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Book Review: Pause & Effect

Pause & Effect, by Mark Stephen Meadows. 272 pp. New Riders, 2002. $45.00

Mark Stephen Meadows has fine-tuned the art of the interactive narrative. Pause & Effect gives an introspective look at the roles of readers and authors as they become one through the magic of media and technology. The message of the book boils down to the credo that the artists at Pixar have made famous: “It’s the story, stupid!” With a solid story, your viewers are a captive audience, or even one with the story.

Pause & Effect covers the essentials of interactive storytelling and its application to various types of media. It has the layout of a hyper-visual science text book, made for the twenty-first century reader. This book is intended for all areas of specialization in computer art ,and applies to anyone who is willing to explore the foundations of storytelling. It is highly detailed in both imagery and content, and can easily prove to be rather confusing. Make sure that you are paying close attention to detail when you read it.

Meadows declares that perspective is the base of a narrative. Essentially, to go from one place to another, you have to know where you’re going in order to get there. Clues in the narrative are essential so the reader knows where his place is in the context of a story. These clues allow greater levels of exploration in the areas of design and imagery.

The book is geared toward the mind of an artist, and requires a great deal of visualization. This book is also directed toward writers. As a computer artist, I found this to be an excellent resource for my work. I’m sure that most writers would agree. Future storytellers of the world, this book should be in your resource library.

–Jake Richtsmeier
Copyright ©2002 by Jake Richtsmeier. This article originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.