Emily Short

A pseudonomous writer with over 30 Interactive Fiction works to her credit, Short participates in what might be called the sub-cultural literary space of Interactive Fiction. Though recognized within IF and by the Electronic Literature Association, authors of interactive fiction are not widely known in literary studies. This has to do, partly, with the prominence of a "command-line" interface for reading such works and its relationship to primitive video games. In addition, the writing of an IF can seem very close to computer programming (from the perspective of creative writers). However, using this particular "platform" (Inform7 in recent iterations), Short creates a kind of narrative space that requires unusual decisions from the reader. Consequently, the total work produced or read by any one user/visitor is not in the control of the writer/programmer.

IF is considered a literary genre of its own right. Nick Montfort has published some critical writing and a book called Twisty Little Passages; many articles have been published in the EBR, and a self-published IF Theory Reader. Somewhat unusually, IF also produces as a kind of underground alt-art practice, since it hosts its own publishing venue (the Interactive Fiction Database IFDB) and contests. There is no commercial market for IF at this time.

We will read Short's most noted work, Galatea.
It exists in several formats on multiple sites. You may have to put in some effort to access it, depending upon your computer configuration. You can download an IF intepreter to "play it" offline.


Emily Short: Galatea (look for "Play Online" link)
- Web Version through IFPlay.com; web version through Peoples Republic of Interactive Fiction

(Other access options: Electronic Literature Collection. Galatea.zbloab for which you also need an interpreter. If you download an interpreter, then you can "save" the state of your play, which is not possible with the website versions).

Nick Montfort - Riddle Machines: The History and Nature of Interactive Fiction

Short's own blog is worth serious exploration, since it not only discusses her work but provides guides for the reading, writing, and teaching of IF. Short users the free, open-source software Inform7 and shared a number of her own scripts and tutorial materials for the project.

Additional Resources


You might want to spend some time with another Emily Short IF such as Bee or Glass or look at an IFDB as one of the top Fifty of All Time . For this community, Galatea is number 41. Short's Counterfeit Money is number 3