The literary publisher Eastgate Systems distinguishes its products from both pornographics "web soaps" and games by calling them "serious hypertext". The pioneering work in this genre is Michael Joyce's Afternoon (1987), written in the Storyspace hypertext system, which he code signed with Jay David Bolter and John Smith specifically for the purpose of writing narrative as a set of linked text blocks. Afternoon contains 539 carefully crafted lexias and begins with one (although it does not necessarily come first) entitled "I want to say". [...] There is no overview of the work's structure, and the 'hot word' links do not offer much of a clue to the content to which they lead. To complicate things further, Joyce has programmed some of the links to force the reader to return to the same lexia again and again in order to be permitted to go to new places in the story. [...] to the postmodernist writer , confusion is not a bug but a feature. In the jargon of the postmodern critics, Joyce is intentionally "problematizing" our expectations of storytelling, challenging us to construct our own text from the fragments he has provided. [...] The architectural playfulness of Afternoon, its construction as a series of discrete lexia linked by overlapping paths, and the poetic shaping of its individual lexia mark it as the first narrative to lay claim to the digital environment as a home for serious literature in new formats.

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A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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