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The Novel as Software

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the write-once-run-anywhere dept.

Books 150

LukePieStalker writes "Former English professor Eric Brown has published the first work in what he claims is a new literary category called the 'digital epistolary novel', or DEN. 'Intimacies', based on an 18th century novel, requires the DEN 1.2 software. The program's interface has windows for mock e-mail, instant messaging, Web browser and pager, through which the narrative unfolds. For those wishing to create their own works in this genre, Mr. Brown is marketing composition software called DEN WriterWare."

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No masturbatory for a while! (0, Offtopic)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881327)

damn this [sltrib.com] sux

p.s. I HATE ALL OF YOU! fuck you all!

Re:No masturbatory for a while! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881513)

According to howardstern.com [howardstern.com] , frequent masturbation lowers the risk of prostate cancer in men.

GNAA 2nd post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881333)

pwnt!

Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881335)

Blogs are in trouble now!

Question about novel piracy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881574)

How do Slashdotters feel about pirating novels? Is it "free advertising" or "sampling?" Just curious.

Re:Question about novel piracy (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881617)

Well, you cannot pirate a novel, since if you copy it, it's not novel any more, is it?

Re:Question about novel piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881740)

Ba-dum-splash.

yeah, I'm an idiot... (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881722)

arrrrrrr, me likes a good pirate novel [jennifersromances.com] to while away the time on a long third watch!!!

Re:Question about novel piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881748)

Information just wants to be free. Er... unless I own it of course.

FP? (-1, Offtopic)

RedShoeRider (658314) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881337)

So, technically, by my being dumb and writing the first post, I'm starting a novel in this new genre?

/. will never be the same.

Re:Actually... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881398)

FAILURE is pretty common here. However, I do not contest you being dumb.

Whoops! (2, Funny)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881341)

I know this is going to sound silly, but I read the title as "The Novell [novell.com] as Software"! Did anyone else make that mental typo, or "mypo"?

Re:Whoops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881363)

And i also saw Zen instead of Den, as in Novell Zenworks.

Re:Whoops! (1)

elleomea (749084) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882173)

Hmm, if a typo is a typographcial error, then you must have made a memographical error; a memo.

Great... (5, Funny)

maan (21073) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881346)

Great: first of all there's no link in the NY times article to find where this guy's homepage is. Then I go to google, and the first link is a guy named "Eric Brown" who's an FBI top ten [fbi.gov] wanted person. But hey, this [wustl.edu] Eric Brown has published a guide to all Eric Browns [wustl.edu] on the net. Thank you!

Maan

Re:Great... (4, Informative)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881369)

What do you mean there's no link? RTFA.

www.greatamericannovel.com [greatamericannovel.com]

Re:Great... (2, Informative)

maan (21073) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881394)

Oops, my bad...it's right there... For anyone else, the site is here [greatamericannovel.com] .

Maan

hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881351)

am i the first one to think "novel as software" and think DUH!!! ??

Donkey Punch! (0, Offtopic)

DonkeyHote (521235) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881353)

First Cock

Welcome back, Mr Hote. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881679)

nT!

What If it's a... (-1, Offtopic)

PhilippeT (697931) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881354)

Murder story and law enforcement think you really killed or know of a killing...

Anyway neat idea I wont be reading these as I get far to many emails already.

Re:What If it's a... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881525)

Holy shit, don't people even read the blurbs anymore?

The software doesn't work like EA's old Majestic game... it's a self-contained program that creates a fake interface to the story's "emails".

Love It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881356)

Art imitates life!

So basically.... (4, Funny)

SkaOMatic (771887) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881365)

Interesting concept. Sometimes it would feel nice to virtually live another life in such a detailed manner. This one is making me sleepy.

Now if only Microsoft could do something with this.....

*naps in his cube dreaming of malware-infected reading materials*

Been there done that (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881395)

"...if you join Sallah on his balloon journey, turn to page 31. If you decide to continue on your own, turn to page 46."

Interesting idea. But new literary category? Please.

Re:Been there done that (0)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881667)

Just what I was thinking. I actually still have some of these books based on Sonic the Hedgehog from back in the Megadrive (Genesis) era.

