It’s great when companies experiment. It is even better when the company that does the experimentation is not one that you would have necessarily expected. After all, experiments don’t always succeed. Yet, you often neeed a failure to reach a success. And it looks like Penguin may have done that.
Fresh from their experiments with a wiki novel last year with A Million Penguins (which, despite all the PR it received has gone down, I think, as a noble failure), Penguin are back with a new endeavour.
Over at We Tell Stories is the first in a series of 6 non-linear tales devised to exploit the structures of the Internet. So, in Week 1 we have Charles Cumming taking The 39 Steps as inspiration for The 21 Steps, which takes places within Google maps.
Gimmicky? Totally. But I like it and, in this instance, it works. It is short and breezy – something that one can either return to in installments or consume entirely in one go. And without giving away too much of upcoming post that I have had planned for a while (yet still not written), Penguin have really taken a step back to look at the medium and to find ways in which to maximise both its features and its constraints. For that, I applaud them.
And not content with just experimenting with the form, Penguin have gone and included a viral ARG element to the project
But somewhere on the internet is a secret seventh story, a mysterious tale involving a vaguely familiar girl who has a habit of getting herself lost. Readers who follow this story will discover clues that will shape her journey and help her on her way. These clues will appear online and in the real world and will direct readers to the other six stories. The secret seventh story will also offer the chance to win some wonderful prizes in addition to the prizes on offer on WeTellStories.co.uk, including The Penguin Complete Classics Library, over £13,000 worth of the greatest books ever written.
I will be following the progress of this with great interest.