Finally, one of my notorious “secret projects” revealed.

First, the amazing cover art by Mats Minnhagen

Yes, that’s me, plunging to my doom.

Whose idea was it? The idea for a shared world collective was a combination of Mel Odom, Joe McDermott, and me, I suppose. The idea of a bottomless pit as a fantasy setting is one I’ve been kicking around for years, but what to do with it?

Let’s take those in order.

Everyone knows I’ve been dipping my feet into the self-publishing well with Completely Broken and The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff (follow the links and buy those, by the way, what the heck are you waiting for?), and based on the latter project, which I’m working on with Mel, the idea came to widen our net out to include other authors in an effort to see how big this thing can get. And I don’t just mean how much money it can generate—reports of authors making millions on Kindle Direct are, let’s say, exaggerated—but how much . . . what’s the right word? Buzz?

By going in as a team, we have each other for support. Each of us brings in some audience the others may not have. But more than anything, honestly, we’re doing it for fun. I’ve blogged about how much fun I had writing The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff, how much it helped me to recapture the pure joy (sans deadlines, contract negotiations, and other outside pressures) of just writing—of simply telling stories. I’m having at least as much fun with The Fathomless Abyss. It’s turned out to be, with the generous and spectacularly creative input of the rest of the collective, a fascinating setting that I know (and I have a certain amount of experience with this sort of thing) will support a virtually endless stream of great stories.

I know. I need to back up.

Who is this “collective”? Who’s on the team?

Let’s do it in the order in which their stories will appear:


J.M. McDermott

Mel Odom

Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen

Cat Rambo


Jay Lake

Not a bad line-up of serious SF/fantasy heavyweights, if I don’t say so myself. If you look at that list you’ll see a wide range of voices coming from a number of sub-genres and a wide range of experience from up-and-coming new talents to one of the genre’s great veterans. This invitation-only list was very carefully considered, and though a few authors said no, this great team signed up to share the world of the Fathomless Abyss.

Nice segue.

The Fathomless Abyss is just that: a bottomless pit.

Though it has a top, which we call the Crown, it has no bottom. If you fall, you fall forever. The Crown is normally closed, but from time to time (and no one has been able to determine any sort of regular cycle, so there’s no way to predict this) the Crown opens onto some unsuspecting world, like Earth.

Not only is there no rhyme or reason to where the Crown will open—what strange, exotic planet—but when it opens. The Fathomless Abyss has appeared on Earth on numerous occasions, but one day it opens in 2010 then a few years later (“Pit Time”), it opens onto Earth in the year 1521, then 1024, then far back into the age of the dinosaurs, and mixed in there, an infinite number of worlds throughout the universe.

And almost every time it opens, someone, or something, falls in.

Over untold millennia, the endless expanse of the Fathomless Abyss has become the home of humans from all over the world, and across centuries of time, who share the pit with alien species from thousands of worlds. In some places, like the trade town of Watershed, these disparate species come together in a spirit of community. Other times, they fight to the death.

And not everything that falls in is a civilized, sentient being. The Fathomless Abyss also has its share of monsters.

You’ll get a chance to see the Fathomless Abyss come alive for the first time, starting next month, in the anthology Tales from the Fathomless Abyss. It’ll be available in both Kindle and Nook formats and features a story by each of us (with Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen working as a team). From there, in the order listed above, we’ll break off for books of our own, starting with my as-yet-untitled kick-off book this coming February. I’m also serving as series editor, so expect professional quality on that front—and feel free to comment here if you find any instance where I’ve fallen down on my job.

We’re hoping to release a new book every two months, but cut us a little slack. No one’s getting any up-front money, and a long list of busy professionals don’t always have as much freedom in their schedules as they hope for, but we’ll be working hard on this, and loving every second of it.

And get ready for more posts here—including interviews, sample chapters, more great Mats Minnhagen art—and on the other authors’ various blogs, web sites, too. There’s a million stories clinging to the walls of the Fathomless Abyss, and we’re only just getting started!

—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Eric Swett says:

    I love the concept here. It should make for some pretty interesting reading.

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  4. Chris G. says:

    Well, it’s always good to have a secret black hole up your sleeve. Kudos to Minnhagen on that one. A shared world collective…fascinating to see those sorts of things done right. I look forward to the diversity so many talented authors will bring to a united world – and at a book every two months, well, you’re certainly going to be keeping a lot of folks entertained. Cheers to that!

  5. jakeescholl says:

    Totally looking forward to this! 😀 Sounds like an intriguing idea.

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