January 12, 2004

Writs of Passages

by Nick Montfort · , 12:31 pm

I was very pleased to note that the first two English reviews of Twisty Little Passages were posted online yesterday. One of these reviews is from an IF author, editor of the SPAG Newsletter, and longtime, active member of the IF community, Paul O’Brian. The other, entitled “Wor(l)d Games,” is from Matt Kirchenbaum, assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book Mechanisms: New Media and the New Textuality (MIT Press, 2005).

Both reviewers liked the book and were very kind in their comments; it pleases me immesely that I seem to have managed to put together a book that will be of interest to both academic and non-academic readers, as this was a very important goal of mine.

They made some good points about shortcomings of the book, too. The analysis of specific interactive fiction works in the “history chapters” (chapters 3-7) isn’t as deep as one would like, and doesn’t employ the figure of the riddle as usefully as it could. As Paul noted, I’ve tried to remedy this failing a bit by writing, with Stuart Moulthrop, a paper about Varicella that looks in greater depth at a single piece of IF. Still, there is much more to be done, and a wealth of worthy IF from the past decade that I didn’t even mention. I hope Matt’s suggestion that the book will lead to more study of IF in English departments, and Paul’s call for a sequel, are signs that Twisty Little Passages will not be the book about IF but the first of many serious studies of the form.