We have all heard the phrase, “print is dead,” and while the mountain of ads and ARCs that have showed up on my doorstep this winter begs to differ, e-books seem to be really making the case. Serial Box, an app launched back in 2015, delivers chapters written like individual episodes of a TV show right to your phone or tablet. These chapters can be either read as e-books or listened to as audio programs similar to old timey radio show. While they haven’t quite gotten around to that Captain Midnight reboot yet, Serial Box did win a World Fantasy Award last year. The first episode of each Serial Box series is free: just dangling there for cheap-os (like me) who can read one episode, then move on with their lives, or (more like me) people who read one episode and then buy an entire season, lying to themselves about possibly being able to leave any of these books unread.
Ninth Step Station presents a buddy-cop thriller set an alternate future where Japan is split between China and the US, just like Berlin for much of the late twentieth century. Tokyo detective Miyako Koreda finds herself assigned an American partner, Emma Higashi. At first the two don’t get along, but as they descend into Tokyo’s seedy underworld of cyborgs, organized crime, and spies, they are forced to work together or fall apart. A dark, dense read for everybody who likes their sci-fi cooked well, well done.
Stacks of legal thrillers might be great for grandpa, but First Street takes a millennial’s eye view at the American justice system through a diverse group of young law clerks. Charlotte, Odessa, Jack, and Gabriel all start as clerks for the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time. They all come from different backgrounds: nerdy Charlotte; Jack, a legacy hire; confident Odessa; and Gabriel, the veteran. These four rookies will face America’s tough political decisions as seen by its highest court.
TGON still loves Hamilton, so even though 1776: The World Turned Upside Down is merely a reference, we’re still into it. This nonfiction series features some Hamilton alumni in its cast, but it focuses on the historical personalities, who made 1776 the year we associate with the American Revolution. The first episode provides a much needed pop culture refresher on the lives of Thomas Paine and Henry Knox. Paine, rum aficionado and failed businessman, proves to be almost as much of a rascal as his buddy Benjamin Franklin while he finds himself paired with straight-laced Benjamin Rush in order to publish and distribute Common Sense, a pamphlet potentially even more explosive than the Declaration of Independence. Meanwhile in New England, hulking bookworm Henry Knox uses his brains and his brawn when he hauls salvaged cannons out of Fort Ticonderoga and establishes the Continental artillery corps. Maybe 1776: The World Turned Upside Down doesn’t go into Will Durant levels of detail, but it’s perfect for reading on a fifteen minute work break.
Serial Box offers lots of great new “shows” for readers of all, and these are just my top three. Withs offering ranging from Westerns to sci-fi to detective fiction, even a new series featuring Marvel’s Thor, Serial Box provides fascinating stories that short and easily digested.
Download the Serial Box app or check out serialbox.com for more.