Pry is a multimedia reading experience created by Samantha Gorman and published by Tender Claws. Pry is a short novella that combines text, touch screen interaction and video to create a new interaction between reader and literature. Pry, released in 2014, has made waves within the electronic literature community with its appearances at the 2014 WordPlay showcase, the Independent Games Festival, as well as being a 2014 Finalist for the Future of Story Telling Prize. At the moment Pry is only available for download through the App Store for Apple products.
The story revolves around a character named James. Six years before Pry takes place James retires for being a demolition expert and returns home from the Gulf War. Once he returns home he realizes his vision is starting to fail him and it is here that the story begins. The reader embarks on the journey with James as he learns to deal with his failing sight. Pry is highly interactive because at any moment within the novella you can discover what James is thinking and even dive into the depths of his subconscious mind. Pry is broken into parts, the first of which is the initial download and the second part will be available as an update upon completion.
Pry begins with a video prologue. The prologue passes quickly and the reader can learn a lot about the main character James in the few minutes it runs. Here we learn about his deployment, as well as flash backs to his childhood. The end of the prologue moves quickly and the story begins. The reader meets James, unable to move from his bed and begins their journey through his thoughts and memories. The reader is also able to open James’ eyes and see the world around him and gather his feelings and thoughts about the world around him.
The multimedia aspects of Pry really gives a powerful effect on the reader and the experience. Videos in the form of flashbacks and current events give the reader a firsthand experience. This coupled with the ability to choose when to open and close James’ eyes and knowing James’ thoughts allows the reader to become one with James and follow through his life as if it was their own personal experience.
I believe that Gorman does an excellent job not only creating a entertaining piece of literature, but writing an informative commentary about several topics we like to overlook. The first being knowing and understanding what people go through when faced with new physical challenges and how the adapt or cope with them. In the beginning of the novella James ,and thus the reader, has almost perfect vision. As the novella progresses sight begins to become blurry and we are forced to open and close James’ eyes as if we were blinking for him. We must learn to adapt to this new obstacle right along with James. She also addresses, maybe more in passing, of the effects of PTSD has on veterans. Especially during the scenes on the work site do we realize that the loud noises of demolition bothers James. These also trigger memories of his time deployed. The biggest topic Gorman touches upon though it the differences in realities. The reality we tell ourselves and the reality that actually takes place around us, and which we decided to deal with and live within.
Pry, I believe is a must read. The novella contains themes within its plot that almost every reader can find entertainment in from romance to action and military. Gorman’s combination of various mediums creates a layered work that introduces a new version of electronic literature to the recently formed literary cannon.
Link to Pry trailer and demo