Four hundred years ago, when control of the world came to depend on naval power as never before, a courageous few set off on journeys of discovery and conquest that would alter the fates of nations in ways no-one could imagine.
But once they'd sailed the seven seas, what if they found another?
ARCHIPELAGO is a historical fantasy serial with multiple new episodes appearing every month. Imagine a blend of Moby Dick, Pirates of the Caribbean, Master & Commander and Game of Thrones - with Lovecraftian monsters lurking beneath the surface!
Archipelago isn't just about storytelling, though. Readers will have the opportunity to influence events as the adventure develops, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes devastating.
We launch in June and you can get a taste of what's to come right now, with three free stories appearing during May as we prepare to set sail.
We're offering digital rewards through Kickstarter as part of our promotional campaign, but before we uncover the treasures first we should introduce...
In the Seventeenth Century, great explorers sought out new lands, war fleets of powerful nations battled for control of the waves, and pirates pursued galleons loaded with treasures from the New World. But when a truly new world is discovered, the course of history is changed forever.
Mysterious portals begin to appear on the open sea, drawing the unwary and the foolhardy into unknown waters, scattered with islands where incredible treasures - and perils - await. Yet this isn't merely an eighth ocean: it is an ocean planet, with countless marvels and dangers lying just beyond the seemingly endless waves.
Three unwitting rivals seize this opportunity to tip the balance of power in their favour, unaware they are not alone in their quests - nor that they are drawing ever closer to each other...
Before there was a British Empire, England battled its European rivals for dominance over the waves. In 1610, privateers loyal to King James I are dispatched to plunder the Spanish treasure fleet as it departs the Americas - but before they can claim the New World’s richest prize, miraculous disaster strikes when an impossible portal transports the combatants from the Caribbean warmth to an unknown arctic ocean! But the deadly ice disguises an amazing secret, one which could forever upset the balance of European power, in England’s favour.
The first attempt to start an English colony in the Americas was ill-fated in the extreme - or so history tells us. In the aftermath of the Starving Time, early American settlers fled to Roanoke Island, site of the mysterious Lost Colony. There, they find a portal to an unclaimed world teeming with danger, and with artefacts that could make the most ordinary person more powerful than a king. Straddling the New World and the newer world, Roanoke becomes an epicenter of exploration and ambition, completely hidden from the outside world... for now.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Ajuran Suldaanate makes plans of its own when a third portal opens off the coast of Somalia. The city of Mogadishu has long been a jewel in the Horn of Africa, a vital port and centre of a trade network that spans three continents - and now two worlds. The Suldaan establishes the city of Al'Tahj, his most closely-guarded secret: capital of a new empire, one founded on naval excellence, raw bravery, and the power of blood...
Now you know a little about the story world, here's what we want to achieve with this campaign.
ARCHIPELAGO is effectively an online magazine. Our readers will enjoy a regular jolt of fantasy fiction available in their browser, by email, or via ebook. We're pleased to say we have a strong foundation: all start-up costs have been covered and the core content is prepared for delivery.
Now we want to get down to the true challenge of publishing a magazine: demonstrating that our stories have what it takes to satisfy our audience. We think they will, and by backing us here you'll help give us the chance to prove it, week-by-week, 52 weeks per year.
This campaign will provide valuable funds towards the cost of monthly ebook production, making that first year an easier journey - but if we exceed our target we'll get to work polishing our diamond in the rough: commissioning glossy new cover art for the Complete Season One book at the end of the year, and hopefully releasing it as ebook and print!
But now it's time for the important thing: what's in it for you?
We're offering our core rewards from as little as £2 because we want to spread the word as wide as we can. However, if you're interested in supporting at a higher level, you'll find a selection of other bonuses on the right that provide you with the chance to name a ship or appear on the Archipelago in person - even to discover your very own island...
