"I was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time ..."
Penguin Books has launched a series of online digital fiction called We Tell Stories. The series is a partnership between Penguin, alternate reality game designers Six to Start and six different authors. The authors were asked by Penguin to push the envelope and create stories that take full advantage of the immediacy, connectivity and interactivity that is possible on the internet.
Guess what - the first story takes place on Google Maps.
The 21 Steps by Charles Cumming is described by Penguin as "an adrenaline-fuelled adventure written and designed for Google Maps." The whole story is told via place marks on a Google Map as the reader follows hero Rick Blackwell in a conspiracy that takes him far away from home.
In a tale that pays homage to the classic '39 Steps' Rick needs to use all his skills to find out why a dying stranger seemed to know his name - and to stay alive as he is dragged from London to Edinburgh. The reader follows this tale on the place marks and then clicks on the 'next' button. An animated line then guides the reader to the next location on Rick's journey and the next part of the story. Readers can also navigate to the start of any of the 21 chapters by following the chapter links in the map sidebar.
If you want to now how Rick manages to hot-wire a rubber dinghy, crack a couple of codes, and subdue his opponents you will of course have to read the story for yourself.
You won't be disappointed, this is a cracking tale and a brilliant utilisation of Google Maps. And if that isn't enough for you, there is also a competition to win yourself a library of 1300 books worth over $26,000.