architect of the treaty is unexpectedly kidnapped, it’s up to Leah and her new colleagues to save the day. (Read a free excerpt)
Episode 3 – The Cupid Reconciliation – Wounded Genrenaut Mallery York returns to active duty just in time for the team to deploy to the Romantic Comedy story region. Mallery takes the lead, bringing her expertise to bear as the team plots a grand reunion between two estranged lovers – hacking social networks, running confidence games, and doing whatever it takes to make sure the story ends in Happily Ever After.
Episode 4 – The Substitute Sleuth – A scouting mission to the Police Procedural region of Crime World becomes a scramble to fill the shoes of detective archetypes in order to solve a pair of nested mysteries. King and Leah become an odd-couple-style pair of detectives. But there's more going on here than a simple crime of passion...
Episode 5 & 6 – The Failed Fellowship – The two-part season finale! Our team travels to Traditional Fantasy-land where the prophesied hero has died just before his moment of triumph. The Genrenauts have to take on the roles of Wizard, Paladin, Bard, and more. They'll need to find a new MacGuffin in order to defeat the Night-Lord before his arcane power brings about an eternal night of terror. In Episode 5, the heroes arrive in the story world and seek the new MacGuffin. In Episode 6, they confront the Night-Lord and uncover a secret with implications across the multiverse.
Some reviews for Genrenauts:
“A clever, exciting, and seriously fun twist on portal fantasy…Sign me up to be a Genrenaut, too!”
–Delilah S. Dawson, author of the Blud series, Hit, and Wake of Vultures, written as Lila Bowen
“I have this sinking feeling that the Genrenauts series, with its raucous meta-commentary upon the stories of pop culture, is going to say important things that I might not be clever enough to catch the first time around because I’m too busy enjoying the books.”
–Howard Tayler, Hugo Award winner and creator of Schlock Mercenary
“…a rollicking exploration of western tropes, with hints of a larger conspiracy afoot. Underwood has plans for a lot more of these, and I can’t wait to read them.”
–Joel Cunningham, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“In a real sense, [Genrenauts] will help make me a reader more cognizant and aware of conventions and devices in genre fiction, making me a savvier reader for it.”
-Paul Weimer, SF Signal
“…it’s a heck of a lot of fun the way Galaxy Quest is: a little goofy, a little serious but not taking itself too seriously, and filled with a fondness for the source material that gives it weight without weighing down the story.”
-Samantha Holloway, New York Journal of Books
Breakdown of costs:
34% = Editing - This pays for professional developmental edits, copyedits, and proofing for Episodes 3-6. 12% = Art & Design- This pays for the cover art/design for the omnibus. 25% = Printing- This pays for printing the estimated first batch of print editions to fulfill the campaign. 16% = Shipping - This pays to ship the physical rewards. 5% = Formatting & Title Costs - This pays for getting the omnibus set up in retailer systems to sell after the Kickstarter rewards are fulfilled. 8% = Fees - This covers Kickstarter's portion as well as credit card processing fees.
UNLOCKED! - 150 Backers - STORY WORLD DOSSIERS – If we reach 150 backers to the project, I will create a separate ebook (approximately 10,000 words) of genre analyses for the genres visited in season one (Western, Space-based Science Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Odd Couple Police Procedural, and Traditional Fantasy). Each essay will talk about the (sub)genre in question, its thematic and cultural uses on earth, and how I worked it into the Genrenauts universe. All backer levels receiving ebook editions of the Season One omnibus will receive DRM-free copies of the Story World Dossiers.
UNLOCKED - 200 Backers - HARDCOVER EDITION! I've added the SPECIALIST backer level for a signed & numbered limited hardcover of the Season One Omnibus. You can also upgrade your paperback copy to a hardcover - instructions below.
The following backer levels will automatically get a hardcover edition of the omnibus without needing to upgrade - VETERAN GENRENAUT, NARRATIVE TRAINING, GENRENAUTS CONSULTATION, DINE WITH THE GENRENAUTS, HIGH COUNCIL.
$9,000 - EPISODE THREE AUDIOBOOK – At this level, we will be able to produce a high-quality audiobook edition of Episode Three – The Cupid Reconciliation, which will then be made available at audio retailers. We'll bring back acclaimed audiobook performer, puppeteer, and multiple Hugo Award Winner Mary Robinette Kowal, who performed the audiobook for Episodes One and Two, as well as Celebromancy and Attack the Geek from my Ree Reyes series.
