Friday, August 26, 2011

Interesting new project from Angry Robot Books

This intrigues me: Angry Robot Books is starting a new project called "Worldbuilder" that actively encourages fans to create their own derivative works based on the universe of one of their upcoming books, Empire State by Adam Christopher. Once it's up and running, fans of the book will be able to upload their own creations to the official Worldbuilder website under a Creative Commons license. There are also plans for published anthologies based on this material.

The most similar project I can think of is the community of fans that has arisen around Eric Flint's 1632 and its sequels, which emerged out of fan discussions on the Baen Books message boards and has subsequently given rise to a regularly published online collection of new fan-contributed stories from Baen, the Grantville Gazette, as well as several paperback compilations. The Gazettes are overseen by Flint himself and are, if I'm not mistaken, actually considered a canonical part of the 1632 universe. The Worldbuilder project looks like it's going to be somewhat looser- anyone can contribute their fan works to the site, whereas fan-written 1632 stories have to go through a review and approval process and get Flint's imprimatur before appearing in the Gazette-  but it would be interesting to see if some of the Worldbuilder material becomes "official."

I would definitely like to see something like this take off. I've seen some very cool examples of storytelling and worldbuilding created through group efforts at somewhat in this vein,* so it's good to see another publisher and published author trying to tap into it. *(E.g.the SCP Foundation or Project LONG STAIR. Or the Cthulhu Mythos, for that matter.)

The book being used, Empire State, seems like a good choice for this sort of thing, since it's apparently a sort of noir superhero story set in a fantasy version of 1920s New York. Established superhero-based settings like the Marvel Universe are comprised of characters and locations created by a number of different authors, and I think the nature of superheroes as characters makes it easier to have multiple characters written by multiple authors, each possessing abilities and having experiences that wouldn't be possible in our world and have possible implications about how the fictional world works, without stepping on each other's toes too much. So Angry Robot is kicking off this project with something especially well-suited to it, which is good.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how this goes.

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