About Hegirascope

Hegirascope is a work of hypertext fiction intended for the World Wide Web. It is the first thing of this kind I have attempted in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Netscape 1.1. This is not a novel, nor will it necessarily meet your expectations about interactive fictions. I am trying to explore forms of narrative writing -- and stories -- that emerge from Web hypertext and seem well suited to that environment. For the moment anyway, that is my hegira.

Evermore About to Be

1995: What you're seeing here is at most half of something else toward which I'm presently slouching (Fall, 1995). What started as an experiment now looks more like a study, though for what I can't yet say. I like the Netscape-HTML environment and believe strongly in the Web as a delivery system. Yet the constraints of both are heavy, and at this writing the Netscapees are about to rattle the chain of being yet again. The word does not keep still.

1997: Yes, well: push me, pull you, but don't tug on that, you never know what it might be connected to... Nothing is ever finished, least of all this particular game of replacements, but I am no longer so sure it's a fragment. The work might still expand somewhat but I'm making no promises. As for its future before the public, I think it could be one in a series of probes coming to a synapse near you at the end of the century. Keep watching the skies!

Technical Requirements

This work uses HTML extensions first implemented in Netscape Navigator 1.1:

  1. Custom colors and backgrounds
  2. Tables
  3. "Client pull" (the HTTP-EQUIV META)

Though I believe in broadly accessible designs, this project is an experiment and thus a special case. To read this text, you must be running Netscape Navigator 1.1 or a later browser that supports at least features 2 and 3 in the list above.

Some Rules of the Game

Hegirascope employs the Netscape "META" tag to enable "client pull," which means that the word does not keep still. Almost every page in this text is programmed to yield automatically to another page after a delay of some seconds (with exceptions, of course). You may override this timed transition by using one of the links on the page: after the opening sequence, almost every page has links. Of course, the page you arrive on via a link will also have a timed transition, and so forth, meaning that this text can in some cases become an infinite loop. To escape from Hegirascope, just open some URL outside it (for instance, use the "Go Home" feature on your browser).

To understand what this is all about, you really have to go and do. Solvitur ambulando, caveat lector, have a nice trip.


This work is under copyright (yes, really). See the relevant legal advice.

Correspondence and Bug Reports

To let me know how much you've enjoyed the work and what you've found wrong with it (e.g., broken links), send e-mail to samoulthrop@ubmail.ubalt.edu.


My gratitude to George and Lillian Kaplan for their hospitality while I wrote most of this. Thanks to Nick Routledge at World3 for providing the impetus and to the School of Communications Design, University of Baltimore, for their Web server and general understanding. Thanks also to shipmates in TINAC (travel is nearly always confusing), to Erica Farrell for design help, and as always, for everything, Nancy.

Hegirascope was written in HyperCard 2.2 and converted to HTML with Netscape extensions. Design and assembly were done on a Power Macintosh 7100 and Macintosh Quadra 840AV. Most of the writing was done on a PowerBook 160. Eternal thanks to Bill Atkinson and the HyperCard team (may you someday get the upgrade you deserve) and to all those nice folks at Netscape.

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Hegirascope Initial Release 9-5-95
© 1995, 1997 by Stuart Moulthrop
Last updated 9-18-97