An amazing story was just self-published on Amazon. It takes place in a buried silo where population control is critical, the Down Deep is flooding, and loved ones are being put to death. It is suspenseful and gut-wrenching. It is based on Wool. And I didn’t write it.

This isn’t the first piece of fan fiction from the Wooliverse. Lacuna author David Adams brought us Shear Terror, a frightening and brilliant satire of Wool fandom-gone-wild. It took place within our world while referencing Wool, and rumor has it that David is now wrapping up another story from within the Wooliverse. Meanwhile, WJ Davies has just released one of his own.

I don’t want to spoil the plot; I’ll just say that The Runner is a fantastic story that deserves to be read. Davies riffs on the flashback structure of the original Wool and writes with an evocative style that I wish I could emulate. The concept of giving up rooms to save a silo is brilliant. You’ll have to read to see what I mean.

After diving into the story, I raved about it on Facebook, which sparked an interesting discussion. People want to know if this is okay with me. It most certainly is! WJ asked me for permission, and I readily granted it. His plan was to give the work away, but I told him he was crazy (the same thing I told David Adams a while back). I suggested he post the story on Amazon and charge for his hard work.

One commenter pointed out that technically this isn’t fanfic since it has a price, and while I agree with the distinction, I like to think we can have the best of both worlds. The writing in this story is top-notch, but the spirit is one of fanfic rather than licensing. Besides, I’m not making a cent off these works. Anyone can write them as far as I’m concerned. All comers have my blessing as a fellow writer (and as an appreciative reader).

Let’s not forget that the top-selling author of 2012 came from fan fiction. EL James’s series 50 Shades of Grey accounted for 1 out of every 20 books sold last year. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, the names were changed and the book edited to avoid the fanfic label, but why not celebrate the work’s origins? Whatever you think of the popularity of the series, I believe we should give this rise from reader to writer to bestseller a round of applause. I certainly do!
(Speaking of bestseller, The Runner has already cracked the top 100 in two Amazon categories! I like to think I took the first of many screen-caps to come in WJ Davies’s writing career. Lord knows, I’m an expert.)
Take a moment and think about the natural progression, here. New avenues of artistic expression have opened to readers in the past decade. In just a few years, I was fortunate to go from self-publishing to writing full-time. Fan fiction takes this one step further as it urges readers to transform themselves into self-published authors! What’s great about fan fiction is that one of the challenging aspects of writing — the World Building — is already done. Readers can dabble in a world they love, and perhaps they’ll move from there to create worlds of their own.
WJ messaged me on Facebook yesterday to let me know the story was live on Amazon, and then he told me how amazing it was to see his first review pop up. It gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes to write this (seriously), because I know how he feels. WJ said he could see how addictive this was, the ability to agonize over a story, brave the publishing of it, and then have it appreciated.
Dear readers, there is a lot to love about this and nothing to hate. The Runner costs a measly buck at Amazon right now. It is criminally under-priced. WJ Davies is also in the final editing stages of his debut full-length work of science fiction. Look for The Binary Cycle sometime in the Spring of 2013. Hey, maybe WJ will allow me to write in his world someday! 

75 Responses to “A New Wool Book! (And it isn’t mine)”

  1. TheWhistler says:

    If this was to be published in hard copy, your opinion would be?

  2. Dazrin says:

    So, if I haven’t read the Shift series yet (waiting for the omnibus), should I wait on this or go ahead and read it now? Don’t want to spoil them.

  3. Bob says:

    Would you consider this book ‘cannon’ ?

    • TylerK says:

      I’m also unclear as to whether or not this takes place “in-universe” or is an unrelated story with a similar theme/setting.

      I’m certainly planning on checking it out, but if it’s not canon I’ll probably wait until after Third Shift.

    • Bruce Leroy says:

      I came here to ask that exact question

      • WJ Davies says:

        I certainly wrote the story while striving to remain as true to the original series as possible. Yes, it takes place in a silo, but I didn’t mention any of Hugh’s characters *I wouldn’t dream of it*.
        As for whether this is canon, that’s not my call to make ;)
        If you’re going to read The Runner, just make sure you’ve gone through the Wool Omnibus first, as there are potential spoilers that are best revealed through Hugh’s original work.

