Having completed the seven books that comprise my original vision for the Nod/Wells Timelines literary universe, I thought now would be a good time to take a step back and talk a bit about each volume in the context of the overall "series." Of course, the books don't really follow the form of a traditional series, with their non-linear presentation of various story elements and their multidimensional settings and crossovers; however, with the seven "core" books available, it's much easier to look at the effort as a whole, and how the individual pieces contribute to and support it.
For the purposes of this retrospective, I'm going to number the books to match their order of publication but as I've said many times in the past, my intent was always that they should be able to stand alone (telling their own unique, self-contained stories,) or be consumed in any order a reader might prefer to give them an individualized reading experience. That said, the following is the order they were written in and could therefore be considered an "ideal" way to consume them.
Book 1 - The Big Men
This "paranormal thriller" tells the story of a young man who has a fascination with men of power, authority figures with a distinct and distinguished appearance whom he believes to be leading idyllic and covetous lives that he both admires and envies. Through a unique and unusual series of events, the young man comes to find that he has the ability to literally drain the life and "power" from such men and use it to his own advantage, but not without a cost. What becomes of him and the "big men" he encounters? You'll have to read the book to find out. "The Big Men" begins the "Wells" branch of The Timelines with the introduction of Alan Wells and, as the name implies, features the introduction of several prominent characters such as Albert Cox and Robert Cross.
Book 2 - 309
A classic science fiction first-contact narrative with several unique twists, "309" tells the story of Lisa Hudson, a young journalism student who finds herself unexpectedly transformed when she becomes one of a scant few survivors of a sudden and brutal alien invasion that proves to be much more than meets the eye. This book begins the "Nod" branch of The Timelines with the introduction of Alex Nod.
Book 3 - Shards
This collection of short, related works has a strong horror bent, with several of the stories veering into some fairly dark territory in terms of subjects and outcomes; however, it also maintains the sci-fi, paranormal, and fantastical elements established in the first two books and references or builds off of elements from them, even as it sets up various plot points that pay off in later books. Noteworthy new and recurring characters that make appearances in "Shards" include Roy Carter, Alan Wells, Robert Cross, Ortin Fleck, Walter Briggs, and most-importantly, Franklin Nod, with "The Field Journal of Dr. Franklin Nod" serving as the initial point of deviation between the "Nod" and "Wells" timelines.
Book 4 - The Nemesis Effect
Set in the near future, this somewhat-traditional science fiction tale puts the Nod/Wells Timelines spin on the classic "save the world" narrative and establishes the groundwork for my vision of what humanity's future might look like if the events depicted in the other six "core" books were to play out as written. Noteworthy characters include Tom Hallett, Jacob Westbrook, Muriel Westbrook, Sophia Fields, and the introduction of Albert Nodwell.
Book 5 - Big Man Down
A continuation of "The Big Men," this "paranormal thriller" continues the story of Alan Wells in the "Wells" timeline and heavily references characters and events from "The Big Men" and "Shards" while still telling its own unique standalone story.
Book 6 - 500
A continuation of "309," this science fiction "adventure" brings together many of the characters and events from the other six "core" books to extend the "Nod" timeline in some exciting ways that I wouldn't dare spoil. Needless to say, fans of the other books will find a lot to like in "500" but, as with the releases that preceded it, it has been specifically crafted to also work as a standalone.
Book 7 - The Spiral and The Threads
Without question, this collection of shorter, related works, which could certainly be seen as a continuation of "Shards," is my most-challenging release to date in terms of what it asks of its readers. With a strong emphasis on horror, heavy and thought-provoking themes, and its copious references to characters and events from the other six "core" books, it's perhaps the worst-possible starting point for certain types of readers despite being constructed as a standalone experience like its predecessors. As I mentioned in this previous post, while "The Spiral and The Threads" does represent "an" end to The Timelines, it almost certainly won't be "the" end of them as I have many more stories I'd like to tell in the universe I've established.
Well, there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. As you might imagine, it's been an absolutely wild ride getting to this point and I don't know if I could ever adequately describe what it feels like to have finally reached it after nearly seven years of painstaking effort. Obviously, I'm very proud of "The Nod/Wells Timelines" and what I believe it represents, a modern, unique, and compelling speculative fiction reading experience built to stand the test of time. Of course, it's up to all of you to decide if that's actually the case but for what it's worth, I gave it my best shot and I like my odds.
Until next time, happy reading, everybody!