Concerning "forking paths"

Over the years I've received a small but steady trickle of requests for my hypertext called "forking paths," which was a sort of low-grade literary pastiche concocted as a laboratory demonstration--or parlor game--for an undergraduate writing class in 1987.

Until 2003 I declined all such requests because the work in its entirely contains most of the text of Jorge Luis Borges' "The Garden of Forking Paths," and thus could not be circulated without permissions which never seemed worth seeking. However, the editors of the New Media Reader, Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, have prevailed on me for a compromise. On the CD-ROM accompanying that work (MIT Press, 2003) you will find a schematic listing of the "forking paths" hypertext, which was originally built in Storyspace. This listing contains only a few phrases from Borges along with (regrettably) all my parodies and deformations.

I have no idea what value this document might have for hypertextual studies, but there it is if you really care. Victory Garden (Eastgate Systems, 1991) is also in some respects a Borgesian pastiche with roots planted all too obviously in that great detective story. If Victory Garden is the fresco, perhaps "forking paths" could be considered a preliminary cartoon. However, this cartoon probably has more to do with Chuck Jones than Caravaggio.

March 12, 2003
-- sam