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Introduction to Rebooting Electronic Literature, Volume 3
Documentation of pre-web works of electronic literature from the library of the Electronic Literature Lab
Introduction to This VolumeThe Rebooting Electronic Literature (REL) book series documents born digital literary works published on floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and other media formats held among the 300 in Grigar's personal collection in the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University Vancouver. An annual publication, the book features selected works highlighted for a Traversal during the year. These events generally focus on the most fragile and prized in the collection. Among these are the 48 titles published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. between 1988 to 2004––that is, early hypertext and interactive works created predominantly with stand-alone software, like Storyspace, Hypergate, HyperCard, Toolbook, and Macromedia Director, and published before floppy disk and CD-ROM drives disappeared from computers and the rise of mobile media and mainstreaming of cloud technology eliminated the need for physical media formats.
Volume 1 of our series, published in 2018, covers seven works; all but one, Thomas M. Disch’s Amnesia, are publications from Eastgate Systems, Inc. It includes:
In 2019 we followed Volume 1 with Volume 2, which includes five titles published by Eastgate Systems, Inc.:
Thomas M. Disch’s Amnesia (1986)
Judy Malloy, its name was Penelope (1989-1992)
Sarah Smith’s King of Space (1991)
Mary-Kim Arnold, Lust (1993)
J. Yellowlees Douglas, I Have Said Nothing (1993)
David Kolb, Socrates in the Labyrinth (1994)
Robert Kendall, A Life Set For Two (1996)
Volume Three presents five more works published by Eastgate Systems, Inc., beginning with the first to have been published on Storyspace software to the most recent:
Kathryn Cramer, In Small & Large Pieces (1994)
Tim McLaughlin, Notes Toward Absolute Zero (1995)
Deena Larsen, Samplers (1997)
Stephanie Strickland, True North (1997)
Richard Holeton, Figurski at Findhorn on Acid (2001)
With the publication of Volume 3, we will have documented 16 titles from Eastgate Systems, Inc.’s catalog. If we add to that number the four Moulthrop and Grigar documented in their Pathfinders book––Judy Malloy’s Uncle Roger (1986-88); John McDaid’s Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse (1992); Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl (1995); and Bill Bly’s We Descend (1997)––then, we can say that Rebooting Electronic Literature Volume 3 takes us close to halfway to our goal of documenting all of Eastgate Systems, Inc.'s titles.
Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story (1987-2016)
Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden (1991)
M. D. Coverley’s Califia (2000)
Megan Heyward’s of day, of night (2004)
Mark Bernstein’s Those Trojan Girls (2016)
At the heart of our project is the impetus to make fragile and inaccessible works freely accessible to scholars. Because works published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. are covered by copyright, they cannot legally be made available as emulations. The Pathfinders methodology that Moulthrop and Grigar developed  follows Fair Use rules. It also introduces the notion of "human-centered" experiences by providing video documentation of play-throughs of the work by authors and readers on hardware and software on which the work was created or intended to be originally read––a process called a "Traversal" ––along with photos of the physical media, interviews with authors, author bios, and other useful information that helps scholars and readers experience the works and understand their contributions to literary and cultural history.
About the WorksThe five works selected for Volume 3 all constitute long-form narrative writing often identified as a hypertext novel or interactive narrative. Several of them have been deemed by critics over the years as among the most important in the history of early born-digital writing. Rather than organizing them chronologically in this volume, we frame the book with the first hypertext novel ever published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. on Storyspace software––Michael Joyce's afternoon, story (1990)––and the most recent one the company published in the software's 3rd version––Mark Bernstein's Those Trojan Girls (2016). By doing so, we show the evolution of the genre and its connection to the technology underlying it. Within that framework we placed two other novels produced with other software that allows for sound and motion––M. D. Coverley's Califia (2000) and Megan Heyward's of day, of night (2014)––as a way of showing the breadth of the novel form over this period of literary history. Additionally, we insert Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden (1991) between the two multimedia-oriented novels to bring readers back to the dominant narrative form of the 1990s.
Thus, Chapter One features Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story, which along with Judy Malloy’s Uncle Roger (1986-88), is the first to be published commercially. Released in 1987 on Storyspace software that Joyce, Jay David Bolter, and John B. Smith’s Riverrun, Ltd. produced and later licensed to Eastgate Systems, Inc., afternoon, a story has seen 13 editions over the last 33 years and has been touted by literary critic Robert Coover as the “granddaddy of hypertext fiction.”  It remains today one of the three most cited works of hypertext fiction. Because the work celebrated its 30th anniversary of its commercial publication with Eastgate Systems, Inc. this year, this volume contains materials from the event honoring the work held at the co-located Electronic Literature Organization 2020 and ACM Hypertext '20 virtual conferences in July 2020.
In order to highlight another approach to the hypertext novel, Chapter Two follows Joyce’s novel with Coverley’s Califia. Most of us familiar with Storyspace literary hypertexts remember its aesthetic: a strong focus on words; minimal use of graphics; and a structure built on links, nodes, and paths. Coverley’s novel, produced with Toolbook well over a decade after Joyce’s novel was published by Eastgate Systems, Inc., took advantage of the affordances made available by rich media and CD-ROM technology. Califia features a complex graphical interface in full color with multiple stories unfolding with sound and animation to tell an intimate family story bound up with the history of Southern California. It is a masterpiece of multi-vocal storytelling.
