Review and Response to Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China
Keyword: Childrens Literature
Review by Kolton Smith; Response by Alexandra Loslier
Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China by Kate Pullinger and babel is a part of the Electronic Literature Collection and is uniquely different from other pieces. One of the main classifications this is under is children literature. Going through the piece I really couldn’t feel it. It did have a child in it, but it was not something that stood out or something that I could relate to as a child. I found that this piece offered a lot things, but Children literature wasn’t one of them. The main thing that struck my eye was that this piece is Flash based which requires the Flash plugin to be run. It offers many benefits that other traditional literature and other electronic literature don’t have. This piece uses sound and visual stimuli that go along with the story. The sound and visuals are perfectly integrated with the text. The story allows the reader to read the text and still be able to enjoy everything else. The story is presented in a linear fashion just like traditional stories. On occasion the reader is required to progress the story by pressing “>>” or by solving a puzzle. Just like the sound and visuals, this is just another way that the story is able to keep the reader’s attention for the whole duration of the story. Along the way a chapter menu appears on the side of the piece. This allows you to progress backwards in the story, but it doesn’t allow you to go forward read the ending. Overall the story was very amusing and was able to keep my short attention span occupied for the whole 5 minutes, which was hard for some other electronic literature pieces. This type of story has great potential in the future. It’s able to deliver a detailed rich story in a short amount of time and keep the reader entertained. Flash is very common so other stories could easily replicate this format. The only problem with this format is that being so short and having details highly compressed it’s easy to miss information that the author thinks is important. Maybe that is why I never got some parts of it. I think different people are going to get different things out of it. It’s a unique experience and I hope to read more like this in the future.
This piece of electronic literature really tugged at my heartstrings. Firstly, as an only child I can really empathize with the young narrator of the story. The authors illustrated the feeling of loneliness quite well and were thoughtful in they way they used the 8 year olds voice to bring light to what some readers might have interpreted as a dark tale. The setting is a far away place, devoid of playmates and the young girl must use her imagination and her toys to create a sense of peace for herself in what seems to be a hectic and static environment. The story truly speaks to the only child of not only this generation but of future generations as well. Although I disagree with Kolton about the applicability of the keyword “Childrens Story” I do agree that the use of flash and multimedia is very prominent and a very fitting keyword. Pullinger and Babel use static and aggressive sound, image and vocals to set a mood for the reader, a mood that is somber and tense. The sounds associated with the flash production project the idea that the future holds static filled skies and white noise in barren lands. Pullingers description of this story states that this is a part of a collection of stories that chronicle the growth of a young woman named “Alice,” and that this specific story was written in as a chapter of her early years as an 8 year old. Pullinger calls the title “Inanimate Alice,” which is strange for a children’s piece as inanimate means lifeless, dead, non-living, and dull. What I glean from this title is that the word inanimate refers to the objects, such as the Ba-Xi and her imaginary friend Brad, which Alice must use to fill the void that she feels from not having any physical contact with her playmates. The tension felt in the story is splattered with bits of youthful naivety in both the interactivity the reader has with the electronic literature and with the sweet way a young girl describes what could be interpreted as a sad, dark and lonely place. I may not recommend this reading to an 8 year old in our present day but I can understand how the authors feel that this will be the format for children stories of the future.
- How do you envision the children’s stories of the future? Do you see them being presented in such a format, why or why not?
- Why do you think the author’s chose such an uncomfortable soundtrack for the story, do you feel it was effective, what feeling did it evoke in you?
- Did you appreciate the interactivity of the story? What did it remind you of? Do you think the author used too much audience interaction, too little, or just enough?