Rebooting Electronic Literature, Volume 4

Michael Joyce's "Twilight, A Symphony"

Michael Joyce's Biography

Born on November 9, 1945 in Lackawanna, New York, to Thomas and Joanne Joyce, Michael Thomas Joyce is the eldest son in a family of eight children. Joyce was heavily influenced by his family's Catholic faith and attended Catholic and Jesuit schools, including Canisius College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1972. In 1973, Joyce received a fellowship to the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and graduated with an MFA in 1974.

Publication of his first print novel, The War Outside Ireland (1982), was an important turning point in Joyce's career. Though the book was widely reviewed and awarded the Great Lakes New Writers Award in fiction (1983), through the writing process Joyce discovered that he wanted to write novels that would change in successive readings. After reading numerous technology and computer magazines, he came across an article about Natalie Dehn who was working to teach computers to write novels at the Yale Artificial Intelligence Lab. Joyce and Dehn began a correspondence that led to Joyce receiving a one-year fellowship to Yale University in 1984, and perhaps more importantly, to his collaboration with Jay David Bolter and John B. Smith. By the end of 1985, Joyce and Bolter had developed a working prototype for Storyspace, the hypertext computer software that Joyce began to use with his students in 1986 and, later, to write his first hypertext novel, afternoon, a story (1987). In his review about the novel for The New York Times Review of Books, Robert Coover lauds afternoon, a story as "the granddaddy of full-length hypertext fictions." [1]

Another hypertext fiction, WOE (1991), was the centerpiece of a special hypertext issue of the journal Writing on the Edge. Joyce's "On the Birthday of the Stranger" was featured as the inaugural work for the Evergreen Experimental Site of the online version of the Evergreen Review in 1999. Two longer hypertext novels––one featured in this book, Twilight, A Symphony (CD-ROM)––and Twelve Blue (World Wide Web), were both published in 1996 by Eastgate Systems, Inc. In 2002, Joyce returned to the "traditional" novel and published the print novel, Liam's Going.

Most of Joyce's academic works have been published in one of three collections of essays: Moral Tales and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions (2001), Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture (2000), and Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics (1995). He has lectured and published widely on issues relating to hypertext and writing, and his essays are primary texts in those fields.

Joyce draws some elements from his personal history to his work. His marriage to Martha Petry Joyce, a published hypertext author, and their two sons, Eamon and Jeremiah, are sometimes referenced in his essays and novels. He later married author and artist Carolyn Guyer with whom he has co-authored multiple projects. WOE features hypertexts by these two women.––Adapted from the "Biographical Sketch, The Michael Joyce Papers, Harry Ransom Humanities Center"


[1] Robert Coover, "The End of Books," The New York Times Review of Books, 21 June 1992,

Versions of Twilight, A Symphony

✭ Version 1.0 The Eastgate Version in English
1.1 Published in 1996 by Eastgate Systems, Inc., on CD-ROM for Macintosh computers, 3.1 MB, in English

✭ Version 2.0 The Web Version in Polish
2.1 Published in 2021 as an open-source translation into Polish by Radosław Nowakowski, Mariusz Pisarski, Jakub Jagiełło entitled Zmrok. Symfonia, at

This page has paths:

Contents of this path:

This page references: