In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both.
Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hogdkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story Shawn could sell toward alleviating those bills—and suggested Shawn ask the same of his other friends.
Unfettered is the result, an anthology built to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.
Every story in this volume is new and, like the title suggests, the writers were free to write whatever they wished. Here is the list of contributing authors for Unfettered:
Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks (a precursor to the Word/Void trilogy)
How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (a Four Corners tale)
River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (a Wheel of Time tale)
The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (a precursor to the Kushiel series)
Dogs by Daniel Abraham
Mudboy by Peter V. Brett (a Demon Cycle tale)
The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (a Vault of Heaven tale)
The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood (a Summer Dragon tale)
Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (an Iron Druid tale)
Select Mode by Mark Lawrence (a Broken Empire tale)
All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth (a Struck epilogue tale)
Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
Unbowed by Eldon Thompson (a Legend of Asahiel tale)
In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik (a Temeraire tale)
The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan (a Riyria Chronicles tale)
The Duel by Lev Grossman (a Magicians tale)
Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks (a Shannara tale)
The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman (an Annwn Cycle tale)
With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises.
After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?