” is the fiction novel of Stuart Moulthrop that
I go to work in this course, it’s composed by short stories with different
themes (references to dreams, drugs, visions, and television) are introduced,
The current text consists of about 175 pages
traversed by more than 700 links and it began with the opening flash of
pages which turn themselves. You can circumvent this by following a hypertext
link, though in most cases this will just start a new half-minute timer
on a fresh page.
It is extremely difficult to know exactly where you
are going within the text of “Hegirascope”
because there seems to be absolutely no order in which the pages are presented
to the reader.
After the first eight flashes the same phrases are repeated, time per
page expands to 18-25 seconds, each page contains one to three paragraphs,
a title, two or four links and appears on a colored background.
Directly related strands of the story have the same
color background and similar (sometimes identical) titles. Thus, pages which
develop the story of Gina and Bent travelling across the country are titled
"Drivers" and all appear on a brown background. They are moving across the
country, always moving but never at ease, headed toward New York City. Another
strand is a series of intimate e-mail letters-all signed "A-" ,titled either
"Amanda" or "Amandus" and appearing on a pink background. The name of an
obscure foreign city locates the writer, but in one letter Amandus indicates
he does not know where Amanda is. Thus, he mails his intimate messages to
an unknown place. In a series of exchanges between father and son (on yellow)
the theories of Marshall McLuhan are invoked, and in another strand (on gray)
McLuhan himself, having been cryogenically preserved, is resurrected and appears
on the late night talk-show circuit. Whether the reader chooses links or
allows the pages to turn, all the pages in a given strand do not follow one
another. Thus, although a reader gradually achieves some level of control
over the narratives by making connections between various page.
There is a sense that the contemporary world's lack of stability of place
can be dangerous. Several of the places mentioned--Bosnia, Oklahoma City,
Los Angeles--have recently seen real bodily harm done to real people.
In that respect “Hegirascope”
operates like an average adventure game and can be considered to be a hybrid
of narratives and games.
The former functions like a regular self-destructing
artefact and the latter like subtitles in film, but they have the thing
that makes Hegirascope
more interesting to us, that is, a double interface. There are also a few
inherent dimensions in Hegirascope.
The first of them is the recurrent nature of its transformations. It is
always possible to come back to the same node after a while, access is not
denied but only deferred in time. The second hidden dimension is closely
related to the first one: the chances to reread and revisit. Despite the
fact that those thirty seconds might not be enough for grasping or even
merely reading the node, the recurrent cycle of Hegirascope
allows one to reread its nodes as many times as one wishes. Thirdly, the
double interface could be arranged to function yet another way.
This hypertext (Hegirascope)
has been compared with the hypertext called “Sunshine ‘69”. They are classified
as hypertext novels, both pieces take a very different approach to navigation
and links within their texts. There are some similarities between
the two novels in those respects but they are few and far between.
The author STUART MOULTHROP was
born at the statistical peak of the baby boom in Baltimore, Maryland, where
he worked as a crab steamer and part-time bureaucrat, and where, after 20
years of living in other places, he has finally gone to ground. In 1975 he
read Gravity's Rainbow and became English major.
In the mid-eighties he learned about hypermedia, which further changed
his life. Now he makes hypertexts and teaches design for electronic environments
in the Institute for Language, Technology, and Communications Design at the
University of Baltimore. With Michael Joyce, Nancy Kaplan, and John McDaid,
he is co-founder of the TINAC electronic arts collective. He is also a partner
in the Baltimore Interactive Group, an Internet design firm.
He has published essays about hypertext and contemporary
culture in journals like Post-modern Culture, Mosaic, and Writing on the
His hypertexts are:
Reagan Library  Published on CD-ROM as part of Gravitational
Intrigue, the Little Magazine's electronic anthology. A circular exploration
of time, space, and (imperfect) memory.
[1995/1997] What if the word will not be still? Or worse, what's in the
trunk? The first version of this time-based Web fiction was published in
the now defunct World3. A revised version appeared in in New River.
Hypertext '96 Trip Report  This small non-fiction hypertext was an
also be considered a primitive ancestor of 'blogs.
The Colour of Television  I created this multi-threaded, verbal/graphic
Web fiction in collaboration with the writer and designer Sean Cohen. It
was published in the "Lab" section of Media Ecology.
It's Not What You Think  A "multi-level hyper-textual rant,"
says Steven Levy--and he should know. This little project may also have been
the world's first hypertextual letter to the editor.
Watching the Detectives [1994 and continuing] This non-fiction hypertext is an Internet
companion to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. Developed for the Web
in late 1994, revised with reader contributions several times since, and
most recently converted by Nancy Kaplan to a database-driven form that allows
readers to submit their own contributions.
Shadow of an Informand [1993/94] I first wrote this early experiment
in scholarly hypertext
argument in non-electronic form, then ported it to HTML as one of my first
efforts on the Web.
Dreamtime  This small hypermedia fiction is a refugee from
Victory Garden and an earlier, abortive project aptly titled Chaos. It's
a HyperCard stack, and as such is useful only to those who still have access
to that software and a Macintosh that can run it.
Excerpts from Victory Garden  This large-scale hypertext fiction
was called by Robert Coover "the new benchmark" for electronic writing a
year or so after it appeared. The complete text is available from Eastgate
Hyperbola  A Digital Companion to Gravity's Rainbow. This
was a very early attempt to create a teaching resource, again in HyperCard.
As well as being one of the foremost authors of hypertext fiction,
Moulthrop has emerged
as one of its most important theoreticians.