  4. I consider fan-fic outright theft. You invented the characters, the plot, gave the whole thing life and have excited a great many readers with your work. (I’m blogging about it today).Glad to see you’re so sanguine about other people cashing in on your imagination. I’m waiting for YOUR next books in the Silo series.

    • I respect that opinion. However, I find that plot, character, and dialog are the hardest parts of writing. Wes created an amazing story that I never could’ve come up with on my own. I don’t see it as theft in the slightest. It’s just a great story in an existing and open world.

      John Scalzi made a bunch of money off a book called “Redshirts” that borrows heavily from Star Trek. The book will probably win the Hugo Award this year. And then there’s the Sense, Sensibility, and Zombies type stories. They require a lot of creativity.

      It should also be noted that these bits of fanfic were to be offered for free, but I encouraged the authors to charge for their work. Writing isn’t easy. If it brings enjoyment, it’s right and good for the creator to get their 35 cents per copy. :)

      • sonate10 says:

        “It should also be noted that these bits of fanfic were to be offered for free, but I encouraged the authors to charge for their work. Writing isn’t easy. If it brings enjoyment, it’s right and good for the creator to get their 35 cents per copy.”

        But it’s not 35 cents. And how much of those $3.74 goes to you, genuin creator? I think, nothing? Yes, I understand that you are more than generous in your opinion. but I agree with Judy – the fanfic author took YOUR ideas and YOUR world, and now he will earn on that. On the other hand I understand that writing requires a lot of work and it has to be awarded, but maybe a fanfic doesn’t have to have same price as the original work? Or, maybe, you Hugh have to take a little more for your books? I don’t know… Never liked to read fanfics either…

    • WJ Davies says:

      Judy, thanks for the comment. I know what you mean, and believe me, I struggled with the idea for days before I hit that publish button. If Hugh hadn’t given me the go-ahead I certainly wouldn’t have released this on the Amazon store. He’s been so open and encouraging to his fans, it’s so refreshing to see that kind of attitude from an author.

      I’m looking forward to reading your blog post. Good luck with your writing!

  5. piraterobot says:

    It’s great to see you’re so supportive of their work. This kind of attitude reminds me of older, more established athletes that help nurture the talents of younger, less experienced athletes that could one day take their job (or in your case book sales). Kudos Hugh! Your legacy (Wool!) will not only be secured by your great writing, but also by your genuine selflessness.

  6. WJ Davies says:

    “Davies riffs on the flashback structure of the original Wool and writes with an evocative style that I wish I could emulate.”

    Hugh, I was trying to emulate YOUR writing!

    Sincerest thanks for your kind words and encouragement. The Runner wouldn’t have been possible without your incredible series, and no amount of tributive fiction could ever replace your stories.

    Heck, I only wrote The Runner to make waiting for Third Shift more bearable!

  7. TheSFReader says:

    Ahh, if only it were available somewhere else than Amazon… I DON’T buy from Amazon. so won’t get this book.

  8. tom says:

    This is great. I can get a silo fix while waiting for Third Shift. I have been to Amazon so many times looking I’m hitting my bandwidth cap!

  9. Per Melin says:

    Congratulations to WJ Davies!

    PS. Books for a buck really highlights how Amazon is shafting international customers. I’m in Sweden and this book costs $3.74 for me.

      • sonate10 says:

        For me exactly the same! I’m in Norway – hei, nabo søta bror!

        Maybe Amazon thinks we europians are much richer than poor americans, but I fell myself like untermensch.

    • WJ Davies says:

      Sorry to hear that Per Melin. If you send me your email addy I’ll send you my next book for free. I don’t see why international customers should have to pay a cent more.

      • Per Melin says:

        A most gracious offer, but nonsense! This is not your fault. I feel bad enough that you won’t see any of the 274% I paid extra.

