hypertext fiction

Hypertext fiction was the first form of electronic literature to garner sustained critical interest during the late 1980s and early 1990s. A small but dedicated group of writers began to work seriously in the genre at the same time as the personal computer and then the Internet were becoming widely adopted, writing stories designed as interlinked fragments of text, with multiple possible reading sequences to be navigated through the reader’s selection of links between them. At the same time, postmodernism was reaching the peak of its literary and theoretical interest. Hypertext fiction represented a bridge between the literary experimentation of the late twentieth century and the cultural shifts accompanying the move to networked computing. Although other practices of digital writing preceded literary hypertext, without the small critical industry that developed around hypertext fiction during this period, electronic literature would likely not have been established as a field of academic research and practice in the way that it is today. While we cannot understate the importance of hypertext for the development and growth of the electronic literature community, there is less recent activity in this genre, though in some ways the core ideas and basic techniques of hypertext have migrated into genres such as installations, interactive 3D works in CAVEs, and apps for mobile devices.

(Source: Scott Rettberg, Electronic Literature, Polity, 2019)

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