The real treasure of the Archipelago is the serial itself - intertwining tales that will go out to subscribers three times a month. However, in parallel with our promotional campaign we're offering these exclusive digital rewards to whet your appetite for adventure:
The Ebook Primer
Our Kickstarter-only ebook will include:
- the three Prologue stories from our promotional month: "In Extremis" by Andrew Leon Hudson, "Whatsoever is New" by Kurt Hunt, and "The Ur-Ring" by Charlotte Ashley
- the Season One World Guide, featuring an ecological exploration of the Archipelago, faction profiles and biographies of key characters
- the exclusive, unavailable-anywhere-else prequel story "The Deepness, Near and Far" by Andrew Leon Hudson
If we exceed our target that's just the start of things - hitting our push goals will unlock more exclusive fiction from our other authors!
And, of course, all our backers will be thanked by name in The Crew Roster at the end of the ebook, as well as via Twitter if they so desire.
The Artwork Collection
To dress up the background of your preferred device, we're offering a set of wallpapers suitable for smartphones, tablets and computers. If we blow through our primary push goals we'll expand this set as well!
And while we're on the subject...
Our campaign will be triggered as soon as we collect just one-hundred pieces-of-eight (or "English pounds", as they're now known), but that doesn't mean we can't gather an even greater treasure trove!
Push One - £150 - MET!
If we hit one hundred-and-fifty ducets, we'll add a second exclusive story to the Ebook Set, this one by Kurt Hunt, plus an additional wallpaper design to the Artwork Set!
Push Two - £200 - MET!
Two hundred doubloons, you say? Well, better make that another bonus wallpaper, plus a third exclusive story, this time from Charlotte Ashley!
Push Three - £500
Bringing the Archipelago to vivid life! If we reach £500, we will commission custom Archipelago art from an established fantasy artist. This artwork will grace our Year One ebook, and wallpapers of it will be added to every pledge of £2 or over!
ARCHIPELAGO is a competitive collaborative project - a battle between three speculative fiction authors, in which the pen and the sword may be equally dangerous. Interconnecting tales of action, adventure and exploration will ultimately weave together into a conflict spanning two worlds - and there can be only one victor. But who are the competitors?
Charlotte Ashley is a writer, editor, bookseller, and reckless thrill-seeker whose stories are all mostly true. Since moving to Toronto, Canada, she has dabbled in the arts of fencing, parkour, capoeria, and LARPing, applying the lessons learned to her skill at writing rollicking swashbuckling adventures. Her stories have appeared in F&SF, PodCastle, the Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and numerous anthologies. She has been nominated for both the Sunburst and Aurora Awards, and once wrote and performed a science fiction musical from the equipment of a CrossFit gym. You can learn more about her at Once-and-Future.com or on Twitter @CharlotteAshley.
Kurt Hunt was formed in the swamps and abandoned gravel pits of post-industrial Michigan. At 17, he fell in love and moved into a shabby Chicago apartment instead of that fancy school he planned to attend, a decision that convinced him that the best things in life cannot be planned but must instead be conjured through a combination of good luck and poor impulse control. His fiction has been published at Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and PodCastle, among others, and he co-edited the 2016 "Up and Coming" anthology of writers eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Andrew Leon Hudson is an English writer, editor and designer based in Europe, a ten-year resident of Madrid with the local vocabulary of an introverted three-year-old at best. He is only now coming to terms with the stunning moment of culture shock that came with realising Sir Francis Drake (one of England’s great naval heroes, especially famed for his victory over the Spanish Armada) is viewed in his chosen home as nothing but a despicable pirate. He became involved with the Archipelago project as a way of working through this nautical trauma, and you can track his general therapeutic progress at his pseudonymous website.
They do say No Pain, No Gain, don't they? Well, "they" aren't always right...
Risks and challenges
Put your mind at ease, landlubber: there's no risky waters here. All three of our contributors have experience publishing indie-projects, one of us has run a successful Kickstarter campaign before, our exclusive KS-rewards are ready and waiting to set sail, and so is the magazine.
Whether or not this campaign meets its goals, ARCHIPELAGO will happen. In fact, our first promotional chapter has already gone live, and you can read it now for free, with more to follow during the month:
We hope you'll develop a taste for adventure, and join us on this one!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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