What is hypertext fiction?

Did you guys invent hypertext fiction?

Why haven't I heard of hypertext fiction before?

I want to write a hypertext story. Can I use Jarnaby for this?

What does Jarnaby cost?

Q: What is hypertext fiction?

A: Hypertext fiction is a form of electronic storytelling. In contrast to traditional narratives, in which there is a prescribed linear sequence to the text, hypertext fiction lets the reader follow hyperlinks within the text. Thus, there are many ways to read the story, and each re-reading may present a different way of looking at the story.

Q: Did you guys invent hypertext fiction?

A: No. As a literary form, hypertext fiction has been around for decades. Perhaps the best known example is the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of novels that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The most well-known publisher of electronic (computer-based) hypertext fiction is Eastgate Systems. While we respect their work, the Jarnaby project is completely unaffiliated with Eastgate. Although we've drawn inspiration from a number of sources, Jarnaby was influenced most directly by Infocomics (a series of hypertext storybooks published by Infocom in the 1980s) and by VisTrails (a provenance management system developed at the University of Utah).

Q: Why haven't I heard of hypertext fiction before?

A: We feel that hypertext fiction has huge potential, but thus far it has met with only limited commercial and critical success. The Jarnaby project seeks to overcome two of the obstacles that have traditionally prevented hypertext fiction's penetration: outdated media and reader disorientation.

  • Media: Jarnaby stories are distributed wirelessly to handheld devices (tablets and smartphones). In the past, hypertext fiction titles were primarily distributed via CD-ROM, and were only available for desktop computers.

  • Disorientation: Jarnaby automatically generates overhead "maps" of the story, so that the reader knows where he or she currently is relative to the rest of the narrative. Previous hypertext fiction systems also supported maps to some extent, but these maps had to be painstakingly created by the author.

Q: I want to write a hypertext story. Can I use Jarnaby for this?

A: Absolutely! The goal of the Jarnaby project is to create a simple-to-use platform for the creation and distribution of hypertext stories for handheld devices. We invite aspiring hypertext authors to use the free Jarnaby software to create the next generation of hypertext fiction titles. Jarnaby comes with a complete sample story (Little Red Riding Hood) to help you get started. Please also refer to the Documentation section of our website for additional instructions.

Q: What does Jarnaby cost?

A: Jarnaby is free, open-source software. It is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License, which basically means that you can distribute and modify Jarnaby as much as you like for open-source projects. However, if you wish to publish a Jarnaby story and charge money for it (on the Apple App Store or Android Market, for example), you are welcome to do that as well.