        The first generation international Kindle had no wifi, only 3G, and I think initially they excused tacking on a couple of dollars to the price of books by calling it a delivery fee. But these days you can have a wifi only Kindle, or read on your iPad, and you will still be paying more.

        All Amazon ebooks are not more expensive though. The Wool Omnibus for example is $5.99, which I believe is the same as over there? I wish I knew how their pricing works.

      • sonate10 says:

        WJ, ask Amazon what they are doing with the 274% profit on your work! It will be very interesting to hear their opinion on this matter.

    • Narciso says:

      I just go it, for $1.19.
      I’m from Spain, though my account is much older than the Spanish Amazon site (amazon.es). They always try to make me switch my account from .com to .es, but I won’t.
      Did you get it from amazon.com or from one of the European sites?

      • Per Melin says:

        Narciso, I got it from amazon.com.

        There’s no amazon.se so they are usually nudging me towards amazon.co.uk instead, but I’ve never found a reason to use it over amazon.com. And in this case they won’t even let me buy The Runner there; “This title is available to UK customers only.”

        • WJ Davies says:

          Per Melin,
          Were you able to find a copy that a) doesn’t bankrupt you and b) that you are able to purchase?

          If you’re having trouble, shoot me an email. wjdaviesauthor at gmail.com

          • Per Melin says:

            I got the book, no problem.

            I’m only lamenting about this here because I figure that you and many other Kindle Direct authors may not know how fractured price and availability is outside of the US.

  10. Steve B says:

    OK, purchased. I would have thought something like this would violate some sort of copyright, but if the original author puts his stamp of approval on it then it’s OK with me. I think it says a lot about the influence of the Wool series on our imaginations that people are writing fan fiction already. Congrats to both of you!

  11. Jacqui Lim says:

    I agree that fanfic is a great way to get started writing. Although I would say that as well as having the World Building already in place, I would say that a lot of the time, character is also already developed. I started writing Star Trek TNG and Farscape fanfic and I found that I found it easier to get write the characters because I knew them so well already. And it did help me to focus on other aspects like dialog and plot (not that I was conscious of that at the time but looking back I believe that is what it allowed me to do). Now I am trying to write my own stories, (short and full length) and it seems right to be doing that now. I don’t think I could have launched straight into writing my own stories. I have so much more to learn about writing and it will take me ages to finish what I am working on but fanfic really helped me get to this point. Hugh, I am so glad that you have such a great attitude to that and recognise the role that fanfic plays in the evolution of a writer.
    Ultimately though, fanfic is a homage to the original narrative and characters (its a no brainer that I started writing Farscape fanfic when the show was cancelled) and when fans write fanfic, they always write out of love.
    So good on you, WJ Davies, I hope you get lots of great feedback (I’ll download it soon) and that helps you in making that leap to your own stories (I so related to what you said about writing it to make the wait for Third Shift more bearable…. that’s what I did with Farscape but alas the show is pretty much still buried).

    • WJ Davies says:

      “I agree that fanfic is a great way to get started writing.”

      So true! I’ve written a full length novel (110,000 words) and decided to put it away for a couple weeks to let it ruminate before I began the edits. In the meantime my fingers were itching for that keyboard and I found myself writing in Hugh Howey’s world. The story took off on its own and after the first few chapters I just had to keep going! It definitely turned into something much more involved than what I had planned.

      Creating The Runner was a fantastic experience and I learned a ton about writing and editing that I wouldn’t have otherwise. If you have a story in your heart, just write it! Nothing bad will ever come from exercising your creative abilities.

      • greg says:

        To bad you “dumped” out so many “WOOL $ Silo” spoilers in the first 50 pages.

        I saw it as as someone trying to hitch a wagon on Hugh’s rising star. I bought it, read 50 or so pages then deleted in in minor anger.

