Annotated Bibliography #10

Time for the second article.

Ciccoricco, David. Reading Network Fiction. University Alabama Press, 2007. EBSCOhost, proxylib.msjc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=217966&site=ehost-live.

This one may take a while. It is actually an entire ebook. As such, I will focus on the introduction which will serve as an overview to the larger text. From there I should be able to figure out what chapters, if any, are useful to my thesis. As an aside, I feel like I should do a blog entry on why introductions are important.

The introduction begins by positing the concept of a hypertext is over, usurped by the concept of a cybertext to cover the emergent field of digital art and literature. However, with any emergent field there are internal debates in the discipline. Particularly because the nature of emergence means that developments are frequently occurring and theories are jockeying for relevance against other, newer theories that emerge. Largely though, this second wave, referred to here as a cybertext, is very much about the movement from representation in traditional narrative to simulation in interactive narrative. David Ciccoricco, the author of the ebook, chooses the terminology of Network Fiction, which he posits utilizes hypertext fiction in the creation of emergent and recombinatory narrative (p. 4). Regarding hypertext, the author posits three categories: axial, arborescent, and networked (p. 5).

The next major section of the introduction covers the reading of network fiction. One school of thought is that modes of narrative are incompatible with database driven design of network fiction. Another school suggests that theories of autonomy in the reader are inherently false because all paths the reader has access too are predetermined by the author of the project. Of course, the existence of MUDs and game theory with AI complicates these notions. What is apparent is that IF allows a reader to have some sense of agency and ownership of the narrative through choice, and personal interpretation of events.

Regarding the overview of the text, the author indicates there are three general areas covered: “(1) critical theory that returns to print-based narratology in the light of digital literature; (2) network fictions from the first wave of digital literature published as stand-alone Storyspace applications; and (3) second-wave network fictions published on the world wide web” (p.12). Chapter one, “The Time and Time Again of Network Fiction,” explores temporal dynamics and repetition in narratives and explores the importance of reader’s repetition and recombination to the experience. Chapter two, “Network Vistas: Folding the Cognitive Map,” looks at the spacial construction of a network text and how repetition facilitates a reader’s engagement with the hypertext’s structure. Chapters three and four focus on examining specific hypertexts, one of which is Victory Garden, which is a hypertext I have seen referenced several times. Chapters five and six focus on the “second-wave” or internet-based works. Chapter 5, in particular, deals with the issue of democratic excess in that anyone can publish IF to the web, resulting into an overabundance of mediocre and overly flawed material. Chapter 6 covers adapting a work of traditional literature to an electronic form through The Jew’s Daughter, but does not seem highly relevant to my thesis at this point in time.

Based on the chapters laid out in the introduction, I feel I would most benefit from chapters one, two, and five directly. Additionally, the further reference to Victory Garden, in yet another work of IF theory, indicates that I need to read it.

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