iDRAKULA: An interesting example of the book as a residual work.

iDRAKULA coverAn interesting take on Dracula.  Dracula is, of course, an epistolary novel: one made up of letters. The author of iDRAKULA instead uses mocked up photos of phones displaying text messages, tablets displaying web pages, and the odd email. She makes some interesting choices to deal with problems, for modern teen readers, in the text. This highlights those problems in an interesting way.  Why is Mina so defenceless? Why are Lucy’s suitors so much older than her? What’s the point of Qunicey Morris exactly (other than catching American readers?)  Why is Johnathan worth getting so bent out of shape over, given that he’s nowhere near a traditional romantic lead? Why does Mina have no agency in her rescue? We know the answers for a Victorian reader – but what are the answers for a modern reader?

I found how disempowered her teens were particularly striking. It’s not clear how old most of the characters are in the original novel, but Lucy Westenra is explicitly described as 19. Mina and she are within a few years of each other in age, which means Mina is likely a teen / early twenties woman. In the original book she, and her age-mates, get to do all sorts of grown up things. In iDRAKULA, none of them is really in charge of anything: they are all trainees and interns, held in the modern, protracted adolescence of most twenty-somethings.

The story does not stand on its own: you need to be familiar with a version of the tale for it to have its full arc. So, that’s to the book’s detriment, if considered as a novel. Since it only takes half an hour to read, you might instead think of it as an art piece. As a commentary on Dracula, it works.

When you get to the end and see the ad for the App, you finally get how this piece came together. The primary form of this work is as an app that delivers the text, along with mocked up voicemails. The book is just a way of recycling the creative product into a new market. I’m used to seeing things go the other way (Nick Bantock’s Ceremony of Innocence, for example, took his art books and animated them) and I’ve seen similar things with comics and roleplaying games, but this is the first time I can think of where I’ve seen an app’s contents be stripped back to work as a book in unlinked text.  There must be other examples…

So, interesting in that it highlights something which I think is going to be increasingly common. Much as some movies have script adaptions released as novels, so apps (although we may not call them that) will have derived art pieces, requiring minimal extra creative imput, in the codex form.

I think this is an interesting trend, and challenges the idea of the book as the primary form of literature, which is interesting. It also hopefully gives authors more money for their work, so its an interesting economic model for arts workers.