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Back to the beginning

So a couple of weeks ago I read a news story about two well known authors Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear who were going to launch a story “The Mongliad” as a novel-as-app.  Since I had no idea what exactly a novel-as-app was, I read a little further to find out they will release a chapter a week out to electronic media (iPhone, Kindle, Nook, etc.)  They decided to bank on the “just in time” theory of inventory and their ability to keep readers hooked enough to follow along.  It seems to be an upcoming trend in Japan (according to this article).

So basically the penny dime stories of the early 1900’s is back, only in electronic mode.

It’s an intriguing concept.  Unfortunately there are a few stumbling blocks out there.  Lately, it seems that society as a whole has become a creature of instant gratification.  No one wants to wait for anything.

So how are Stephenson and Bear going to retrain the public’s thinking habits?

Will their cliff hanging chapter endings and exciting story lines be enough to keep readers following?  These two are great writers, no doubt about it.  Yet, if the majority of the viewing public has issues trying to follow a show like Lost, how do you think the printed version of that is going to work?  Not that I have any scientific data to back up my assumptions (but this is a blog, so I can assumpt all I want!)  I know that I followed Lost for two years before throwing in the towel.  Seriously, you’d think I would have the wherewithal to follow this show through to its conclusion.  But did I? Nope.  And why not? Because life interceded.

There was a time, many years ago, when I could watch such things for years. For example, absolutely loved the X Files, the movies not so much, but the TV show–it was awesome. I watched it from the very beginning all the way to the bitter end.  Same with Dark Angel.  Yet now, I’m lucky to catch single episodes of shows I like.  My life, job, and family–it’s a never-ending whirlwind.

Granted watching TV and reading a weekly serial are two very different things, but really?  I’m not sure I can handle the weekly doses of a good story.  When I read, I want the whole story as soon as I can get it.  When the last Harry Potter came out, I sat down and five hours later I had finished the book.  There was no way I was waiting a minute in between stuff.

So, can Stephenson and Bear do it? Can they make us slow down, read a good story, stay hooked and follow through?

Only time will tell…


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