Novelr is on hiatus. Posting resumes after 4th December, 2008.Speed Hump

[Update]: I’ve just realized that it’s not very nice of me to take a leave of absence without leaving behind something for you read, do, or think about. Here are two things:

  • Sharon (of Bibliobibuli) recently alerted me to a Guardian blog post about online fiction. It’s a rather comprehensive cover of works and web fiction history I had no idea about, and I’d like to highlight one line from the article:

    Meade (of if:book) himself confides that he is yet to be “seized by a digital fiction that is utterly compelling”. 

    I wanted to email both Chris Meade and Andrew Gallix (the writer behind the blog post) alerting them to our portion of the blogosphere, perhaps by pointing them to the concentration of online fiction at Web Fiction Guide. But I don’t at the moment have enough online time to do so. Here’s my proposal: will somebody from the blooking community please start an email correspondence with them? Just to tell them: hey! we exist! and we’ve got a couple of ‘utterly compelling’ works out there, you know?!

  • Johnathan Harris recently did a controversial presentation at Flash On The Beach, a Flash developer conference. He says

    … our medium – the online medium – has the potential to become the next great way of processing and expressing our world. Some would say it has already reached this point, but I believe it still inhabits an awkward adolescence, with no real virtuosos and no real masterpieces, and that the only way for it to mature is for its leaders and practitioners to push themselves to make better work, which will, in turn, reach a larger and less insular audience. If the work is purely technological, it will be less likely to reach this larger audience, for it won’t resonate with as many people. If it connects on a more human level, on the level of ideas, it stands a better chance of touching people deeply and spreading widely, like a Toni Morrison novel or a Steven Spielberg movie. My reasons for wanting all this are partly selfish – it is my medium and I want it to flourish – but also inherently communal, as rising tides raise all ships.

    His presentation is worth a read. Also, go check out his portfolio, which has an unusually high spattering of online storytelling experiments. My favourite? The Whale Hunt.

[Note]: I’ve reenabled comments for this post, and I’ll pop by when I can to see what you think. Tell me if anything’s new.

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  • Jim Zoetewey

    I found Andrew Gallix email address and am emailing him at the moment…

  • Eli James

    Thanks, Jim. And sorry for the late reply. I hope it goes well. =)

  • lethe

    It’s too bad the comments were closed on the Guardian article.

    Thanks for directing us to the article, Eli. Like you said it does give some decent history, although I’d imagine a lot is being left out. For example, more recent online novels such as “Simon of Space” and “Dead Flowers.”

    And it is funny and interesting to think that our community, which we consider to be significant, is completely unknown to other sectors of the Internet. That’s when you know the galaxy is big, when vast swathes of the populace have not met each other yet.

    Anyways. Here’s my take on the article. The examples of e-literature is pre-blog revolution. They follow a certain old paradigm, within the limits of whatever technology was available to them at the time.

    Last night, I was watching the interview with David Foster Wallace and Charlie Rose (I highly recommend it to all writers). What Wallace said at one point was how in Infinite Jest he was trying to fracture the narrative with endnotes and footnotes. He wanted to explore the possibilities of narrative in non-linear ways and that’s what really interested him stylistically.

    If Wallace was writing now, he’d be using the Internet.

    One worthy pursuit for online fiction is what David F. Wallace was interested in. How can a narrative have more than one “doorway” per say and what are the limits of an open narrative with many entry points and various non-linear paths. This to me is the future of online fiction. If online fiction is not compelling yet it is because this experiment hasn’t been fully realized yet.

    The blogging revolution brings us closer to the possibility of this reality. Blogging is all about linking. The interconnectedness of the web has grown exponentially since blogs and blog directories such as Technoratti and others came along.

    Let me count the ways the online novel can be read. This is the future of fiction.

  • lethe

    After thinking about my comment, I wanted to add something . . .

    It is not only the non-linear experiment that begs exploration in online fiction, but the simultaneous development of plot and character. Just to send readers from one link to another doesn’t cut it. If there is to be such a thing as “electronic literature,” readers must be able to immerse themselves in a fictional world through linking. Depth cannot be sacrificed for surface area.

  • Eli James

    I’m pretty sure DFW would’ve loved the online medium, Lethe. But whether or not experimental, non-linear fiction is the way forward for electronic literature, I’m certain that reading for pleasure on the net is a highly viable option. Most of that, at the moment, is linear prose.

    PS: DFW apparently had another novel in the works before he committed suicide. Pity he never finished it. =(