More narrative playfulness

Continuing on various earlier posts that I'm too lazy to find and link to now, I've found a couple more projects that are playing around with narrative in ways that I like.

First is Jeremy Tolbert's Clockpunk site, which follows the dispatches of a steampunk naturalist as he explores the strange creatures who inhabit the City he lives in. It includes the great photographs of these creatures and whimsical accounts from the naturalist himself, Dr. Julius T. Roundbottom. Funny thing is, I'd stumbled across the site a day or two ago without realizing Jeremy (who, if you missed that post, I recently discovered lives a couple miles away from me) was the one doing it and then this morning saw the interview with him about the project over at Fantasy.

The other is Invisible Games, which is created by CMV and DMZ (CMV is Catherynne Valente...but I'm not sure who DMZ is). This project is full of the accounts of various games that supposedly took place in the past. It also has a steampunk feel to it, more so in some entries than others, and it plays on the nature of games...and I love games. I'm not much of a video gamer (partly because I know that if I let myself, I'd quickly become addicted to them), but games were a big part of my work at various camps and in experiential educations, and that has leaked into my writing as well (in fact, one of the first poems I did years ago was called "LifeGame"--not at all based on the Game of Life, though). And that doesn't even mention all the piles of board games we have in the basement and all the hours I've spent playing things from Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne to UpWords and Boggle. Anyway, the project creates some wonderful games and game machines and uses them as you might expect Calvino to use games.

One thing I love about these kinds of projects, and especially Clockpunk of these two, is the way they immerse you in a different world--they're not trying to tell a story in the same way secondary-world fantasies are usually told, but they're simply assuming you're there with them and have the patience to explore the whimsical bits along with them. There's a sense that these bits will coalesce into more of a story, but it requires, or rather assumes a kind of patience that I don't find trying at all.

In a way both of these remind me a bit of Nick Bantock's Museum of Purgatory, a book whose concept I loved, and its individual parts included a lot of fun...though I found the overarching story that developed to be less successful.

Sort of related, I picked up a copy of Shaun Tan's The Arrival from the library the other day, and I found it as good as all the hype. I hadn't quite realized how whimsical it would be, so that in itself is a lot of fun. And the immigrant's story itself is powerful.


Lauren Michelle said…
Somewhat unrelated, but I know of a fantasy artist you would probably like... this is her website:

For you I would especially recommend the galleries "Gearworld," "Weird Fruit," and "Frogs," but it's all wonderful.
Daniel Ausema said…
Thanks, Lion--I glanced at it and enjoyed what I saw. I'll have to spend some more time looking back at it.