Individual Work

10:01 by Lance Olsen and Tim Guthrie is a Web-based digital incarnation of Lance Olsen’s print novel of the same title (published by Chiasmus Press in 2005). The narrative is set in a movie theater in the Mall of America in the United States and documents the ten minutes running up to the beginning of the main feature. Towards the chronological end of the narrative, an explosion occurs. However, it is not clear as to whether the explosion happens within the movie theater, on a movie trailer or only in the mind of one of the characters.

10:01 is narrated by an omniscient third-person narrator who, somewhat uncannily, has access to the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Accordingly, the narrative is primarily concerned with the internal musings, memories and speculations of the movie theater audience members and ends, chronologically at least, when the movie begins. In terms of navigation, readers can experience the narrative chronologically by following a time line at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, they can follow individual characters, focusing on their personal thoughts and actions and thereby consigning their place in the overall chronological sequence to a background detail. The text is accompanied by occasional music and/or sound effects, still and moving images, and hyperlinks to external websites.



<em>10:01</em> is one of several texts I find interesting for several reasons:

1. Its author-driven overlap of print and digital fiction (Olsen having written the novel and co-created the digital text). It is useful to be able to compare the choices the author makes in presentation and narrative structure in one medium or the other; it's also useful to be able to compare reader responses to each, as adaptation issues are minimized. Geoff Ryman's <em>253</em> is a useful text as well, for similar reasons.

2. Related to this, the media used in both texts, beyond the print/digital versions. Text, hypertext, yes; but also the cultural connotations of film, the communal experience of going to a movie theater presented in two media that are typically solitary activities (reading a novel or digital text).

3. It is one of many examples of postmodern fiction transitioning from page to digital screen. It seems that in many of the digital fiction interfaces we make use of as author/creators, the postmodern ideas and structures lend themselves well to the nonlinear, hyperlinked narratives we create, whether in hypertexts, Flash fiction, interactive fiction, etc.

As Alice points out, "it is not clear as to whether the explosion happens within the movie theater, on a movie trailer or only in the mind of one of the characters" - the digital text here adds layers to that theme, asking the reader to go beyond what they see and hear on screen, to think about the subtext, to speculate, and actively participate in the formation of the narrative, both in the order of it and in interpreting or confabulating the final outcome.

Just some thoughts here, but I've been drawn to this text, and others like it, for these reasons, so I thought I'd throw them out there!