[eBook-List] [Fwd: Winchester's Nightmare: A Novel Machine]
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A Novel Machine
By Nick Montfort
Is now available (in "softback") from:
Full installation instructions and a US-based http download option can be
Winchester's Nightmare is a work in Inform, premiered at Digital Arts
and Culture '99 on October 29 in Atlanta. In its "hardback" form, it is
a novel-length interactive fiction which includes a computer running
software: a novel machine. The work consists of a primitive portable
computer running a cybertext in the literary fiction genre, with a
text-adventure interface. Ten hardbacks are for sale. The softback,
available free, contains the entire text of the hardback edition.
The main character of Winchester's Nightmare is the historical figure
Sarah Winchester, nee Pardee, 1837-1922. Sarah is remembered for
building onto her San Jose house constantly for more than thirty years.
The official, and rather simplistic, explanation for this eccentric
enterprise is that she was following the instructions of a spiritualist,
seeking redemption for the many killings effected by the Winchester rifle,
made by her husband's company. Sarah was made rich by the mass production
of weapons, gave her name to the Winchester hard drive, and built an
ever-sprawling house that serves as a metaphorical target for today's
American city. In this work which treats themes of technology and American
urban life, the interactor acts and explores through her.
Winchester's Nightmare is about Sarah's psyche, and does not portray her
house directly. While the Winchester Mansion seems rich in narrative
possibilities, Winchester's Nightmare takes place instead in the composite
metropolis of Sarah's dream, United City. This city is peopled with other
characters and a plot (driven by Sarah's search for redemption) organizes
the narrative. The setting, however, is the dominant element.
United City is like Rockvil in Steven Meretzky's A Mind Forever Voyaging.
It is an American city, one which the main character sees as home, and it
is transformed through time. It is also like the landscape of Robert
Pinsky's Mindwheel, in that it is a "mental map" of a character's psyche.
Exploration of the world reveals aspects of the protagonist and her
particular obsessions. The interaction with and completion of the text is
motivated by series of challenges, as in text adventures. The puzzles
presented are constructed for thematic appropriateness, and present to
motivate exploration and reflection. The interactor will hopefully be able
to engage with the work as literature, rather staying in a jigsaw-puzzle
mode of thinking during all of the interaction.
I welcome your comments - and, as much as one can welcome such things, bug
-Nick Montfort nickm@... http://www.media.mit.edu/~nickm