Individual Work
Star Wars, One Letter At A Time

The classic movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is reimagined in the electronic literature Star Wars, One Letter At A Time By Brian Kim Stefans. This piece of electronic literature uses sounds and text to display this epic story by George Lucas. Stefans uses clicking and bell sounds along with text in order to give the viewer the illusion that they are sitting at a typewriter while they watch the text fly by on the screen one letter and one symbol at a time. The illusion does well at making you feel that you are sitting there as George Lucas types away in a silent room at a typewriter. As a viewer you can tell when he gets to the end of a margin as you hear the bells of the machine go off and shift back and forth as the paper moves down in the machine. It really paints a great mental picture of a man typing up his work in his office in peace.

The piece is a video with no interaction for the viewer. The video is not so much about the text or the story of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it is about immersing yourself into the mind of George Lucas and his workspace. The viewer is meant to feel as if they are sitting in George Lucas’ study with him as he works. it is meant to almost be therapeutic in a way where the sounds of the typewriter are supposed to soothe you as you watch the letters and symbols flash before your eyes. This work is similar to flip books, but instead of images it uses letters to convey the story.

Exactly as the film does, this work starts off in a distant galaxy far, far away and eons before the creation of the planet known as Earth. Vast civilizations have evolved, and ruling the galaxy is an intergalactic Empire created from the ruins of an Old Republic that held sway for generations. It is a time of civil war, as solar systems have broken away from the Empire and are waging a war of rebellion. During a recent battle, Rebel spies have unearthed schematics for the largest space station ever made, code named the Death Star, and a young Princess Leia who is a dissident member of the Imperial Senate, under the cover of a diplomatic mission to her home planet Alderaan, is trying to smuggle these plans to the Rebellion. However, her spacecraft is attacked by a vast warship of the Empire and seized. Princess Leia is captured, but the plans for the Death Star are nowhere to be found. Prior to her capture Princess Leia uploads the schematics to a droid named R2-D2 and leaves a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

While soldiers of the Empire search the nearby planet Tatooine for the plans, a series of incidents sweeps up a young desert farmer Luke Skywalker with dreams of being a fighter pilot in the Rebellion against the Empire, as he winds up with the Death Star plans and also the assistance of an elderly hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi who once served as a warrior of an ancient order known as Jedi whose chosen weapons were powerful energy swords known as lightsabers. The pair recruit a cynical intergalactic smuggler Han Solo and his outsized alien copilot Chewbacca with an ancient freighter called the Millennium Falcon, heavily modified for combat to help them reach Alderaan. However, the planet is obliterated and now the four heroes must rescue the young Princess Leia held prisoner by the Empire and lead an attack by the Rebellion against the Death Star and Darth Vader before it can annihilate all hope of restoring freedom to the galaxy.

Due to the fact that this piece does not require any interaction with the viewer makes this piece very difficult to read. The text moves rather quickly where the viewer is not given the choice to pause, stop, rewind, or fast forward adding to the viewers frustration trying to read the work. Regardless if you know the story of a New Hope, Star Wars, One Letter At A Time, makes it hard to follow and understand the dialogue that is going on due to making the reader see the story one letter at a time trying to string all the words together as quickly as possible. This work by Stefans is extremely innovative and creative but not very practical, the one element missing that would significantly improve this work is to give the viewer the option to pause, rewind, or slow down the text in order to give the reader time to read each word that flies by.