        • WJ Davies says:

          Hey Greg, I read your review on Amazon. I appreciate you leaving your feedback.
          Sorry to hear you’re upset by the spoilers. I wrote the story not intending to step on Hugh’s toes at all in terms of his story. The potential spoilers I reveal in The Runner can be found within Wool 1-3, and I was intending that people who pick up my book will have already read Hugh’s Omnibus version. I didn’t mention anything pertaining to the Shift series (nor would I have dared).
          Again, thanks for your views. Maybe you’ll find some enjoyment in my full-length novel due out this spring. (it’s a wholly original work so no spoilers there!)

  12. Well you talked me in to it just got my copy :)

  13. Sheila C says:

    I really enjoyed it! And I think it was written with the right spirit; he was definitely a fan of the Wool Universe and did it justice. You are so kind for not only giving your approval, but for promoting his story! Yet again, showing your true nature…which is fabulous!

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Mr. Davies is a fine writer, and hopefully we will see more from him!

  14. RrustyDawg says:

    I think your attitude throughout the Wool period has established that you welcome the active participation of your fans. From cover art to strap lines, you are always involving Woolies.

    I hope any future prospective silo fanfic writers will emulate W J Davies example and bring their “A game” material!

    Well done, Hugh and W J.

  15. Roshawn says:

    Hugh, you’re truly one of a kind. Most authors would be getting legal counsel to see about stopping someone else from profiting off their work, but you’re actually encouraging it, reading it, and promoting it!

    I liked Shear Terror by David Adams (need more of that.) This story by WJ Davies sounds interesting. Given your praise of the work, I’ll definitely give it a read. Hey, a guy has to get his WOOL fix any way he can. ;)

    Here’s hoping Davies’ fanfic makes some noise.

    May thy skills as a writer increase greater still, Hugh. :D

  16. Mark says:

    Excited to read this, hope it shows up on amazon UK soon.

  17. Kelly Bailey says:

    Hugh, I love that you want people to play in the world you created. You have painted such a vivid picture of life in the silos that it’s hard for imagination not to get the best of me. It is not uncommon for me to get lost in a silo early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes I am a Porter gliding up and down the levels. Other times I’ve been in IT and have uncovered the big secret all by myself, but my favorite is being the Sheriff–who knows the secret– and having to figure out how to overthrow IT.

    I do not fancy myself a writer nor have I attempted fan fiction, but story telling fascinates me. I am a photographer and videographer and I get to tell stories visually, but I have always wanted to tell a narrative story visually, rather than just capturing moments in time. Your stories and your personal story have been part of the reason I’ve started working on my writing.

    Thank you!

  18. Amazer says:

    Re: “I consider fanfic outright theft…”
    You haven’t, apparently, ‘considered’ the fact that Mr. Howey gave WJ permission & encouragement to write AND publish for $. This was a generous and selfless act on Mr Howey’s part, not one of thievery or personal aggrandizement on Mr. Davies’. One does not characterize receiving a birthday present as stealing!
    I know Mr. Davies personally and can attest to the astonishment he exhibited the day after Mr Howey gave WJ the go-ahead to write and publish his story. The look on his face said how much it meant to him. WJ had been going on (and on ;)) about the series & author. His exuberance brought home how much of a fan he is of Mr Howey’s. I was fortunate to be able to witness WJ’s efforts and growth as a writer as he moved through the process.
    I can honestly say that WJ’s concentration was centered on two things: Crafting a good story & staying true to Mr Howey’s main story line.

    It’s great to have a position, but it’s even better to be able to change position from time to time so you don’t get too stiff.

  19. Dennis says:

    I finished Second Shift earlier today and came to the website to see if there was an update on when Third Shift would be available and found Hugh’s endorsement of The Runner. I bought it and finished it this evening and I have to say, it was really, really good. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with HH for being so…what’s the word I’m looking for… accommodating and supportive would both fit, of other authors using his work as a setting and inspiration. Wool already put HH in my favorite author’s list, and this act of generosity has further elevated him as a class act in my eyes. I can’t wait for the next book from both HH and Davies!

