The Twilight Zone
Hyperfiction may be at a point of radical redefinition. Graphics, sounds and moving images will all have a more influential role - thanks especially for the CD-ROM format, which allows even larger files to be distributed in a relatively low price. This has obvious results. One of them is that hyperfictions will be more and more products of team work. Already with Twilight there are several people mentioned in the credits. But one of the most original features of hypertext is its potential for collaborative writing - thus I'll expect the team work ideology to intrude the writing process itself.

Although Twilight uses almost ten times more memory than Afternoon, it still contains less lexias (this is mainly caused by the AV materials). On the other hand there are more links in Twilight, so its link structure is much denser than Afternoon's. This may be seen in relation to Joyce's comment about texts like Twilight as the second generation of hypertext, "the Web makes the third" (from lexia "Chrysalis"). Hyperfiction confronts a real challenge when entering the Web, and, to quote Joyce again, "it is, ironically, the pure boundedness of the linked space that will distinguish hyperfiction in the age of the web." But how to have boundaries in a medium that is inherently against boundaries? That is a problem to which hyperfiction authors have to find answers - and a dense linking structure may offer one solution to give the feeling of openendedness in a restricted area.

The hypertextual, or hypermedial, qualities have been developed in the ten years from Afternoon to Twilight. What still needs empowerment is interactivity. It is possible to write hyperfiction with existing programs like Story Space and Hypercard, which create the sense of satisfying interaction: Afternoon in its minimalism is a good example of this. But not to force the authors to fit themselves to certain limited "genres," it is necessary to develop the hypertext environments keeping an eye especially on the reader interface.

It has to be remembered that hyperfiction is a brand new form, the history of some ten years is almost nothing - keeping this in mind, Twilight. A Symphony is a remarkable achievement. But at the same time it indicates a need for a drastical change in evolution to keep the field alive.


 

 

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