So. Apparently a group of writers, programmers, artists and other nerds (including Neal Stephenson, which is why I've heard of this) decided to get together and deepen their knowledge of "Western Martial Arts." In their own words
, "to engage in such activities as hitting each other with swords and trying to figure out how to protect ourselves when hitting each other with swords." Which I obviously have no problem with at all -- it seems like the writers in the group, in particular, wanted to improve their ability to describe convincing fight scenes, and I think it's awesome that they're taking their work so seriously.
Out of this group emerged a story, originally conceived of by Stephenson but elaborated on by the whole of their new community. The came to call it "The Mongoliad
," and its basic concept is as such:
It’s spring of 1241, and the West is shitting its pants (that’s “bewraying its kecks” for you medieval time-travelers).
The Mongol takeover of Europe is almost complete. The hordes commanded by the sons of Genghis Khan have swept out of their immense grassy plains and ravaged Russia, Poland, and Hungary... and now seem poised to sweep west to Paris and south to Rome. King and pope and peasant alike face a bleak future—until a small band of warriors, inheritors of a millennium-old secret tradition, set out to probe the enemy.
Their leader, the greatest knight of their order, will set his small group of specially trained warriors on a perilous eastern journey. They will be guided by an agile, elusive, and sharp-witted adolescent girl, who believes the master’s plan is insane. But this small band is the West’s last, best hope to turn aside the floodtide of the violent genius of the Steppes kingdoms.
Now, I'll start by saying that I don't actually have a huge problem with the basic concept they're presenting. If adequately researched and tackled by an author with the "chops" to execute it, this could be a rich and interesting alternate history. It's a pretty classic case of "all in the details," where the particular skills, perspective and narrative priorities of the author would be the difference between "intriguing" and "train wreck."
There isn't a ton of material on the site, as of yet. But I've sifted through what's there. And I have to say -- ( it's starting to look like 'train wreck' to me. )