Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Lemur

Lighted skyscraper at nightYou know that old suggestion that online fiction needs a famous author to kickstart the medium? This exact suggestion seems to have happened quite unintentionally: John Banville, writing under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, is posting up a serial entitled The Lemur over at the New York Times. They’ve put this up in their online version, naturally.

John Banville wrote The Sea, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2005. That should be enough to satisfy the literary snobs out there, though I’m not sure how the story is done (weekly? all completed and submitted, or created on the go?). I do think this will prove to be an interesting experiment – readers have The Lemur in their paper, which is physical, and there’s the online version on a popular site. It’s a lucky combination of elements, one that we don’t usually see for online fiction.

PS: As an aside I’d like to point out the elegant use of fonts and white space over at The Lemur, as well as the strategic pagination of the story. It’s not too long, not too short. Wonderful.

PPS: I’m buried under academic work at the moment, so updates in Novelr will come slow. Real life is a harsh mistress to serve. Forgive me.

A Look At Dreaming Methods

Dreaming MethodsDreaming Methods is ambitious. It’s digital fiction, but not in a way you’d expect: instead of blogs or static text pages the stories in Methods are presented in Flash.

This choice in medium in intentional: the stories Methods produce are rich in sound and movement and colour. In Last Dream, a grandson narrates (in words) his blind grandfather’s final dream. The camera shakes as it introduces you to the story, and the first frame you pause on is that of an old house. The screen is black and white, with dashes of green from the shrubbery in the foreground.

The door is locked. Clicking it produces a thudding sound, barring you from entry. And your throat catches as you realize something about these stories.

They are interactive. You click on a rock and drag it around the screen, throwing it here, throwing it there. And soon you find the key to the door, and it grants you entry.

Rich in visual delights (the walls of the house are translucent, showing stalks of tall corn as you pan over them), the words and story in Last Dream are more of poetry than prose. They appear, you read, and then they fade away. And they don’t come back. If you missed a word it’s back to the start you go, for these things play like life, rather than literature. No rewind. No turn the page back.

Alan Campbell is the guy behind Methods, and he’s has been experimenting with writing fiction for the computer screen since the 1990’s. Many of his projects are collaborations with artists from other mediums – if he took those photos of the house used in Last Dream I’d consider worshiping him.

Parts of Methods‘s stories are in video, like in Clearance, where he worked with filmmaker Judi Alston to tell an apocalyptic story in digital form (so says this post). This form of online fiction cannot be done by a one man crew, unless that one man is willing to learn photography and writing and film-making and flash programming all at the same time.
Methods‘s fiction can’t be categorized. It’s film, but with gameplay. Prose, but with sound. Animation, but with photographs. A highly experimental medium with feedback forms at the end of every story.

What is it, exactly? I can’t say. But I’d like to think it’s a taste of the future.

PS: Special thanks to Lee of Lowebrow for the links.

Happy New Year!

2007 has ended, and we’re off to a start in Two Oh Oh Eight. To welcome the new year this post will be full of nonsensical fun, as an aside, perhaps, to all the serious thought that goes on around Novelr every other day of the year.

The Kindle

When the Kindle first came out the entire blogosphere dedicated huge chunks of their time to talk about Amazon’s brave move into the ebook market. I admit they’ve got a lot going for them, but I was also wary of talking about it – wasn’t everyone else already doing so? Now that the hype has died down somewhat I can wade through the aftermath and find the good stuff. Here’s Phillipe Stark saying some honest-to-goodness things about the Kindle.

The lolcat Bible

‘Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.’ Need I say more? Priceless.

Up Yours, Keen

We’ve seen Keen angering just about everyone with his Web 2.0 polemic The Cult Of The Amateur. Bill Hilton’s written a great piece about ‘Amateur vs Amateurish‘, Tinstaafl pointed us to another great response to Keen’s book, and now I’ll help out with this Youtube vid of extravagant predictions. Not really sure why – it might be the accent, it might be the cool animation, but I’d like to think it’s the unrestrained gleefulness in the narrator’s voice that gets me going. Watch it. Vairy funny.

Hangovers notwithstanding, Novelr wishes everyone a very happy new year.