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Intel Leviathan Project

January 26th, 2014

For the last couple of years, the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab has been working on a project based on my Leviathan series, in partnership with Intel. I visited the lab last July, and took lots of cool pictures, but have been waiting for them to reveal their work publicly before jumping in. They have, and I am.

What the lab is doing is a combination of high technology and storytelling, or what some of them call “extreme Leviathan fan fiction.” They’ve created a 3-d virtual model of the airship, both inside and out, backstories for all the crew members, and a host of ancillary material, like diaries and historical timelines (more detailed than any in the novels).

This expanded world can be experienced in a lot of ways. As print:


Or by walking around in the 3-D models of the airship using VR helmets and interact with the characters, which is what I’m doing here:


Or in a large group of people, interacting in 3-D with the story-stuff using tablet tech, like here at CES:

Leviathan @ Intel CES Keynote from Tawny Schlieski on Vimeo.

Obviously, this is pretty cool. (Note: The whale in that footage can only be seen through a phone or tablet, so many of the people there couldn’t see it. But a lot could, as you can hear from the cheers.) And it’s pretty overwhelming to walk into the labs at SCA and see all these smart people working in my world. It’s not unlike encountering fan-fiction archives based on my work, except this one has a multi-million-dollar budget for multimedia. In terms of material detail, this kind of world expansion takes Leviathan well past where Keith and I did.

And really, this is “future of entertainment” that people blather about. Not any specific technology, like tablet-3D or VR helmets, but this cooperative, expansive world-building. Whether it’s created by corporations who command massive resources and a stage at CES or a few thousand fan-ficcers typing quietly in the night, the thing that’s cool is the same: Someone gets inspired by my text (and Keith’s illustrations, of course) and deciding that this world MUST GET BIGGER, and, by jove, they’re the person to do it.

Of course, this is also the past of entertainment, when nobody “owned” stories, and everyone added to whatever was being told around the campfire. But new technologies do expand the ways we can make stories bigger, both in the objects we can create (3-D models!) and the ways we share them (Deviant Art!). So yeah, it’s not just the campfire anymore. It’s more like a campfire that’s linked to all the other campfire, and we can control the flames.

By the way, I love SCA’s redesign for the Leviathan itself, even though it’s not the bowhead whale of Keith’s (still canonical!) illustrations:


Anyway, I have more of this stuff to share with you (Click here for more from their press kit), but I have the rewrites for Afterworlds due on Monday, so I really should stop procrastiblogging and end here.

Hope you’re having a lovely new year.

(Bonus Info: That Uglies news that I’ve been promising you almost fell through, but then it didn’t. And it will be released for public consumption sooner or later.)

21 Responses to “Intel Leviathan Project”

  1. 1
    January 26th, 2014 03:45

    I’m far too excited to hear this news! I will be waiting!….not patiently :)

    good luck on the rewrites! :D

  2. 2
    January 26th, 2014 03:51

    Yay! A new blog post! Very cool, and I can’t wait until this fall to read Afterworlds!

  3. 3
    January 26th, 2014 04:33


  4. 4
    January 26th, 2014 05:00


  5. 5
    January 26th, 2014 06:52

    Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh! *screams* This is SO. FREAKING. AWESOME! I want it O.O

  6. 6
    Julia the bookworm
    January 26th, 2014 07:00

    this sounds amazing it makes me wish that I lived in California.

  7. 7
    January 27th, 2014 01:27

    Uglies news: EXCITING! Although the “almost fell through” bit worries me… is the film still going ahead, I wonder? Give. Us. The. News. Now. Please and thank you with chocolate smothered on top!

    Leviathan: Wow. This rendered me completely speechless. This is more amazing than anything I could have imagined, in some ways more amazing than a film! Well…. if you have the chance to go to the labs at SCA… Still the fact that a large cooperation spent several years making entertainment solely around the world of Leviathan is awesome!

    What does everyone think of the Leviathan design? I’m fine with the new look, in fact it’s pretty cool, however, the way it moved in the video wasn’t how I imagined the Leviathan would move! It seemed too flexible and agile; I had always thought of the Leviathan’s fins and tail to be pretty stationary.

    Watching that video got me thinking though… a Leviathan movie would be so incredible! Just imagine for a second how visually stunning the shots would be! The Leviathan loftily sailing towards the sun rising over the snow capped peaks… And the amount of detail they could include in costumes and props would be mindblowing! And all the Beasties and the Walkers! Ahhh. Please tell me I’m not alone with this dream?

  8. 8
    January 27th, 2014 04:40

    @7: You are definitely not alone! I’ve been dreaming of a movie for YEARS! Hopefully it’ll happen…and hopefully the movie-makers won’t screw it up. Yeah, I like the the look of the Leviathan in the book better than the re-design in the video, and I agree that it wouldn’t be quite so agile.

  9. 9
    Maria Jones
    January 27th, 2014 18:34

    This sounds too cool! I wanna’ see!! <3

  10. 10
    January 28th, 2014 00:31

    honestly, this is a bit weird to me… i mean, it’s cool to see them doing this kind of stuff, and especially with Leviathan, but IDK—I’m always so unsure about the weird stuff they do with new technologies. I mean, they could make virtual (or whatever we’re calling this) hoverboards as per Uglies cannon, but I guess a a airship is still pretty cool.

    also, that Uglies quasi-news update was very cryptic, and I’m not sure i understand…. is the news that there is something exciting happening, or is the news that the exciting thing will no longer be happening?

  11. 11
    January 28th, 2014 05:03

    @7: I agree with every letter of that. You are not alone in your dream!

  12. 12
    Little Willow
    January 28th, 2014 07:45

    Good luck on all counts! Extremely cool.

  13. 13
    Middy Me
    January 28th, 2014 17:22

    That is AMAZING!! It’s so unreal to see that someone has actually been working with Leviathan to make it virtual. Just goes to show what technology can do these days. I really would love to explore the VR world of the airship :)

  14. 14
    January 30th, 2014 21:52

    All I heard was “backstories” and I started screaming.

  15. 15
    Middy Joe
    February 1st, 2014 05:01

    It’s so cool that there are enough people out there who have read and enjoyed Leviathan to create this. I wonder why I’ve never met any of them, the only people I know who even know what it is are my family and my friend’s older brother who’s now a junior in high school. :|

  16. 16
    February 3rd, 2014 02:46

    Oho! My! Gosh! This is so cool!!!
    And Yay Uglies not getting Dropped!!!!
    Cannot wait for either!!!

  17. 17
    February 3rd, 2014 08:04

    That’s incredibly awesome! Wow. :D

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