Thursday, 2 September 2010

Books and gadgets PS

I'm a huge fan of Neal Stephenson, and I know there are others out there, they post on Boing Boing and such. But the Baroque Trilogy, which I think is fantastic, has failed to be liked by both my friends whom I have managed to persuade to read it. I don't think either of them got past the undergraduate Newton bits so didn't even encounter the excellence of Half-Cocked Jack the king of the vagabonds.

I still strongly recommend Crytonomicon; the Baroque Trilogy; and The Diamond Age, or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. The electronic book in this last is a brilliant device.

Anyway, Stephenson's latest project is called The Mongoliad. It's not just him, there are others involved, and I think it's an attempt to make a new format of publication which takes advantage of the sorts of things that technology now does well. As I understand it, stories are published in installments, and these will later form a novel which will be published as such at some point. There is also a world in which the novel is set. I think you can read the chapters without subscribing but I'm not sure. You definitely have to subscribe in order to do all the contributing-to-the-world stuff. On the one hand, kudos to them for engaging with the whole fan-fic thing; on the other, apparently when you sign up you give away all rights in anything you produce. I don't know how well it will catch on because people who write Neal Stephenson fan-fic are also likely to be pretty savvy about the copyfight. (Myself, I prefer to consume; I think Web 1.0 had a lot to recommend it.) The problem is, much as I like the Dickensian publishing by instalments thing, and Tolkienian interest in back-story, it looks like a lot of it is just going to be about sword-fights and various types of armour. But if it's good I will post about it.

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