Hyperfiction: Is it the Future or Just a Fad?
My Experience with Reading Hyperfiction… …
‘Ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!’ Enter. Browse. Click. Read. Link. Click. Back. Browse. Top. Forward. ‘We have landed on planet mars!’ What a world of difference one might say, when reading hyperfiction. One could easily snuggle up in bed with a good book and get lost in the story, but certainly not with a laptop.
It is not that one cannot get lost in a story while reading hyperfiction; in fact, one could find oneself in a huge maze! Here, the reader plays an active role in deciding (by choice or by writing) the shape that the story will eventually take – do you want a happy ending? Or perhaps a romantic one? The reader therefore has to make choices and is in part responsible for creating a way out, if there will be one at all! It thus becomes an interactive activity and ‘offers the reader and writer the same environment’.
In hyperfiction, there is no closure. With a book, one can be reassured of the ending as the pages slowly diminish, but in hyperfiction, the particular story ends precisely at the point where you stop reading!
Reading hyperfiction requires a different sort of mindset. Many people have traditional expectations when they first read hyperfiction. The rigid, one-way and linear mindset has to be replaced with one that is spatial, multilinear and decentred. The reader can no longer expect a fixed center of focus but an ‘indefinitely recenterable system’. There will not be any form of fixed organization whatsoever. The story could easily begin from the end and end at the middle. Links that are located within the text are able to transcend the traditional borders of the printed text and bring the reader to a different ‘planet’ altogether.
Hyperfiction empowers readers and reverses the traditional role of authors and readers. Does this mean that the author is slowly ‘dying’ away? The author has always been the one that writes while the reader reads. With the dawn of this new fiction, the author will still have a place, but with many others as well. There will be considerable differences in the kinds of fiction that authors create and the audience will be very different from those of the printed text.
With fiction taking on a new electronic and virtual shape, what will happen to the physical text that we have become so accustomed to? Does this mean that books will eventually be phased out and readings will all have to be done on the computer? What will happen to the jobs of publishers and printers? Indeed, there will be new jobs created by the very presence of this new form of fiction, but does that imply that these people will slowly ‘die out’?
Hyperfiction is still a relatively new genre, as with the whole Internet experience. There will be many unanswered questions that will in turn create even more questions. Whether this will have an everlasting effect, or be simply a fad, we will have to wait and see! Meanwhile, hop on the bandwagon and join in the ride!