Older than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8882535)

Back in probably the early to mid eighties (maybe a bit before that?) when D&D was getting big, some publishers got the bright idea to combine reading with a touch of role playing and started putting out the "Choose your own adventure" novels. AFAIK, that is how the choose your own adventure novels came about.

Re:Been there done that (1)

acramon1 (226153) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881856)

Well, it's experimenting with a form that hasn't really been used in novels, so it can be classified as a new literary category, that is if it's not just a POS (forgive me, I haven't yet read the book).

As for the choose-your-own-adventure books? They're not novels, at least not very good ones. Characterization is minimal. There's an overemphasis on plot. Pretty much like most video games =).

When I first read this (3, Funny)

jlechem (613317) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881405)

I imagined a choose your own adventure novel online. If you pick the machine gun turn to page 36 if you pick the rocket launcher turn to page 54.

Re:When I first read this (5, Funny)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881610)

I imagined a choose your own adventure novel online. If you pick the machine gun turn to page 36 if you pick the rocket launcher turn to page 54.

Heh. Choose your own FPS.

You got the rocket launcher!
. If you run at him and fire, go to 71
. If you choose to bunny-hop to the side while firing, go to 13

pg71 - ***BLAM!*** he totally rocket blasts you and GIBS fly everywhere! U sux0rz!
. Respawn at page 1

pg13 - ***SPLACK!*** you totally gibbed him!
. If you pick up his ammo, go to 19
. if you keep firing, go to 62

A first in a new genre? (4, Interesting)

DrkShadow (72055) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881414)

Really, this seems very much like the concept of .Hack//Sign.

That game takes place in a massively multiplayer online RPG; the events unfold through happenings in the world, posts to the message board and e-mail. It seems like this "novel" is very much the same thing, but perhaps more in depth.

In either case, as far as literature goes, there's no need to have people clicking around to get to the next part. That, to me, says "game". This can just as easily be accomplished in a book with a bit of narration.. it seems just an attempt to shift the style of narration.

-DrkShadow

Re:A first in a new genre? (1)

SFEley (743605) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881560)

Really, this seems very much like the concept of .Hack//Sign.

It seems more like a watered-down version of Majestic. Anyone remember that game a couple years ago? You'd get voicemail, IMs and faxes from the fictional characters in some big conspiracy story. Great concept; unfortunately the game itself turned out to be a rather obvious and cruddy puzzle game, so I ditched it in the second month.

In soviet... (-1, Troll)

Cobralisk (666114) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881633)

Game plays you?

For the love of God, PLEASE HELP ME!!!! (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881808)

I signed up for that "game" when it first started and I haven't been able to escape since! They're still following me!!!

Oh God, I've gotta go, one of "Them" just came into the library...

Re:A first in a new genre? (5, Interesting)

harrisj (14577) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881642)

What I was hoping for from the title of the story was something like Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers. To sum up part of the story there, a professor has a smart AI which drives an interface allowing the user to engage in realistic emails to literary characters. So, the user is able to figure out the story interactively and be part of their own epistolary work (not just read someone else's letters). Obviously, we aren't anywhere near that, and I guess the disappointment leaves me underwhelmed.

It seems like the innovation here is that instead of chapters, the user has days of the week they can click on to look at the formatted messages. And the vaunted interactivity is that the user can read the story out of sequence, not really in a nonlinear fiction sense (that can be hard), but really just in the same way I can skip forwards and backwards in a book if I want. Wow. I agree that while the interface is cute I suppose, the style really is more like a "game" version of a book. You might as well try interactive fiction [f9.co.uk] instead.

Re:A first in a new genre? (1)

texasandroid (692557) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881672)

Actually, it would be .Hack//Infection, .Hack//Outbreak, etc, the game series. .Hack//Sign was one of the TV shows.

While they all have the MMORPG as the setting, it's the series of four games that has the interface that you describe.

Re:A first in a new genre? (3, Interesting)

cardshark2001 (444650) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881797)

In either case, as far as literature goes, there's no need to have people clicking around to get to the next part. That, to me, says "game". This can just as easily be accomplished in a book with a bit of narration.. it seems just an attempt to shift the style of narration.

Well, I think people tend to discount new ways of telling stories. I say there's a reason interactive fiction lives on: people are naturally drawn to a medium which allows them to feel they are in control of a story. This sounds like it's a new form of interactive fiction, and I for one am happy that this professor has pushed the boundaries just a little with respect to how we receive our fiction.

