We Knew The Glass Man

Screenshot of title page of We Knew The Glass Man

Link to Work: Link 1
Age: 18 and up
Type: interactive short fiction
Language: English
Platform: Twine

Mentor: John McDaid
Mentee: Jack McDaid

Roles Authors: John G. McDaid: Writing, Twine scripting.
Jack McDaid: UI design, CSS

Short Description: An interactive short story that explores alternate and conflicting realities, aging, and the unreliability of memory.

Longer Description: "We Knew The Glass Man" is a text-based Twine interactive fiction comprising some three dozen lexia arranged in multiple strands within which the fictive world extends or negates itself depending on the pathways the reader follows. It was published in the University of Wisconsin Cream City Review and its online companion I/O, in response to a call for experimental works that intersected with earlier digital fictions. This story picks up themes and characters from my 1993 novel "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse," using interactivity to explore the unreliability of memory and the reality of loss.

Mentoring Context: Cream City Review (CCR) put out a call for works that connected with earlier electronic fictions, and in late 2017, I (John) began drafting a multi-linear narrative that would spin off my earlier hypertext novel. My son (Jack), was a senior in high school, and already exploring colleges where he could major in game development. We took the opportunity to collaborate on producing the short fiction as a Twine interactive. This was my first work using Twine, so we both spent time getting up the curve on scripting; Jack brought experience with other scripting languages and I shared knowledge of hypertext narrative. I concentrated on crafting the lexia and narrative logic, and Jack worked on the overall design, including stylesheets and UI elements. We worked in an iterative process, informed by my career in software development, which provided the opportunity to coach Jack both on interactive fiction concepts and development best practices. We each provided input holistically, and Jack's feedback on the narrative was perceptive and helpful in shaping both story and flow. One of Jack's key contributions was the UI element for navigation, the logical "because" and "therefore" signs, which he suggested based on his reading of the emerging text. The final piece was published online by CCR, and also served as a portfolio piece in Jack's college applications.

Bios: John G. McDaid is a science fiction writer, folk/filk singer-songwriter, and freelance journalist from Rhode Island. A 1993 Clarion grad, he sold his first short story, the Sturgeon Award-winning "Jigoku no mokushiroku" to Asimov's in 1995. His 1993 hypermedia novel, "Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse," was included in a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities digital conservation project, and was one of the subjects of the 2017 follow-up book “Traversals,” from MIT Press. On the web at Web at http://johnmcdaid.com.

Jack McDaid is a senior in the BS/MS co-terminal Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he is double majoring in Game Design and Computer Science. Among his undergrad projects, he was the producer and programmer for FastFWD (https://jackmcdaid.itch.io/fastfwd) and writer and web designer for Top Dog (http://topdogcardgame.com/). On the web at http://jackmcdaid.com/