December 1996

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Tracing the Growth of a New Literature

by Michael Shumate

A decade ago, hypertext fiction came of age with the publication of Michael Joyce's Afternoon. With that work, Joyce moved hypertext fiction beyond the realm of games and programs into that of literature. A small number of works followed from various authors over the next few years, most, like Afternoon, published by Eastgate Systems.

In the last few years, hypertext fiction has been undergoing a sort of second childhood on the World Wide Web. Sometimes retracing the same paths blazed by Eastgate writers a few years before, sometimes striking out in new ways, a growing group of writers has been grappling with this new form. Has Web hypertext fiction come of age yet, a decade after Joyce? Its quality remains uneven, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. -- 1996 has seen the debut of a number of interesting new works on the Web.

During the last two years, I've been documenting much of the hypertext fiction activity on the Web at my site, Hyperizons. It has grown from a handful of links to a large site with more than 200 citations to fiction, criticism, similar sites, and print relatives of hypertext. [TOC]

References / Further Reading

Michael Shumate ( recently completed his masters thesis, "Writing Lives: Technology, Creativity, and Hypertext Fiction," in Liberal Studies at Duke University. In addition to developing the award-winning Hyperizons Web site for hypertext fiction, he is a fiction writer and is an archivist and manuscript cataloger at the Special Collections Library, Duke University.

Copyright © 1996 by Michael Shumate. All Rights Reserved.

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