The Electronic Labyrinth


The Electronic Labyrinth is a study of the implications of hypertext for creative writers looking to move beyond traditional notions of linearity.

Our project evaluates hypertext and its potential for use by literary artists in three ways:

  1. By placing the development of hypertext in the context of the literary tradition of non-linear approaches to narrative. This context provides a means of re-evaluating the concept of the book in the age of electronic text. Specific points of investigation include Cortázar's Hopscotch, Nabokov's Pale Fire, Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars, and Sterne's Tristram Shandy.
  2. By investigating literary works created specifically for computerized hypertext. These include Joyce's Afternoon, A Story, McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, and Wilmott's Everglade.
  3. By evaluating the hardware platforms and software environments available to writers. Criteria include ease of use, availability, methods of distribution and publication, and the tools available to the writer and reader. Our emphasis is placed on the assumptions each environment makes of the writing and reading processes, the metaphors reinforced by the environment, and the freedom allowed the writer to explore new forms. We have focused on IBM-compatible and Apple hardware platforms, and reviewed such software as Eastgate System's Storyspace, Claris' HyperCard, IBM's Linkway, and Ntergaid's Hyperwriter.

About The Authors


Since this document was originally designed to be self-contained, it contains few links to external documents. To provide for further exploration of hypertext theory and practice, visit Hyperizons, a comprehensive master list.

Please do not ask us to link to your site. That is not the function of this document.

Mirror Site

You may wish to browse our primary host EServer, at the University of Washington, if you are closer to that site or experience slow browsing here.


The Electronic Labyrinth presents the results of a research project mostly undertaken in 1993. Many recent texts, authoring systems and theoretical approaches are not covered. In particular, please be aware that any vendors mentioned herein could very well have completely different versions of their products available or may even be out of business. Contact the company in question for up-to-date information. Please do not ask us about proprietary hardware and software.

Despite the dated nature of some of the contents, we have decided to keep The Electronic Labyrinth available in its original form.

Contact Information

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This project was based on Hypertext Fiction and the Literary Artist, research made possible through the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. Copyright is as stated at the bottom of each page.

The Electronic Labyrinth was originally written in 1993 and adapted for the World-Wide Web in November 1995. It was initially hosted at the University of Alberta, and then at the University of Victoria from August 1997 to July 2000.

Thanks for help in days gone by to: the University of Western Ontario Philosophy Department, William McLaughlin, Andrew Mactavish, and Katherine Hajer. We kindly acknowledge all who have contributed information, criticism, and materials for review.

The Small Print

All brand names and product names used in this study are trademarks, trade names, or registered trademarks of their respective holders, and are used for identification purposes only.

The authors have used their best efforts in preparing this study. They make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work or the materials included with it, and specifically disclaim any implied warranties or merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose, and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

© 1993-2001 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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