I love a good novel as much as the next person, but in this age of tech, the novel format is not the only way to present a storyline, and I enjoy being challenged every now and then with a new format for the art form I admire most. I think the interactive novel is the way of the future with respect to fiction.

There is a reason that interactive fiction lives on despite the lack of pretty graphics and bells and whistles and so forth. People like to be a part of the fictional worlds they enjoy, and fancy graphics can only tell so much of a story. In the end, there's no substitute for good writing.

Someday, interactive fiction may be the norm, with the old, passively read novel format becoming quaint and outdated. This work may be seen as a pioneering work, when that day comes.

When people think interactive fiction, they think games, but I think this space has not been explored in depth and I see great opportunities for the future. I for one applaud this man and wish him great success.

Re:A first in a new genre? (1)

JoeNotCharles (582830) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881981)

Much older than that. System Shock [the-underdogs.org] (1994), where you wander around the 3D world, but most backstory and all character interaction other than fighting comes through email and diaries you discover. The earliest I know of is Portal [the-underdogs.org] (1986), which takes place entirely in a simulated computer interface.

Re:A first in a new genre? (2, Informative)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882021)

A Mind Forever Voyaging, Infocom, 1984.

Best game title ever, btw.

Re:A first in a new genre? (1)

imr (106517) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882821)

I agree.
The fact that the medium leads and in many ways restrain the experience of the reader put it outside litteracy to me.

I remember for instance the way John Brunner echoed the zapping frenzy of its world in its Zanzibar novel. He didnt need a screen and an automated zapping to share that feeling with his readers, only style and talent. Same goes for Gibson's views of cyberspace.

Yeah... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881421)

I liked this better the first time around when it was called a video game

but, you know, some professors just need to stir up a little press to get raises and/or funding. especially professors without any actual skills

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881861)

Dude. That's interesting. I wonder if it's a DMCA violation if you're only virtually circumventing an access control.

So, how long before this "genre" goes open-source? (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881423)

Huh? Oh, yeah...

Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881428)

Does anyone else remember a PC game from the 80's called "Portal", which was more of a science fiction narrative that 'played' by reading 'updates' like this?

For that matter, this was a storytelling technique used in some 19th century classics, such as "Dracula" and "The War of the Worlds", which were narrated through news items, letters, journal entries, etc.

Re:Prior art? (1)

LostOne (51301) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881480)

Ummm, War of the Worlds was only done as a news item for the radio version. IIRC, the novel is a first person narrative.

Kind of reminds me of Portal (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881429)

Portal was a great Sci-fi novel that I read back on my trusty C-64 back in the mid 80's. It was kind of like reading a series of emails and logs, and every so often it would provide you with "resarch material". Ah the good ole days.....

Re:Kind of reminds me of Portal (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881894)

When I was in high school, I had this really neat idea for a text-based adventure game that was a lot like the technical aspects of Shadowrun. Here are some of the key thoughts I had (all within a virtual environment, mind you):

You'd rummage through the trash of a target looking for clues like written-down passwords, or website printouts.

You'd get shell access to a machine, and could use a utility to mirror all of the hopefully sensitive data.

You'd be able to blackmail company insiders for useful information, or to take the fall if you were detected, etc.

Basically, it would be an environment where you could pretend to be a black hat. Unfortunately, if I tried to make a game like that, it'd be a political and legal lightning rod in today's climate.

How is this any different from IF? (1)

SadatChowdhury (512992) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881450)

How is this any different from Interactive Fiction. Its form being epistolary (letter formed novel, like Dracula) doesn't matter - this whole idea is till basically interactive fiction...or am I missing something here?

Re:How is this any different from IF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881524)

Interactive fiction is considered by many of its supporters to be 'puzzle-driven'. This isn't totally fair, of course, but it does give you incenvtive to call your style something else.

Re:How is this any different from IF? (1)

SFEley (743605) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881655)

What you're missing is that Brown's idea isn't actually interactive. What you're doing is looking at your screen while a bunch of IMs and e-mails show up. There's no game here, you're just reading what's presented to you.

