Inanimate Alice

We’ve now made the full transition into the electronic literature part of our lectures. For my first post regarding this topic I will be writing about the electronic literature piece that I did a presentation on last semester, Inanimate Alice.

Inanimate Alice is an electronic literature concerning the life and development of the main character of the piece named Alice. The first episode starts off in China, where 8 years-old Alice describes her life and living situation which includes her father working for some undisclosed company and unknown work activities—while Alice and her mother stay in the “base camp” waiting for his return.

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As I described in my presentation of Inanimate Alice last semester, I was immediately put on edge when I looked through this electronic literature—this is due to the imagery and audio that accompanies the piece.

The imagery is blurry and faulty like a flickering light in a tense scene in a horror movie, and the music sounds like its straight up inspired from the theme music in the video game Silent Hill. At first, I thought Inanimate Alice was a horror story, because of its delivery and pacing—but I realized that it is only appropriate to lump Inanimate Alice in with the horror genre if one views the entirety of the several episodes from an overarching perspective. Episode One (and Episode Four to some degree as well) is only horror so far as the fact that Alice is a small child and we, the viewers, are asked to view everything from her eyes and position as a child with almost no say as to what happens to her.

Some of the pieces in the Inanimate Alice series is quite eerie in its presentation and atmosphere. This is most likely to emphasize the fear surrounding Alice’s lack of control of her own childhood and future.

The electronic literature itself is built like a “video game” straight from a webpage in the 90’s. The majority of the transitioning pages contain some sort of text that pushes the plot forward while the reader is given the option to click either an arrow (which functions and the progression key) or, in some cases, the reader is presented with one or multiple images to click. This offers, at minimum, some variety to your standard interactive fiction, and at best helps to set the mood of the piece with its multitude of images that directly relate back to the story. More often than not, the reader is allowed to play around with these “multiple choice” options—as they often work as puzzles that need to be solved before the story can progress. Most of the time these “puzzles” aren’t too demanding, but at the very least they are mendatory to push the plot forward.

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All in all, Inanimate Alice is a series of 7 episodes of following the nomadic life of Alice and learning what becomes of her from her highy unusual adolescence—and one of my favorite pieces of electronic literature from last semester.

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