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Hamlet on the Holodeck
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Table of Contents

Part 1 A new medium for storytelling: Lord Burleigh's kiss; Harbingers of the Holodeck; from additive to expressive form. Part 2 The aesthetics of the medium: immersion; agency; transformation. Part 3 Procedural authorship: the cyberbard and the multiform plot; Eliza's daughters. Part 4 New beauty, new truth: digital TV and the emerging formats of cyberdrama; Hamlet and the Holodeck?.

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[A] brilliant look at the future of storytelling. -- James Coates, The Chicago Tribune Hamlet on the Holodeck reaches beyond the scope of interactive narrative and encompasses the global possibilities of emerging technologies. -- Stan Diehl, BYTE

About the Author

Janet H. Murray is Ivan Allen College Dean's Professor in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is the author of Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice (MIT Press).

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Intelligent and carefully researched, this report from the more erudite side of cyberspace focuses on the impact of interactive media on the narrative (i.e., story-telling) imagination, and vice versa. Murray, a former programmer and a humanities professor at MIT since 1971, has taught electronic fiction writing since the early 1990s to the world's most hard-core hackers, finding herself "drawn to imagining a cyberdrama of the future by the same fascination that draws me to the Victorian novel." Here, she debunks the notion that nonlinear storytelling began with the point-and-click wanderings of hypertext, demonstrating the desire to tell multiple stories simultaneously in numerous writers from Homer to Tolstoy. She contends that because the "space" of the story and its outcome are dependent on the reader, however, electronic writing gives the reader the kind of "agency"‘"the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our decisions and choices"‘previously found only in audience participation-based arts. Virtual characters like "Julia," who "lives" in chat rooms and responds to those who engage her in conversation, may just expand our definition of fiction. After musing over plot algorithms and speculating about cyberdrama, Murray ends with the heartening prediction that developments in fiction-writing software will increasingly allow those of us who are bored by war-related video games to experience the benefits of "a computer-based literature" that "might help us recognize ourselves in the machine without a sense of degradation." (July)

[A] brilliant look at the future of storytelling.

-James Coates, The Chicago Tribune
Hamlet on the Holodeck reaches beyond the scope of interactive narrative and encompasses the global possibilities of emerging technologies.-Stan Diehl , BYTE

There's something a bit threatening and yet more than a little thrilling about the idea central to Murray's work: Can we already be at the cusp of a bona fide new medium of communication, one that will marry the power of the narrative with the vast capabilities of the computer? Murray, a longtime humanities computing guru at MIT, insists that we are, convincing us that the attraction of writers for cyperspace is as irresistible as it is persistent. Already, she argues, numerous novelists, playwrights and filmmakers are poised for the move toward multiform stories, digital formats, and, of course, increased interactivity. Murray's ruminations are dramatic, compelling, and almost as hypnotic as drama itself, be it real (and steeped in tradition) or virtually imagined. Heartily recommended for scholars and all fanatics of the brave new world.‘Geoff Rotunno, "Tri-Mix" Magazine, Goleta, Cal.

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