While there are four versions of Tim McLaughlin's Notes Toward Absolute Zero, the information covered in this section focuses on Versions 2.0-4.0, what we call The Eastgate Version.
The folio for Versions 2.0 and 3.0, the floppy disk for the Macintosh and PC, respectively, measures 9" by 6" in size and is covered in a silvery blue pattern reminiscent to ice. It’s in fairly good condition, though the top left corner is bent.
The top of the folio reads “TIM MCLAUGHLIN” in black. Below the title is a stamp about 4" by 5", placed slightly off center at a slant. The stamp has small curved edges around its perimeter. It contains a painting of steep cliffs along an ocean under moonlight, with what appears to be boats shining light on the far right cliff face. Underneath and aligned left reads NOTES TOWARD ABSOLUTE ZERO. The words are stacked on top of each other, creating a staircase effect. A gradient is placed over the text, with “NORTH” written mostly in dark blue, “TOWARD” in the same silvery blue as the background, and “ABSOLUTE ZERO” in purple for the bottom two thirds.
The back of the folio has the same silvery blue ice pattern as the front and spine. Most of the paragraphs are written in a futuristic, capitalized font.
“There is dust in the Arctic… It colours the icebergs, creates a black shadow on the Lee side of drifts so that your footprints are luminous and ghostly…”
Paragraph 2 (Written in the same font and gradient as the title on the front)
“A Philatelic Novella,
A record snowfall strands Winter and Jericho in a hotel lobby, starting the couple on their searches for love, each other, and Jericho’s Uncle Magel. Magel, a hypernotist, seems also to have been journeying, on the margins of society and toward the absolute.
Unlikely elements intersect and diverge in this collage of arctic quests. Memories, train wrecks, scraps from journals, poetry, Mesmer’s Propositions, relics of the Franklin Expedition, The Six Failures of Love, and, of course, postage stamps dot the literary landscape.
Haunting and obsessive, McLaughlin’s hypertext is a vision of failed connections from which no one is redeemed.”
Paragraph 4 [A black and white image of Tim McLaughlin is on the left-hand side of the text.]
“Tim McLaughlin has written extensively in and about hypertext. His other electronic works include "Hypertext Fiction and the Literary Artist" and 25 Ways to Close a Photograph. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The Duthie Reader, as well as the anthology AirWave DreamScapes. Mr. McLaughlin lives in Vancouver.
A line below paragraph 4 separates it from the content at the bottom of the folio. The text beneath reads “For Windows™ or Macintosh™. Requires 2 MB RAM and a hard disk drive.” The words “Windows™” and “Macintosh™” are preceded by a bubble. These are used to signify what the this version of Notes Toward Absolute Zero is compatible with Macintosh computers.
The bottom left side of the folio contains information about Eastgate Systems, Inc. Eastgate’s logo is placed to the left of the text, which is a black ink drawing of a brick wall with an ornate passageway. The black text on the right of the logo reads as follows:
Eastgate Systems INC [with the letters I N C arranged like a descending staircase.]
134 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02172
The bottom right side of the folio contains the ISBN number. A bar code is placed over a white label. The ISBN is “1-884511-24-4.”
Each side of the folio contains pockets for storing floppy disks and the paper booklet. The left side presents an advertisement for its Name was Penelope by Judy Malloy. The right side promotes the Storyspace hypertext authoring software.
Folio Interior, Left
Each side of the folio contains pockets for storing floppy disks, the CD-ROM, and the paper booklet. The left side presents an advertisement for its name was Penelope by Judy Malloy, and is used for storing floppy disks and the CD-ROM.
Folio Interior, Right
The right side of the folio promotes the Storyspace hypertext authoring software. The pocket on this side is used to store the instructional paper booklet that comes with the hypertext.
Booklet, Folio, Spine
The top left of the label on the folio’s front folds over slightly onto the spine. The far left reads NOTES TOWARD ABSOLUTE ZERO, the center reads “TIM MCLAUGHLIN,” and the far right says “Eastgate Systems, Inc.” in the company typeface.
The CD-ROM is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows computers. The disc is a burgundy color, with “Eastgate” written in white on the left side. White circles emanate outward from the center of the disc to the bottom right.
Floppy Disk, Windows, Front
The Windows version is contained in a white floppy disk. The first third of the label on the front is burgundy in color, with white center-aligned text reading “CIVILIZED SOFTWARE” and “from Eastgate Systems, Inc.” underneath. The bottom two thirds of the label is in white. Eastgate System’s logo is on the left side, with burgundy text on the right that says “Storyspace™: a briefing.” The bottom right of the label reads:
“Eastgate Systems, Inc.
PO Box 1307, Cambridge MA 02238.”
The bottom right of the label says:
The label folds over to the back of the floppy disk. White text is placed over a burgundy backdrop:
“Storyspace is a trademark and CIVILIZED SOFTWARE a service mark of Eastgate Systems, Inc. ©Copyright 1990-1993 by Riverrun, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.”
The booklet is made of white paper stock with black print. The cover is identical to the front of the folio.
Software License Agreement, Warranty and Disclaimer, and Copyright Information & Table of Contents
The first page presents the software licence agreement, warranty and disclaimer, and copyright information for Eastgate Systems, Inc. The next page contains the table of contents.
Booklet, Blank Page & Page #3
The left page is blank. Page three contains the Macintosh installation instructions and a link navigation tutorial (for example, hitting the RETURN key repeatedly will allow the user to follow the work in a linear sequence.)
Booklet, Page #4 and #5
Page 4 continues the link navigation tutorial and introduces the tool bar, which helps the user read and explore the story. Descriptions of the icon in this toolbar are provided. Page 5 contains the installation instructions for Windows.
Booklet, Page #6 and #7
Page 6 describes how to follow links in the Windows version and introduces other controls such as the “Links” and “History” buttons. Page 7 is a continuation of the description for other controls.
Booklet, Page #8 and #9
Page 8 presents Tim McLaughlin’s bio, which is as follows:
“Tim McLaughlin has written extensively in and about hypertext. His other electronic works include "Hypertext Fiction and the Literary Artist" and 25 Ways to Close a Photograph. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Duthie Reader, as well as the anthology AirWave DreamScapes. Mr. McLaughlin lives in Vancouver.”
Page 9 provides a “Questions” section, along with Eastgate Systems, Inc.’s contact information.
The back of the booklet is blank.
The cover of the manuscript is made of thin brown paper. Handwritten silver lettering reads Notes toward ABSOLUTE ZERO, with "HYPERTEXT FICTION" written underneath and a cursive letter that appears to be a signature.
Manuscript, Title Page
The title page is printed on semi-transparent waxy paper. The top reads NOTES TOWARD ABSOLUTE ZERO, center-aligned. The bottom displays "HYPERTEXT FICTION by TIM MCLAUGHLIN."
The pages within the manuscript are made with white and grey speckled paper. Each page has text printed on one side in short paragraphs, reminiscent to the lexia commonly found in hypertexts.
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This page references:
- Notes Toward Absolute Zero