The (slightly too literal) Search For WondLa

I’ve not much experience with Tony DiTerlizzi. He’s always been one of those authors who I know the name and I know they’re popular but I never quite got round to it. So I rectified that this week by picking up The Search for WondLa.

The Search For WondLa is kind of awesome and kind of madly perplexing. It’s heavily sold on the fact that it provides extra AR (Augmented Reality) content – the back cover is roughly split into two-thirds AR plug and one third stoy. It’s an enticing mixture. I bang on about pushing the boundaries of a book and about testing the limits of what can be done. The Search For WondLa seemed to provide a bit of a magical moment where all my interests could coincide.

And yet, I’m sat here waiting for it to load. I’ve downloaded a piece of specific software (The D’Fusion player thing), shifted out of Google Chrome into IE (I think it only works in IE / Firefox from what I gather?), and it keeps sticking in the ‘loading scenario’ screen.

I do think the concept of this book is brilliant. I adore the thoughts of a story escaping the pages. I love the idea of it living in your hands but then I wonder about whether that’s just, in the barest terms, a visualisation of the imaginative reading process. I also worry about how much of it could be missed, by the people without a webcam, without an internet connection that can cope with it, by the public libraries who for obvious reasons tend to shy away from having webcams attached to junior PCs. And then I look at it and realise that if I lift this book up to my webcam, I can create and interact with the story on a whole different level.

God, it’s confusing. I’m reading a book and I’m aware that there’s a world beyond what I’m reading that I want to unlock. And then I’m aware that that has to act as a sort of secondary instinct, and has to wait until I’ve “finished” the textual level of the novel. ARGH. I don’t think I know where this book actually is. Is the narrative the text, the AR, the in between liminality of the reader’s imagination or is it somewhere else entirely?

(And it’s still loading).


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