DNA: A Digital Novel

Description (in English): 

Taking the concept of identity theft to its logical conclusion, DNA is an interactive, Web-based novel set in the year 2075, in a future where genetic clones are commonplace and the unique identity of any individual is protected only by tacit consent. Detailing a year in the life of a clone who begins plotting to take on the identity of one of his "code partners," the novel includes a series of hyperlinks to real and fictional Wikipedia entries that provide a peek into the dystopic future of economic, agricultural, cultural, social, and political systems. Influenced by a range of electronic and experimental literary works published over the last fifteen years, DNA presents a non-linear narrative that allows each reader to select his or her own narrative path though the novel and to explore the text's connection to other fictional and non-fictional texts published on the Web. The networked architecture of the project enables the reader to not only construct and engage with the narrative world of the novel itself but with other narrative worlds that exist outside of the novel. Overlapping, relating to, and informing one another, the various narrative worlds created inside and outside of the novel draw attention to the dynamic and generative nature of digital narratives, as well as to their ability to challenge traditional notions and definitions of authorial intention, the role of the reader, and narrative point of view. Additional interactive features enabling readers to contribute their own texts and links to the novel are currently being developed. Conceived as a novel that will appeal to readers of literary and dystopic fiction, as well as to a new generation of readers who access texts exclusively via the World Wide Web, DNA is informed by various electronic literature projects, as well as by several important dystopic novels, including Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, Yevgeny Zemyatin’s We, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Fiction writers have been experimenting with digital hypertext and multimedia projects since the late-1980s, and several important works were published in the 1990s, including afternoon, a story (1990) by Michael Joyce, Victory Garden (1991) by Stuart Moulthrop, Patchwork Girl (1995) by Shelley Jackson, and 253 or tube theater by Geoff Ryman (1996). More recent hypertext and multimedia projects have been collected in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1 (2006) and Volume 2 (2011). Combining my interests in creative writing, narrative studies and the history of the novel, the sociology of literacy, and digital Humanities, DNA is both a digital novel and part of an ongoing narrative-studies project that considers what effects digital authoring tools and reading platforms are having on fiction in general, and the novel in particular. Based on my own experience composing a Web-based novel, as well as on the analysis of other digital literary projects published in the last two years, and a review of digital literary projects published over the last fifteen years, I am studying how various elements of the novel as genre are being translated and/or re-conceived given the new possibilities and constraints created by multimedia tools for writing and reading. (Source: Author's Project Overview)

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First page of DNA: A Digital Novel (screenshot)
First page of DNA: A Digital Novel
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Jill Walker Rettberg