“…the primary source for serious hypertext” – Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review

Storyspace and the Making of Grammatron

Mark Amerika is a leading exponent of avant-pop writing. His interviews are widely known and highly regarded, and his recent web fiction, Grammatron, has garnered widespread attention and enthusiastic praise. He is the editor of Alt-X.

Noted experimental writer Mark Amerika used Storyspace to map out his most recent fiction, Grammatron. Lauded by Die Ziet as "the end of postmodernism and the beginning of Avant-Pop", and cheered on by MSNBC as "a rollercoaster ride through textspace", Grammatron includes 100 text spaces, 2000 links, and 40 minutes of original soundtrack to tell what Amerika describes as

A story about cyberspace, Cabala mysticism, digicash paracurrencies and the evolution of virtual sex in a society afraid to go outside and get in touch with its own nature.
Storyspace provided me with the tools I needed to create a roadmap...

In thinking back on the creation of Grammatron, Amerika recalls that "creating complex hypertext structures for the web is a nightmare because, after a certain point, one cannot visualize a cognitive mapping structure for a webwork that has literally thousands of screens and links. Fortunately, Storyspace provided me with the tools I needed to create a roadmap of where my story was going both content- and link-wise. Even after having published GRAMMATRON on the WWW, I have had to occasionally go back to my Storyspace version to see what the overall structure looks like!"

"Writing hypertext," Amerika continues, "is totally unlike writing novels, even the kinds of radically adventurous kinds of novels I write, novels that could be considered "hypertextual" in their stylistic tendencies.

"In both novels and computer-mediated hypertext, at a certain point in the compositional process, the work gets away from you. It takes on a life of its own and starts diverging/digressing in ways that the author literally cannot control. With manuscript form, even when these digressions happen, it's still relatively easy to locate where the break occured and how it feeds back into the entire composition. This isn't as easy to do with computer-hypertext, especially if all you're doing is FTPing a bunch of HTML files. Storyspace helped save me a lot of time and frustration I might have otherwise experienced working solely on the web."

Amerika also finds Storyspace useful for non-fiction writing. Indeed, Amerika reports that the theoretical guide to Grammatron, Hypertextual Consciousness, "was almost exclusively developed in Storyspace with a few web-specific add-ons for effect."