Rabid readers of Andy Weir’s hit survival tale The Martian have been wondering what the computer programer-turned hard sci-fi author would write next – but the wait is over.
While Weir’s next traditional novel will be published by Penguin Random House at some point in the future, his latest offering is a short story collection called The Principles of Uncertainty which will be “published” on the new short-form mobile app, Tapas. Weir told io9 he was enthusiastic about the new format, saying, “One area where something like Tapas could do really well is serials. It could take us back to the days of the Strand Magazine (which published the original Sherlock Holmes stories as serials). It would be neat to see that storytelling form resurrected.”
For Andy Weir, teaming with Tapas on his next project is totally on-brand. Initially, Weir’s The Martian was self-published in small installments, one chapter at a time. Only after securing a runaway readership of these self-published stories on his his own website (and a subsequent Amazon Kindle version) did Weir eventually sell the novel to Crown (Penguin Random House) for a traditional — and physical — book deal. Weir’s comment about The Strand Magazine suggests he envisions a widespread return to form of short stories (like Sherlock Holmes) or novel installments (like Oliver Twist) appearing in popular magazines of the 19th century.
Of course, The Strand Magazine still exists, as do innumerable other magazines which publish short fiction or novel excerpts constantly. (Also, most of the Holmes stories were stand-alone short stories, not serials).
But the distinction here is all about short stories (or short comics) which could thrive on mobile devices exclusively. Over on Linkedin, Tapas founder Chang Kim seems to imply that he and his company believe mobile devices could be like the magazines of old, saying “… we believe that the time spent on a smartphone isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that we can in fact utilize this time to promote a healthy, enriching, and engaging reading experience if we present stories in the right way.”
As an app, Tapas promises “bite sized” stories and comics based on how much you want to pay; different amounts of “Tapas coins” get you a different number of stories. The promotional language around Tapas unsurprisingly equates it to streaming services for other mobile subscription-based media like Netflix. Correlatively, text-based short story apps like Telepathic/Hooked have shown substantial growth recently. But, after the closure of e-book subscription platform Oyster Books last year, some publishing professionals began to wonder if there really ever could be a “Netflix for books.”
To be fair, Tapas is dealing with decidedly indie writers and seems to be offering its stories in a different format than just an ebook. For over a decade now, cries have been heard in book circles about the supposed “future of reading.” In terms of industry wild-cards, Andy Weir’s partnership with Tapas is definitely one development to watch. Plus, everyone can’t wait to read his new stories.
If you look up “The Principles of Uncertainty” on Amazon, you’ll find an excellent and hilarious book by artist Maira Kalman. BUT, if you want Weir’s new collection, The Principles of Uncertainty will be available next week exclusively on Tapas.