IFcomp 2016: 500 Apocalypses

Next: “500 Apocalypses”.

The premise is that we are at a sort of museum dedicated to a self-updating encyclopaedia whose entries all seem to be bits taken out from the end of various worlds. What this actually works out to being is a compendium of short stories and drabbles–some linked, some not–with fantastic settings.

The problem, though, is that because each piece purports to come from a different world, each piece is perforce disconnected from all the others. Even if one piece contains hypertext that leads you to another piece. In the case of these linkages, the links are pretty tenuous: it’s the hypertext game of word association, which may be plain to the author but is completely opaque to the reader. It’s a bit annoying having to make decisions based on associations you have no idea about; but here the disconnect makes the decision meaningless. It’s just a question of seeing another exhibit, after all, and it doesn’t change a thing. Does that make it better? I’m not sure it does. For one thing, I’m not sure why we’re shunted over to this other exhibit.

The fact of the disconnect means that there really isn’t any actual interactivity happening. The stories are all whole and discrete, with no choices to be made or parts to be moved. It’s exactly like simply picking up an anthology and reading random stories out of it, even if the presentation disguises it….

Oh, the presentation. I must talk about the presentation. See, what we get is sort of like a top-down simulation of the museum, with a profusion of coloured circles. The blue ones represent exhibits–articles–that we have not yet read, and we scroll up and down picking random circles to look at. This is actually a pretty cool way of presenting the work. I just wish picking articles made any sort of difference at all.

I’m inclined to say that, as breakfast, this would be a restaurant menu. But I like the museum simulation thing, so let’s say we get complimentary tea–a choice of several teas, from Orange Pekoe to Earl Grey–while we peruse the menu. For some people, that’s all the breakfast they need.

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