How about some site-seeing?

Without the editorial filter that print publishing offers the shortest browse through the average bookstore or library, how do we find cyberspace works of literature? As more reputable and remarkable literary web magazines are created and accepted by the literati, and more cyberartists' websites offer links like friends sharing good books, the search becomes easier.

In that spirit, here is a cross-section of e-literature diversity to jumpstart your own cyberlit road trip:

• An annotated link list of select e-literary journals
• A link list of cyberliterature—past and present
• An annotated list of select cyberlit

Electronic Journals/Magazines/Websites Cross-section

From simple "print"-style literary magazines to cutting-edge showcases for the latest in digital derring-do, more cyberliterary journals are going "on-line" each year. They may have a relaxed "print" schedule; they may go on "hiatus" unexpectedly, leaving only their archives available or they may conduct business much like a print publication, but their individual literary visions encompass cyberspace's ever-evolving literary aesthetics.

Some offer only flash poetry:

Some offer traditional "print" epoetry, both current and overlooked classics, adding cyber aspects by whim:

Some offer only traditional "print" short-short narrative nonfiction:

Some offer only "digital writing and art":
The New River

Some defy description:
Exquisite Corpse

Some believe strongly in archival missions:
ALT-X Virtual Imprints
Electronic Poetry Center

Some offer e-chapbooks:
Slope, e-chapbook

Some offer a cross section of cyberlit, scholarship, and hypermedia/new media wonders:
Drunken Boat

Cyberliterature Cross-section

(For an archive of the best electronic creative works, early and recent, explore the Electronic Literature Directory. Note: If these cyberlit links have wandered, many of Road Trip's site-seeing sites may be found here.)

Here are examples of the medium's past and present literary possibilities, from simple accessibility to digital marvels, from esoteric to whimsical, from classic hyperlit to digital fiction, from visual poetry to hypermedia/new media pieces. Some defy "genre-fication" in that blurring of genres that has begun to happen in this new medium; hence the "cross-genre section. (When in doubt, click.)

Cyberfiction (Some require Flash)

Floppy Disk
Lasting Image
The Girl and The Wolf
Charmin' Cleary
Water Always Writes In Plural

Cyberpoetry (Some require Flash)

The Sky Poems-Vniverse
Where Do Thoughts Go
Last Day Of Betty Nkomo
Dreamlife of Letters
Dancing Rhinoceri of Bangladesh
Chances-Haiku Flash
A Study in Shades
Stops And Rebels
Eye Music (click on ASL Poetry/Deaf Culture; click on Ella Mae Lentz)

Hyper/Cyber classic fiction/poetry (Requires Flash)

Borges' The Intruder
Yeats' Mermaid
William Carlos Williams' The Great Figure

Cross genre/hypermedia/new media creations (Most require Flash or similar software)

The ABC Book of North American Extinctions
The Space Behind The Ridge
The Rut
Jabberwocky Engine
(Go) Fish
Three Proposals for Bottle Imps

Hypertextual literature classics

Eastgate Reading Room
UbuWeb Contemporary
Electronic Literature Directory

Notes on Selected Cyberworks

1) The Girl and the Wolf, A Variable Tale Nick Montfort
"To read a continuation of the story, choose the amount of sex and violence you would prefer using the woodcut grid above..." A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, this clever exploration of hypertextual interactivity creates a unique experiment dealing with the writerly reader's curiosity and self-awareness.

2) The Intruder Natalie Borchkin
This bricolage retelling of Jorge Borges' classic story offers an unusual contemporary template for new interpretation and social commentary. The reader "plays" literary versions of classic computer games such as Pong and Jump—"experiencing" Borges' story in 10 games that escalate from playfulness to shock. Click here for critique:

3) The Last Day of Betty Nkomo Young-Hae Chang
A simple, but effective hypermedia piece. As PoemsThatGo explains: "Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries presents "Betty Nkomo" in their signature style: devoid of color, interactivity and graphics, leaving the audience with one rhythmically charged word on the screen at a time making what else? Poetry."

