Hyperfiction, in its most basic definition, is the act of presenting a story to the reader in a non-linear fashion. This simple definition, however, has about as many different interpretations as there are hyperfiction writers in the world. Some hyperfiction projects present a traditional narrative story but in a cyclical fashion--letting the reader determine where in the story they are to begin and where they will finish. Other hyperfiction projects develop multiple story threads, only one of which you will read based on the choices you consciously make as you go through the story. (The popular children's series Choose Your Own Adventure, in fact, works exactly this way.) Yet other hyperfiction projects take a traditional story but cut it up in weird ways, effectively shaving off the binding of a traditional book and presenting its pages in a completely random order.
I am a big fan of hyperfiction and try to write new projects whenever I get a chance. I have been lucky enough to have one of my projects, the hypernovel "Creamed Corn," singled out for attention--it was the winner of an artistic grant in 1999 from the Illinois Arts Council, was an official entrant in the annual AltX/trAce hyperfiction contest, has received special recognition from the Electronic Literature Organization, and has been put on the reading list of over half a dozen college courses in the US and Canada on experimental literature.
All of my various hyperfiction projects from over the years are listed below. If you have a chance, I highly encourage you to spend some time going through them.
- Creamed Corn
- My only full hyperfiction novel to date. Six slacker friends congregate at a Chicago music club one rainy night to see their favorite local band, "Creamed Corn." All six have sex with someone else in the group by the end of the night; none of them have sex with the person they were expecting to have sex with at the beginning of the night. You as the reader flit between conversations and activities at the club that night, stopping and "listening in" on those character who intrigue you the most.
- The Pillow Book of Jason Pettus
- My most ambitious hyperfiction project to date--45 interconnected memoirs about my childhood in suburban white-trash Missouri. Each title is taken directly from the 10th-century "Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon," while the stories themselves are about such topics as Dungeons & Dragons, Van Halen, and the beauty of TSR-80s. Soon to be released in a limited hardback edition.
- Dare to Dream a Beautiful Nightmare
- A hyperfiction version of my nonfiction book on science-fiction. Three interrelated essays on Star Wars, Star Trek, and the writer Neal Stephenson. Geeks unite!
- The Party Game
- In July 2001, spurred by the success of the A.I. "Evan Chan" online game, my friend Jude Baker and I decided to throw a masquerade party in Chicago. Invitees had to "solve" this hyperfiction game in order to learn the location of the party. I've left it up to demonstrate some of the fun and practical applications for hyperfiction.
- The Tao of Now
- A hyperfiction version of my book of stories "The Tao of Now," easily the most popular book I've yet written.
- The Heatseeker
- A hyperfiction version of my long-form poem "The Heatseeker," performed live in Chicago in 1998.
- The heat can sure do some crazy things to you sometimes
- My first hyperfiction project--25 interconnected stories about surreal activites partaken in by random citizens one blazingly hot July day.