  20. Don Crawford says:

    Just started reading The Runner. It looks good! I think it’s great that Hugh has given permission for a story in the silo universe. It is a fertile universe that I suspect may stimiulate other side stories in the future. One of my favorite universes of all time is Asimov’s universe whre the Foundation and Robot series take place. I was always looking for other stories in that universe and there are some including the 3 authorized stories by the 3 B’s (Brin, Bear, Benford). Loved the Hari Seldon and Daneel characters from those series. Bear’s Foundation and Chaos is the best (IMO) not written by the master himself.

  21. janice says:

    Hugh, you are an inspiration to me, not only as a writer(I’m writing again for the first time in twenty years) but now as a person. Oh and thanks for recommending The Remaining series, I’m really enjoying it!

  22. greg says:

    If someone were to buy this book before they read WOOL or any of the Silo series the spoilers would ruin the whole mystique that Hugh created in 7 books.

    Sorry WT, I’m not a fan of fanboys riding on others coattails.

    • Dennis says:

      The Runner does contain spoilers for Wool 1-5 (not at all for 6-7). It might be a good idea to have a spoiler warning at the front of the story.

      As to your other point, there is a long history of authors allowing other writers to create stories within universes they created. Asimov’s Foundation and Larry Niven’s Known Space come to mind. If it is done with the author’s permission and bring us more excellent reading material, I honestly can’t see why you or others would have a problem with it.

  23. Rannveig says:

    I’m new to this ebook thing but I want give it a go because after reading this blogpost I’m really exited about the new wool story!

    Can someone tell me how it works if you don’t own a kindle? If I purchase an ebook on amazon can I read it on my computer? In which format does it come?

    If it’s not possible is there any other way I can get my hands (eys) on The Runner?
    Thanks
    /R

  24. Gregory Gerardt says:

    Since I see you are commenting, WJ Davies, just wanted to let you know I picked up your book from Amazon. I am excited to read it soon. Also, thank you for making it “lend-able” so I can share it with others.

  25. ChristyACB says:

    I read the piece and really enjoyed it. While it did use two places in your universe, it has so much potential for ripples that could be very interesting. Any plans to let those “ripples” (trying not to give spoilers) show up in your continued story? Also, which silos?

    And finally, thanks for bringing this one to our attention. As a general rule, I have mixed feelings about FanFic, particularly in a constrained universe. They can “use up” important spots the author might need and can introduce elements the author can’t reconcile in later work if the FanFic gets too prominent. Only in big wide universes where there is no real limit do I think FanFic is easily placed. But Bravo to you for approving of this. What a great side journey.

  26. Louise van Hine says:

    First off, congratulations WJ Davies on your fic, it must be great to have the author of “Wool” endorsing you so solidly! Second of all, hats off to you, Hugh, for your enlightened attitude regarding the organic growth of transformative (i.e. fanfiction) use of art. It is a mature recognition of how literature is received, and like a seed, can grow into many other works of art that can cause worlds of enjoyment for readers of the ‘first work’ and subsequent work. And shame on those who, not recognizing this symbiotic relationship between artist, art, and reader – who becomes an artist in his own right, believe that somehow this is an area of settled copyright law. It certainly is not. The legality or defensibility of fan fiction is not a settled area of law: the fact that it is not settled is by virtue of the fact that the downside risk of being found guilty of copyright violation is very steep punitive damages (on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars per printing) and this has had a rapid chilling effect upon anyone seeking to offer their own transformative works into the public – whether for money or for free. There is a body of literary criticism that views fan fiction as a type of commentary and criticism that falls far inside the lines of acceptable use, and it may be this interpretation which one day prevails. Copyright is meant to preserve the income value of writing to the original holder of the copyright and to prevent others from interfering with that income. However, if fan writings enhance the value of a genre, type, or series, then nobody loses: and everyone gains.

  27. Harry OConnor says:

    hmmph…wrote a really long comment but it never showed. 3rd time now! How frustrating, but at least it has saved some people the hassle of being subjected to reading it…

    Just wanted to congratulate Davis on his story and wish him well and also thank Hugh for his decency.