Mary and her audio producer are excited to continue with Genrenauts, so they're giving me a competitive rate. Like any professionals, they must be paid for their time and expertise, and quality audiobooks are expensive to produce. These stretch goals are the lowest I can reasonably set them, and will include personal investment from me for each - but I really love audio fiction, and want to make these happen.
If we hit this level, I'll add the audio edition as a new reward level, and a digital copy of the audiobook for Episode 3 will be added to the OPERATIONS backer level and above.
$12,500 - EPISODE FOUR AUDIOBOOK – At this level, we will be able to pay to record Episode Four – The Substitute Sleuth, as well.
As with the first audio goal, backers will be able to pick an audio-only level for all available editions, and audio will be added to the OPERATIONS level and above.
$16,000 - EPISODE FIVE & SIX – At this level, we'll be able to record The Failed Fellowship, completing the entire season in audio! This will make sure that audio listeners will be able to complete the season.
As with the first audio goal, backers will be able to pick an audio-only level for all available editions, and audio will be added to the OPERATIONS level and above.
Those that know me may be aware that I am a fan of whimsy. And I am not afraid to be shameless in order to support this campaign. to that end, here are some whimsy goals:
YOUTHFUL EMBARRASSMENT - If the campaign reaches 300 backers, I will record a reading of some of my early fiction, including stories written in college. It will be embarrassing, and it will be awesome.
HAMILTON COVER - If we sell out of the NARRATIVE TRAINING ($250) OR GENRENAUTS CONSULTATION ($500) backer levels during the campaign, I will post a video of me covering "You’ll be Back" from the Hamilton musical. Backers will see the video first. If we sell out of both levels, I will cosplay as Balmer King George III for the performance (Balmer King George = Kitschy as hell, because Baltimore)
LIVE-TWEET OF SUFFERING - For every audiobook stretch goal we hit, I will live-tweet a ridiculous SF/F movie. Options include CLASH OF THE TITANS, STARCRASH, and LADYHAWKE. Backers will vote on which movie(s) to watch.
Since we hit the 200 backers level, I've made Hardcover editions available. You can adjust your pledge to the SPECIALIST level, or you can modify your pledge to get the hardcover as an add-on instead of your paperback. It will cost $50 per hardcover if you pledged at GENRENAUT or below (Max 3), $25 if you backed at OPERATIONS (Max 1) or $20 per copy upgraded from paperback to HC for GENRENAUTS FIELD OFFICE (Max 5).
1) Press the 'Manage Pledge' button above. If you have not yet backed the project, it will say 'Back This Project.'
2) Increase your pledge in the 'Pledge Amount' by the total of the add-ons you want to add.
3) At the end of the Kickstarter campaign, you will receive a survey that will ask you questions so you can explain how you would like the add-on money assigned.
Michael R. Underwood (Author) Michael R. Underwood is the author of eight books: Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Hexomancy, Shield and Crocus, The Younger Gods, The Shootout Solution, and The Absconded Ambassador. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. Always books.
Mike lives in Baltimore with his wife and their ever-growing library. In his rapidly-vanishing free time, he studies historical martial arts and makes pizzas from scratch. He is also a co-host on the Hugo Award-Finalist The Skiffy and Fanty Show as well as Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans.
Bryon Quertermous (Developmental Editor) Bryon has over a decade of publishing experience in editing, including his last position as an acquiring editor with Angry Robot Books's crime imprint - Exhibit A. He's also worked as a freelance editor for New York Times bestselling authors and published the award-winning crime zine Demolition for four years. Books he's edited have been selected as the best of the year by USA Today and Library Journal among others.
Richard Shealy (Copyeditor) - Richard has copyedited novels and projects for major SF/F publishers as well as small publishers and independent authors. Some copyeditors clean up your prose. Richard goes the extra mile, helping check logical consistency, timelines, and more. Richard is also a life-long reader of the genre, familiar with conventions and tropes and the range of tones and styles in SF/F.
Sean Glenn (Designer/Art Director) - Sean has a storied past with the worlds of fantasy and fiction — long time art director for Paizo Publishing and Wizards of the Coast, he oft regales folks with tales of his work on the Star Wars RPG, Pathfinder, Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and the Planet Stories Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction imprint. If you let him drone on, he’ll even tell you about the time he ate pizza with Chewbacca.
