Covalent Bonds (http://www.christinegoldbeck.com/CovalentBonds/menu1.htm)is a hyperfiction that incorporates creative writing,photography,digital imaging,painting and commentary about contemporary culture and American literature.The story is designed on information I gleaned from a self-designed survey of what people read. The premise of the work is that blindness is a disease occurring in many forms that bear various consequences. For example, both utopian and dystopian outlooks toward technology (forms of blindness, if you will) can lead people to harmful beliefs and practices.The protagonist, Victoria, is physically blind due an arson and metaphorically blind because she refuses to “see” the benefits of technology and of re-discovering a long lost love; her sister, Virginia, cannot see that her marriage is crumbling because she refuses to acknowledge that her husband has an Internet love affair; Mary Meade, the assistant hired to be Tori’s eyes, cannot see that for which she has been searching - her own sisters - because she is functionally illiterate; and the mystery “visitor,” cannot see that his ignorance and his desire to hurt several of these people, could be his own damnation.
The title, Covalent Bonds, has roots in biological science. Briefly, covalent bonds form when connected atoms have almost the same attraction for electrons. Sharing one or several pairs of electrons allows the atoms to fill their exterior shells, which produces energetic stability. Used as metaphor, the title symbolizes familial, geographical and cultural allegiances, or those “shells” from which individuals establish their “energetic stability,” their beliefs,their values.
What’s more, as the story setting is in the area of Northeastern Pennsylvania known as “The Coal Region,” the element carbon, which comprises 90 percent of anthracite coal, easily forms covalent bonds. Indeed carbon is an elemental building block of material in living organisms, human beings included. Location and the natural world and considerations of our connections to and interactions with it usually are involved in my thinking and in my art.
Covalent Bonds also symbolizes the links within the hyperfiction, the links among orality, print, performance and digital fiction, the convergence between the sciences and the arts, and, finally, as aforementioned, to metaphorically define the sustaining life forces and connections among the characters and their social and physical places in the microcosm where the story unfolds.
Where traditional elements of fiction writing are concerned, Covalent Bonds uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Aristotle’s three types of drama and Lajos Egri’s three dimensions of character and employs the five main elements of fiction: characterization, conflict, plot, setting and theme, and traditional literary devices, including, but not limited to: metaphor (igniting imagination to show the relationship between individuals, terms and ideas that, at first glance, are foreign to each other), dialogue, foreshadowing, flashback, personification and symbolism.Concerns about the materiality of reading led me to design the story so that readers new to hyperfiction do not feel overwhelmed by what they see. Therefore, if a reader so chooses, Covalent Bonds can be read from beginning to end, in a linear fashion as one typically reads a book. They will miss certain lexias, sub-plots and opportunities for interactivity, but they will have a full story if they choose to read the pages without clicking on the hypertextual images and text.Covalent Bonds is a finished story in the traditional print sense. In screen space, it is far from being a closed book. It is a world wherein changes are occurring, a place inhabited by people whose interactions with others bring about change in individual and collective thought and action. Thus, I include on the “cover” a date noting when the story was last updated.“Oh foolish writer. Now moves. Even in story time, dream time, once-upon-a-time, now isn’t then …a mere glimpse at this place told me that things had been happening there while I wasn’t looking. It was high time to go back and find out what was going on now.” (Tales from Earthsea, foreword)In my view, Ursula K. LeGuin, the creator of the fictional world of Earthsea, referred to the artist’s mind at work while going about day-to-day living. Earthsea is bound in printed volumes. Yet, the people and the place had evolved since the last page was written and placed in book form.For the author/artist, then, the infinite “page” in hyperfiction writing and the "canvas" in screen space are liberating elements whereby one’s marks on the story world may be erased, enhanced and/or expanded.