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