4)The Dancing Rhinoceri of Bangladesh Millie Niss
An early interactive Flash poem—you create the poem by wanding while a voice speaks truths about the "process." It is "a combinatorial excursion into the textual possibilities of rhinoceri and other matters," the poet explains.

5) Eye Music Ella Mae Lentz
Visual poetry in the literal sense: Visualize the telephone wires along the road, the way they move by your eye as you ride by, sloping up and down, up and down. Now see Lentz's poem "Eye Music" in Slope's special American Sign Language Poetry Special Edition.
-Click on ASL Poetry and Culture.
-And again on Ella Mae Lentz: "Eye Music."

6)A Study in Shades Robert Kendall (also available on BBC Online)
A simple piece, hypertextually, that explores the devastation of Alzheimer's Disease from the points of view of a man afflicted by it and his daughter. The reader interacts with the poem to experience the different perspectives of the two characters and their relationship to each other. An interplay between text and morphing graphics reflects the progress of this relationship.

7)Where Do Thoughts Go? David Koebel
A good example of the potential within flash poetry—this is three poems in one. Its interactive sound and sight create two interlocking poems. The writerly dynamic—toggle b/w sound and words—offers an interactivity that adds a third poem (or more) to the mix. The cyberpoet invites you to come experiment with the pauses, and conjured sights and sounds, to experience the poem in your own way. Short enough to stand up to replay after replay.

8) Charmin' Cleary Edward Falco
Early hypertextual, non-linear, no-definitive-ending, short story that still works. The believable cast of characters and good storytelling are the reason. The technology is behind the curtain but very much part of the experience, integral yet never showy. Falco describes the effort as an attempt to rein in hypertext to see "what tricks might be accomplished with a tighter hold." Click here for Author's notes.

9) Floppy Disk Digital Fiction
What might be on an old floppy disk found on the ground? Even a non-linear voyeuristic short story based on "old" technology can be visually and intellectually stimulating. Notice the subtle "sound" effect adding to the "old" feel.

10) Go Fish Loss Pequeno Glazier
One look at this early cyberpoem seems like a triumph of design over poetics but when studied a little longer, hidden authorial and social meanings may come to mind along with the playful inventiveness (or not, but that might also be the point).

11) Jabberwocky Engine Neil Hennessey
Is the "Jabberwocky Engine" a poem? Syntaxical theory? Rhetorical roulette? Once turned on, the "Engine" circulates letters to produce nonsensical words that sound like English words, in the same spirit as the "words" in Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky." As the site explains, "Hennessey realizes a linguistic chemistry with letters as atoms and words as molecules."

12) Stops And Rebels, Brian Kim Stefans

Stefans gives his own hypertext "computer poem—and hypertext in general—an on-screen hypertextual critique." Also the creator of "The DreamLife of Letters" (see above), one of the earliest hypermedia poetic efforts complete with critique.

13) 3 Proposals For Bottle Imps William Poundstone
From Iowa Review Web intro: "William Poundstone's ground-breaking New Media piece is loosely inspired by the story-telling automata in Raymond Roussel's novel Locus Solus. Be sure to read the FAQ section. Poundstone makes this obscure allusion less so—and he connects Roussel's narrative devices to contemporary issues of electronic literature."

14) 253 Geoff Ryman
An early hypertext novel which takes place on a broken-down tube train in London. Links move through the train into each passenger's thoughts, jump to the sensational ending, back and forth even to the advertisements on the train, interconnecting in a non-chronological way, not without authorial, tongue-in-cheek comment. Often cited as a highly accessible "hyperbook" where the links, much like a hyper-train of thoughts and actions, are all connected, serving a real purpose in the narrative.

15) Pax Stuart Moulthrop
Hypertext pioneer Michael Joyce once said. "In this the adolescence of our technological age, it is hard to go too far." Or so Stuart Moulthrop quotes him, as Moulthrop pushes as far as he can, inventing something he calls "instrumental text" in this "middle space between interactive hypertext fiction and games." Not a work of literature in the ordinary sense; nor a game, but meant to be played as well as read. "Whether this text is hyper, cyber, techno, or oulipo, indeed whether it is "text" at all," says Moulthrop, "leave to those who care about such matters."

Electronic Literature Directory

RoadSite: references/ linkography