Feeds

Fantasy cabal sells off novel-as-app platform

Neal Stephenson’s Subutai splits into content and publishing software companies

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Subutai Corporation, the brainchild of Neal Stephenson, has sold its Personal Ubiquitous Literature Platform (PULP) to a company called Brainstem Media. Brainstem is founded and run by the PULP’s developers.

PULP was developed to deliver chapters of a serialised novel to an iOS and Android app. The novel in question, The Mongoliad, is a sprawling and swashbuckling tale set during the 13th-century Mongol invasion of Europe.

Several authors, including Stephenson and Greg Bear, wrote chapters of the book. The creative team referred to itself as “The Cabal”.

The book also appeared on a website that incorporated forums and a reader-editable Wiki.

The Mongoliad has since been republished as a conventional dead tree trilogy (two volumes out so far, inc. Kindle edition) by Amazon.com’s SciFi imprint 47 North. The authors now consider this their preferred version of the text. Brainstem says the web-and-app version was a " collaborative, transmedia publishing experiment."

While Subutai Corporation always planned to publish The Mongoliad as a book, the company’s strategy changed as it became apparent that the goal of delivering a chapter a week was not easily met. That hiccup and the 47 North deal have now sparked the offload of PULP to Brainstem, one of whose founders, Gary McCoy, told El Reg the new company will soon productise PULP and try to sell it to publishers of all stripes.

“We're focusing on indie and niche publishers, but we already have one big publishers trying it out,” he wrote. “We have a few other projects already underway in beta. While book publishers can produce any type of project (e.g. serial, vanilla ebook, collections, channels, etc.) of any genre, our initial focus is on scifi and fantasy due in part to us being devoted sci fi and fantasy geeks. We have already been approached about projects for distinctly unrelated genres, however.”

The platform will also get a refresh and McCoy said “Amongst other things that readers will see are an all new e-reader and a facebook-like timeline of fan community activity.”

“Much of what PULP is, however, readers will never see because it is focused on constructing eBooks that are tightly integrated with the fan community and handling much of the considerable production and business detail behind the scenes. This is the living book concept. The stories themselves can evolve on the basis of fan feedback and the discussion and contributions of the fan provide another dimension of enjoyment. We are working towards going much, much farther on these aspects.”

Subutai Corporation was cagier about what the PULP selloff will mean, but has posted the image below (and pointed out the URL www.foreworldsaga.com) and hinted at future stories, games and even movies.

Smiley face

Mark Teppo, one of the authors on The Mongoliad, also suggested El Reg consider the Subutai Corp web page as it hints at future projects.

There’s not a lot on offer, but a job ad for an animation programmer to work on “a next-generation motion controlled video game” is certainly intriguing, especially if you consider that The Mongoliad was reportedly inspired, in part, by Stephenson’s desire to write more authentic sword fighting scenes after criticism of some fights in his Baroque Cycle.

The Mongoliad's fight scenes were elaborately choreographed with help from sword fighting experts, so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine hyper-realistic Kinect sword battles could be on the drawing board. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.