December 1, 2003
Recently I’ve been reading Nick’s new book, Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction. Of course, I liked it right off (how can you not like a scholarly book with the spoilers marked?). But today, reading further, I realized that I’ve been waiting for a book like this.
I think Twisty Little Passages is the first book I’ve read that comes to electronic writing on its own terms — that, in a sense, takes electronic writing for granted, as the starting place. TLP isn’t trying to explain how interactive fiction is just like good print literature, but computerized. It’s not trying to present IF as just like your favorite computer game, but with bonus literary qualities. TLP doesn’t ignore IF’s relatives in other areas of literature and computational media. But it presents IF as itself, a type of electronic writing from which discussion can begin, and without a feeling of worry behind the words — worry that the reader must be convinced that computer literature is a topic worthy of consideration.
And, beyond this, it’s well written and informative and convincing. I’m certainly going to be recommending it. I know many folks may be thinking of picking up Twisty Little Passages for the memories, for a nostalgia kick. My advice: that won’t make it come to the top of your list fast enough. Think of it as the next book to read if you’re interested in electronic writing, in the relationship between narrative and play, or even in what it is we’re trying to think through when we talk about interactive media. Given the folks who frequent this site, I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot of references to it in future conversations here.