I remember tinkering with this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881482)

I'm skeptical about his approach of building it as software. I played with a similar idea a couple years back, but I just replaced the letters and journal entries of the traditional epistlary novel with emails and chat logs (with the device of an older sister out of town who gets emailed the news to fill in the wholes left by not having journals).

More modern epistles makes sense, but I don't see how I can print this out as a book, which, old fashioned as I am, I prefer.

DEN 1.2? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881489)

I remember reading DEN 2 [muuta.net] in Heavy Metal about 20 years ago.

Epistolary form (3, Interesting)

scottennis (225462) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881490)

The epistolary form requires the reader to put additional effort into understanding the author's intent. It died out as a viable form more than a hundred years ago as authors realized their readers didn't want to put that much effort into reading. So they came up with the "omniscient narrator." (Hey, cool, now I don't have to think at all, the author is telling the story as if he were god, so I can trust everything he says!)
I doubt that people today are much more interested in putting effort into their reading than they were 100 years ago.
My predicition is that the DEN will not revolutionize writing.

Re:Epistolary form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881723)

It's [powells.com]
still [powells.com]
alive [powells.com]

Re:Epistolary form (2, Funny)

JLyle (267134) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881759)

The epistolary form requires the reader to put additional effort into understanding the author's intent. It died out as a viable form more than a hundred years ago as authors realized their readers didn't want to put that much effort into reading. So they came up with the "omniscient narrator."
So you finally get a chance to put that English Lit. major to use, eh? ;)

Re:Epistolary form (2, Funny)

panda (10044) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881902)

Yeah, except that he should have studied Medieval Lit., too, and then he'd know that the omniscient narrator has been around longer than the epistolary novel.

Iain M. Bank's take (2, Informative)

kilf (135983) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881493)

There is a large portion of Iain M. Bank's "Excession" that is told as a series of communications between distant and powerful AIs. The joy of these pages is that they read pretty much like a cross between IRC logs and usenet digests. The same petty cliques and tendancies are on display. Even a sort of "TINC" concept is there.

Each message is topped and tailed by a fictional, futuristic header and footer with an addressing mechism, timestamp, location and the like.

I recommend it to all.

Thanks a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881503)

Worst. Idea. Ever.

Now we're going to get tons of crap "books" which are really just lame attempts to show how people do stuff on computers... Good god, when will people realize that trivial actions on a machine are not LITERATURE??

This reminds me of those crap Reality TV shows that were all the rage a little while back (Survivor, et. crap.)

Unbelievable!!!!!! (0, Offtopic)

53cur!ty (588713) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881518)

I can't believe this made /. and none of my submissions have been picked up!

I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this right now...Hello...HEllo...Anyone...?

Come on people (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881521)

I have mod points here and the last 5 stories I've read have not had one post worthy of being modded up. Are all the good posters on vacation today or something?

Re:Come on people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881544)

You know that's an interesting point.

I also noticed that the amount of posts are really down recently for a lot of these stories. Some of them less than a hundred posts??

Maybe people are finding things other than slashdot to talk about!! Oh the horror!

Seriously, I think people are just on vacation and don't have computers around them (Odd concept, eh?)

Hey, that's an idea for a poll, when do you go on vacation! (Or have we already done that)

The opening act... except (3, Funny)

lacrymology.com (583077) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881522)

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

WTF?!?

-m

Re:The opening act... except (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881629)

Look mailbox

> The mailbox is closed

open mailbox

> The mailbox is open

look mailbox

> It's just an ordinary mailbox

look in mailbox

> I don't understand what you want to do.

afjkl;dsasd nasdfasdfnk;!!!!!!!!11111

Re:The opening act... except (2, Funny)

doublem (118724) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882136)

Take Mailbox

> The Mailbox is attached to the ground

Kick Mailbox

> The mailbox jiggles and shimmies like a pole dancer on acid. The reverberations reach the ground and a humming tone comes from the vibrating soil. Earthworms emerge from the ground, driven out by the vibrating mailbox pole. You see a white envelope slowly emerge from the mailbox, falling to the ground just before the mailbox stops vibrating.

>Press Enter to Continue

ENTER

>Your foot hurts.

Wrong way round. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881527)

A novel as software would use something like the Shakespeare Programming Language [sourceforge.net] , but for novels instead of dramas.

