Some of the UK’s best young novelists are working with computer games designers to create digital short stories, each inspired by a classic work of literature but featuring games, blogs and web tools.
The first of the six stories is Charles Cumming’s The 21 Steps, based on John Buchan’s classic thriller The 39 Steps.
It uses Google Maps and Google Earth to follow the trail of a bewildered young Londoner who witnesses a murder and is forced to smuggle a mysterious liquid on to a plane.
I started reading “The 21 Steps” but abandoned it after the scrolling maps made me feel a bit seasick. It’s an odd sensation, really: simple words can evoke a world in our imaginations, but as soon as the words are married to real-world images, they lose much of their power. Similarly, it can be fun to look at a map and imagine what the places really look like, but here, the Google satellite view just made me frustrated because I wanted to see what the place really looks like at street level and inside the buildings.
Anyway, here’s the site for all six stories. Three have been published and three more are still to come. Maybe I’ll like the others better than Cumming’s. I’m sure that gamers are more likely to like the project than I am….