The Electronic Labyrinth

Wasting Time

Wasting Time by Judy Malloy is a story programmed in IBM BASIC. In her essay "Electronic Storytelling in the 21st Century," Malloy describes her work as follows:

Wasting Time, a story about three characters, is told simultaneously from separate but parallel points of view--using three columns of text in a series of 25 computer monitor screens. The story takes place on a January evening in a house in the Rocky Mountain foothills. (100)

Wasting Time takes advantage of the computer as a temporal text processor. The dialogue appears on screen at the point when each character would speak. The reader may hit the return key when she is prepared to continue. The reader may not vary the linear progression of text, but may control the speed at which it unfolds. The text is, nonetheless, an "active book." It borrows techniques from film, such as shot-reverse-shot, to control the reader's experience of the text. See also the graphic novel.

The text for Wasting Time is simple and unadorned. One interesting feature of the program is that the snow falls upwards.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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