Following the chapter on Califia Chapter Three focuses on Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden, the second major hypertext published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. Published in 1991, the novel takes us back to the Storyspace aesthetic and structure and to the first Iraqi conflict that, unbeknownst to readers at the time, heralded the Mideast conflicts in which America would find itself embroiled for the next three decades. Besides being recognized as one of the great novels of the period, it can also be credited for helping to build the field of electronic literature and giving birth to a host of its major scholars over its 29-year history.
Chapter Four highlights Megan Heyward’s of day, of night. This is last work published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. before the company turned to the USB Stick and cloud technologies as methods for publishing 12 years later in 2016. Heyward's novel puts us squarely in the time period when interactive media created with Macromedia Director and published on CD-ROMs were popular. Like the other novels in this volume, the writing is evocative, and like Coverley’s novel, Heyward’s media immerse the reader with its rich graphics, sound, and animation––a delight to the eye and ear.
Our final chapter, Chapter Five, features the most recent narrative published by Eastgate Systems, Inc.: Mark Bernstein’s Those Trojan Girls. As the Lead Scientist and the publisher of the company, Bernstein has traditionally experimented with his publication platforms by using his own work as a proof of concept. We see this approach with the first born-digital literary work he published, The Election of 1912, created with Erin Sweeney in 1988, on the Hypergate platform, the software Bernstein produced for publishing the company's early works, Robert DiChiara’s A Sucker in Spades in 1988 and Sarah Smith’s King of Space in 1991. After seeing Storyspace demonstrated at ACM Hypertext ’87, Bernstein turned his attention to licensing and releasing Joyce’s novel with it––and well as most of the 48 other works it released. With Those Trojan Girls, Bernstein experimented with Storyspace 3.0 and the USB Stick and cloud technology, recalling Euripides’ The Trojan Women in the more contemporary setting of a boarding school. While the structuring elements of nodes, links, and paths remain the same as the earlier version of Storyspace, readers will notice a marked shift in aesthetic and functionality. The presence of the map view for navigating the story and the animated links showing readers pathways of discovery serve to update the interface for a contemporary audience.
About the Book & Its AuthorsWritten and produced primarily by the ELL Team––Dene Grigar, Holly Slocum, Kathleen Zoller, Nicholas Schiller, Moneca Roath, and Mariah Gwin––Rebooting Electronic Literature, Volume 3 features approximately 50,000 words devoted to artist biographies, descriptions of media, and essays; over 150 photos of artists, works, and their original packaging; 85 videos of artist readings and interviews and Live Stream Traversals; and four audio files. Producing a collaborative book such as this one meant we had to draw upon specific expertise and strengths each team member possessed and, at the same time, be willing and able to jump in where needed.  We also recognized that because three of our team members were Undergraduate Researchers who needed to apply to graduate programs or seek employment, we acknowledged the importance of calling out each member's primary duties in the development of this book:
- Dene Grigar, PhD: Conceptualized the book, wrote the introduction, copyedited the book, and produced five of the seven critical essays
- Holly Slocum, B.A.: Managed the project, took photographs for the book, wrote copy for some of the photos and videos, and assisted with the CSS design
- Kathleen Zoller: Wrote all photograph and social media descriptions in the book and assisted with writing video and photograph descriptions
- Nicholas Schiller, MLIS: Wrote some author biographies and video descriptions
- Moneca Roath: Recorded and edited all Traversal videos and wrote some video descriptions
- Mariah Gwin: Assisted with writing descriptions and taking photographs
- Greg Philbrook, B.A.: On-going technical support and HTML design
One addition we made to this volume is the inclusion of critical essays by guest scholars. Raine Koskimaa contributed an adaptation of his essay, "Reading Victory Garden," originally published in 2000 as part of his dissertation and shortly later in the publication, Dichtung Digital. Mark Bernstein contributed his essay "Storyspace 3," originally published in Hypertext '16: Proceedings of the 27th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media in July 2016 and also included as a .pdf with Those Trojan Girls. There work provides additional depth to the book and insights into the works it features.
We thank the Electronic Literature Organization for its leadership in developing methods for evaluating quality of digital creative and critical works and its insights into cataloging its growing body of digital fiction, poetry, and other literary forms––activities from which this research grows and contributes. And as always, we appreciate the support of Washington State University Vancouver for support of the lab and its team.
Notes See Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop's Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature. 2015. http://scalar.usc.edu/works/pathfinders/index.
 We define a Traversal as "a reflective encounter with a digital text in which the possibilities of that text are explored in a way that indicates its key features, capabilities, and themes" (authors' emphasis). They also state that "a Traversal must take place on equipment configured as closely as possible to the system used to create the work or on which the work might have been expected to reach its initial audience." See Moulthrop and Grigar's Traversals: The Use of Preservation for Early Electronic Writing. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2017, 7.
 See Robert Coover, "The End of Books." The New York Times Book Review. 21 June 1992.
 Our philosophy of collaborative team structure follows that of a "seamless design of network knowledge" argued for by Aaron Mauro, Daniel Powell, Sarah Potvin, Jacob Heil, Eric Dye, Bridget Jenkins, and Dene Grigar in which "collaboration [is] locally-determined, designed, and mutually productive, regardless of standing within or without academic institutions; there must be an intentional ethics that is both transparent and adaptive to the needs of the team." See "Toward a Seamless Design of Network Knowledge: Practical Pedagogies in Collaborative Teams. Digital Humanities Quarterly. 2017 11.3. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/11/3/000322/000322.html.