King of Space

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A dark science-fictional ritual of fertility and regeneration, King of Space takes place in an abandoned starship, circling the edges of a plague-ridden and collapsing solar system, where an escaped terrorist meets the last star-captain and his ship's Priestess. Old man and young, young woman and ageless starship meet and meet again as enemies, allies, rapists, and lovers. The story has elements of gaming; an unwise move can send a character to the kitchen ("hundreds of tiny sandwiches, all alike") or into the rocky caverns of the intelligent and unpleasant starship, where a very persistent elevator is waiting to have a conversation; you can meet the Lady Nii's ancient, dreadful lover, King Brady, or become him; you can fall into a maze of love, or find the dance at the center of the world that regenerates the ship. Contains games and animations. Not for kids. (Publisher's blurb)

"Sarah Smith’s King of Space is a hypertext novel begun in 1988 and published in 1991 by Eastgate Systems, Inc. A key example of early pre-web hypertext, it runs on Apple System Software 7x, 8x, and 9x. It can be accessed on Macintosh Classics, Macintosh SEs, Macintosh LCs, and Macintosh Performas. Software requirements include ­­­­Hypergate––an early hypertext system created by Mark Bernstein that was written in FORTH for the Macintosh operating system (Bernstein)––and Quicktime MoviePlayer 2.x. It is a media-rich work consisting of 317 lexias (individual nodes of hypertext) and 25 different endings and involves numerous works of ASCII art produced by artist Matthew Mattingly, music composed by Michael Derzhinsky, and animations created by Mattingly, Bernstein, and others. Within the novel one can also find several puzzles that must be solved and games readers can play. There remains only one version of this work: Version 1.0 published in 1991 on two 3.5-inch floppy disks for Macintosh computers. It has never been migrated to CD-ROM or reissued for PCs".--From Rebooting Electronic Literature: Documenting Pre-Web Born Digital Media

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Jill Walker Rettberg