Technology and longevity

Any book described as “a dark fairytale” instantly gets my attention. Raven Girl, the latest book by The Time Travellers Wife author Audrey Niffenegger, has been billed as such, and in many ways is unconventional, mainly because Niffenegger has brought together her two passions – writing and visual art. A graphic novel about a little girl with wings, it has also been produced for the stage in the form of a ballet. This is certainly something different, and to me at least, very intriguing. I would like to read/see Raven Girl for this very reason, even though I wasn’t very enamoured with Nifenneggers follow up to The Time Travellers Wife – Her Fearful Symmetry. For me it just didn’t have the same grip, pace, or deeper level of emotion, and usually once I read a bad book by a cetain author it takes something special for me to pick up another (Dan Brown and Jodi Piccoult, two incredibly popular authors, have totally fallen by the wayside for me because of this. Not that Her Fearful Symmetry was as bad as Digital Fortress…). But Raven Girl might just hold enough intrigue for me to make an exception.

In this interview Niffenegger talks about a little epilogue to The Time Travellers Wife, featuring Alba, the daughter of the two main characters Henry and Claire. Now this I would definitely be interested in reading, though it looks like it will only appear on the soon to be released ebook version of the novel. Niffenegger’s comments here concerning ebooks and technology are interesting – as an author, she doesn’t want to run the risk of anything she creates being inaccessible in the future.

“One thing that I worry about with digital is that it won’t stay supported. In other words, that we’ll keep changing platforms a hundred years from now. If I do something really spectacular in e-book, will it still be readable in one hundred years? Whereas, if I do something spectacular with letterpress, as long as it doesn’t catch fire or something, it will be there. Longevity has a certain attraction. I think right now, we’re incredibly pleased with the things our new digital technology can do that no one’s minding very much if it lasts. I have files that are five years old that I can’t open…. I just worry that no one is taking care for all this. Historians of the future are going to need this stuff. If you’re going to make an e-book, fantastic, but I wish people would also make a print version, so there will be something left… One of the advantages of the book is that if you leave it closed and it doesn’t get light or air, even highly acidic paper will last quite a long time.”

A final thought – its nice to read comments from a writer who is seemingly as slow as I am at getting anything finished.



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