Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear and friends launch The Mongoliad: a shared universe that could only live on the Web

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear and several very talented friends (including one of the neatest hackers I know and somene whom I'm reliably assured could lay claim to the title of "World's Greatest Swordsman") have announced their new project: an online interactive fiction thinggum called The Mongoliad.

The Mongoliad will consist of a series of linked stories written by different writers, a Wikipedia-style concordance, and "an ongoing stream of nontextual, para-narrative, and extra-narrative stuff which we think brings the story to life in ways that are pleasingly unique, and which can't be done in any single medium."

What's more, you, the reader, will be explicitly encouraged to improve and extend the Mongoliad canon with your own fiction and supplementary fan media.

There have been a few very good shared worlds online, from the venerable alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo to the contemporary Shadow Unit. But it really looks like the Mongoliad folks are looking to push the boat out here, taking things further than anyone before, and doing so in a way that is inherently web-like, impossible to translate to paper.

I saw a demo of the Mongoliad over dinner the other night and it was some very exciting media. There's not much for public consumption as yet, but I'll keep you updated.

The Mongoliad



  1. Unless I’m misunderstanding something, this sounds like my nightmare – an engaging story without end. I need a climax and everything wrapped up when I read stories or I feel unfulfilled.

  2. Sounds interesting but like it will require more energy to consume than traditional SF reading. It could also come with larger rewards, but still, that potentially puts it in a totally different hobby orbital.

    But for now, that isn’t my question. This is: what’s that beautiful font on the cover graphic?

    1. @sidb: font has been copied many times, but available as Humanist from FontShop, Codex from Linotype, and Calligraphic 421 from any Corel/URW collection.

  3. Any word on when there will be content? I’ve seen this linked several places now, but there’s nothing at the site but the cover. Is there an RSS feed I can subscribe to so I can be automatically notified when it’s live?

  4. Sounds promising. I’ll keep an eye on this.

    Also, I totally forgot about Shadow Unit! Thanks for the reminder!

  5. If you view the page source you will find:
    “”The Mongoliad is a family of apps for handhelds
    which enable a new model for publishing, and a new way to tell stories. At the center of the service is a ripping medieval adventure by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and other great authors, about a time when Europe thought that the Monglol Horde was about to destroy their world, and the
    exploits of a small band of mystics and warriors as they turn the tide of history.”


  6. Neal Stephenson is my literary hero. If I had to read the writings of just a single fiction author for the rest my life, Neal Stephenson would be the guy I pick.

    I’ll be very curious to see how this turns out. I like the idea in theory, but the execution sounds tricky.

  7. I’ve been around a few shared worlds. Was once part of a long-term collaborative story. This really sounds interesting to me. :)

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