    P.S Hugh, if you want some help with the comments form on your blog email me!

  28. keith says:

    I just want to say I am even a bigger fan after seeing the way Mr. Howey has not only accepted “The Runner” as a compliment but has encouraged W.K. Davies in his writing efforts and promoted the book as well. Cudos Mr. Howey.

    I have read all of the the Wool & Solo series currently out and am waiting with anticipation for the next book. I REALLY hope it is not the end of the series. It seems like there are so many more stories to be told in the other silos. Also, I really would like to know if there is a way to incorporate Mr. Davies work into something so we can see how Ace’s sacrifice affects the new silo. I am sure that Silo 1 would be totally freaking out. I don’t care where it comes from but now I need to know what happens.
    Thanks to both of you for selflessly sharing your gift of writing with us.

    • WJ Davies says:

      Hey Keith, thanks for the comments. You’re right, it’s so cool how Hugh encouraged The Runner in every way and allowed me to share my vision of another silo with his awesome fans!

      I’m currently editing my full-length novel, but when I get that out the door I fully intend on writing a follow-up to The Runner story. I too, want to explore the implications of Ace’s sudden appearance at the doorstep of another silo. I just need to find a way to do it so that it doesn’t interfere with what Hugh has going on his his storyline. The last thing I want to do is create inconsistencies within the wooliverse.

      • Don’t worry about inconsistencies. Fan fiction is all about the freedom to write whatever you like. I read the start of a piece by Lacuna author David Adams that had Holston surviving his ordeal outside. It was brilliant, brilliant stuff. I hope he gets around to finishing the story, in fact.

        Maybe I’m too much a product of comic book culture, but I don’t worry about diverging story lines. If you want the original and official account, you can read my stuff. If you want to delve into the “What Ifs?” like I would enjoy doing, then there’s always that.

        Of course, if you want to stay consistent, that’s always an option within fan fiction, and I welcome that as well.

  29. Dylan Jones says:

    Wow! Mr Howey, I am now truly inspired. I’ve been following your blazing trail to the top with great interest, especially since starting on my own Epic Sci-Fi “Black Book”. After reading this Blog post and all the comments I come away a little happier with the world and able to hope for a day when The Devil’s Blood (Black Book part 1) will also be fan-fic’ed. Successful authors do not usually help others in their footsteps; You are officially a new role model. Damn, I should have started with a Wool Fan Fic!! :) Right, enough interwebbing, I’d best crack on with finishing Black Book part 2 now that I’m all inspired!

  30. Darren says:

    Any chance of this being released with B&N? I have a Nook ST and can read the Wool series (on book 6 right now, amazing work Hugh, I can’t put it down!!!) but will be itching to read this once I finish. Or do you have a website that I can donate to and download a version? Thanks and can’t wait to read it!

    • WJ Davies says:

      Darren, I just saw this. Shoot me an email and I’ll gladly send The Runner to you for free. I’m still shocked that people are willing to pay for my story, but I’d way rather have readers than a little extra cash. wjdaviesauthor @ gmail.com

  31. [...] Hugh Howey needs to rethink how he thinks and talks about women, but damn his take and actions on fan fiction are remarkably progressive. [...]

  32. In a way it is a outright theft. What exactly is the REALITY? Your books can be more real then reality.

  33. Dustin Woehl says:

    There’s also an audible version that’s only $0.49 after you buy the ebook.

  34. Ronin Monk says:

    I think of you giving permission to all of us to write fan fiction and make money at it is a godsend to new authors. I have a story of my own(well, to be honest dozens of stories), but my mian trilogy makes mention of a bunker where people survived a plaque and I always wanted to write their “coming out” story of how they retook the surface. Now after reading Wool I have a reason to write it, it will be called “Wool: Alternates”, where our two dimensions connect for a brief time, where your characters will save my world.
    So thank you Hugh for giving me this chance, I will dedicate the book to you and try and do your story justice. I hope you like it, it will be up in a few weeks.

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