The Potemkin Holiday Treat

I do realize there are about sixty thousand things vying for your attention today, not the least of which is “OMG! Which parade with giant floating animals do I watch?” I’m going to sneak out something else to grab your eyeballs with. The first section of [The Potemkin Mosaic], the book version (PDF here).

A bit of history. Farrago’s Wainscot debuted in 2007 as a quarterly journal of the weird, and went on to win a couple of online awards for being terrifically bright and shiny in its first year. Alongside the quarterly crop of literary madness was “The Oneiromantic Mosaic of Harry Potemkin,” a twelve-part serialized hypertext novel. Harry’s story, as expressed through a series of entries in a dream journal (and attending commentary and reference material known as “nodes”), is the continuing investigation into what he believes is psychic surgery on his memory by parties unknown. Harry, you see, is a black market oneirologist, a rogue student of psychopharmacology who utilizes drugs and dream therapies to cure patients of psychological hiccups that normal therapy couldn’t touch. Each month, more of the story would unfold and, as Harry discovers more of the damage and rerouting that has gone on in his head, the story presented to the audience changes, i.e., more hyperlinks are added to the existing framework. So, in January, the first dream had seven or so hyperlinks, but by December the number was quite larger.

It’s a bit of a nightmare, in more ways than one. And it turned out to be a larger project than we initially imagined (this shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all me, at this point). The whole thing is still available online (start here or here if you’d like further background). However, there is still more story to tell. Which leads to this:

This is the cover of the print version. Titled [The Potemkin Mosaic] (and yes, that title is actually NOT on the cover; all there is is the sigil, and I am a mighty happy lad that I get a book cover that looks as clever and WTF? as that), it is going to be an attempt to offer an linear version of a decidedly non-linear story.

Which is where the favor part of this holiday treat comes in. We’re still working through just how this reading experience is going to work. It’s not a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but at the same time, the distraction of the nodes is important to chasing all of the subtext of the story. So, if you have time between parades and turkey basting and prepping your lacrosse armor for Black Friday shopping, take a gander at the two versions of the first dream.

Hypertext vs Book

Let me know what you think. What do you like? What don’t you like? How would it work better?

[A few explanatory notes. The print version of the Mosaic is meant to offer the experience to a wider audience, believe it or not, as many still argue that reading off the screen is an unwholesome experience. Additionally, the sequel, Psychobabel, which will be out next year, will only be offered in a print version as it is being designed to maximize on that format, whereas the Mosaic was originally intended to only be a hypertext venture. We feel we’re pushing out luck even further by not providing a print version of what is, essentially, the prequel to Psychobabel.

You will notice that linkage to other nodes only occurs in the dream in the PDF version and not the nodes themselves (contrasting with the hypertext version where the linkage never stops!); this was done simply to faciliate getting this document ready to share, and to cut down on the distraction offered by links to pages that weren’t included.]


  1. GlenH says

    I’ll sit down and read this later – I flipped through it when Mr V. first posted about it but the shear size overwhealmed me. Your synopsis has twigged my interest again.

    I wanted to congratulate you on getting just the sigil on the cover. You might already know this but Greg Bear tried to name a novel / and was vettoed by his publishers who insisted on Slant.

  2. says

    I’m going to pore through the PDF tomorrow, Mark, when I have a clear head. Your fiction is often a mindfuck and a half, and just glimpsing at this demonstrates that the Mosaic is up to that standard.