Tagged / electronic literature

New Book from BU Researcher: The Popular Emergence of Digital Fiction

Lyle Skains’ Neverending Stories: The Popular Emergence of Digital Fiction (Bloomsbury) has just been released, exploring the many ways narrative storytelling has evolved and risen to popular awareness since the “disruptive” innovation of the computer.

Digital fiction has long been perceived as an experimental niche of electronic literature. Yet born-digital narratives thrive in mainstream culture, as communities of practice create and share digital fiction, filling in the gaps between the media they are given and the stories they seek.

“By putting the work of authors historically marginalized in discussions of the ‘computational’ at the forefront, [R. Lyle Skains] offers an alternative history of digital fiction that points to an exciting and expansive future.” Anastasia Salter, Associate Professor of English, University of Central Florida, USA

Neverending Stories explores the influences of literature and computing on digital fiction and how the practices and cultures of each have impacted who makes and plays digital fiction. Popular creativity emerges from subordinated groups often excluded from producing cultural resources, accepting the materials of capitalism and inverting them for their own carnivalesque uses. Popular digital fiction goes by many different names: webnovels, adventure games, visual novels, Twitter fiction, webcomics, Twine games, walking sims, alternate reality games, virtual reality films, interactive movies, enhanced books, transmedia universes, and many more.

“Unlike many exclusionary scholarly works in the field, Neverending Stories celebrates inclusiveness and diversity by tracing the emergence and development of digital fiction variations in various languages and cultures around the world. As foundational and comprehensive, this book is indispensable for scholars and students interested in perceiving the creativity and versatility of popular culture and fiction in digital environments.” Reham Hosny, Digital Creative Writer and Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Criticism, Minia University, Egypt

The book establishes digital fiction in a foundation of innovation, tracing its emergence in various guises around the world. It examines Infocom, whose commercial success with interactive fiction crumbled, in no small part, because of its failure to consider women as creators or consumers. It takes note of the brief flourish of commercial book apps and literary games. It connects practices of cognitive and conceptual interactivity, and textual multiplicity-dating to the origins of the print novel-to the feminine. It pushes into the technological future of narrative in immersive and mixed realities. It posits the transmedia franchises and the practices of fanfiction as examples of digital fiction that will continue indefinitely, regardless of academic notice or approval.

FMC Researcher Lyle Skains Co-Edits Field-Defining Collection


Announcing the publication of the ELECTRONIC LITERATURE COLLECTION VOLUME 4, a freely accessible, Creative Commons-licensed collection of 132 digital-born literary works from 42 author nationalities in 31 languages. ELC4 debuted at the Electronic Literature Organization Conference in Como, Italy, May 30-June 1, 2022.

The Electronic Literature Collection, hosted by the Electronic Literature Organization, defines the field of electronic literature. Each volume recognises contemporary works, trends, and emerging creators in born-digital narrative and poetry. This collection is used as a foundational teaching text in university programs incorporating studies of electronic literature, interactive narratives, and e-poetry around the world.

Selected from more than 450 works, ELC4 presents the largest group yet of author/makers writing in Afrikaans, Ancient Chinese, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, isiXhosa, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mezangelle, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Setswana, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, South African Sign Language, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Yoruba.

The Collection includes commercial works such as groundbreaking VR experiences and narrative video games. These join the many other works that are open access: database fictions, autoethnographies by GenZ makers, works that play with AI, geospatial storytelling via mobile phones–among many other styles and platforms.

The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 4 was edited by Kathi Inman Berens, John T. Murray, R. Lyle Skains, Rui Torres, and Mia Zamora with the assistance of an international advisory board and three student fellows.

“We made a strong effort to discover artists who were previously unknown to us,” said the Editors. “Curators in Mexico, India, West Africa, and international consultants from six continents helped us discover and evaluate works in languages we don’t speak.”

“Our driving purpose was to expand the collection in terms of diversity,” added Skains, “and to make the origins of these works searchable and transparent to all collection users.”

Teachers looking to engage students in cutting-edge literary works will find they can freely access ELC4 on their phones. Classroom computers aren’t necessary. It’s like a free textbook!

Scholars will appreciate being able to download and study the code and media assets of featured works. The Electronic Literature Organization hosts versions of the works to ensure perpetual access, even after operating systems and software are updated or become obsolete.


ELC4 is the fourth collection published by the Electronic Literature Organization in 22 years. All four are available freely via Creative Commons license: https://collection.eliterature.org/

The Electronic Literature Organization was founded in 1999 to foster and promote the reading, writing, teaching, and understanding of literature as it develops and persists in a changing digital environment. A 501c(3) non-profit organization, ELO includes writers, artists, teachers, scholars, and developers from around the world.