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Screenshot courtesy Joycestick via YouTube

New Game Turns James Joyce's Ulysses Into Virtual Reality

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Screenshot courtesy Joycestick via YouTube

A new game will make you see Ulysses in a new way. Joycestick is a virtual reality game in development at Boston College meant to expose new audiences to the famously difficult novel. The program enriches the literary experience by guiding readers through the settings of the book, letting them hear and see the turn-of-the-century Dublin Joyce wrote about and get up-close with the objects he describes.

The entire plot of Ulysses takes place on June 16, 1904, a day now known as Bloomsday (named after the novel’s main character). In his writing, Joyce treated the city of Dublin as one of his characters, and Ulysses was no exception.

“I want … to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book,” Joyce once said of the book.

While Dublin has changed wildly in the past century, virtual reality can help put readers back in the city as Joyce experienced it.

In the game, you can wander through the places that Joyce wrote about and pick up and examine different objects, like a tin of potted meat or a gramophone. When you pick up certain objects, you’ll hear readings from the book.

“It works to recreate the immediacy of Joyce’s prose through its virtual spaces, starting with the interior of Joyce’s Martello Tower, and progressing into further scenes and objects taken from the novel,” the Joycestick website promises.

A team of 21 students led by an English professor at Boston College are working to put the game together, from modeling objects faithfully in 3D to creating authentic sound design for the scenes to coding the game itself to writing the narrative.

Joycestick is still in progress, but its creators hope to launch it in Dublin in time for Bloomsday this year. A prototype was presented at a conference in Rome in February.

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Hamilton Broadway
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A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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iStock

While reading The Lord of the Rings saga, it's hard not to notice J.R.R. Tolkien’s clear love of nature. The books are replete with descriptions of lush foliage, rolling prairies, and coniferous forests. A new botany book builds on that knowledge: Entertainment Weekly reports that Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium provides fantasy-loving naturalists with a round-up of plants that grow in Middle-earth.

Cover art for botanist Walter Judd's book
Oxford University Press

Written by University of Florida botanist Walter Judd, the book explores the ecology, etymology, and importance of over 160 plants. Many are either real—coffee, barley, wheat, etc.—or based on real-life species. (For example, pipe-weed may be tobacco, and mallorns are large trees similar to beech trees.)

Using his botany background, Judd explores why Tolkien may have felt compelled to include each in his fantasy world. His analyses are paired with woodcut-style drawings by artist Graham Judd, which depict Middle-earth's flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and shrubs in their "natural" environments.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]

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