11 FAQs about Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story
For the past month I have been preparing for the live group reading of Michael Joyce’s hypertext novel, afternoon, a story and the paper Richard Snyder and I are giving about hypertext at the ELO 2020 conference. My research led to:
- identifying every available manifestation of the work
- renumbering past editions and organizing them with the, heretofore, unidentified editions so that there is consistency throughout all of the manifestations of the novel
- versioning the novel according to changes to software so that it is easier for scholars to know what tech to use when accessing it
- tracking down more precise publication dates through email interviews, databases, and the Internet Archive Wayback Machine
- comparing editions to determine if unintentional variations to the novel occurred over the last 30 years
- discovering that, indeed, variations in the structure occurred due to the many migrations the novel underwent
In the end I came away with a strong appreciation for how very hard it has been to keep this work in the hands of readers.
Here are 11 FAQs that may interest you that came out of my research:
1. Thirteen editions of Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story have been released over its 33-year publication history.
2. The novel has appeared in six different formats—floppy disk, website, excerpt in a book, CD-ROM, USB Stick, and downloadable digital file
3. Major formats include:
- Floppy Disks: 1987-2001 (Editions 1-7; 14 years)
- CD-ROM: 2001-2016 (Editions 10-11; 15 years)
- USB Stick/Downloadable Digital File for Macintosh only: 2016-present (Editions 12-13; four years)
4. The yoni symbol, created by Joyce, graced afternoon, a story’s launcher icon from 1990 to 2007; thereafter it changed to the Storyspace logo.
5. The original aesthetic of the late 1980s-early 1990s was maintained for 20 years––until the shift from the Macintosh Classic to MacOS X in 2007.
6. There are two CD-ROM editions: 2001 for the Macintosh Classic operating system and 2007 for MacOS X 10.5 and higher.
7. Though Joyce intended the “a” in “afternoon” to be in lowercase, the novel was often published with a uppercase “A”.
8. The entire novel was published by the W. W. Norton & Co. in 1997 (8th Edition) on the web. The site is still accessible but not functional.
9. It is one of two hypertext narratives to have been published in print. The other is J Yellowlees Douglas’ “I Have Said Nothing”. The publisher was W. W. Norton & Co. This edition is the 9th (1998).
10. Each migration introduced variations in the linking structure that resulted in narrowing reader choices. The most significant migrations were the migration from the expansion to Windows, which changed the interface and functionality, evident in the 7th Edition and quite possibly the 5th;  the migration from the Classic operating system to MacOs X in 2007, evident in the 11th Edition; and the migration to the MacOS 10.5 and higher, which eliminated the Tool Bar, evident in the 12th and 13th Editions.
11. It has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Polish, and French.
 I do not own a copy of the 5th Edition (1992 Windows Edition). I hypothesize that the migration issue that I identify in the 7th (1994 Windows Edition) occurred first in the 5th, but without the ability to verify this, my hypothesis remains unproven.