More information on other art forms using this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881532)

This FAQ [spacker.net] will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about literary and other art forms based on displaying a variety of browser pop-ups to the viewer.

F-R-Not-R (3, Informative)

obsidianpreacher (316585) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881535)

Here's the free registration NOT required link [nytimes.com]

From the article:
Thom Swiss, editor of The Iowa Review Web and a professor of English at the University of Iowa who focuses on those forms of hypertext, said that to him Mr. Brown's creation seemed mechanical. "While inventive if buggy, I'm not sure how useful it is," he said. "At this stage of its development, it's more of a game and less literature - and not because of the pulp story but because the formal elements of composing the piece are given to you: you just fill in the content."

And I couldn't agree more. I don't see this style as being appealing to me. Neat concept, but it's not quite "it" ...

Bah (1, Insightful)

daeley (126313) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881540)

The key here is "Mr. Brown is marketing composition software called DEN WriterWare."

Portal from Activision (3, Informative)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881562)

A long time ago (1986 I think), Activision published a game called Portal [the-underdogs.org] , and C64, PC, Amiga, Mac, etc. It is an interactive novel where an intelligent computer pieces together the story of why nobody is left on the Earth. The pieces come as memos, effectively e-mails, and you can browse other parts of the system for various bits of information on characters, events, etc. It's very absorbing and is obviously predates this "new" thing by nearly 20 years!

There are other excellent games from around the same time like The Fourth [spray.se] Protocol [gb64.com] which, although much more interactive, effectively work in the same manner via an icon-based system. A brilliant game, by the way, highly recommended.

this is stupid (1)

darweidu (530107) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881563)

And I mean it, this is a stupid gimmick and will be forgotten in a week. Why did it make frontpage?

Re:this is stupid (1)

SFEley (743605) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881635)

I agree it's a gimmick and doomed to failure, but not because the idea itself is bad. The problem is the silly software you need to read it. People are too lazy to download an app for a work like this, and anyway it breaks the illusion.

Similiar things have been been done before on real Web pages and in real e-mail forums. One of these days someone will write an actually interesting story this way, they'll get lucky and it'll become popular, and the art form will start to gain some traction. It's not going to be this Professor Brown guy, but you can't fault him for trying something almost new.

It's been done (4, Informative)

jd142 (129673) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881571)

Griffin and Sabine (and the followups) did this with dead trees back in the late 80's early 90's. The book contained a series of letters, postcards, etc. between the two main characters. And unlike all the novels that were written in letter form before, the letters and post cards were physical objects in the book.

It's one of those oh-so-clever ideas that gets done once just to show it can be done, then is never done again because it's not that great of an idea.

There was even a video game like this. I think it was Majestic, http://www.gamezone.com/gamesell/p16652.htm , that I'm thinking of. You could give it your beeper number and it would call you, etc. A one person LARP.

Re:It's been done (1)

dabadab (126782) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881830)

As pointed out in the blurb, it is an epistolean novel, and that means it consists of (fictional) letters and it has been done for a few hundred years.
It is the first digital one, or the author claims so.

Re:It's been done (2, Interesting)

nrabinowitz (471147) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882565)

As in the Griffin and Sabine books, the key here is not the form of the story, but the medium - the reason that G+S were interesting was not really the writing (which was was well-done but nothing special) but the artwork and the physical nature of the medium. Holding someone's letter and reading it is actually quite a different experience from reading the same text in a book - you're presented not with the story of someone's life, but with physical objects from that life.

In the same way, I can see that the on-screen email epistolary novel could give you the same immersive feeling. But it's not a new genre, it's just a slightly new medium. It's still an epistolary novel, just presented in a form meant to make it more immersive.

As a sidenote, Nick Bantock, the writer/illustrator of the G+S books, also did a ook called the Venetian's Wife, in which most of the messages are emails. IMHO, this book was significantly less successful than G+S - the paper medium, entirely appropriate for the G+S letters and postcards, just looked foolish when applied to email. I can see how the software-based medium might be a really good choice for this kind of work.

All that said, I agree with the parent post that this is primarily a one-shot gimmick. I don't foresee many (read: any) real writers adopting this medium, which bodes ill for the DEN software biz.

Too early! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881575)

Software novels for computers? I'm sorry but this won't sell before AI.

