Alice In Wonderland

Edwin Ong Bin Leong, CCST02, Telling Stories in Cyberspace," University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore

Originally, as in many novels, when there's some mysterious characters who appear in the beginning of the story, it is more or less expected that more of these characters shall be revealed later in the book. Unfortunately (or interestingly), this is not so for Afternoon. The story started off with a choice of either going into the introduction or straight into the story itself. The story began with to characters: 'I' and 'she'. Who are they? Not that the author did not state clearly about who these characters were, he had, in fact, placed bits of information about them throughout the whole story. IN addition (and worse), many other characters were introduced into the 'game' and confusion arises. I was forced to take down notes (which I had originally intended to do so but did not expect that I WOULD really take down notes). There were many characters with vivid and rather disturbing descriptions about them: Wert ot Werther, Nausicaa, Lolly, Peter and Lisa. This Storyspace would have become a Everybody's novel if not for some of the words used in the novel.

The language used in Afternoon was simple (to a certain extent) but confusing as well. There is no definite flow in the text, for almost every lexia is linked to another. The author has certainly made his point when he used Storyspace to write this 'story': this story cannot be read linearly like many other novels. For example, the character 'I' actually represented different characters in the story. It took some of us quite some time to figure out who the 'I' actually was. Of course, we at first concluded that the 'I' was a man. Then, we realised that the 'I' was actually a woman. This certainly confuses us, but there are clues and evidence that the 'I' is not just one person. At this point, it should be noted that not many novels could do such a feat of switching characters for the 'I' throughout the story.

Reconfiguring the Narrative -- a success for Afternoon

As many of us would have expected that in the end (or is there really and end to the story?), we, readers, are the narrators, the authors of Afternoon. Our freedom in choosing our own storyline gave us the absolute power to determine how the story should go. Of course, it also gave us different meanings to the story. The most interesting part of using Storyspace (or hypertext) to read the novel is that this novel has multiple levels of understanding. As I clicked on the different links, I have learnt more about the story. However, when I move back to the same part of the story again (so simply the same lexia again), I get a different understanding as to what the text means, even tough it is the same text that I have been to.

Those Cute little Guardian 'Angels'

I am referring to those guard fields in Afternoon. They hide away some lexias from us allow us to be controlled by the story, yet at the same time, increases the levels of mystery and excitement of the story. They would only reveal little bits of information that we wanted so much to know, and in doing so they retain our interest to probe deeper into the story.

My impression of Afternoon

It is like a detective story, although I read the novel as 'I' throughout the story, I could also perceive the story as if I am a detective solving some mystery case. This story is indeed a mystery novel to me: it puts us into one mysterious turn after another. Whenever I realised something about the story, more questions popped up. The air of mystery is always there. Maybe that's what makes Afternoon interesting. However, I am like Alice in Wonderland, 'tumbling down the rabbit-hole', never knowing when the story ends or what Joyce really wanted to tell me regarding this story.

Afternoon Discussion overview Hypertext Cyberspace Web