Hypertext fiction

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Hypertext fiction is a genre of electronic literature, characterized by the use of hypertext links which provides a new context for non-linearity in "literature" and reader interaction. The reader typically chooses links to move from one node of text to the next, and in this fashion arranges a story from a deeper pool of potential stories. Its spirit can also be seen in interactive fiction.

The term can also be used to describe traditionally-published books in which a non-linear and interactive narrative is achieved through internal references. Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire (1962) and Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (1963; translated as Hopscotch) are early examples (predating the word hypertext), while a common pop-culture example is the "Choose Your Own Adventure" format of young adult fiction.


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The first hypertext fictions were published prior to the development of the World Wide Web, using software such as Storyspace and Hypercard. Michael Joyce's Afternoon, a story, first presented in 1987 and published by Eastgate Systems in 1991, is generally considered one of the first hypertext fictions. Afternoon was followed by a series of other Storyspace hypertext fictions from Eastgate Systems, including Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, its name was Penelope by Judy Malloy, (whose hyperfiction Uncle Roger was published online on Artcom Electronic Network on The WELL from 1986-1987) Carolyn Guyer's Quibbling, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl and Deena Larsen's Marble Springs. Judy Malloy's l0ve0ne, created in 1994, was the first selection in the Eastgate Web Workshop.

Douglas Cooper's Delirium (1994) was the first novel serialized on the World Wide Web; it permitted navigation between four parallel story strands. Shortly thereafter, in 1997, Mark Amerika released GRAMMATRON, a significantly more multi-linear work which was eventually exhibited in art galleries. In 2000, it was included in the Whitney Biennial of American Art. [1][2]

Some other web examples of hypertext fiction include Adrienne Eisen's Six Sex Scenes (1995), Stuart Moulthrop's Hegirascope, (1995,1997) Sunshine 69, The Unknown (which won the trAce(Alt X award in 1998), The Company Therapist, and Caitlin Fisher's These Waves of Girls (2001) (which won the ELO award for fiction in 2001).

The internationally oriented but U.S. based Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) was founded in 1999 to promote the creation and enjoyment of electronic literature. Other organisations for the promotion of electronic literature include trAce Online Writing Community, a British organisation that has fostered electronic literature in the UK, Dichtung Digital, a journal of criticism of electronic literature in English and German, and ELINOR, a network for electronic literature in the Nordic countries, which provides a directory of Nordic electronic literature. The Electronic Literature Directory lists many works of electronic literature in English and other languages.

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