Afternoon, The Novel
It’s not just a state of mind, it’s a time of day. Afternoon is also the title of perhaps the first work of fiction that requires a computer to be read. I stress the phrase "work of fiction" because most people immediately think of the text adventure games popularized by Zork and others from Infocom. However, Afternoon is different. It is truly fiction and bears no resemblance to a game or puzzle. There is nothing to solve, nowhere to go, no prize to capture. In essence, there is no more goal in Afternoon than there is in Hemingway’s "The Sun Also Rises" or any other papertext. With fiction, if there is a goal at all, it would be what some have called the completion of self, i.e. when you feel that you are satisfied with the fiction. In papertexts, that usually happens at the end, though I’ve stopped reading a book in the middle because it was completed to my satisfaction (a nice way of saying it was lousy). In hyperfiction, you may never read everything, but that doesn’t matter so long as you feel that you’ve read a complete story.
If you like modern fiction, and particularly if you like the idea of an ever-changing, fluid fiction, I highly recommend Michael Joyce’s Afternoon. It runs on the Mac 512KE and above, sells for $19.95 from Eastgate Systems, and if you act fast, you may even get an autographed disk. Afternoon is the first fiction written in Storyspace, a program that Michael Joyce helped to create. Storyspace will also be marketed by Eastgate and is specifically designed for writing hypertext. I shouldn’t say too much more about it for now, since it will be released soon, but suffice it to say that Storyspace is an excellent hypertext authoring system. I personally have written the equivalent of over 250 pages in it, so I should know what I’m talking about. Stay tuned…
Eastgate Systems — 800/562-1638 — 617/924-9044
Mark Bernstein, Eastgate Systems
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