Frequently Asked Questions about "Hypertext"

1. What is “Hypertext”?

2. What are the Richards Criteria?

3. Who are you?

4. What is the Popular Interpretation?

5. And the Texas/Bush School?

6. Can you summarize the Technosexual Reading?

7. How about the Richards Posttranssexual Rereading?

8. What's the story with the fan fiction and the double murder?

9. Who am I?

8. What's the story with the fan fiction and the double murder?

The startling deaths at the Tenth Annual “Hypertext” Symposium (HT10) accelerated a vicious circle or feedback loop, refueling the media frenzy around “Hypertext” and the fan fiction that may itself have been complicit in the murder.

For the uninitiated, fan fiction or fanfic is amateur fiction based on TV shows, movies, and other cultural productions. It started in the 1970s when Star Trek fans began publishing stories about Captain Kirk and Commander Spock based on what they perceived as the series' homoerotic subtext. Kirk/Spock or K/S came to represent “slash” or homosexual fanfic, and slash grew to include lesbian tracks like J/7, focusing on the attraction between Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine, the sexy hybrid Borg-human in Star Trek: Voyager (and fanfic wife of Dick Hellton, FAQ # 3).

Kirk/Spock image

Other series from the 1980s and 1990s—The X-Files, Xena, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.—inspired their own fan communities to fill in the cracks, as it were, of the received mass narratives, and celebrity-inspired amateur writing got a huge boost from the Internet and the Web.

Slash led to het (heterosexual), gen (G-rated fanfic), metafic and authorfic and subreality (a border zone where characters aware of their status as fictional creations may mingle with authors or other real-life characters). “Mary Sue” stories, named for a character in early Star Trek fanfic, are a wish-fulfillment genre in which a heroic and good-looking proxy for the author performs a crucial role (e.g., “Another Day at the Office,” FAQ #3).

“Hypertext” or HT fanfic has followed a peculiar arc, constructed as it is around a self-published, amateur work rather than a professional narrative from the entertainment industry.

HT fans pioneered not only the niche genre of subreality trannyfic but also the online Hierarchical Electronic Recombinating Hypertext Interactive Matrix (HER/HIM), brought to you by yours truly at HerHim.org.

Using HER/HIM, newbies can construct their first stories in the context of the entire canon, while veterans can track in real time the evolving multitudes of possibilities via our dynamic database engine. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can generate scenarios from Pere Peter/Lois Lane, Dick York/Colonel Kurtz, and Porky Pig/Xena to Charlotte Bronte/George Bush/Julia Child. It wouldn’t be boasting to say that HER/HIM quickly became the dominant forum for HT fanfic.

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions and increasing pressures from our corporate sponsors—victims of our own success—we can now publish only a small portion of the many high-quality stories we receive. Sadly, secretive members of the “Hypertext” Authors Liberation Front (HALF), aka Radicals Against “Hypertext” (RAH)—claiming that HerHim.org and its proprietary technology actually constrain creativity by centralizing and codifying the publication of HT fan fiction—have begun hacking into HER/HIM. Obviously this makes our work more difficult, and the future of HerHim.org remains uncertain.

The radicals turned out in force for the Tenth Annual “Hypertext” Symposium, pitching tents at nearby campgrounds if they couldn't afford the pricey ocean-bluff rooms at the official conference hotel, the Schlitz-Marlboro Resort in Half Moon Bay.

Academics were quick to blame the double murder on an anarchist fanatic from HALF/RAH, although to be fair the murder has never been officially solved.

The occasion was also, of course, the highly anticipated reunion of Richards and Allman, co-speakers for the featured panel “The Final Image: 'Hypertext' as Pre-Pyrex.”

Some expected fireworks on the panel, others dared to hope for a rapprochement between the Technosexual and Posttranny Readings.There was almost a circus atmosphere in the standing-room Eucalyptus Room (yes, the same room where Richard Allman had located Alan Richardson's crossdressing party, FAQ # 6).

Just before they delivered their papers, both Richards and Allman, from opposite ends of the red-skirted table, slumped over in their chairs. Their heads clunked down on their laptop keyboards at almost precisely the same moment (Richards' open Word document filled with the repeated letter “Y,” the key where her surgically altered jaw had landed, while Allman's impecabbly groomed goatee hit his Delete key, prompting him to Recycle his PowerPoint file).

Those claiming to be doctors were ushered through the crowd to administer CPR, followed by the piercing sirens and flashing lights and deadpan efficiency of the paramedics rushing Richards and Allman to the hospital. With black humor some noted that tech support was more successful in recovering their computer files than were the trauma doctors in reviving the critics.

Poison image Ambulance image

Within hours, both were brain dead from acute cyanide poisoning. Perry Mason-like, the poison had been mixed in their coffee (Richards) and water (Allman). Only the victims' fingerprints were left on their souvenir HT10 glass mugs (yes, made of Pyrex).

Scholars have continued to point the finger at an extremist amateur writer. An Eric Taylor was officially registered at HT10, fueling speculation that either Richard Allman's fetishistic narrative (FAQ #6) or my own self-published fan fiction (FAQ #3) was based on a real person, a jealous, transsomething ET who might've been responsible for one or both murders. But an Erica Taylor also attended, along with dozens of other costumed HT characters registered under pseudonyms ranging from Virginia Woolf to Wendy Testaburger and (presciently) Perry Mason.

These folks said the apparently perfect crime was more likely committed by a highly-stressed, wacko academic, especially someone with advance knowledge about the content of Richards' and Allman's papers. Yet neither paper (as published in the HT10 Proceedings, dedicated to their memory) added any real substance to their already well-articulated positions.

Others have postulated that Richards and Allman murdered each other, with or without knowledge of the other's intention, or conspired in a double suicide.

In any case, interviews were conducted with all other suspects, from the conference attendees and organizers to the Schlitz-Marlboro staff and caterers, yielding mainly fictitious names, inconclusive lie detector tests, and, finally, insufficient evidence to file charges.

You probably have your own theory.