Sounds a bit like the game... (3, Insightful)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881580)

...where you were sent e-mail, pages, called at work and home, on your cell phone, faxes, etc. Each event was a clue to a mystery, or an indication you had to go look for something.

I seem to recall the game folding itself up and going away immediately after the Trade Center Tower Attack.

Other than the phone and fax events, this sounds quite similar, and I suspect it may end up with some of the same flaws.

The primary flaw that I see with this is that I personally have no problem reading bits and pieces out of dozens of books, often several different books by the same author. This is purely my decision, and I am in a mindset for that book when I go back to reading it, because I choose to be. Getting IM's, e-mail, etc as "Novel" content, seems to me to be eliminating the reader's election to get back into the frame of mind for properly processing the content, and I suspect will end up being ignored.

Then again, I could be wrong.

-Rusty

Re:Sounds a bit like the game... (1)

HisMother (413313) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881790)

Was that real, or was that just a movie with Michael Douglass?

Re:Sounds a bit like the game... (1)

pheriannath (665034) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881918)

Before the Dan Brown's The Davinci Code was published, the official website had a variant on this game... You were given a starting point, which had a clue where to find the next bit of information... Parts of it allowed you to log onto a corporate 'portal', read emails, and such. It was fairly short and culminated in an ad for the book, but it was still a fairly interesting idea.

Re:Sounds a bit like the game... (1)

fcheslack (712576) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881919)

that was a real game which I was about to comment on myself. I could not for the life of me remember the name of the game, probably because it curled up and died in the corner after horrible reviews and sales. Its always been an interesting idea, but I still dont see it being successful just yet. Maybe in 2 or 3 years someone else will come up with this "revolutionary" idea again and make it actually work, but I dont think this one is there yet.

Folded long before that (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882061)

Majestic died long before Sept 11. It only lasted a couple months after the initial release. The few people who tried it didn't like it.

Based on what I've heard, it was a bad idea, not much fun and required a massive time investment.

That, and I'm sure all those phone calls and pages added up in cost, both both the publisher maintaining it all and the people "playing" the game.

Digital Epistolary Novel. . ? (2, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881594)

he claims is a new literary category called the 'digital epistolary novel', or DEN.


If all his works sound this appealing, then I'm sure he'll be making tens of dollars in no time.

Anyway, Griffin and Sabine [griffinandsabine.com] has done the series of letters as a story already, and in grand style, I might add. The novelty novel. With paintings and cursive handwriting and little pasted-in envelopes.

Frankly, I can't think of anything further from the romantic ideal than ASCII. Of course, I can also think of several relationships which began on-line, so who am I to judge?


-FL

Eye-strain (2, Interesting)

Ra5pu7in (603513) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881605)

Don't we already spend enough time looking at our computer screens? Looking through a bunch of faux emails and webpages to "read" the story just doesn't sound appealing. Instead it sounds like a recipe to keep people in front of their computers even more than they already do.

Now, the one thing I don't see any indication of, but that several people have mentioned, is the ability to alter the story by how you respond. This DEN looks pretty cut and dried to me - i.e. the sequence of emails and webpages is preset to tell the story - it isn't something you as the reader respond to. Maybe I missed something because I didn't read the NY Times article (won't register) - but looking at his own site should have been more informative.

failzo8s!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881636)

teEth into when Consi:stent with the

Official Site (2, Informative)

beeglebug (767468) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881647)

More information about the novel, the software and the author can be found here [greatamericannovel.com] .

It's not a bad read actually, even if the idea is not exactly new...

Novels are for relaxation... (1)

thesaur (681425) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881689)

I'm sorry, I don't think that a novel in this form is going to be popular bedtime literature... it requires effort from the reader. Of course, there were many popular text adventure games, so it's not like there will be no market for this.

Just don't forget that interactive books aren't in vogue anymore. What's so different about this?

Not my cup of caffeinated beverage... (1)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881692)

I mean, I love to read, many generes - from Terry Pratchett over Tad Williams to Karl May
But when I'm faced with interactive fiction I always get the feeling to have to "split up".

"So were all the subtile hints true? Is the conspiracy real? For Yes, go to page 56, for No go to page 241"

I somehow cannot stand such books. Sorry.

