Fan fiction devotees, take note! There’s a new publisher in town that takes favorite characters from the sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming genres—including the Marvel Universe—and expands their adventures through a series of boundary-pushing, professionally produced novels.
The imprint is called Aconyte Books, and it’s an offshoot of the popular multinational game company Asmodee. Famed for their broad range of board, card, and role-playing games, Aconyte’s first fiction releases include works based on fantasy-game favorites like the classic Arkham Horror, Legend of the Five Rings, and Twilight Imperium.
Marvel was impressed enough to reach out to these self-proclaimed geeks and ask them to develop novels starring some popular but underexplored superheroes. As a result, Rogue now stars in her own origin story (Rogue: Untouched); former X-Force mutant mercenary Domino faces off against a dangerous cult in Domino: Strays; and young X-Men learn to deal with their new powers in Xavier’s Institute: Liberty & Justice for All.
Written by passionate, expert authors, these novels go far beyond your average movie tie-in, following the deep-dive approach that series like Star Trek and Doctor Who have taken. “Over recent years, the very best fantasy, comic book, and game worlds have expanded into universe-spanning affairs that cross over into dozens of movies and TV shows, video games, graphic novels, and beyond,” says Aconyte’s publisher, Marc Gascoigne. “They are truly immersive, full of thrilling stories of heroes and villains alike.”
And that gives the imprint plenty of material to work with. Aconyte plans to release two or three titles a month through Simon & Schuster, with new novels in development featuring Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and the various Tom Clancy game worlds. Plus, the company is planning to take advantage of its board game background, with books set in the worlds of Zombicide, Terraforming Mars, and the popular Kickstarter-supported games Gloomhaven and Frosthaven.
In fact, the company recruited Hugo Award–winning author Tim Pratt to pen a deep-space adventure called The Fractured Void, and upcoming sequel, The Necropolis Empire, based on the galaxy-spanning strategy board game Twilight Imperium.
And, like several of the most successful sci-fi fantasy publishers, they’ve connected with legions of like-minded fans through social media, providing them with weekly livestreams and online interviews, while hoping to return to the convention circuit soon.
“Twenty years ago, I helped found The Black Library, to unlock stories from the worlds of Warhammer—many hundreds of them as it happens, including many bestsellers,” Gascoigne says. “Ten years ago, my imprint Angry Robot innovated with its social media- driven, fan-focused range of modern SF. Now it’s going to be our privilege to explore these new worlds and shine a light on the stories that we, as storytellers and massive geeks both, have always wanted to read.”