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I was recently reading Neal Stephenson's science fiction novel The Diamond Age, in which a 21st century girl gains possession of a revolutionary electronic book. The book educates by telling stories, and incorporates the girl's questions and feedback into its lessons. Halfway through the story, I found out about Stephenson's newest writing project: an epic collaborative novel being published online, which welcomes additional content and feedback from its readers.
Interesting . . .
East vs. West
The Mongoliad transports the reader to the year 1241, when the sons of Genghis Khan are ruthlessly conquering Europe. A desperate effort to strike back against the Mongol hordes is made by an order of warrior-monks that practice fighting techniques dating to the time of ancient Greece. Within the first few chapters, more than a dozen characters have been introduced, and the viewpoint has been shared by both Europeans and Mongolians.
For this collaborative project, a writing team consisting of science fiction, fantasy, and Medieval history authors has been assembled (Erik Bear, Greg Bear , Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Cooper Moo, Neal Stephenson, and Mark Teppo), with their work supported by a team of artists and martial arts experts. The creative team hopes that once the story really gets rolling, readers will submit their own spinoff stories and illustrations featuring established characters.
Although you can read some content for free, most of it is made accessible by subscribing for six months or a year (at a very reasonable price). Content applications for various types of electronic book readers and smartphones are available or will be soon, and in addition to the regular chapters, there are already supplemental videos and illustrations available online. Although I am a devout print lover and e-book skeptic, I'm already hooked.
The website format allows for a lot more than just delivering chapters, as it provides discussion forums and a 'Pedia that contains articles on the characters and historical background. When I read Stephenson's historical epic The Baroque Cycle, I was constantly checking Wikipedia's history articles to learn more about the times and events that surrounded the characters. Now, all of that information is tied right into the medium that I use to read the story. Pretty cool, I gotta say. Even so, I will probably find myself checking out books on the Mongolian Empire sometime soon . . .
Photo Credit: The Mongoliad by the Subutai Corporation.
Chris Gray is an Extra Help Librarian. When he's not reading science fiction, comics, or cookbooks, he likes to listen to all kinds of music, hang out in parks looking for animals, cook, and make abstract video art.