What Is Art? (4, Insightful)

linuxdoctor (126962) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881693)

Yet another contribution to that age old conundrum. Other posters have weighed in on whether they like it or not, and whether it is even a new genre citing similar approaches going back over a hundred years.

An Anonymous Coward dismissed it entirely saying it was not even literature. Isn't it, though?

The one point that caught my eye was the last sentence. "Mr. Brown is marketing ..." That said it all.

Is it art, or marketing ploy? Considering that even television commericals are considered by some to be art, one wonders.

I've always been in the "art for art's sake school." The fact that Mr. Brown is marketing his 'genre' diminishes the value of his 'literature', at least for me. But does that mean that it's not art?

Re:What Is Art? (2, Interesting)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882207)

I have a rather useful definition that seems to cover all cases I consider art:

"Art it the indirect communication of one persons abstract idea to another through an indirect medium."

The more abstract the idea, the less the audience connects with the artist; the more direct the communication the less 'revelatory' the experience is.

ARG (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881705)

This sounds more like reading the past events of an ARG [unfiction.com] than a novel.

Isn't highly similar to LJBook ?! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881726)

The LJBook [ljbook.com] thing turns your blog into a PDF archive/book suitable for printing... It's produced by LaTeX and looks quite good...

It's highly similar when people use their blog as a journal like livejournal's users...

you fail It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8881785)

being GAY NIIGERS. again. There are off the play area To the crowd in COME HERE BUT NOW

Shuteye Town (2, Informative)

jefu (53450) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881858)

For those interested in such things, there is also "Shuteye Town" by R. F. Laird, author of the puzzlingly odd and brilliant "Boomer Bible" [boomerbible.com] . Unhappily it is all MS Word files so I've never been able to explore it correctly and can only report this at second hand.

Exegesis (2, Interesting)

dmorin (25609) | more than 9 years ago | (#8881913)

Everybody's mentioning Griffin and Sabine (or however you say it). If you actually like this style, look for Exegesis by Astro Teller. The story consists of a series of emails between an emergent AI and its unwitting creator. Nothing special in terms of story or character, but that particular aspect does make it stand out as different from the rest.

Just My Opinion (1)

g_goblin (631117) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882054)

Since all this week it has taken me no less than 10 minutes to log into my PC because our Novell servers have been AWOL, I'm starting to think Novell software suX0rz!!!

How about writing software as a novel? (1)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882325)

Not entirely offtopic as it deals with authoring works, but flips the subject behind the article on its head. And, it's something I couldn't resist sharing.

Jos Claerbout, in teaching himself OOP, has written one of the more creative and instructive tutorials [stanford.edu] on OOP design hosted at Stanford [stanford.edu] . The work is admittably rough around the edges and may be too short (nothing a good publishing editor couldn't have polished up). But, it remains valuable for those who tend to be more right-brained thinkers, rather than left, and who wish to participate in software engineering. Sadly, the author has passed away at a young age, but he's left a useful legacy for the rest of us. I've come to appreciate his humor by reading his college entrance essays [stanford.edu] .

= 9J =

interactive computer games (1)

sir_cello (634395) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882502)


Nice going prof, but you are tunnel visioned.

'The novel as software' has long existed in the form of interactive computer games - dare we go back to nethack, maniac mansion and the various other unfolding adventures of the genre.

Self evolving storyline? (1)

ShelfWare (457545) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882526)

This doesn't sound that original ...

Maybe a better approach would be something like one of those tests that adapts to your previous answers, except the user would have to rate sections of the story and it would serve up alternate paths based on what the reader likes (more action, suspense, plot twists, romance, *action*, etc.)

They could read the story hundreds of times and have hundreds of possible path's and endings.

remember the "goto" novels? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882680)

These were stories writen in a non-sequential order. You had to flip to another page at the end of a section. Sometimes you had more than one choice.

Some instructional material wa written this way. It got rather annoying. I prefere the "expanded outline" type. You only go into the detail you think you need.

tr,o7l (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8882692)

My favorite was the Screwtape Letters (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#8882749)

The devil did his work by appealing to one's intellectual arrogance- "I'm too smart for that". Sounds familar? The devil has lots of opportunity in the modern world when knowledge is a prized commodity.
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