– Odysseus, She by Katherine Phelps
It took several Google searches, but I finally found a website with a link to a website with a link to a website with a catalogue of hypertext narratives, one of which I love. How meta is that?
While I’m not crazy about the title, Odysseus, She—a re-imagining of Homer’s The Odyssey—is a perfect example of postmodernist storytelling via hypertext. The novel features several instances of audio/music; that in itself makes it unique. But then comes the story itself and the order in which it is told.
Odysseus is a woman with a daughter named Telemakhe instead of a son named Telemachus, and, as per hypertext and postmodernist tradition, the story is told in a nonlinear fashion. Granted, the original Odyssey features nonlinear characteristics as well (and the website even graciously includes a translation of it), but the new version deals with this aspect in a very modern way—or, actually, postermodern. The reader chooses to follow either Odysseus or Telemakhe for the first part of the novel. At the point where mother and daughter should be reunited, the reader is treated to a dual-view page in order to catch up on and make sense of both characters’ paths before merging them and moving into the revenge phase, with Odysseus and Telemakhe now working side-by-side. In the final chapters, there are several more choices for the reader to make, ultimately affecting the outcome of the story.
The overall effect of reading this extraordinary hypertext novel is that the reader witnesses a reading experience that is (probably) unlike anything he or she has ever experienced, and one that may be the wave of the future. Indeed, it may be about time to come up with a new word for such an experience; plain old “reading” just doesn’t cut it anymore. For more on hypertext narratives, particularly the goal of Odysseus, She, check out the author’s notes on the Perspectives page.
*NOTE: This blog entry is syndicated from a blog I had to start for my Electronic Publishing class at U.B. this semester. I may or may not delete the extraneous blog when the class is over, but I thought I would at least give my readers the opportunity to read the contents of that blog indefinitely.