A friend sent me a link to Personal Effects: Dark Arts by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman. It is a “a traditional thriller novel with a multimedia-fueled ‘out of book’ narrative.” It was published last summer, but somehow I managed to miss it.
There are two things I find interesting about the marketing. First of all, this is again sold as something completely new. Hutchins’ site quotes Publisher’s Weekly saying that the novel is a “stellar first” and Library Journal stating that the book “may herald the future of modern fiction.” Now, not only has this kind of thing been done, it has been done quite successfully – and by one of the authors. Jordan Weisman has created with Sean Stewart a whole series of books that have ARG-like expanded features: Cathy’s Book, Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring.
The second thing is that Dark Arts seems to be a dumbed-down version of Cathy – at least according to the marketing. The marketing material is very clear about what the reader should do: call the number, visit the website and so forth. Another way of seeing it is as a move from mystery (Cathy) towards a game with fairly clear instructions (Dark Arts). (Of course, I could be completely off since I’m just writing based on the advertisement material. And yes, that move already started with the later parts of Cathy.)
Anyhoo, I’m excited about these kinds of books. In many ways they are internet-enabled versions of Choose Your Own Adventure books – and that form of ludic literature from the 1980s certainly deserves to have a huge comeback.