Risks and challenges
All of the novellas for Season One are written, but there is still some revision to be done. I have professionally published eight books with major publishers, so I am confident in being able to produce a polished manuscript.
The various partners I've selected for editorial and/or production assistance could have scheduling conflicts, causing delays as I seek out other partners.
Since I do not know how many physical copies will be required for backer rewards, there is the possibility of some variation in costs for printing, shipping, and fulfillment. I've built in a buffer for costs like this to the goal, which will help mitigate any problems with printing and/or fulfillment, but if the costs run over that buffer, there may be delays as I put in more of my own money to cover the overages.
You'll get a DRM-free digital copy of Episode Three of GENRENAUTS (THE CUPID RECONCILIATION) in the format of your choice (.epub, .mobi, or .PDF), PLUS behind-the-scenes access to my progress in completing the omnibus, PLUS your name will be listed in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments, showing my eternal gratitude.
You'll get a DRM-free digital copy of the GENRENAUTS Season One Omnibus in the format of your choice (.epub, .mobi, or .PDF), PLUS behind-the-scenes access to my progress in completing the omnibus, PLUS your name will be listed in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments, showing my eternal gratitude.
You'll get a paperback copy of the GENRENAUTS Season One Omnibus, a DRM-free digital copy in the format of your choice (.epub, .mobi, or .PDF), PLUS your name will be included in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments, showing my eternal gratitude.
Same as GENRENAUT, PLUS your paperback copy of the omnibus will be signed and personalized with thanks from Team Lead Angstrom King for your assistance in a mission PLUS you'll receive behind-the-scenes updates on my progress with Genrenauts and sneak-peaks for Season Two PLUS your name will be included in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments, showing my eternal gratitude.
This is the reward level for retailers (bookstores) and libraries. Only applicable if you are a retailer looking to sell the book or are buying for a public/academic/school library.
You'll receive five signed paperback editions of the Genrenauts Season One Omnibus, PLUS a DRM-free digital copy in the format of your choice (.epub, .mobi, or .PDF), PLUS eARCs of every episode of GENRENAUTS Season Two.
Additionally, the name of your store/library will be listed in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments. You will have my eternal thanks for your efforts in spreading the word of the Genrenauts' efforts to protect humanity and narrative.
Same as GENRENAUT, BUT instead of a paperback copy, you will get a signed & numbered limited edition hardcover of the Season One omnibus PLUS you'll receive behind-the-scenes updates on my progress with Genrenauts and sneak-peaks for Season Two PLUS your name will be included in the Season One omnibus acknowledgments, showing my eternal gratitude.
Same as OPERATIONS, PLUS you will also receive eARC and then final editions of Episodes 3, 4, and 5&6, PLUS an eARC of the Season One Omnibus several weeks before the final version, PLUS access to a backer-only Google Hangout party when the campaign completes, where I'll talk about plans for the series, answer questions, and give away signed copies of my other books.
Same as NARRATIVE TRAINING, but I will critique up to the first 25,000 words (instead of 10,000) PLUS in addition to receiving the feedback document and line notes on your writing project, we will schedule a one-on-one Skype call of up to an hour to discuss your work and/or the publishing industry (how to query, sales & marketing techniques, conventions, etc.) PLUS you will receive *three* signed & personalized copies of the GENRENAUTS Season One Omnibus,
Same as VETERAN GENRENAUT, but I will also treat you to a quality dinner at a convention during 2016 or 2017 (scheduling to be mutually determined), where we will dine and discuss writing and/or publishing. Transportation to the convention/event is up to you.
Same as VETERAN GENRENAUT, but you will be credited as an Executive Producer on Genrenauts Season One, AND when I begin writing Genrenauts Season Two, you will be credited as an Executive Producer, and we will work closely together to determine the genres, plots, and tropes used in the second season. Like the High Council and the Genrenauts, you will help guide the team and their missions. As the author, I will have final say on narrative choices.
You will also receive signed & personalized paperback copy of SHIELD & CROCUS, PLUS signed & personalized copies of THE SHOOTOUT SOLUTION and THE ABSCONDED AMBASSADOR, PLUS ebook copies of every Genrenauts story ever published (past and future)
Same as VETERAN GENRENAUT, but you will also receive a detailed critique of a query, synopsis, and the first 10,000 words of a fiction writing project (short story, novella, or novel), including a feedback summary document and line notes in the document.