“E” or not to “E”, that is the question?
A look at a new E-book with a long history, by Ron Bishop
Soul Fiction, publishes its new E-book/online experience this month, with all the trimmings. The concept of multimedia support is taken a step further in The Sketchbook of Vincentas, the first edition of Sara Eldridge’s trilogy. On the aptly-named TheSoulNet.com site, artwork, music and film find their way onto the virtual pages of this epic, released over 30 years after the author’s death.
My dilemma with multimedia novels has always been too much information, but in this case my experience of the story was left intact. I found the extras to be nothing short of entertainment. Refreshingly, the style of the site means you aren’t spoon fed as a reader and can explore at your own pace. The user is offered sections: Story, Journal and Ether. The “Story” starts with an E-book, free mobile version and option to order a hardback copy. If you’re interested in the story behind the story, delve into the inter-dimensional mind of the author and explore the ‘Journal’ section, including images from her sketchbooks, along with photography thick in atmosphere.
The final layer allows you to dive into the Ether and add to the above with: your own energy signature generator, over thirty sounds and MP3 tracks, short films, virtual worlds, a catalogue of ethereal creatures Darwin would envy, hundreds of location photographs and original and inspired artwork from the story.
The trilogy of Sara Eldridge epitomises the Soul Fiction genre and the experience is made all the more real when given the chance to follow in her footsteps. Not one for the kids but definitely one to bring out the kid in you.
An introduction to The Sketchbook of Vincentas
By Rebecca Beattie
“In my moments, my rare and precious moments when harmony graces this place, I look down the valley and long for freedom. Why is freedom a realm unfamiliar? I fail to understand why when the beauty of nature continues to knock at my door, I choose not to answer.”
Taken from the Private Journal of Sara Eldridge (1921-1974),
Once in a while, our culture discovers an artist whose work captures a unique view of the world, one that throws a fresh light on the common experience of the physical life, one that can really make us stop and think about our own experiences in a different way. If we are lucky, we will enjoy a foray into their world and find some entertainment there, and if we are really lucky, we will never quite see the world in the same way again.
Sara Eldridge was one such artist. She never sought nor received recognition in her own lifetime, partly due to her own reticence in sharing the fruits of her labour, as well as her reluctance to interact with the world at large, but her art and her writing grew from her desire to understand the world she had always felt excluded from. Whilst exploring her own existence through photography and painting, Sara discovered a method of inverting the world on film which she then explored further in her paintings. This enabled her to view life in a new way and gave her the courage to leave her solitary existence behind.
Sara was then inspired to write the first of her trilogy The Sketchbook of Vincentas which follows the journey of Vincent from the mountains of Eastern Europe to the Himalayas, and the silver plains of the Ethereal World. Vincent was cursed from the moment of his birth, when his soul became inextricably linked to the Maran Antipath, the largest of negative monsters that dwell in the Ethereal Realm, the energetic counterpart to our physical world. Unless Vincent can defeat his Antipath and retrieve his most treasured essence, the powers of darkness will overwhelm both the Ethereal and the Physical worlds, and life as we know it will cease to exist.