Coastside author republishes unusual novel | Community
As a writing professor at Stanford University in 1995, Richard Holeton wrote a 500-word short story about Theodore Streleski, the Stanford graduate student who pummeled his academic advisor to death with a hammer in the 1970s. He developed the story into a hypertext novel, “Figurski at Findhorn on Acid”, which for the past 12 years has not been available to the public due to outdated software – until now.
For the 20th anniversary of its publication, the hypertext novel was translated to the web by Holeton, Dene Grigar and a team from the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University, Vancouver, and is now available online free to the public. . The project has also been adapted into a radio piece which will debut on January 17th.
âThe most important thing for me was to make it available to people,â Holeton said. “It was long years in the wilderness until we got the rights back.”
The original short story, “Streleski at Findhorn on Acid”, was a fictional account of a real person visiting an intentional community in Findhorn, Scotland, while on LSD. Holeton’s Story won Grain Magazine’s Short Grained Postcard Story Contest and inspired him to develop the story.
âWhen I wrote the story, I imagined this guy going to Findhorn, on acid,â Holeton said. âIt was the nugget that I started to develop this structure of someone, somewhere, with something. Then I envisioned a series of it. It became three characters, three places and three artefacts.
âWith my growing interest in composition in a hypertext environment, I imagined all the possible combinations of these characters, places and artefacts,â he said.
Streleski was released from prison on parole after the news broke, so when Holeton decided to go ahead with the project, he changed the character’s name to Frank Figurski, a Streleski impersonator.
The Holeton structure includes the 147 combinations of the someone, somewhere, something structure and a plot to guide the reader through all of the combinations. Hypertext fiction is a story written with internal hyperlinks and multiple reading paths and is designed to be read on a computer. Holeton became one of the pioneers of hypertext fiction when the novel was published in 2001 by Eastgate Systems.
âI was consciously trying to bring this esoteric hypertext fictional thing and make it more popular, and wanted to write something funny,â Holeton said.
Reading hypertext novels differs from the traditional form because it is interactive and non-linear. Most of the early works in this format were difficult to navigate, so Holeton wanted to create something easy for readers to understand.
“Figurski at Findhorn on Acid” follows Figurski, paroled after serving six years in prison for killing Professor Quentin Kingsley. Figurski discovers what appears to be an 18th century mechanical pig washed up on the beach at Findhorn Park and is determined to find out if it is genuine. Not only is he facing competition from the No-Hands Cup Flipper and Fatima Michelle Vieuchanger, but he’s also on acid. The hypertext novel allows the reader to follow Figurski through trailer parks, malls, and spaceships on his journey to prove the Pig is not a fake.
âI wanted to create a story with a solid plot to guide the reader through all the possible combinations that still allowed for multiple ways to travel through the story,â said Holeton.
The new work comes in two versions, contemporary and classic. With the 147 possible combinations of the three characters, places and artifacts, Holeton has created an interactive novel where readers can journey through the author’s imaginary universe with Figurski in his search for Rosellini’s 1737 Mechanical Pig.
Holeton also embarked on the unprecedented project of adapting the hypertext novel into a radio play. Together with Emmy-winning sound artist Marc Rose and John Barber, who wrote the screenplay adaptation, the play will debut on Re-Imagined Radio. For more information on listening, visit the main webpage of the Re-Imagined Radio website and see the How to Listen section.