"The Breathing Wall": Control Yourself! With Fiction!
Novelist Kate Pullinger, Stefan Schemat, and Chris Joseph ("babel") have created an electronic book called "The Breathing Wall" that has a unique gimmick: you read it while wearing a microphone, and the book's software only allows you to penetrate deeper into the story as a result of your controlled breathing rhythms.

The book measures how relaxed you stay during the course of the story, and the more slowly and carefully that you breathe, the deeper you go into story's animated dream sequences that contain mysterious clues to exchanges in the written and spoken segments.

From the book's website, where you can read a free sample:

"The story is told in parts, alternating between day-dreams (which reside in Flash movies) and night-dreams. The night-dreams reside within the Hyper Trance Fiction Matrix, an experimental software that allows the story to respond to the listener's rate of breathing. You listen to the story through a headset with a microphone, which comes bundled with the CD."

"The Breathing Wall" is the story of a man named Michael who is sent to prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lana. Lana was killed the day after they broke up, and in her pocket was an angry note from him which the police used to build a case against him. However, while staring at the walls of his prison cell, Michael begins to have conversations with Lana's ghost, who puts him touch with her sister, Florence. Together, Florence and Michael discover clues to help find the real killer and get Michael out of prison.

Pullinger's other works include "When the Monster Dies," "Where Does Kissing End?," "Weird Sister," "The Last Time I Saw Jane," and "Inanimate Alice," a series of online, animated stories about a girl growing up in Northern China.

"The Breathing Wall" sounds like a promising story, but the development of the Hyper Trance Fiction Matrix biofeedback system makes me wonder what other stories could be told using the same technology. Like...

"Go Back to Sleep, Darling"

Johnny Coxswain is a porn star by day and an international jewel thief by night. His signature method is to seduce lonely Southern California housewives, become their lovers, and slowly gain access to their secret caches of precious jewels. He robs them during a single night of passion while their husbands are away: breaking hearts, and breaking the bank.

However, when Johnny seduces the wife of Baby Putanesca -- the mob's most brutal, ruthless, and jealous hitman -- Johnny finds himself trapped. Putanesca, suspecting infidelity, returns home early, and Johnny must remain silent beneath the couple's bed as Putanesca relates his harrowing history of crime, betrayal, and lust in order to punish his wife for the crimes he cannot prove."

"I'll kill you if I find you, loverboy. One false breath, and you are DEAD."

Or maybe...

"The Endless Awakening of Professor Phillipina Fantasmo"

When Helen Jackson came to New York to be a famous stage magician, she wasn't counting on the brutal politics of the magical underworld. Even after a decade spent honing her craft, and adopting the stage name "Fantasmo," Jackson still has enemies because of her refusal to stand down and do something more befitting a Victorian lady: like teaching school or getting married.

When Jackson receives a gilded grimoire in the mail from the White Rabbit Society, she doesn't know what to expect. She is sucked into the magical textbook and must fight for the survival of her very soul. Each ragged breath she takes draws her deeper into the grimoire's mysteries and teaches her more about stagecraft, her own powers, and the real magic inside all things."

Or what about...

"The Smoker"

"A dying pirate, a fortune in gold bullion, and a nurse who is the only one around to hear a final confession. If Nurse Madigan can keep Captain Roderick Smoker, a terminally-ill swashbuckler, alive by remaining calm and empathizing with his disease, she will hear his entire tale of adventure, madness, love, and revenge, and she will discover where the ancient, pipe-addicted rascal has hidden his life's treasures. With the money, she will be able to send her oldest son to America, and will be able to pay off her dead husband's creditors who have given her an ultimatum: pay up by sunrise, or it's the workhouse!"

And for kids...

"Little Siddhartha and the Diamond Cutter Sutra"

"Little Sid is trying very hard to reach Nirvana, but Nosy Turtle and Prank Mouse don't want him to get there. They are afraid that in Nirvana they will cease to exist and will be revealed as evil manifestations of the demon goddess, Mara. Breathe along with Little Sid as his friends try everything to get him to abandon his quest for inner serenity and truth. See all the illusions, delusions, and hells of human existence with hilarious inner clarity as you gain control over the Wild Horse of Your Mind."

Who's that breathing on the other end of my telephone line? Is that you, genius?

Posted by miracle on Wed, 25 Feb 2009 14:05:03 -0500 -- permanent link

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