Subcutanean: A Novel Where No Two Copies are the Same

Aaron A. Reed

I teased it a few weeks ago, but today I’m pleased to officially announce my next project: Subcutanean, a novel coming to print-on-demand and ebook formats that changes for each new reader.

Sign up to be notified when preorders go live.

How does it work? The master manuscript contains hundreds of moments of variation on the same core story. Sometimes these are whole scenes that might appear in some versions but not others: sometimes they’re single words that change the way you might feel about a character or an event. Each time someone orders a copy of the book, a new version will be generated by randomly collapsing all these alternatives down to a single version of the story, including keeping interconnected bits consistent, handling print-ready layout, and uploading the new text to the printer.

When you get your copy and read it, the experience will be just like reading a regular book. But no one else will have exactly the same text that you do. Each copy contains a unique telling of the story: no two are ever quite the same.

What’s it about? It’s a horror novel about two friends with a complicated relationship who find a secret basement that’s bigger than it seems. It’s about learning to navigate queer crushes and identities in a time and place where no one was around to help with that. It’s about parallel realities and overlapping possibilities, late ’90s college life, and impossible architecture. It’s about becoming an adult without ever getting that tidy coming-of-age story you were promised. It’s scary, funny, and surreal, it’s the most personal thing I’ve ever written, and I think also the best. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.

You can see the official plot summary on the book’s Goodreads page, and I’ll be talking much more about the plot, the systems, and everything else in the coming weeks.

How can you help? I’ll be launching a crowdfunding campaign for Subcutanean at the end of October, with the main pledge level for getting your own unique copy of the book. Between now and then I’ll be revealing more about the project: look for blog posts about how the software works, cover art reveals, excerpts, and maybe even a contest or two.

To stay in the loop, you can do one or all of these things:

I’ve got a lot of fun reveals planned for the month of October and into the November crowdfunding campaign. Stay tuned, and I hope you’ll decide to join me on this new journey.

Aaron A. Reed

Written by

Writer and game designer interested in the future and history of interactive narrative. Building next-genNPCs at

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