Kyle Lambert knows how ridiculous it sounds when he says he wants to write a Minecraft novel. He knows it seems odd. He knows that people will wonder how such a novel could be about anything other than lots of block-stacking and digging.
But he wants to write one.
At first, he'd imagined something sort of like Lord of the Flies, perhaps. A story about survival. Or maybe an anthology of short stories would do.
He's not sure, so that's where you come in.
Last week, I received an e-mail from Lambert, a Minecraft fan with a desire to make an official Minecraft book. He'd pitched the book to Mojang, the tiny Swedish company behind the hit computer game. He'd sent them an excerpt and is still hoping to sell them on his idea. He's dreaming of agents and book deals, but first he just wants to get this Minecraft novel done right.
Played as a single-player game Minecraft is essentially a survival quest that dares the player to stay alive in a mysterious and malleable land populated with vicious, nocturnal monsters. Played more socially and creatively, it is the video game equivalent of Lego bricks, a construction set for the imagination. Making a novel out of such a thing seemed, to me, as logical and as natural as the idea of a Hollywood producer trying to make a movie out of The Sims. But, hey, someone tried that, so why not this?
I asked Lambert to see the excerpt. He shared this bit of it with me:
Mordecai was lax in his intentions. Under the given circumstances it would've been more resolute of him to focus on the swordplay–the way the blades connected hit after hit–rather than the way his eyes were fixated instead on the torchlight. He hadn't given it a moments pause: which way the sword should go and where he should position his body; these were so second nature to him that he was always offensive and never endangered, an attribute which his enemies were too quick to disregard. He parried once more, losing himself in the diamond sword he gripped tightly in hand. His memories manifesting themselves in that momentary glisten when the torchlight struck luster through the length of his blade.
He grunted, as a small drop of blood hit the floor, only increasing the barbarity of the room. Impact after impact, the events of the last four days and nights played out like a disjointed slide-show in his mind, only seeing bits and pieces of a puzzle he didn't want to solve yet had no escape from cryptically defusing. It had all been deceit. Lies and deceit ever since they set foot in here, culminating in this "duel", if you could even call it that with which whom four days prior Mordecai would have considered his greatest of allies–his friend.
No, a friend is just an enemy you let get close.
That was exactly what he thought as the blade sunk deep into his "friend", and he took his first life.
Lambert admits he's been struggling. He told me that the "main roadblock" for his novel is simply figuring out what it should be about. "While Minecraft is the same game for everyone that plays it, it is a different experience entirely to each of those individual players," he said in an e-mail. "It would be exceptionally difficult to capture this philosophy in a novel, and it's something I've been focusing very intently on... My mind has shifted from genre idea to genre idea, trying to find out what best represents the Minecraft fan base, but I have come to realize that this is effectively impossible. Minecraft players come from every age range, every walk of life, and were I to focus on a single genre, a single novel, at least a large majority of players would be left out in the process, no matter what I decided to settle on. I am starting to think that a Minecraft anthology, a book of short stories inspired by Minecraft, would be the best way to go. They would range from genre to genre, writing style to writing style and, this way, everybody would find something familiar and something to enjoy."
I reached out to the folks at Mojang to find out their thoughts on a Minecraft novel. I haven't heard back yet. They would have the power to make this official, or, really, to make any Minecraft book official. They could add Minecraft tomes to shelves already weighted with novels about Halo, Homefront and World of Warcraft. Or they could dismiss the idea as little more necessary than Frogger perfume.
While Kyle Lambert waits to see what Mojang's people have to say, he wants to hear from Mincraft fans. "I was hoping positive and (constructive) negative fan feedback would help shape the future of whether or not this idea is realized," Lambert said, doling out his e-mail address for those who want to dole out more private commentary.
"I am giving [fans] first wind of this idea to see whether or not it ends up being favorable one, and what they would personally like to see happen between the pages of a Minecraft book. Fan feedback will play a large role in whether or not this comes to fruition."