Screenshots: Ishmael

Posted filed under Resource.
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Screenshots is a regular feature by Simon Groth, highlighting a project, app, or other resource of interest.


Ishmael
by Jordan Magnuson

Rather than pushing the boundaries of its technology, this short story focuses squarely on how the web can be used in the service of a narrative. Though it contains elements of interactive fiction, with some branching pathways, the story itself is mostly linear: a first-person narrative of a boy attempting to preserve his childhood while war rages around him. Magnuson’s use of gaming conventions in the prose bring an interesting aesthetic to its otherwise more traditional approach: enabling the reader to interrogate the scenery, the narrator’s thoughts, and inspect other characters directly. And its use of visual cues and sound give the story depth and texture, supporting and never distracting from the text.

This approach to presentation is used to tremendous effect as the story closes in on its devastating conclusion and the experience on screen begins to mirror both its character’s and the reader’s emotional intensity. And like any well-told story, it’s that intensity that stays with the reader, even after the browser window is closed.

Ishmael is available to read online.

Simon Groth is a writer and editor whose works include Infinite Blue (with Darren Groth) and Hunted Down and Other Tales (with Marcus Clarke). With if:book Australia, Simon created a series of award-winning experimental works including the 24-Hour Book, live writing events at writers festivals around the world, and works of literary remix.