Parsing the Cold: McLaughlin’s Notes Toward Absolute Zero

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The hypertext fiction writer tries to spin compelling story strands, laboring with textures and colors in the hope that a compelling reading fabric will be wrought from them. Yet however vibrant and interesting the threads themselves may be, if the digital loom is too hard to operate, the fabric may not get made. Tim McLaughlin understands this well. His Notes Toward Absolute Zero (Eastgate Systems, 1995) offers not just quality writing but also an unusually accessible hypertext implementation. I have found that these qualities make it an especially good introduction to the genre for neophyte hyper-readers. Notes has been particularly reliable in producing satisfying story cloth for students in the hypertext literature class I have taught for several years.

Pull Quotes: 

Yet we refuse to accept failure, and this refusal is what keeps us going. It's also what keeps us reading and perhaps lets us take comfort in a hypertext's lack of ending. It's why we allow the loose ends to dangle from our tightly woven tapestry as we add more and more strands to it.

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Dene Grigar